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“Money, Materials, and Manpower”: Ghanaian In-Service Teacher Education and the Political Economy of Failure, 1961–1971

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2017

Jonathan Zimmerman*
New York University


In October 1961 Basil H. G. Chaplin sent an excited letter to A. J. Dowuona-Hammond, Ghana's Minister of Education. Just four years earlier, the nation had won its independence from England. Now, Chaplin wrote, it stood on the cusp of a second great upheaval: “a complete revolution in Science teaching.” As chair of Ghana's Science Education Research Unit, Chaplin had conducted a study of 2,000 Ghanaian children and forty-two teachers over three years. Ghanaians learned best via activities and observation rather than from rote memorization, Chaplin reported, just like students in the West did. “Ghanaian children differ in no way from their British or American counterparts in their initial ability to understand how things work when using their hands and their eyes,” Chaplin told Dowuona-Hammond. “Different cultural backgrounds do not affect ability to interpret their own simple experience.” Too often, Chaplin admitted, Ghanaian teachers snuffed out students' natural curiosity with a rigid diet of lectures and textbook exercises. But the Ministry could change all of that, he insisted, by reforming the curriculum and re-educating the teachers. “It is wholly practical” Chaplin underlined, enclosing his proposed scheme. “Teachers need only a short course of training.”

Copyright © 2011 by the History of Education Society 

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1 Chaplin, Basil H. G. to Dowuona-Hammond, A. J., 30 October 1961, folder 467, Record Group (hereafter “RG”) 3/1; Chaplin, Basil H. G., “Specific New Approaches to Education Programming in Primary, Technical, and Secondary Schools,” (ms, n.d. [1961]), folder, 120, RG 3/2, both in Public Records and Archives Administration Department (hereafter “PRAAD”), Accra, Ghana.Google Scholar

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