Rashid plans to spend his Fulbright year, 2015-2016, in Ghana at the University of Education, Winneba. He’ll focus on studying how Ghana, in the wake of its 1957 independence from Britain, attempted, and is still attempting, to remake its economy and social and educational systems to benefit its own citizens.
Specifically, he’ll be studying the ideas of W.E.B. DuBois, the American sociologist and activist (1868-1963) who moved to Ghana in 1961, at age 93, and his close friend Kwame Nkrumah, who became the first president of Ghana when it gained independence from British colonization in 1957.
Rashid will compare the two men’s approaches to reinventing Ghana’s economy and educational and social systems. He may also focus on or suggest empowering, viable approaches the nation may pursue in the future.
Though Rashid has been studying Africa for years, this will be his first visit to the continent.
“I’m looking forward to it. I didn’t want to go as a tourist, but as a researcher,” he said.
In Winneba, a coastal town on the Atlantic, Rashid expects to have access to governmental archives and documents for his research. He may also do some teaching.
“I want to look at DuBois’ and Nkrumah’s theories and develop a Pan-African critical theory of education and development,” Rashid said.
The theory will have practical applications. “It will provide a way of thinking, an analytic framework, about economic, educational and social policy,” Rashid commented.
He explains that, while Ghana and other African countries gained independence from colonial powers from the 1950s to the 1980s, the mindset of colonialism, and the way its economy worked, didn’t automatically dissolve.
“The vast majority of the African countries’ wealth went to benefit another (colonial power) country,” he said. “Ghana inherited an economy that was not designed to be self-sufficient, but to provide profits to England.”
When Ghanaians, and other Africans, received independence, they had to think critically about the ways they wanted to run their countries, and educational and social ideas similar to DuBois’ took hold, Rashid said.
“In this way, Nkrumah’s policies offer a profound insight into the complicated ways in which philosophies and ideals intersect with the systems, domestic and global, political and economic, that hold sway in the modern world,” Rashid wrote.
“As such, I also seek to examine the educational policies of Nkrumah as a way of examining how his and Du Bois’s beliefs about the role of the state in advancing freedom and creating a basis for social power occurs in actual communities.”
Rashid plans to study up on Twi, a Ghanaian language, to help him navigate in Ghana and consider its social system.
He’ll bring his wife and children, who are home-schooled, along for the year in Ghana.
“It will be educational for them,” he said. “It will be rich on a number of levels.”