In many societies, (higher) education has been equated with a form of professional formation whose focus lies on the requirements of enterprises. At the same time, a reduced individual dividend for education (that is, a decreasing value of titles and degrees because of an increasing level of education throughout the whole society) has become observable. To what extent are opportunities in the labor market dependent on education and (to what extent) has this connection loosened during the last decades? Besides university studies, which alternative routes are likely to lead to a successful career? How are the factors of inter-generational inequality, on the one hand, and education and the labor market, on the other, intertwined?
Regions outside Europe are often attested a higher level of social heterogeneity and inequality on various axes. But even in Western Europe, social change and processes of migration have generated a greater degree of social diversity during the last decades. Which interdependencies, if any, can be traced between social heterogeneity and ideas/systems of education? In which contexts has education facilitated the empowerment of marginalized subjects and groups? How do students from different social backgrounds make use of educational opportunities? What role do habitus and practices of assessment within the educational institutions play? What influence do gender and class inequalities or other factors of social discrimination have on the accessibility of (higher) education? What experience do we have with affirmative action and quotas? When does education become a cause of social mobilization? Do the poor receive a different form of education?
The question of which forms of knowledge are recognized as education – or in German “Bildung” – can be fundamentally contested. Therefore, the process that renders certain forms of knowledge education while excluding others needs to be problematized as an arena of (implicit) political struggle and as a way of wielding social power. Moreover, many regions outside Europe have been affected by colonial pasts. This panel seeks to address the complex topic of global knowledge asymmetries, by asking questions such as: What is the relationship between indigenous knowledge/education and external influences? To what extent have colonial legislation, the associated institutional structures and ideas of education, elite, etc. been impacting on (post-) colonial systems of education? What influence does the formation of the (nation-) state and subsequent politico-economic developments have on ideas and practices of inequality and education?
Conference Paper to be presented by Augustin Emane
Augustin Emane is Associated Professor at the University of Nantes. He teaches Labor Law and Social Security Law. His research focuses on occupational risks in France, labor law in France and in French-speaking countries in Africa, and health systems in Europe and Africa. He also works on the transfer of Western legal categories in Africa and labor law in Brazil.
This paper examines Gabon, a country with a high level of schooling (more than 80%) compared with the average in other African countries (less than 50%), but where social inequalities and the level of unemployment are rather high. It is this paradox that we will try to explain. Education for us means school, which is traditionally used in Gabon to change social class or to reach a more prestigious situation. It allows us to fight social inequalities. Thanks to school, we acquire knowledge and competencies that lead on to get a job. For several years, this model was very effective, and the elite that we find governing us today has benefited from this promotion via education. Up to the 1980s, the labor market had integrated all the people who were schooled. The new job seeker had lots of choices concerning his job.
After the second oil crisis in 1979, things started to change. The state’s financial difficulties led to a reconsideration of the number of people it employed. Private companies faced an incredible number of job seekers, who did not always correspond to their needs. The principal reason for this situation is in fact the colonial period. Since the introduction of modern work in Gabon, office jobs have carried prestige, and school has often been considered a way of getting such ideal jobs. Anthropology and sociology could explain better this phenomenon. The logical consequence of this trend was that the literary field was privileged over the scientific field (seen for a long time as a course for prospective technicians and manual workers).
For the last 30 years, education has remained an indispensable way of integrating the labor market. But this is not enough. Inequalities are going to appear between the different academic routes. Different choices of courses lead to different job opportunities. It is now the opposite: scientific courses guarantee more job opportunities. A second type of inequality results from differences among the schools, or among countries. A third inequality is in the nationality of the company of employment.
Conference Paper to be presented by David MacDonald
David MacDonald is a Full Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Guelph, Canada. He has been actively involved with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, coordinating sharing circles and academic panels, and authored the chapter on genocide for the TRC’s Final Report, due in mid-2015.
From the 1880s, the Canadian government, along with the four main Christian Churches, ran a network of Indian Residential Schools for over a century. Legislation from 1920 forced Aboriginal children to attend, and children were ostensibly kidnapped from their parents. The schools were often poorly run, received very low funding and had high mortality rates. The focus was often on training in agriculture and domestic labour to prepare children to be workers, while actual Western education (promoting literacy and numeracy) was sporadic. Sometimes described as “total institutions”, the IRS system saw staff wielding almost complete control over the lives of their young charges. High rates of verbal, physical and sexual abuse were endemic. The schools exacerbated problems of structural inequality, which had a knock-on effect afterwards, as high rates of intergeneration trauma perniciously undermined the ability of many Aboriginal communities to function either in their traditional ways or according to Western models. In the IRS system, the actual education of children was almost always a secondary goal. For the Churches, conversion and linguistic and cultural assimilation were central goals. For the government, aggressive assimilation was designed in part to clear indigenous land for settlement. In coming to terms with seven generations of schooling, the UN Genocide Convention is increasingly used, with a focus on article 2(e), which prohibits the forced transfer of children from one group to another. This presentation also problematizes the term “education” – since colonial educational practices can have a detrimental effect on indigenous peoples, especially if they are (1) radically different from pre-existing practices developed over thousands of years and (2) designed to colonize young minds and bodies and promote forms of self-loathing. The dissonance between indigenous educational and spiritual practices forms an important backdrop for understanding why these forms of education were so devastating.
