Pictorial booklets on government activities


Editorial note (EK). This report describes visits made by Marie Neurath to schools in the Ibadan area in March 1955, soon after her arrival in the Western Region of Nigeria for a second extended stay (late February to mid May 1955). A number of the 'White Paper' booklets written and designed during her previous trip (June to September 1954) had been printed and MN was now keen to test them on school children and teachers. The report details the various activities arranged in a number of schools, the reactions of the children and teachers to the booklets, and the messages the children apparently absorbed from them.

Among documents associated with the report are slips of paper on which teachers at one school (Sabo) wrote summaries of how the children responded to the booklet Education for all. The teacher of Class I B (presumably of 6- or 7-year-olds) noted: 'When I showed the book to the children[, a]ll the different colours arouse[d] their interest and they rushed to my table. I explained every page of the book to them with the illustrating pictures. Then the children found out themselves that schooling is very good. ... Many pupils wish to be teachers in future. A song ["]Bata mi a ro ko, ko, nile["] was sung to impress the lesson on their mind.' In a report from Class 6 Special, the latent propaganda dimension of the same booklet is more explicitly expressed: '... they [the students] have clearly understood and agreed that the government is fighting really for the upliftment of the country as a whole: long live [prime minister] Mr. Awolowo and [minister of education, Mr.] Awokoya amen.'

It is not clear for whom exactly the (very positive) report was written, although it was probably circulated among ministers whose departments had commissioned a booklet. MN did report on the responses to Education for all, recorded at the Sabo school, in a letter addressed directly to Awokoya.

(Report typescript and teacher summaries: I.C. 3.2/171).

Pictorial booklets on government activities

A few local primary schools and a cross-section of the Ibadan community have had the opportunity of reading and commenting on the new pictorial booklets dealing with the activities of the Western Regional Government, prepared by Mrs. Marie Neurath, Visual Aids Expert from the United Kingdom. The book[let]s are "Paying for Progress", "Education for all", "Health for all", and "Better farming for better living". Each is printed in two languages, namely, English and Yoruba.

"Paying for Progress" shows the principal heads for which Government spends money, e.g. education, medical services, development and agriculture. It also shows how Government get the necessary money, e.g. though direct taxation, import and export duties, etc. Pages 4 and 5 of the booklet on Education shows two sets of pictures asking the reader which he prefers --- schools for some children or schools for all? equal opportunities in life for some children or equal chance for all? The latter part of the book shows the great drive Government is making to train more teachers. Pages 8 and 9 of "Health for all" shows at a glance Government's medical plan. "Better farming for better living" gives hints on prevention of black pod disease on cocoa and increased productivity.

Mrs. Neurath who is just back in Nigeria, began a week's tour of the schools in Ibadan on Friday, March 18, and gave to each school a set of books. The main aim was to give teachers opportunity of studying and discussing the books before passing them on to the pupils.

In the lower classes it was intended to discover how much the pupils could recognise in the books certain objects familiar to them and to guess why they are shown there side by side with one another. That is to say, to build up a story by connecting a number of objects used together in the daily activities of the town. The teacher was then required to hold a reading lesson with them in the course of which he explains those objects in relation to the activities of the Regional Government.

Senior pupils who could easily read the footnotes under the pictures did so, and with the help of their teachers had a good idea of the Regional Government's plans to help the people. Demonstration lessons with the books were given in the presence of Mrs Neurath. On page 6 of "Paying for Progress", for instance, emphasis was laid on the enormous amount to be spent on education in order to carry out the policy of free primary education. Next is that for development and medical services. The pupils asked several questions which were answered by their teachers and in some cases by Mrs. Neurath. Some of the pupils asked if the books would eventually be sold. A pupil from the Olubadan School suggested a price of 6d per copy of the books.

The books aroused considerable interest at Momo Mohude Memorial (Sabo) School. Answering questions on one of the books, the children expressed unanimous opinion that education for all was better than that for a few, as the former would give equal opportunities in life for all. In the upper classes, where the book is better appreciated, the pupils held that the introduction of free primary education in the West was a bold step towards the abolition of illiteracy and ignorance in the Region.

The teachers too appeared to be fascinated by the books and in most of the schools visited the Headmasters asked for token copies to be preserved in their schools' libraries.

Townspeople also had the chance of reading the books, and where political persuasion did not bias their minds the books were acclaimed. The Yoruba edition was welcomed by those whose education is limited to the reading of vernacular literature.

There has been continuous demand for these books by those who had had the opportunity of studying them once, and it does not seem unlikely that the books will have a universal appeal, judging from these early signs. But it is already clear that they could service a double purpose --- as class books and a very effective means of publicising Government activities.


[signed MS MacPepple]
Asst. Publicity Officer


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