International Handbook of Urban Education (Springer International Handbooks of Education)

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International Handbook of Urban Education (Springer International Handbooks of Education)

INTERNATIONAL HANDBOOK OF URBAN EDUCATION Springer International Handbooks of Education VOLUME 19 A list of titles in

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Springer International Handbooks of Education VOLUME 19

A list of titles in this series can be found at the end of this volume.

International Handbook of Urban Education Part One Editors William T. Pink Marquette University, U.S.A. and

George W. Noblit University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, U.S.A.

Section Editors Africa Kevin Brennan Julius Nyang’oro Asia Pacific Masturah Ismail Allan Luke Europe Elisabet Öhrn Gaby Weiner Latin America Belmira Oliveira Bueno North America Michele Foster United Kingdom Carol Campbell Geoff Whitty

A C.I.P. Catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

ISBN-13 978-1-4020-5198-2 (HB) ISBN-13 978-1-4020-5199-9 (e-book)

Published by Springer, P.O. Box 17, 3300 AA Dordrecht, The Netherlands

Printed on acid-free paper

All Rights Reserved © 2007 Springer No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, microfilming, recording or otherwise, without written permission from the Publisher, with the exception of any material supplied specifically for the purpose of being entered and executed on a computer system, for exclusive use by the purchaser of the work.




Introduction George W. Noblit and William T. Pink

xv Part One

Section 1 Africa 1

Urban Education in Africa: Section Editors’ Introduction Kevin Brennan and Julius Nyang’oro


Urbanization and Schooling in Africa: Trends, Issues, and Challenges from Ghana during the Colonial Era Kwabena Dei Ofori-Attah


Language Education in Cameroon: From the Colonial Era to the 21st Century Funwi F. Ayuninjam


The Politics of National Culture and Urban Education Reforms in Post-Independent Zimbabwe Douglas Mpondi


Reforming the City School in South Africa: Mapping the History from Apartheid Durban to Post-Apartheid eThekwini Jenni Karlsson







Urban Primary Schooling in Malawi: Opportunities and Challenges Samson MacJessie-Mbewe and Dorothy Cynthia Nampota


Ethnicity, Politics, and State Resource Allocation: Explaining Educational Inequalities in Kenya Alwiya Alwy and Susanne Schech


Dimensions of Diversity: Educating Urban Township Learners, a Case of Umlazi Township School in Durban, South Africa Thabisile Buthelezi


The Middle School Climate in Senegal: The Case of the Diourbel Middle School Abdou Karim Ndoye








Table of Contents

Urban Education Differentials and Marginalization: The Case of Educating the Youth in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements Kinuthia Macharia


Section 2 Asia Pacific 11

Urban Education in Asia Pacific: Section Editors’ Introduction Allan Luke and Masturah Ismail


Urban–Rural Disparities in Educational Equality: China’s Pressing Challenge in a Context of Economic Growth and Political Change Rui Yang


Equity and Social Justice in Australian Education Systems: Retrospect and Prospect Jill Blackmore


The Urban and the Peripheral: New Challenges for Education in the Pacific Priscilla Qolisaya Puamau and G. Robert Teasdale





Ducked or Bulldozed? Education of Deprived Urban Children in India Anita Rampal


Withering the State? Globalization Challenges and Changing Higher Education Governance in East Asia Ka Ho Mok





Madrasah and Muslim Education: Its Interface with Urbanization Sa’eda Buang


Women in East Asian Education and Society: Whose Gains in Whose Perspectives? Grace C. L. Mak


Framing Lives: Longitudinal Research on Life Planning and Pathways in Singapore David Hogan, Trivina Kang, and Melvin Chan




New Urban Terrains: Literacies, World Kids, and Teachers Karen Dooley, Cushla Kapitzke, and Carmen Luke



Section 3 Western Europe 21

Urban Education in Europe: Section Editors’ Introduction Elisabet Öhrn and Gaby Weiner


Globalisation and Glocalisation in Northern Spain: Urban Education, Ethnicity and Multicultural Issues Benjamín Zufiaurre and Alicia Peñalva



Table of Contents


School Differentiation and Segregation in the Parisian Periphery: An Analysis of Urban Schools’ Logics of Action and their Effects Agnes van Zanten




