Social development and social policy in Guinea : health and education 1958-1984
Guinea, a former French colony, experienced an abrupt severing of relationships with the colonial power when President Sékou Touré rejected De Gaulle’s offer of becoming part of a French commonwealth of nations and opted for total independence instead. France withdrew all support, trade and personnel within a matter of days, and Sékou Touré attempted to develop this new nation along strongly independent and ideological lines. He made a verbal commitment to social development and evolved an ambitious programme to develop the health and education services. This thesis uses dependency theory as a tool of analysis to ascertain whether independent, autonomous development indeed took place, particularly in the fields of health and education, once the break with the metropolis was made. The period under review, 1958 - 1984, was the period of Sékou Touré’s presidency. The four criteria used to assess the measure of development achieved are: a) The successful rejection of Western models of development. b) Equal development and an equal distribution of resources between the regions. c) No urban/rural imbalance. d) Services available for all rather than limited to an elite. In the light of these criteria, Guinea was indeed able to experience some measure of independent, autonomous development, more particularly in education. The health sector had been less developed as only 2.1% of the national budget was devoted to it in 1981, compared to 17.6% spent on education in 1980. The inequalities in the health service were particularly noticeable in the urban/rural imbalance, Conakry in particular enjoying a larger share of available resources, but this was not the case in education where no such imbalance appeared to exist. The area of Labé emerged as the least developed area of the country but the discrepancies in provision were not too marked. Guinea also achieved much in the promotion of women and the eradication of elites, especially among the different ethnic groups. With the death of President Sékou Touré in 1984, Guinea's experimenting with a revolutionary form of development came to an end. The nation's future, now in the hands of the military, is uncertain.