Contemporary educational reform in Burkina Faso: Lessons from History
Smith, Janet C
Since 2010, transnational banks such as the Islamic Development Bank, and governments including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United States and Burkina Faso have begun to promote Islamic education reform programs in Burkina Faso. These institutions agree on the need to create a singular national curriculum and increase governmental regulation of Islamic schools. The rationales for the necessity of this education reform vary from an emphasis on government support for private schools to an assumption that Islamic extremism emerges because of a deleterious Islamic education and misteachings of the Quran. This effort to reform Islamic schools by standardizing the curriculum and increasing government regulation of the education system is based on the assumptions that standardization is possible and Islamic practices and beliefs in Burkina Faso are narrowly divided by fundamental extremists against liberal moderates. In this paper, I seek to challenge these assumptions by offering a history of the Communauté Musulmane de Haute Volta. In 1962, the Communauté became the Upper Volta’s first formal Islamic organization. On the occasion of the first General Assembly, the Communauté’s leaders declared that Muslims within the newly independent nation were united. However, over the succeeding decade, disputes within the organization over religious teachings and practices revealed a divergence of views on the ‘correct’ forms of Islam despite a shared political interest in safeguarding Islam from the secular state. The Communauté's efforts failed because of their struggles to codify Islam in creating a national curriculum. I use this case to argue for caution on the part of those who would seek to promote a national Franco-Arab education as a forum through which to deliver religious teachings. I suggest that this rational-technocratic project might learn from the long history of the plural and dynamic nature of Islam in Burkina Faso and the fate of the Communauté.
African studies; Islam; Burkina Faso; Communaute Musluman; Franco-Arab education; Religion and development; Religious education; Sociology
Eloundou-Enyegue, Parfait M.
M.A., Development Sociology
Master of Arts
dissertation or thesis