Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Cyril Owen Brandt.
Cyril Owen Brandt is currently a PhD candidate at the Amsterdam Institute of Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam. He is researching teacher pay in contexts that are conflict-affected and lack functioning public administration.
As the ambivalent role of education for sustainable peace building is gaining increasing attention in international debates, it is important to analyze the conditions under which education is taking place. The provision of education in so-called conflict-affected and fragile countries depends on a range of factors, among which teacher remuneration plays a pivotal role.
The Congolese education sector is characterized by a gradual retreat of the state in the provision of education and an increasing authority and decision-making power of local actors. The predominance of uncodified practical norms causes constant negotiations between different actors. Among these, teachers have the particular role of providing education to the students. They must do so in a multi-scalar context of reconstruction agendas, inadequate payment, erroneous administration, practical norms and competition between schools for students. Moreover, there are a range of ambiguous effects from global and national agendas, e.g. around free primary education.
Previous studies have outlined the structural impacts on teachers, but none focused on their agency. If teachers are still coping with their very basic needs due to their income situation, quality of education is not the primary or sole concern of their everyday actions. Hence, they have developed a range of strategies to exercise their agency in relation to their income.
Teachers must invest time and money for different purposes in order to be registered and paid. They do so vis-à-vis governmental brokers in a corrupt environment. At other times, they have common objectives with parents with whom they cooperate. Moreover, there is not one teacher employment status, but a range of de facto statuses. For instance some teachers are only paid locally by parents and do not receive any governmental money.
The research design is based on the Extended Case Method and was conceived in order to allow a thorough analysis of the complex multi-scalar political economy concerning the school and teacher registration system and teacher payment. Theoretical choices include the Strategic-Relational Approach and a focus on Real Governance.