Urban Citizenship Tuula Gordon



Territorial Stigmatisation, Hip Hop and Informal Schooling Ove Sernhede



Between the Road and the Town: An Ethnographic Study of the Education of Traveling Attractionists Francesca Gobbo


The Limits of Compensatory Education in Spain: A Comparative Analysis of Some Autonomous Governments Xavier Rambla and Xavier Bonal




Dutch Urban Schools and Teachers’ Professionalism Yvonne Leeman


Urban Regions and their Potential for Teacher Education: The Hamburg Example Eva Arnold, Johannes Bastian, and Wilfried Kossen



Part Two Section 4 Latin America 30

Urban Education in Latin America: Section Editor’s Introduction Belmira Oliveira Bueno


History of Brazilian Urban Education: Space and Time in Primary Schools Luciano Mendes de Faria Filho and Diana Gonçalves Vidal


Learning Cycles: Transition Policies for a New Logic of Compulsory Schooling in Brazil Elba Siqueira de Sá Barretto and Sandra Zákia Souza


School Failure and Public Schools: Theoretical and Pedagogical Challenges in Brazil Denise Trento Rebello de Souza and Marilene Proença Rebello de Souza


Chilean Educational Reform: The Intricate Balance Between a Macro and Micro Policy Dagmar Raczynski and Gonzalo Muñoz-Stuardo






Public Policies and Educational Equity in the City of Bogota Gloria Calvo




Table of Contents


Primary Education: Changing Mainstay of Uruguay Juan A. Bogliaccini


Educational Policies and Realities: Teachers’ Initial Education in Mexico Etelvina Sandoval


Learning to Work in an Industrial Mexican City in Transition (1990–2000) María de Ibarrola




The Fragmented Composition of the Argentinean Educational System Guillermina Tiramonti



Section 5 North America 40

Urban Education in North America: Section Editor’s Introduction Michele Foster



Imagining the Urban: The Politics of Race, Class, and Schooling Zeus Leonardo and Margaret Hunter



Persuasive, Pervasive, and Limiting: How Causal Explanations Shape Urban Educational Research and Practice Joseph Flessa and Diane Ketelle


The New Immigrants: Shaping the Urban Educational Landscape Lisa Konczal


Urban Schooling in Suburban Contexts: Exploring the Immigrant Factor in Urban Education Carl E. James and Roger Saul


Urban School Reform: To What End? James H. Lytle


Success Stories in Urban Education: A Critical Look at the Ethic of Care in Programs, Projects, and Strategies that Work from the Classroom to Community Tryphenia B. Peele-Eady, Na’ilah Suad Nasir, and Valerie Ooka Pang


Rebuilding Schools, Restoring Communities: A Vision of Urban Educational Evaluation Rodney K. Hopson, Jennifer C. Greene, Katrina L. Bledsoe, Trinidad M. Villegas, and Tanya A. Brown

803 825

841 859



Section 6 United Kingdom 48

Urban Education in the United Kingdom: Section Editors’ Introduction Carol Campbell and Geoff Whitty


Table of Contents



History of Urban Education in the United Kingdom Gary McCulloch


Urban Education Theory Revisited: From the Urban Question to End of Millennium Gerald Grace


Combating Racism in Schooling: A Critical Perspective on Contemporary Policy and Practice David Gillborn





Reforming Urban Education Systems Martin Johnson


Urban Learning and the Need for Varied Urban Curricula and Pedagogies Richard Riddell


Leading Schools in High Poverty Neighborhoods: The National College for School Leadership and Beyond Pat Thomson





Urban School Improvement Barbara MacGilchrist



Urban Schools: Performance, Competition and Collaboration Philip A. Woods



The Governance of Urban Education in the UK: A Public, Private or Partnership Future? Carol Campbell and Geoff Whitty



Multi-Agency Working in Urban Education and Social Justice Lyn Tett



Future Directions for Urban Education in the UK Leisha Fullick and Tim Brighouse


Coda 60

Coda: An Urban Education Dystopia George W. Noblit and William T. Pink



Urban Education Dystopia, 2050 Allan Luke



Urban Education Dystopia, 2050: A Response from Africa Kevin Brennan



Urban Education Dystopia, 2050: A Response from the Asia Pacific Masturah Ismail



Table of Contents


Urban Education Dystopia, 2050: A Response from Europe Elisabet Öhrn and Gaby Weiner



