One of the first tasks the Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa (ERNWACA) decided to undertake after its creation in 1989 was an inventory of educational research in Africa. To the great astonishment of the research community, the study uncovered an unsuspected wealth of unexploited material.
The inventory was carried out in 1990 and 1991. It led to seven countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Mali, Sierra Leone and Togo) producing national reports that synthesized the results of research from within their borders. They found 1056 studies - made up mostly of student theses and unpublished manuscripts - which were unknown to researchers, political decision-makers and development partners in the field of education.
Overlooked and Undervalued is a synthesis of the seven national studies. The report reviews the uncovered literature and sheds light on the following themes: the financing and administration of education; apprenticeship and attrition in formal education systems; factors influencing content, quality and effectiveness; the teaching corps and teaching; education and socio-economic integration; employment, community schools and social inequities; conventional education and non-formal education; growing fields of study; and educational reform.
The great value of Overlooked and Undervalued lies in its taking stock of the volume and diversity of research activity in Africa. It helps us to see the problem of African research from a new perspective. Some of the paths discovered by this "Overlooked" research have allowed ERNWACA to suggest the directions that future educational research might take.
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