Primary school literacy in Southern Africa: African perspectives

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This research review examines trends in recent scholarship concerning primary school literacy instruction in Southern Africa. Past scholarship, particularly that which originated from western researchers, focused on technical or structural issues facing literacy instruction in the region, such as language of instruction, school conditions, availability of books, and teacher training. Newer scholarship that has emerged primarily from African researchers focuses more on sociocultural and sociopolitical issues such as promoting a 'reading culture', shaping language policy, and examining literacy as a local social practice. Increasingly, researchers advocate local, rather than western/northern, solutions to African problems in literacy development and instruction. However, African perspectives are nevertheless influenced by western perspectives and agendas, as a result of colonialism, postcolonialism, and globalisation. Hybrid solutions that combine western and African perspectives therefore may be important for literacy development in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-73
Number of pages17
JournalComparative Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Kristen H. Perry is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky in Kentucky, United States. She has taught elementary school in the US, and served as a primary resource teacher through the US Peace Corps in Lesotho, Africa. Her research focuses primarily on literacy practices and culture, particularly in African communities both in the US and abroad. Her specific areas of interest include the ways in which culture and literacy development transact in diverse communities. Her research also investigates the various ways in which home and community practices of literacy align with school practices of literacy, particularly for African immigrant and refugee children and families. She is the recipient of the J. Michael Parker Award for research in adult literacy from the (US) National Reading Conference.

Funding Information:
International school effectiveness studies, supported by global agencies such as the World Bank can feed into and support such views. Largely based on research, rationalities and an underlying epistemology developed elsewhere, school effectiveness studies lay the ‘blame’ for school failure at the local level (2001, 168).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Primary school literacy in Southern Africa: African perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this