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GHANA STUDIES / Volume 8 ISSN 1536-5514 / E-ISSN 2333-7168© 2007 by the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 3 EDUCATION, LITERACY, TRAINING, AND PROPAGANDA IN A GHANAIAN BORDER TOWN LEO BARRINGTON1 The Ghana Census throughout the early decades of national independence counted as educated only those who had studied “general education ” in government schools or colonial-era mission schools.2 Such a narrow conception of education, based on the kind of western education imported from Europe, distorts the level of knowledge and skills as well as the ways of forming character and attitudes utilized by a population. A study of the small town of Kete-Krachi, reported in this paper, focusing on the critical period of the 1950s and 1960s when the colonial era was ending and independence was being established, will consider education more broadly. In addition to government and mission education, it looks at the place of Islamic schooling, adult literacy programs, women’s work classes, 1. This research is a result from a year of residence in Kete-Krachi as a Foreign Area Fellow and follow-up visits four and five years later, and is based on a social survey, interviews, participant observation, and access to Krachi District files, Volta River Authority files, and more recent published research. 2. The definition of education in 1960 was full-time study in “a regular Primary, Middle, Secondary, University or some other similar type of school ... receiving general education and in which the emphasis is not on vocational or trade training ... [It] excludes private tuition, correspondence courses, night schools and trade schools.” 1960 Population Census of Ghana “Enumerator’s Manual” (Accra, Census Office, 1960), pp. 44–45. The definition in 1970 was similar but also specifically excluded “Arabic schools where only the reading and writing of the Koran is taught.” 1970 Population Census of Ghana volume I, Statistics of Localities and Enumeration Areas (Accra, Census Office, 1972), p. xx. Further specification in 1984 stated that agricultural, forestry, textile and police training schools, the Military Academy, and the Labour College, among others, were “not considered as schools” for Census purposes. 1984 Population Census of Ghana, Demographic and Economic Characteristics (Accra, Statistical Service, 1987), p. xvi. 4 Ghana Studies • volume 8 • 2005 training for the handicapped, civic education and propaganda, in the context of internal and external forces which played on the town. In past centuries, education in Ghana, as elsewhere, was informally conducted by parents, craft guilds, priests or doctors of traditional lore, and traditionally served to introduce the young into adult life and work, transmitting the attitudes, values, skills, and customs of the society.3 Trades that needed more specific training usually involved apprenticeships. Between the late 19th century and mid-20th century, however, other systems of education that were more formal in nature and designed for different sectors of the population, were established in Kete-Krachi—namely Islamic schools, western education for children, and adult education. Kete-Krachi is a “border town” in important geographic and sociological ways that influenced education as well as other aspects of the town’s 20th century history. In the late 19th century the town was located on the German side of the border then separating the Togoland colony from areas controlled by the British colonial authorities. In independent Ghana, it is about halfway between the seacoast and the northern border. A savanna town, it lies in a thinly-populated space4 between areas where major groups predominate—Asante to the southwest, Ewe to the south, and Hausa-Fulani more distantly to the northeast—to none of which are the traditional “land owning” Krachi people, a Guan ethnic group, related. This land-owning group comprises only about one-quarter of the population of this sociologically and politically marginal town,5 which originated as a Zongo community for traders. The development of education in 3. Mark Bray, Peter B. Clarke, and David Stephens, Education and Society in Africa (London , Edward Arnold, 1986), pp. 101ff. 4. In 1948, Krachi District had a population of 31,603 (the smallest of all 19 administrative districts in the Colony, Ashanti, and the Northern Territories) spread over 3,380 square miles, i.e., 9.4 persons...


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