What is it about?

Early research on child development in Africa was dominated by expatriates and was mainly designed to test whether theories developed in the West are universally valid. As African researchers begin to take the lead in setting the agenda for the study of child development in Africa, more emphasis is placed on relevance and practical usefulness. This involves making developmental psychology intelligible to local audiences. A major challenge is this context is the enduring dominance of former colonial languages in education and research schooling. The way forward involves greater attention to indigenous culture.

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Why is it important?

Policymakers in Africa tend to look to the West for guidelines on how to conduct research. But the main stakeholders of child development are parents many of whom live by cultural standards that differ from those of the West. Indigenous African researchers are in a unique position to bridge that gap.


The technical expertise imported from the West into Africa's educational systems came at a price. The current generation of indigenous scholars will contribute more to the design of progressive and sustainable education if they include in their research careful examination of the continent's indigenous cultural practices for socialisation of child development.

Professor Robert Serpell
University of Zambia

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This page is a summary of: Some Long-Standing and Emerging Research Lines in Africa, New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, December 2014, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/cad.20070.
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