Chair: Andreas Gestrich (German Historical Institute London)
Geetha Nambissan (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi)
Hania Sobhy (Orient-Institut Beirut)
In some regions, non-state actors have had a long (colonial) tradition in the education system. Currently, probably due to failures of government-run infrastructures, a variety of new actors (business-oriented and non-profit, national and international) are coming into play. In some countries, the balance of public and private investment in the educational sector is tilted to an extent that is criticized as risking a devaluation of the national educational system. Can we observe (regional or even global) trends toward a hierarchization, privatization and commercialization of education for both the elites and the masses? How do liberalization discourses in other fields of society impact upon these developments and the corresponding norms and values? What is the role of religious entities in the educational sector?
Geetha Nambissan: “Private Actors and Education for the Poor in India”
Business actors and so-called “edupreneurs” have entered the widely unregulated, low-cost school market in India and other developing countries. They construct narratives of bringing “good education” to the poor and claim to deliver high-quality education at low costs, thus ensuring profits. Nambissan analyses how neo-liberal discourses are being used by these private actors in an attempt to change education policy in India. She argues that this has serious implications for social justice in education for the poor.
Geetha Nambissan recently published a paper on “Poverty, Markets and Elementary Education in India” on the international online publication platform perspectivia.net.
Hania Sobhy: “Educational Privatization and the Collapse of State Institutions under Mubarak”
The vast majority of Egyptian students attend public schools and free universal education remains a constitutionally enshrined right. However, 50-80% of students attend regular private tutoring in most subjects in a highly segregated system. This places a huge financial burden on households so that private spending on education now exceeds public spending. Despite this duplicated expenditure, most teachers remain grossly underpaid and the quality of schooling has declined to the extent that education is routinely declared ‘non-existent’ by Egyptians: mafeesh taleem.
If you like to find out more about Hania Sobhy and her work please read our 5in10-interview.