Urban Education Dystopia, 2050: A Response from Latin America Belmira Oliveira Bueno



Urban Education Dystopia, 2050: A Response from North America Michele Foster



Urban Education Dystopia, 2050: A Response from the United Kingdom Carol Campbell and Geoff Whitty


Biographical Statements


Subject Index


Author Index



Urban education, as a field of study, has been plagued by a social problems orientation. Urban areas are often seen as collections of problems and urban schools are as well. The sad reality is that urban areas are full of both poverty and wealth and the educational system reflects both of these. In practice, urban schools are often segregated by class, caste, and race. Such schools are also segregated because public policy allows this to be true. Policy creates the schools that serve young people who are marginalized and for whom life is difficult and unforgiving. Such schools make it difficult for students to use education to alter their life chances. The field of urban education emerged precisely to highlight the above and to argue that such students and families, and the schools that serve them, deserve better. The field itself has led to many new understandings about how to improve schools and how to better serve such students and their families. These are great accomplishments but they are also always limited by the asymmetry of possibilities created by social stratification, segmentation, and segregation. Urban schools that are created to reflect divided societies cannot significantly improve without the dismantling of the schools that serve those that derive considerable benefits from the stratified society. In turn, this would seem to require dismantling the wider societal stratification systems. The field of urban education then exists both as an amelioration in such societies and as a moral conscience – calling attention to effects of racialization, class formation and maintenance, and patriarchy. This moral conscience is never far from the research in urban education whether it be in service of improving schools or critiquing policy and practice. Across the globe we have been experiencing a steady process of urbanization. Yet urbanization takes on different forms given different social and cultural histories. In many parts of the world, the poor are not in the central cities but in rings around the city. The schools that serve them (if there are schools that serve them) share the challenges of all schools that serve the urbanized poor. This Handbook enables the reader to compare the different forms of urbanization and urban education and to make some fundamental comparisons about what is different and what is the same about urban education xi



across the globe. We encourage a critical reading of these works. Readers should delve deeply into the chapters and into the myriad issues evident. In doing so, the editors and authors of these works invite you to reconsider the lenses you use to understand urban education. If these chapters do nothing else, they should make it clear that context is almost everything in urban education. Urban schools contain a society’s hopes and limitations. In declaring the schools to be problems, we blame the victims for what others have done to them. The charges should be leveled not at the victims but at the perpetrators. Who set in motion rural destabilization such that migration to the cities becomes the only option for the displaced? Who created an economy that leaves so many impoverished, unemployed and/or underemployed? Who created residential segregation? Who promotes stratification and segmentation of a society’s people? Who set up educational systems that cannot meet the needs of people who must rely on them? Who is culpable for the draining of resources from urban schools? Who is responsible for not addressing these and other issues? We have emphatically stressed who because social science along with those with power have created a language that suggests processes and factors that are beyond the control of people. This creates an image of inevitability and, of course, leaves the poor to exist as an unfortunate fact of life. Globalization is a phenomenon that some portray as a process or force that has an independent existence. It permeates the chapters in this volume. Every local scene is interpenetrated with an economy that spans national borders. Every urban area, every urban school, finds itself subject to economic shifts connected to the global economy. This said, it is also true that the global economy was and is being created and recreated every day by the actions of business leaders and policymakers. It is inevitable only because these leaders see benefit in it for themselves and for global trade, which in the end benefits the dominant classes worldwide. If this is who, then the question becomes how do we hold them accountable for increasing poverty? For a centralization of wealth that has all but destroyed the middle classes? For displaced populations that are now urbanized and marginalized? The only mechanisms that have some history are governmental or involve the universal politics of protest and insurrection? The former seems all too compromised to act definitively, while the latter has an unfortunate history of demagoguery and antidemocratic effects. Thus globally, this could be a turning point in governmentality – one where potentially both the economy and the population exceed the reach of the state. In this, it seems clear that urban areas will be the terrain of struggle. Hope must be possible for the alternative is devastation. We offer this volume in service of hope. This project began over 7 years ago as it became apparent that globally urbanization was proceeding at a remarkable rate, and that, in both policy and popular imagination, urban education was the locus of the action. As we thought through the volume’s orientation, this became increasingly true. Riots in Paris immigrant suburbs, the bulldozing of squatters villages in Africa, and the exportation of school reform ideas from the West to the world all increasingly signaled the centrality of urban education in the new world order. We began the substance of the work by engaging lead scholars from across the globe in discussions about the way the world was organized and divided, especially in regards to urban education. From these emerged, the sections of this book and the invitations to section editors. We wish to be clear that the sections of this book are not meant to be



