The way forward for educational policies in Africa: a critical sociological analysis

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Education is about values (Begley, 2008), so values must be central to the policies that should govern education. However, given dominant colonial narratives and neo-liberal homogeneous approaches to education, the emergence of marginalised local ontologies, epistemologies and values in sustaining education policy has become a pertinent reality (Tesar and Arndt, 2017). Hence, this article undertakes a macro analysis of education policy development and sustainability in Sub-Saharan Africa from a sociological perspective consistent with a people’s cultural values rather than looking at it from any conventional chronological developments of education that history has imposed on it. The ‘methodology of Ubuntu’ (Elonga Mboyo, 2016) is, therefore, deployed as the lens through which to (re) conceptualise selected published literatures on the subject, including stories of terror and performativity of education policy reported in the West (Ball, 2003; Perryman et al 2017). Elonga Mboyo introduces a new perspective that frames Ubuntu and structuration theory as commensurate social theories before articulating a unique methodology of Ubuntu/structuration that offers four ontological loci of social interactions based on cross-shaped tenets of fear (for agents) and self-scrutiny (for structures). Such clarity of the methodology of social reality, it is hoped, would support healthier interactions of, in this case, education policy development and implementation in Africa. This is needed, especially in the face of recent findings that report some head teachers as rising above the personal and institutional values in order to comparatively (in the sense of bending institutional policies to benefit students) lead their educational institutions (Elonga Mboyo, 2017). The article concludes by making the point that the sustainability of education policy must not exacerbate unbalanced social reality by confining education professionals’ agency to unhealthy ontological interactions defined by fearless naivety, terror (of performativity) and control. The policy environment must engage with professionals in healthy Ubuntu-inspired interactions and reflect new forms of agency illustrated here through comparative approaches to school leadership. Given these emergent local articulations of social theory, it is urgent now more than ever before, that first-hand empirical research on the realities of education (leadership) in Africa become an indispensable vehicle and basis for future Ubuntu-inspired education policies.


ConferenceBritish Education, Leadership, Management & Administration Society Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleBELMAS 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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