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?
Yusuf Sayed is the South African Research Chair in Teacher Education and the Founding Director of the Centre for International Teacher Education at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa. His research focuses on education policy formulation and implementation as it relates to concerns of equity, social justice and transformation.
South African Pre-School (Photo: private)
The formal end of apartheid was greeted with much optimism and many expectations. A new Government of National Unity with Nelson Mandela at its head signalled a new just and democratic social order, including social justice in and through education. Redress was assured through the deracialisation of education provision and the opening of schools, through equality in education spending and through a commitment to positive discrimination in favour of the marginalised. Whilst there have been many gains, twenty years later, formally desegregated yet class-based educational institutions, continuing disparities and inequities and poor academic achievement are key features of the contemporary educational order. Learner assessment results suggest that South Africa is characterised by a two-tier system of education, resulting in a poorly resourced public schooling sector serving the poor, while the wealthy have access to semi-private public schools and have significant management control over the running of the schools, rupturing the ideals of social cohesion encapsulated in the powerful metaphor of the “rainbow nation”. Based on a review of education policy in South Africa since 1994 (Sayed, Kanjee, & Nkomo 2013), this paper considers how this has come about, focusing specifically on a review of the changes in the governance of schools since 1994. The paper argues that for the poor in South Africa the doors of quality learning and education and social mobility remain firmly shut. In this context, this paper also considers some key strategies to advance social justice. The paper is a call to act with urgency to reform South Africa’s educational approach to make it possible to address the systemic crisis of education that especially affects South Africa’s historically disadvantaged and marginalized peoples.
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Sarah Hartmann.
Sarah Hartmann is a doctoral candidate at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include youth, education and social class in the Arab World as well as anthropological and political science approaches to statehood and informality.
This PhD project explores the relationship between Egyptian citizens and the state through an analysis of the widespread practice of private tutoring for school students, i.e. by taking a closer look at the coexistence, interdependence and entanglement of formal institutions and informal practices in the Egyptian education sector. Based on 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Cairo in 2009-2010, it provides a detailed account and analysis of some of the institutions, actors, social relations, and discourses involved in the provision of supplementary tutoring for school students, with a special focus on tutoring centers in lower income neighborhoods of Cairo. Despite its socio-economic and political significance, no in-depth ethnographic study of this phenomenon has been undertaken so far. The project aims to contribute to current debates on statehood and informal institutions in anthropology and political science. While tutoring developed as a coping strategy to compensate for the deficiencies of an underfunded and overburdened public education system, a means for teachers to supplement their meager salaries, and a strategy for students and parents confronted with the pressures of a strongly examination-oriented education system, it has turned into a generalized and deeply engrained feature of Egyptian educational culture during the last decades, with social, economic and political effects and implications that go far beyond the teaching and learning process itself. The ideal of the welfare state is increasingly replaced by neoliberal values of entrepreneurship, consumerism, and the privatization of risk and responsibility, rendering access to education and other services dependent on the financial means of the individual.