Out of Africa;Secondary;Reviews;Environment;Books

25th June 1999 at 01:00
CITY BY THE SEA: urban development in Mombasa, Kenya. ActionAid. Pack pound;13, wall chart pound;8, plus pound;1.95 pamp;p. LEARNING FOR LIFE: agriculture and development in equatorial Uganda. ActionAid. pound;13 + pound;1.95 pamp;p. From Chataway House, Leach Road, Chard, Somerset TA20 1FR. Tel: 01460 238000.

With these two substantial resource packs, ActionAid maintains its excellent track record as a major provider of case-study material for geography teachers. The packs are designed for secondary schools and clearly relate to the area, themes and skills requirements of the national curriculum.

The components of each pack are as usual: clear contextual material for the teacher, well-designed pupil activity sheets with genuine classroom credibility, country and locality maps, and a set of large colour photographs.

The material is firmly grounded in recent fieldwork, in an "informal settlement" in northern Mombasa and a rural district in south-west Uganda. Since 60 to 70 percent of Mombasa's population live in an informal or squatter environment, and 80 percent of Ugandans work onthe land, this selection ofcase studies is entirely appropriate, though care is taken to ensure that pupils do not imagine that all Kenyans and Ugandans have these particular lifestyles.

There is excellent material on tourism and migration in the Mombasa pack. The topics are in fact closely linked, since the community studied was displaced by runway development at the airport, simultaneously losing its access to coastal fishing to hotel development.

There is nothing cosmetic about these publications. The monumental inequity of Kenyan society is acknowledged, as is the catastrophic period of civil disintegration in Uganda.

Nevertheless, the material will raise questions (spoken or not) that perhaps might have been anticipated. Why are families so large? (seven children per woman in Uganda). Where are all the fathers? (the Mombasa study draws exclusively on the work of women's and young men's groups).

Some discussion of these obvious social characteristics of the communities would certainly help teachers to avoid any unintentional confirming of prejudices.

Michael Storm

ActionAid is offering TES readersthe City by the Sea pack and wall chart at the special price of pound;16 including postage. Details fromthe address above

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