Conference Paper to be presented by Peter Kallaway
Peter Kallaway is an Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Western Cape and a Research Associate at the University of Cape Town. He is interested in the history of education in South Africa and British colonial Africa, particularly in the interaction between missionary educators, philanthropists, and colonial governments.
South African Pre-School (Photo: private)
The forms of knowledge that came to dominate the African colonial mission school curriculum, and later government schools, have often been criticised for their lack of sensitivity to African or indigenous culture and languages. This state was famously termed “cultural imperialism” in the 1970s and was said to have been one of the causes of the weakness of the educational systems that were inherited by the new national states in the independence era. For example, there was a move to promote an authentic heritage of knowledge (Indigenous Knowledge Systems, IKS) in South Africa after 1994 in keeping with this perceived need to transform public knowledge in line with the liberation politics of the contemporary order.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Debarati Bagchi.
Debarati Bagchi is as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Dehli, and a member of the Max Weber Foundation Transnational Research Group “Poverty and Education in Modern India”. She is currently working on Sylhet Nagri texts and pedagogic practices in colonial Northeast India.
This proposed project intends to track the circulation of printed and handwritten texts in Sylheti-Bengali, written in Sylhet Nāgarī script in late nineteenth-early twentieth century Sylhet and later among the London-based Sylheti diaspora. The Sylhet Nāgarī script was projected to have been devised as a ‘simplified alternative’ of the sanskritised version of Bengali and was chiefly attributed to the ‘illiterate masses of the Muslim population’ including peasants, fishermen, boatmen – people who were ‘not well versed in Bengali literature.’ Its entire pedagogic endeavour was to bridge the gap between the written (lekhya bhasha) and the spoken (kathya bhasha) and thereby meeting one of the preconditions of democratisation of education – the concern for reaching out to a larger mass. The primer of the script differed from the available forms and contents of primers in the school system not only in its lack of secular content but also in addressing the audience. The declared purpose of this primer was to address an adult audience who would be able to read the texts in Sylhet Nāgarī outside the school system. In content, these texts dealt with the ethics and values associated with the local form of Islam where it was not impossible to find the stories of Yusuf Zuleikha along with the stories Radha-Krishna and the nineteenth century concern for the pervasive threat of conversion to Christianity. Besides songs by Pirs and Fakirs, didactic manuals for the followers of Islam, popular stories viz. the war of Karbala, the life story of Hazrat Muhammad or the love story of Yusuf Zuleikha, the texts also occasionally dealt with chronicles of contemporary social events. It was quite a popular pastime among rural households, especially among women who gathered together from neighboring households to read and listen to these texts.
We do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of the social content of readership and the meaning of these texts in their everyday lives. Through the study of these didactic texts, this project aims to explore the nature of ‘alternative’ pedagogic practices prevalent among the poor masses of Sylhet. Instead of probing the origin of the script or analysing the religious-philosophical foundations of the texts, this project would track the circulation of the texts and the politics of standardisation of the script. It attempts to form an understanding of the public sphere that once consumed these texts and develop an understanding of the colonial modern in the formation of a regional identity. The project also seeks to add a postcolonial dimension to the question by trying to address the historical reasons leading to the revival of Sylhet Nāgarī script among the diasporic population in UK.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Preeti.
Preeti is presently a PhD research scholar at Centre for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. As a member of the Transnational Research Group “Poverty and Education in Modern India”, she is working on “Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor – Between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century”.
This doctoral research is focusing on the school education of women (especially of poor and the underprivileged members among the Hindus, and comparison would be made with other communities) in the United Provinces between 1854 and 1930. The present work is confined to the intervening period when the formalization of girls’ education was being mapped out, institutionalized and debated as well. It will examine not only the governmental initiatives, particularly those aimed at the poor and marginalized communities, but also private and missionary efforts, early nationalist efforts, the reach of religious institutions and some of the nascent efforts made by women themselves to assist in the development and growth of women’s education more generally. Why did women’s education, and the education of the poor among them, become a concern of the colonial government at all? What were the social and economic structures which may have thwarted or stimulated the necessity for female education? Comparisons will be made between boys’ and girls’ education through debates regarding the curriculum, funding, special schools or co-education, compulsory education and the creation of demand of female education through the grant of privileges.