some definitive statement about the way the world is partitioned. Rather our discussions yielded this organization as a heuristic to begin to understand urban education as a global phenomenon. It was more a way to come to understand than the sense that this is the way to understand urban education globally. We are convinced that now, after we have assembled some semblance of what is known about urban education around the world, we would want to reconsider the sections and potentially change them in fundamental ways. For example, we were unable to organize a section on what used to be called Eastern Europe but this is clearly an arena that needs to be investigated. We wonder about the wisdom of going with continents like Latin American and Africa. There is much variety as well as similarity across these continents. They deserve additional consideration. We have the US, the UK and Europe as sections. We were all aware from the beginning that these sections reflect Western dominance in global affairs (and not inconsequentially the major book markets). This deserves even more interrogation. The Asia-Pacific reflects a more recent understanding of how the old “East” is now a set of emerging economic and political relations. This heuristic seems to be productive here but is it the best way to organize our understanding of urban education or, as importantly, will it be as useful in the near future? In future volumes, we will take on these and other tasks, but for now we revel in what has been revealed by the heuristic we did employ. The sections and chapters create a knowledge base that has never before existed. It will be studied as the state of the art in the field of urban education and serve as the starting point for a new research agenda for this century, this world. This accomplishment should be credited, not to us, but to the entire team who made it possible. The section editors conceptualized their sections, sought out who they thought to be the best thinkers and scholars in the regions to write chapters, diligently and doggedly worked with the authors to produce high quality pieces, and wrote the section introductions. The authors had the major responsibility for conducting the necessary primary and secondary research, for conceptualization and writing, and finally for the quality of the chapters themselves. We have been fortunate to work with some of the best scholars in the world and this volume demonstrates how impressive their collective work can be. It is important for the reader to be aware that just as urban education varies so do the practices of scholars. You will note variations in research and writing practices across the sections and even between nations or regions within sections. Some of this is really about the limits of translating into English, but less than might be presumed. We have learned much about scholarship internationally by working through this volume, and in particular learned to acknowledge the differences in practices but even more so to respect what the practices yield. A number of the section editors were able to meet together at the American Educational Research Association conference in San Francisco, California in April of 2006. The others were consulted with via email and in-person meetings in other venues. In these discussions, we worked on pulling the volume together. One key item was how to end the volume. It seemed to all involved that there was no sensible way to write a conclusion to the volume. Yet the section editors thought that there was value in some novel way of pulling the work together. In the end, Allan Luke offered to write a dystopia that would allow the section editors to envision the future from where they were now in each region. This became our way to push the volume beyond what was



known to what could be. Time and events will tell, of course. But we think this ending has both practical and pedagogical merit. It allows readers to move outside the box of current understanding and to think broadly about the forces that will affect urban education in the future. It also provides a teaching tool for those who teach courses in urban education. Moving from what is known to what is not is always the challenge of teaching. We hope these brief excursions will help students think their own way free of current assumptions. As the overall editors of this volume, we have spent several years thinking, reading, discussing and arguing with each other, the section editors and contributors. We have been exceedingly fortunate in all this. We hope that all scholars have the opportunity we have had, largely made possible by the smaller world created by internet technology. All the work for all these years has been worth it in so many ways. We think this work obligates us and, we hope, all readers, to seek to change the world in which we live to benefit all its peoples. This is not an issue of simple will. It requires all of us to think more deeply about how we are quick to judge and slow to understand. It pushes all of us act more inclusively and less selfishly. It demands courage and diligence. It takes both knowledge and moral conscience. We hope we are up to the challenge and that you are as well.

George W. Noblit and William T. Pink

Introduction URBAN EDUCATION IN THE GLOBALIZING WORLD George W. Noblit* and William T. Pink† *

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, U.S.A.; Marquette University, U.S.A.

