chapter  5
20 Pages

USING DOCUMENTS FOR QUALITATIVE EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH IN AFRICA Clive Harber

Documentary sources of information, of all kinds, figure centrally in

the research of sociologists. Official statistics on crime, income dis-

tribution, health and illness, censuses of population, newspaper re-

ports, diaries, reference books, government publications, and simi-

lar sources are the basis of much social research by academics and

their students. Yet these materials have rarely been given the atten-

tion they deserve in accounts of sociological research methods. Ques-

tionnaires and participant observation figure centrally in texts on

courses on research methods, but documentary sources are consid-

ered in only a fragmentary way. (Scott, 1990: ix)

My academic backgound is in the social sciences and in political science in

particular. However, professionally I have been both a teacher and a teacher

trainer and so it is perhaps not surprising that my research on African edu-

cation, which began in 1977, has focused on education and political social-

ization and on schools as political organizations.