Against the socio-cultural environment of nineteenth and early twentieth century, this work is an attempt to explore women’s education in United Provinces. One thing that needs to be remembered is that the women being talked about here are the middle class women, as most writings on education are silent on the question of the education of rural and non-elite women. Female education was limited to middle class women during the late nineteenth century and that is the focus of scholars such as Partha Chatterjee, Tanika Sarkar, J. Devika, and Rosalind O’ Hanlon. These scholars have not explored the state of learning among the poor classes or low caste women. This work would try to explore caste and class differentiation in the field of women’s education. This can be explored through Missionary accounts of their assessment of and contribution to the field of women’s education.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Kaustubh Mani Sengupta.
Kaustubh Mani Sengupta joined the Max Weber Stiftung Transnational Research Group “Poverty and Education in Modern India” after finishing his PhD in 2013. In his current project, he is looking at the ways West Bengal refugees negotiated with the post-colonial situation and the role of education in their lives.
The project studies the role of education and school in the lives of the refugees who settled in West Bengal after the partition of British India in 1947. Most of the early refugees from East Bengal belonged to the upper or middle caste groups–the bhadraloks. They tended to gravitate towards the urban centres, more specifically to Calcutta. An acute housing crisis forced a majority of them to forcibly occupy barracks and empty tracts of lands and to build up squatter colonies there. After securing the basic necessity of life, the members of the colony would look to establish a school, as they regarded education as the utmost important element for the children of refugee population to survive in the alien land. This was a common pattern without any exception – either a particular colony had a school for itself or a few colonies collectively would develop a school. The study explores the possible reasons behind the importance that education had among the refugees – was it their bhadralok baggage that made them invest their capital, labour and time in developing neighbourhood schools; or was educating their children necessary to ensure a job in the foreign land? Also, what were the cultural significances of building up a school in a colony, where did the money come from, who taught in these schools and what were their relations with the government sanctioned education board?
The bhadralok colony-dwellers formed only a section of the refugee population. Among the migrants from East Pakistan, there were poor cultivators, artisans, petty traders and others. They lacked the minimum means necessary for setting up squatter colonies. They took refuge in the government camps. These camps had government-run schools and training centres. The camp population was often transitory in nature as the government tried to rehabilitate the inhabitants somewhere permanently. Did the curricula in these schools and centres take into account the possible temporariness of the population? Often the pupils in these schools were first-generation school-goers – how did the primary education mould their life-cycles, what were the drop-out rates and how important was the vocational training among the downtrodden refugees – these are some of the issues that the project will address.
In brief, the project critically interrogates the role of education in the development of a group of people who were trying to carve out a niche for themselves in a new country. The post-partition period was a critical phase in the biography of the new nation as well. The refugees as well as the government, both were trying to work out a way to move ahead, leaving behind the tumultuous last few years. The broad sets of sources for this study include various government reports, school magazines and commemorative volumes, refugee memoirs and oral narratives.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Sakariyau Alabi Aliyu.
Sakariyau Alabi Aliyu is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute for History at the University of Leiden (Netherlands). His research interests include muslim education (particularly in the Nigerian context), Nigerian intellectual history and the philosophy of history.
Established as a citadel of Islam in the nineteenth century, Ilorin came under the colonial hegemony of the British at the end of the nineteenth century. Thenceforth the history of Islamic education became an unending dynamic of engagement with the challenges that the rival system of Western education has posed to Islamic education. Starting in the colonial period within Ilorin and lasting into the early decades of independence, also from outside Ilorin, the ulama responded to this challenge mainly in three ways, corresponding to schools of thought of Islamic education in Ilorin.
First, there is the tolerant Adabiyyah School favoring western education in conjunction with Islamic education, then there is the Zumratu Muminina (makondoro) school that was strictly against western education. The third school, Markaziyya, privileged Arabic/Islamic education as a standalone system; it tolerated Western education only independent from the Islamic system. From the colonial period thenceforth Islamic education followed this trifurcate system to a greater or lesser extent, even when a scholar does not categorically belong to any of these schools.
Although the ultimate aim of a positive hereafter for Islamic education, against material benefit, plays a crucial role in limiting the material strength of the system, this thesis argues that society’s attitude towards the system, absence of state support and the financial wherewithal unlike the Western system has been a major hindrance to progress in the system. Despite this limited capacity the scholars have been unrelenting, continuously adapting the system to the needs of the society, for example by transforming of the traditional Quranic schools into madaris from the colonial period, reforming the methods, curriculum and routes to be followed to running of the two systems with their madaris (sing. madrasah), especially since the government withdrawal from the provision of Western education from the late twentieth century. More than is credited to them the scholars have actually contributed to the development of western education even as the attention given to the Western system of education by the government and the society has been detrimental to its own development.