Discussing views of Majority and Minority world countries with Ethiopian students

In our College of Teacher Education in Ethiopia we selected an activity related to development issues, to incorporate into an Advanced Civic and Ethical Education course. This course is designed to familiarise students with basic concepts such as development, growth, dependency and self-reliance. The course also explores theories of development, encouraging awareness of the economic realities of their country and the world at large. A mixed group of 57 Social Science students participated.

 Data presentation and analysis

The aim of the activity was to find out what students know about developed and developing countries (Minority World or Majority World countries), what characteristics they assign to them and how they understand the global interdependence of the developing and developed world.

Majority World is an alternative term for Developing World, Global South, or Third World. It describes countries in Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Caribbean more geographically accurately and less pejoratively than other terms.


 For Minority World Countries (Europe, North America)

Points of Discussion Responses




Family size Large 2 They have more income
Small 7 They use family planning; they are more educated; they are intellectual; they are aware of family planning
School distance Long 1 They have more income
Short 8 Schools are built near their homes; there are sufficient schools; their economy allows the building of schools; there are enough roads
Economy Agriculture 0
Industry 9 They have sufficient capital, materials, and professionals; they moved from agriculture to industry
Job opportunities/ employment High 9 They have sufficient capital to employ people; their economy is strong; they have many industries to employ people
Low 0
Access to health care Sufficient 9 They have professionals, sufficient materials; they have good incomes; there are many health service centres; they have access to medicine
Limited 0
Access to electricity Sufficient 9 They have a generous budget for electricity ; they have educated people
Limited 0
Living conditions Very good 9 People fulfill their basic needs; people have more income; there is more education; advanced economic development in the countries
Worst 0
Cities Big 9 Big cities with good infrastructure; the cities are of high quality; the countries have a good level of income
Small 0
Mothers’ employment Employed 8 Participate in all activities; administration, other government sectors;   they are educated; they have capital; they work in industries
Unemployed 1 They are working in the home


 For Majority World Countries (Africa, Asia, South and Central America, Caribbean)

Points of Discussion Responses




Family size Large 7 They cannot use family planning; lack of awareness of family planning; cultural influence
Small 2 Their income is low
School distance Big 8 The schools are far from the homes of students because of weak economy; lack of technology to build roads and schools; lack of transportation
Short 1 Their income is low
Economy Agriculture 9
Industry 0 Low economic level, lack of materials, and professionals; industries are not developed; they have not moved towards industry; lack of capital
Job opportunity/ employment High 0
Low 9 Lack of budget; fewer job opportunities; less economic level of countries
Access to health care Sufficient 0
Limited 9 Lack of professionals, materials, and low economic level; less education; shortage of medicine
Access to electricity Sufficient 0
Limited 9 Low economic level of the countries; less income of the people; lack of professionals – educated people
Living conditions Very good 0
Good 3 Less economic security (countries) and lower income (people)
worst 6 The people have no capital; the basic needs of the people are not fulfilled
Cities Big 0
Small 9 The people live in rural areas; the countries capital is low too to build cities; low level of technology
Mothers’ employment Employed 0
Unemployed 9 They are not educated; no job opportunities in the countries; they are engaged in household chores

After analyzing the results, we discussed how to improve the perception and understanding of the students with regard to this topic. We then conducted the intervention by using active learning and lecture methods that triggered students’ interest. Lastly we conducted a final audit to measure the extent of attitudinal change.

The results of the final audit were analyzed and compared with the initial audit results. At first students believed that developed countries were completely free of problems related to everyday living: all the problems were associated with developing countries.

Family size: seven of the nine groups (77.8 %) said that large families are observed only in developing countries; only two (22.2%) felt that this was also a problem for developed countries. Their reasoning was that people in developed countries were more educated and therefore well acquainted with family planning. In the final audit, students’ notion of respective family sizes was not much changed. Six (66.7%) of the respondent groups still associated family planning with developed countries, while only 3 (33.3%) said that family planning was practised in both developed and developing countries.

School distance: student understanding changed slightly. Initially, of the nine groups, eight (88.9%) said that having to go a long way to school is a feature of developing countries, and only one (1.11%) group felt that this was a problem in both developed and developing countries. The reason they gave was the difference in economic development: developed countries constructed many schools, and there are sufficient facilities, including roads, so children do not walk long distances to school. They felt the converse was true in in developing countries. In the final audit, the majority didn’t change their ideas, but three groups said that distance constitutes a problem in both parts of the world.

Economy: in the initial audit every group said that industry is the economic base of developed countries, and agriculture is associated with developing countries. After intervention the students’ perception changed significantly: 6 groups (66.7%) said that industries are currently flourishing in developing countries too, this being a global feature.

Job opportunities, employment and living conditions: students initially believed that high unemployment, poverty and dismal living conditions were problems solely found in developing countries, while there were no such problems in developed countries. The latter had well-developed economies and many employment opportunities. In the final audit, all the groups (100%) had changed their ideas. They felt that a lack of job opportunities and poor living standards affected, to different extents, all countries.

Female employment: initially all groups said that women in developed countries are employed outside the home because there are many industries that would hire them, while in developing countries there are no factories and industries where females can work. Seven groups then changed their minds: students felt that there are now more employment opportunities for women, outside the home, in developing counties and the lack of opportunities for women can also be a problem in developed countries.

Health care: initially it was felt that sufficient health care services are available only in developed countries, owing to their level of economic development. They have health care centres, many professionals, and access to medicine, whereas these facilities were lacking in developing countries. In the final audit every group agreed that health care services were offered in both countries and limitations in service provision can exist in any country.

Electricity supply: Initially all students said it was a feature of developed countries, again citing the economic development of the countries. But later seven groups (77.8%) changed their ideas and agreed that the supply exists in both countries and also that problems in supply could occur anywhere in the world.



The initial audit results showed that participants associated all the problems presented with developing countries, seeing developed nations as a paradise for all their inhabitants, while there were few or no prospects for betterment in developing nations. Through our interventions we sought to make students familiar with the contemporary realities across the world. Thus they modified their opinions and came to understand that both developed and developing countries share positive as well as negative aspects of the areas discussed. The way students viewed the developing and developed dichotomy changed; they no longer automatically related developing nations to problems, and developed nations to prosperity and harmony. This was evident in the final audit assessment and, though not on the scale we had hoped, the students were more aware of the world we all inhabit as a single entity.