Tag Archives: neoliberal model of education

Videos of Conference Panel IV: “Private Actors in the Education System”

Chair: Andreas Gestrich (German Historical Institute London)DSC02124


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?

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Educational Privatization and the Collapse of State Institutions under Mubarak

Conference Paper to be presented by Hania Sobhy

Hania Sobhy is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Orient-Institut Beirut where she is writing up her research on Pro-Revolution Mobilization in Egyptian Elections 2012-2014. In 2012-2013, she was a postdoctoral Fellow with the EUME program of the Forum Transregionale Studien

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.

The implications of this ‘privatization-by-tutoring’ do not only include poor quality, higher inequality and resource waste. The very content of youth schooling experiences has also been fundamentally altered. In addition to ‘teaching to the exam’ in key subjects, without attention to the actual development of knowledge and skills, there has been an effective elimination of the ‘activities’ subjects that not linked to student grades; such as music, sports, arts, theatre, civics and school trips. As students increasingly obtain their education on the market and attend school irregularly, this has led to the effective elimination of the school itself as a key arena for youth socialization and the production of nationhood, especially at the secondary level. The condition of public schooling therefore exemplifies the privatization, informalization and dysfunction of state institutions under Mubarak; whether as providers of social services or as sites for the production of citizenship.

In this brief presentation, my aim is to explain, through figures and data, and through live examples based on my fieldwork, what it actually means that, with 17 million students and 2 million employees, there is ‘no education’ in Egypt; and to bring to light the different manifestations of this educational dysfunction in a highly tracked and unequal system.

Hauptschüler. The Role of Education in Exclusion Processes in Germany

Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Stefan Wellgraf.

Stefan Wellgraf obtained his PhD from the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder. His dissertation dealt with problems of exclusion in Berlin, Germany. In 2015, he will start a research project on the affective dimension of exclusion.

The German terms “Hauptschule” and “Hauptschüler”, loosely translated as general secondary school and its students, are associated with a range of negative associations. Consequently, the learning conditions at “Hauptschulen” have become increasingly problematic and reputation of those schools has deteriorated. Education plays a crucial role in this processes. In German, the term “Bildung” has a double connotation: On the one hand, it stands for an ideal of self-development, for the deployment of human capacities and for a transformation of the relations to oneself, to others and to the world. This ideal of “Bildung” can be traced back to German Idealism around 1800 and was therefore often regarded as a specifically German interpretation of “Bildung”. On the other hand, there is an idea of “Bildung” focusing more on the acquisition of those skills and certificates which promise economic benefits. This tendency has often been linked to an “American” or “neoliberal” model of education. Both models were never neatly separated, but coexisted – both in Germany and in the USA – in diverse and historically changing constellations. Taking both sides into account nevertheless helps to understand contemporary forms of exclusion in German “Hauptschulen” and reactions to them by “Hauptschüler”. The problem of the “Hauptschule” is that it cannot live up to either of the two versions of “Bildung” and has instead become an institution of only negative selection. A transregional perspective could help to compare these phenomena and situate them in a global context of historic and contemporary politics of education and labor. The role of the state as well as transregional processes of neoliberalization will come into focus from this perspective. Such a view is particularly relevant, given that the majority of “Hauptschüler” in Berlin are migrants. In a way, they transform the schools into transnational spaces from below.