Urban education has long been viewed as a localizing endeavor, placing education into a specific geographic context. From this perspective, schools belong to the city and usually a specific city. The schools of London are different from those of Chicago, which are different from those of São Paulo, which, in turn, are different from those of Singapore. The generalization that these are all urban is actually not about the nature of the cities, for that would be a foolish abstraction that belies the real differences in region, nation, peoples, culture, and even climate. Urban, rather, is a generalization as much about geography as it is about the idea that urban centers have problems: problems of too many people, too much poverty, too much crime and violence, and ultimately too little hope. Cities, of course, are also about the mirror image and this is signaled by the term “urbane.” In this term, we see the city as the locus of high culture, sophistication, and an area with a population with the means to participate in what was once known as a “cosmopolitan” way of life (Merton, 1957). Urban-urbane is a problematic that drives this book, an exploration of the state of urban education across the globe. As an International Handbook, the goal has been to capture much of the range of perspectives from around the globe. Yet, of course, this can only be a partial accomplishment, for no book can truly hope to capture the full range of perspectives around the world about any topic. Scale defies scope, while extent exceeds range. Nevertheless, the International Handbook does achieve more than any other has in this regard and requires us to explore the limits of our traditional understanding. We must push urban beyond a locale and explore its global nature. In doing so, we do not reject the notion of a city as a locale, rather we stress a conjunction as in the popular claim that the local is global – the global is local (GibsonGraham, 2002). This “glolocal” conjunction points to a meaning for urban that is as expansive as it is significant. Yet, to date, this conjunction only heightens the problematic of urban-urbane by adding an additional dimension. This dimension may be seen in the cosmopolitan idea – one that has changed the world, making a new class that is beyond a locale. This upper class has long moved between cities and nations and xv


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now it is a force in globalization. Their social, economic, symbolic, and cultural capital (Bourdieu, 1986) spans the globe, making the world smaller, and more interdependent, even as it increases the dependency of working classes that are subject to the economic forces of globalization. In ways never imagined even in the industrial era – when immigration was a vehicle to create both the needed workforce and sufficient surplus labor to suppress wages – global capital now sees labor as almost infinitely mobile, subject to the whims of capital as it seeks the lowest cost production and services. This almost infinite mobility is both real and virtual. As with industrialism, the real mobility of labor fuels immigration and diaspora. African labor is spread across Europe and North America. Latino immigration is mostly to the United States at this time but that is likely to be temporary. Asian labor (both physical and intellectual) is dispersing across the globe to countries with dominant positions in the international economy and with well-developed educational systems, especially higher and graduate education. The new “creative class” (Florida, 2002) is also moving, but in opposite directions to oversee plants (and design processes and technology) with low labor costs in Costa Rica and China, for example. Virtual mobility, of course, is made possible by the expansion of computer-based technology and, literally, the world-wide web. Some workers are able to work from home or off-site because their work does not require face-to-face interaction. It is computer mediated at the minimum. While many in the West joke about technical support for their computers being based in India or other nations, this is only the first move. India is outsourcing this work as well, to places with even lower wages. What we once so definitively referred to as the Third World is now an ever-shifting landscape that capital slides through extracting profit before moving on in search of ever more profit. Indeed, this International Handbook can be seen as an example of virtual mobility. The book is written in English by many people whose first language is not English. This is because the largest market for books is in English speaking nations and/or educational systems that are based wholly or in part in English. The chapters were written wherever and sent via e-mail to the United States and then once organized and edited sent on to the European publisher, Springer. From here the text was transmitted to India where it was put into production, which resulted in authors receiving page proofs as PDF files. With virtual labor mobility, the worker stays in one place while her/his production travels to where it makes the most profit for global capital and the urbane class. Education takes place in urban, suburban, and rural areas and, while none of these can escape the forces of globalization, the urban schools are the ones most caught up in the urbane-urban problematic. There are many reasons for this, including that urban educational systems are part of the social problem side of the conjunction. Clearly, urban centers have highly prestigious schools and universities, sometimes private, but the bulk of the population in cities is relegated to schools that are as stigmatized as the people who attend them. It is no wonder then that students escape them by dropping out, but this is usually after the school has already made clear that the institution is so devalued that it cannot deliver on its promises of an education that will enable students to change their life circumstances. Urban schools also fail such students by pushing them out because the institutions cannot survive in their current form by having students who understand how things actually work (Fine, 1991). Put directly, they must be

