During the Winter Academy we invited Anja Schillhaneck, Vice President of the Berlin Parliament and Spokeswoman for Science, Sport, European and Federal Affairs for the parliamentary group of the green party “Bündnis 90/Die Grünen”, to share her expertise in the field of education policy with the participants.
In her presentation “Right to Education and Equal Education Opportunities. A View from Berlin” Anja Schillhaneck introduced the German education system and explained the particular challenges that arise from the three-tiered school system in terms of inequality and social mobility.
Discussion with Anja Schillhaneck; photo: Anaïs Bordes under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
Drawing on her practical experience as a politician, she also discussed how recent reforms of the school system in Berlin try to increase the equality of education opportunities. During the lively discussion with the participants which covered various topics ranging from the “PISA shock” to university enrollment fees, Anja Schillhaneck provided interesting insights into current debates within German education policy.
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 Sarada Balagopalan
Sarada Balagopalan is an Associate Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), New Delhi, and at the Department of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, Camden. She is the author of Inhabiting “Childhood”: Children, Labour and Schooling in Postcolonial India (2014).
In the decade preceding India’s Right to Education Act (2009), which guarantees each child the right to quality elementary schooling, the Delhi High Court adjudicated several cases involving the city’s elementary schools. Not only was the volume of cases unprecedented, but each drew attention to a particular aspect of the highly iniquitous landscape of elementary education with several of the judgements shaping key provisions of this new law.
In my presentation, I will focus on a few of these cases, not analyzing their judgements, but rather to explore the heterogeneous elements that compose a “case” and foreground the ways the “child” was deployed, both empirically and figuratively, to signal a certain urgency. My attempt is to both anchor as well as open up the discussion around “inequality” and “social justice” in elementary education in India by asking how judgements, which are perceived as a strong challenge to those who govern, get turned into a technology of power through the Right to Education Act. In what ways does invoking the “child” as an agential figure capable of exercising “rights” appear to ironically regulate the project of “social justice” at the same time that it underscores the inequality that underlies schooling?
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Deepika K Singh.
Deepika Singh is a research scholar at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her research questions and interest emanate from eleven years of work with government schools, budget schools, teachers, rural communities, groups that are lowest in caste hierarchies, class hierarchy, women and ethnic minorities.
Social exclusion and inclusion are two terms that are making inroads in policy discourse, especially in developing nations including India. They are not part of a binary, although inclusion should be understood in the context of exclusion. In the Indian context according to Thorat and Newman (2010, p 6.), exclusion revolves around societal institutions that exclude on the basis of group identities such as caste, ethnicity, religion and gender. Continue reading →
Research Project (to be discussed at the Winter Academy) by Latika Gupta.
Latika Gupta teaches courses in educational theory and pedagogy at the Central Institute of Education, University of Delhi. She is currently pursuing a study on the deconstruction of discourse of the recently enacted Right to Education in India.
The challenge facing the Indian system of education, especially at the elementary stage, cannot be adequately met unless we examine the discourses and practices that have shaped the social construction of childhood and schooling. The recently enacted Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act demands and creates an opportunity for identifying and deconstructing such discourses and to examine them, not merely as problematic practices, but rather as culturally drawn borders between state and society. This project interrogates two such discourses: ‘child labour’ and ‘child marriage’ so that the larger socio-economic and cultural context can be examined in which education works. It studies this larger context by probing two discourses that constitute the conditions in which children of disadvantaged backgrounds struggle in order to fulfil their aspiration for education and the personal and social purposes associated with it.
The first of these is the discourse of child labour. This is called a discourse because it has shaped not merely the state’s policies towards the poor but also the popular perception of the lives and potential of children who live in poverty. One dimension of this discourse is the perception that teachers have of poor children’s ability to learn and engage with school knowledge. Children who worked officially as labour or who help their parents because of poverty both fall in this category. When such children come to school and sit in the class with others, in what ways do they get distinguished for their working role at home, and what are the implications of this distinction for their adjustment at school and learning? At this juncture, it becomes important to ask: ‘While poverty persists, can the child’s education be protected from it?’
The second discourse is of child-marriage. In the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-III survey, 47.3% of women reported that they got married before the age of 18. Out of these, 2.6 percent were married before they turned 13 and 22.6 percent were married before they were 16. Faced with these figures, we need to ask: ‘What are the school’s epistemological and cultural resources to act on behalf of the state in its battle against a practice as persistent as child marriage?’ The discourse of child-marriage is not restricted to the event per se. Its phenomenological power lies in the socialization of girls by the family in the anticipation of an early marriage. Is the school prepared to deal and critically engage with a patriarchal milieu in which girls are prepared from early life for marriage—an extended notion of the discourse of child marriage—and responsibility for work, even though it is officially not labelled as labour?
The research focus of the TRG is India: the group’s research theme is “Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century” and the TRG fellows’ studies range from caste discrimination and education policy to the impact of schooling on life histories. At the same time, the group is sensitive to the global entanglements of the subject, and has a keen interest in encouraging comparative research, for instance by organizing and participating in conferences and workshops on comparative research on the theme. The TRG also offers visiting fellowships to scholars working on different regions.
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