Book Review: Chinedu I. O. Okeke & Comfort B.S. Mndebele (2013) Education Reform in the SADC Region: Challenges and Responses in the 21st Century. Scientific & Academic Publishing, USA.
This book promised much; a series of vignettes and critical studies of innovations, initiatives and debates across different education sectors in Southern Africa from local academics with a variety of discipline backgrounds and deeply familiar with the contexts in which they are teaching and researching. The scope of the book is huge, ranging from reports of small-scale enquiries to broader overviews of shifts and developments at the national level. I hoped this would be something to celebrate, an invitation to engage with insights from the South. But the reality was a little disappointing. Most problematic for me is the lack of a sense of a coherent whole in the book, an absence of intellectual threads through the narratives and signposts to help the reader link the empirical studies and the more theoretical or rhetorical pieces. The variety of styles, subjects and multiple perspectives sharing a common geographical location are the book’s strengths but I had no sense of why these particular subjects and articles had been included. In some chapters the abstract made reference to the broader picture but this was often not followed through in the body of the piece. Taken as a whole the book portrays a context with interesting developments but there is no sense of how these complex issues interrelate across the landscape, and the dominant theoretical ideas or debates are only implicit, never openly discussed. Perhaps this is not the intention?
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