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National identities and the curriculum: socio-cultural legacies and contemporary questions


Historically throughout the world, schools have been given a key role in nation-building. Is this the case in contemporary African countries, and if yes, how, with what objectives and with what tools? The idea of a shared sense of belonging to a national community can be addressed in many ways. This chapter explores how national identities are constructed, transmitted, understood and negotiated in the curriculum. Using the curriculum as a focal point entails investigating ideological and political aims, and the organisation and selection of knowledge at various levels of decision-making, as well as what happens in the classroom, in terms of transmission, pedagogy, and reception. The curriculum involves multiple actors: political and institutional decision-makers, education and administrative officials, teachers, pupils, but also external actors (trade unions, media, parents, etc.) who influence in one way or another, at one stage or another, the creation of education policies, their implementation and their reception. How are such identity-building processes understood by different actors, what do they mean politically, and what do they look like in practice? Between essentialist understandings of identity as fixed, objective and unchanging, and constructivist approaches foregrounding the “building” of the nation, what interpretations are at work in French-speaking Africa today? In a time where quantitative and qualitative studies point to the increase in scepticism towards and distrust of the state, this volume interrogates the links between schools and the (re)production of discourses of national identity. Depending on contexts and locations, what forms of collective consciousness and group identities are being transmitted in schools? In contemporary Africa, how is a sense of shared belonging constructed? How is this collective identity understood, prescribed, transmitted?
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hal-03708483 , version 1 (26-11-2020)
hal-03708483 , version 2 (29-06-2022)



Camille Jacob, Linda Gardelle. National identities and the curriculum: socio-cultural legacies and contemporary questions. Linda Gardelle, Camille Jacob. Schools and national identities in French-speaking Africa. Political choices, means of transmission and appropriation., Routledge, pp.1- 19, 2020, Perspectives on Education in Africa, 9780367634674. ⟨10.4324/9780429288944-1⟩. ⟨hal-03708483v2⟩
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