A CRITIQUE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH AND PRACTICE IN AFRICA
The issue of the influence of poverty on early childhood development has received considerable research attention. Poverty has usually been conceptualised and measured in absolute terms, using a national and an international poverty line. Similarly, the outcome variables (such as cognitive ability, academic performance, personality, and behavioural patterns) have also been measured as if Western childhood developmental trajectories and ideals are universal. It is argued that when poverty is defined by biased attitudes and measures, children are improperly classified and judged and interventions are designed with the wrong goals in mind. It is against this background that this article provides a critical review of the existing literature. In particular, this article explores some definitional issues in the measurement of poverty and the presence or otherwise of Western biases in the conceptualisation and measurement of relevant outcomes in childhood. It is expected that there will be an appreciable improvement in knowledge production in respect of the influence of poverty on the African child when the issues explored in this article are addressed.
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