Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Democracy in Africa: Building on Democratic Roots in African Traditions

A compilation of lessons and resources for secondary school students

Africa is a vast continent, populated by diverse peoples with equally diverse political histories and traditions. It is also a region about which many American students know very little. This resource attempts to help students learn about the countries of Africa, focusing specifically on their democratic aspirations and experiences.

In the course of these lessons, students will be asked to:
  • Recognize the diversity of cultures, histories, resources and realities of African nations—Lesson 1
  • Explain the impact of the colonial era on modern African politics—Lesson 2
  • Describe the democratic roots that can be found in African traditions—Lesson 3
  • Assess the current level of democratic development in various countries in Africa—Lesson 4
  • Recommend policy priorities to meet the needs of African citizens in the future—Lesson 5
These lessons are interactive and student-centered, encouraging students to employ higher-level thinking skills. Among the teaching strategies included are brainstorming, group work, primary document analysis, case study analysis, media research, essay writing and class presentations.

The lessons are designed to be flexible, so they can be used in the way that is most appropriate to the needs, ability levels and interests of the students. Because space in most curricula is at a premium, the time allotted to complete these lessons could vary. The five lessons could be completed in as many class periods, or could be extended to fill several weeks. The lessons are designed to complement course work in world history, civics, current issues or global studies courses, depending on the specifications of the local curriculum.

Each lesson plan contains objectives, procedures, key terms, homework and student handouts. The reading levels of materials vary, and teachers should review each of them carefully to ensure that they are appropriate for the target audience. They have been selected based on the value of the information provided, and some will challenge even students who are prepared to handle difficult material and complex subjects. A glossary is also provided.

Developed by the American Federation of Teachers Educational Foundation, with support from the Center for Civic Education and funding from the U.S. Department of Education. (Published 2007)