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How colonial education practices helped shape the pattern of decolonization in West Africa


  • Agbor, Julius A
  • Fedderke, Johannes W
  • Viegi, Nicola


This paper argues that the pattern of decolonization was a logical consequence of the nature of human capital transfers from the colonizers’ to the elites of the former colonies, and this shaped the strategic interaction between these two groups. Where the educational ideology emphasized assimilation, the system tended to produce elites that depended highly on the colonizer for their livelihood, hence necessitating a continuation of the imperial relationship even after independence. On the contrary, where the ideology emphasized the strengthening of the ‘solid elements’ of the countryside, the system tended to produce elites that were quite independent of the colonizer and consequently had little to loose from a disruption of the imperial relationship at independence. The results of the model shed light into why the French decolonization process in West Africa was generally smooth and transited from colonialism to neo-colonialism whereasBritish decolonizations in West Africa were generally antagonistic, culminating in complete independence from England. The unique contribution of the paper is in providing an alternative explanation of 20th century decolonization, anchored on human capital transfers, an approach that unifies both the Eurocentric and Afrocentric perspectives.

Suggested Citation

  • Agbor, Julius A & Fedderke, Johannes W & Viegi, Nicola, 2013. "How colonial education practices helped shape the pattern of decolonization in West Africa," International Journal of Development and Conflict, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, vol. 3(2), pages 1-23.
  • Handle: RePEc:gok:ijdcv1:v:3:y:2013:i:2:p:1-23

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrei Shleifer & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Rafael La Porta, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(2), pages 285-332, June.
    2. J.A. Agbor & J. W. Fedderke & N. Viegi, 2010. "How Does Colonial Origin Matter for Economic Performance in sub-Saharan Africa?," Working Papers 176, Economic Research Southern Africa.
    3. Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
    4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
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    More about this item


    Decolonization; African Political Economy; Education; Game Theory;

    JEL classification:

    • C70 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - General
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General


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