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Postcolonial Theory and Early Literacy Development for 4-8 year-olds: A Life History Study of Ghanaian Teachers

Osseo-Asare, Philomena Abla (2017) Postcolonial Theory and Early Literacy Development for 4-8 year-olds: A Life History Study of Ghanaian Teachers. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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This life history study examines how the changes in language and literacy policy in lower grades impacted on teachers’ classroom practices from independence in 1957 to 2014. As a result of British colonial rule, English is the official language in Ghana and other sub-Saharan African countries; English is also used in many schools, yet most young children enter school with no prior knowledge of the English language. Consequently, the language of instruction in lower grades has always been a contested issue. There are some who prefer the use of local language and see the use of English as inculcating Western values and culture in the African, thus depriving children of the knowledge of African traditional values. On the other hand, those in favour of English, argue that the use of local language was a means of providing inferior education to Africans by colonial governments. These differing views have led to changes in the language policy for lower grades since the country’s independence in 1957. Although there have been a number of studies on the language policy in lower grade, there is a gap in the literature on understanding how colonial rule and Western education influences the language/s used in Ghanaian schools to support children’s literacy development. In addition, there is little or no research to understand how policy changes in language and literacy have affected lower grade teachers’ classroom practices. This study therefore adopts a postcolonial theoretical perspective and has used in-depth interviews to collect data from seven lower grades teachers on the use of different language and literacy policies over the past six decades. The findings suggest that teachers’ personal values, beliefs and teacher training play a significant role in their attitudes towards language and literacy policy and their classroom practices. Though teaching in the local language helped in classroom interaction, making children more active, the study found that teachers’ knowledge of local language was hampered by the fact that local language was an optional subject in Senior High School. The English-only policy was seen as being responsible for children’s inability to understand and communicate freely in class, thereby making teaching difficult for teachers. The findings also show that, though the National Literacy Acceleration Programme (NALAP) was seen as a positive move to make children literate in both local language and English, the question of the use of a particular local language and the place of English in lower grades remains unresolved. This study concludes that young children’s literacy development depends to a large extent on an individual teacher’s language expertise in the local languages and English and their ability in using and teaching both efficiently in the classroom.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.724408
Depositing User: Mrs Philomena Abla Osseo-Asare
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2017 10:30
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2018 09:46
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18355

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