Education and changing social structure in Sierra Leone : a study of the inter-relationship of education, occupation, migration and social stratification among secondary school leavers in Sierra Leone
Sinclair, John S.
This thesis has the double aim of presenting data on the socioeconomic position of secondary school leavers in Sierra Leone, and of examining the characteristics of the new system of social stratification which is emerging there. Of particular interest is the extent to which this resembles the stratification systems of Western industrialized societies. The pattern of recruitmentmafct to the secondary educated population was first examined. It was shown that a relatively high proportion of this is drawn from the lower socio-economic strata, suggesting a fairly high rate of mobility into the sub-elite? and the importance of the extended family in promoting this was stressed. There is also considerable selectivity, however, with those of higher socio-economic background having a great advantage in gaining a good education, and hence the best occupational positions. Occupational selection and adaptation among respondents were examined next. It appeared that many of them, especially males, aspired to the highest rewarded positions in society, irrespective of their socio¬ economic backgrounds. Because they had to leave school early, however, they could only obtain lower level employment, for example as clerks, teachers and semi-skilled workers. But despite this frustration of their original ambitions, they usually made a satisfactory adjustment on entering the labour market, though this often appeared to depend on the persistence of their beliefs in opportunities for further upward mobility in the future. Two other indices of the development of classes were examined. Firstly, it was shown that there was some evidence of the social separation of strata in primary relationships, particularly in terras of friendship and marriage, but also in kinship terms. Secondly, at least among the sub-elite, there was some development of class awareness. In summary, then, the evidence supports the contention that social classes are emerging in Africa.