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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 103 TEACHER TRAINEES IN GHANA IN THE EARLY 1960s Women and the Teaching of Home Science RICHARD GLOTZER LILA ENGBERG I was happy I could impress Ghanaian illiterate women ... these women are old and will die away soon, giving way to the young folk; ... why not help the young girls to develop in one way or another? I therefore concluded to try and have a Housecraft course ... Prologue1 Young women were presented with unprecedented opportunities and challenges in the newly independent Ghana of the early 1960s. In their own words, a small group of teacher trainees reflect on how their upbringings and early education prepared them for the challenge of making a place for themselves in a society where rapid transition to western style modernity and resilient traditional values coexisted in uneasy rivalry, often mediated by vestiges of colonialism. Relying on interviews with their former teachers, archival sources, and autobiographies, this article examines three aspects of these women’s lives: their use of critical thinking skills—developed in a school curriculum discouraging critical thought; the influence of families on school achievement; and their assessment of future life and career aspirations. 1. Drafts this paper were presented at the Canadian Association for African Studies Annual Meeting, Sherbrooke, Quebec (May, 1999), and the Midwest Alliance for African Studies, University of Kansas at Lawrence (October, 1999). Grants from the Rockefeller Archives Center, North Tarrytown, N.Y. to the first author for a larger project on Anglo-American relations in post-war Africa, supported portions of this research. 104 Ghana Studies • volume 8 • 2005 Introduction In 1943 Fred Clarke, one of Britain’s foremost educators, prepared a typescript memorandum, Mass Education of African Peoples, recommending greatly expanded opportunities for girls and women in education and society . Looking ahead to the post war period, Clarke sought a gradual inclusion of women into an expanded educational system leading to broader roles in African societies. Writing for colleagues on a Colonial Office Subcommittee , his ideas were subsumed in Mass Education in African Society (1944), a report largely silent about women. Tampering with African family roles and social structure at a time when large numbers of young African men would be demobilizing after war service seemed inadvisable.2 Within a few short years Britain’s post-war African development plans would be in disarray. The Gold Coast Colony, believed to be the most advanced and stable of Britain’ s West African territories achieved home rule in 1951 and independence as Ghana in 1957. Gone were the gradualist notions of infrastructure development.3 In its place was the scramble to develop national institutions, embracing Ghanaian aspirations and western style modernity while preserving African authenticity. The government’s rapid expansion of places in primary education led to increased competition for scarce places at the secondary level.4 With elementary education now compulsory, just over 500,000 children were 2. CO 879/148, CO No. 186., 1944, Colonial Office Archives, Kew, London, U. K., also Timothy Parsons, “Dangerous Education? The Army as School in Colonial East Africa”, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 28, 1 2000, pp. 112–134. 3. In the 1940s the Elliot Commission on Higher Education in West Africa recommended establishing one English speaking University for the whole of British West Africa to serve Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. By the l950s, popular sentiment, symbolized by the 1958 All Africa People’s Party Conference in Accra, dashed plans for a single university (to be based in Ibadan, Nigeria) in favor of national institutions. Clive Whitehead (1987) “The ‘Two-way Pull’ and the Establishment of University Education in British West Africa”, History of Education, 16, 2, pp. 119–133. 4. Foster, Philip (1965), Education and Social Change in Ghana. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, pp. 179–219. Glotzer and Engberg • Teacher Trainees in Ghana in the Early 1960s 105 in school, with many expecting to go on for post-primary education, also slated to become compulsory. While twice as many boys were at primary and middle school as girls, this represented a marked improvement over the...


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