Textbooks, literacy, and citizenship: The case of Anglophone Cameroon

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Abstract

Textbooks are commonly used to teach English in Africa, and most often are designed either by Westerners who are native speakers or by the Western-trained educators who took over the education of Africa's children after colonialism. The issue is whether these educators can emancipate learners through the curricular choices they make in the versions of textbooks endorsed by their governments. Unfortunately, this is not the case. This article examines the content of nonfiction passages in four textbook series that have been used or are currently in use for English language and literacy education in Anglophone Cameroon to understand the shift in educational philosophies that might have occurred between the colonial period of the first textbook and the modern globalization period of current textbooks. It also questions the criteria for selection of passages to be included in these textbooks and their possible ramifications for learners' identities as Africans, Cameroonians, and global citizens. Informed by postcolonialism, with a particular bent toward decolonial theory, the study utilizes content analysis, a qualitative research method that validates textual interpretations through inference (Krippendorf, 2004) and that seeks to understand meanings embedded in texts and their sociocultural/political significance. Findings reveal that while the Oxford English Readers for Africa of the colonial times are long gone, this series' ideology of white superiority lingers in contemporary textbooks. They also reveal that there is an attempt to standardize cultural practices and belief systems based on Western models. This draws attention to minority rights, reminding educators to acknowledge pluralism in their literacy practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)378-399
Number of pages22
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Volume50
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language

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