Urban Education in the Globalizing World


put out to save the myths that allow the institution to survive: we continue to blame the victim not the school for the large-scale academic failure of urban students. This means that urban as an adjective to education also is not only about geography. This adjective covers a host of sins, one might say. In economically dominant nations, urban education is about stratification in its most distasteful form. The prevalent myth is that schools stratify either in the name of mobility or meritocracy, but urban schools can promise neither (Anyon, 2005; Bowles & Gintis, 1976; Oakes, 1985). They are more closely connected to welfare and criminal justice agencies than they are to institutions of higher education, or even to employing organizations. In dependent economies, urban education is almost the only hope for any education even if this education has little currency beyond the low probability of minimal employment (which is, of course, a step above abject poverty). Urban education adds to the problematic its own contradiction: urban education is all about hope and the thwarting of hope. This is not to say there are not exceptions to this conception of the problematics of urban centers. As we note in this volume, European cities are decidedly urbane and education in urban schools is less problematic than in the United States. In these cities, the immigrants and poor are systematically pushed to the suburbs and the schools there take on both the stigmatization and the learning challenges of the people they serve. Even in the United States, there are moves in this direction as central cities are “gentrified” and public housing demolished in favor of high-end housing and amenities. Nevertheless, the problematic remains because it is not fundamentally about geography but rather about the conjunction of high culture and low classes. The International Handbook of Urban Education cannot be guided by simplistic definitions of terms that easily demark what is and is not urban education. Indeed, in Mexico, the problem of insufficient teachers for rural areas, for example, is driven by teaching being more attractive in the cities. Sandoval (Latin America Section) in her chapter entitled “Educational Policies and Realities: Initial Education in Mexico,” notes that because the teacher education system in Mexico is large, diversified and uneven in quality this presents problems with respect to the ability of teachers to teach diverse students in an intercultural context. Some argue that urban can be demarked by the size and density of populations, which, while true, misses the mark entirely. If urban is a context, it is a context that is nested, constrained, and constructed. It is nested in that urban must always be relative to suburban and rural. A city is nested in a state, a state in a region, a region in the world. It is constrained in that an urban area is usually bounded by other geopolitical borders. It is also constrained by cultural and economic assumptions about what the city is and how life proceeds therein. It is constructed in that any city is made over time by people and by power. Cities are constructed by the deep-seated beliefs of residents and dominant classes and by multiple and intersecting forces of change. It is nested, constrained, and constructed in and by local interests, public policies, worldviews and ideologies, global capital, and most importantly, by the necessities of everyday survival. The urban context so defined offers little definitiveness – it remains a problematic to be studied, to be interrogated, and hopefully to be transformed. This is how we recommend the reader approach this volume. It should be read not as a set of facts, although it is full of them, rather it should be read as an intellectual


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project. This intellectual project should be as constructive as it is critical, as efferent as it is aesthetic (Rosenblatt, 1978), as scholarly as it is activist. Our primary motivation in conceptualizing this International Handbook was to stimulate and guide transformative thinking that would lead to improved education for all citizens living in urban centers worldwide. To this end, we worked hard to recruit both section editors and contributors who are as committed as we are to constructing a text that both interrogates current thinking about and practice in urban education and problematizes how that thinking and practice might be reformed in the future. In short, we are all committed to the project of the International Handbook leading to new possibilities for the globalizing world. To this end, we invite you, the reader, to read with six concepts or analytic lenses in mind. Each concept or lens tries both to embrace all that is included here and to speak to the urban-urbane problematic. The six concepts are: multiplicity, power, difference, capital, change and intersectionality. A useful analogy here is the visit to the optometrist for a periodic vision check. Once you are seated in the chair and a vision chart is projected onto the screen, the optometrist proceeds to slide different lenses into the frame covering your eyes. The question posed each time is, “Is this better or worse?” Your task is to tell the optometrist if the symbols on the vision chart are made clearer as each lens is inserted. This process is repeated, “Is this better or worse?” until the best clarity is achieved. Using this analogy, we suggest that the following six concepts or analytic lenses can be used to help bring urban education into sharper focus. The last concept or lens, intersectionally, lays out the necessity for looking through multiple lenses at the same time in order to bring urban education in the sharpest focus possible: it is this multiple “causality” argument, of course, which suggests that the reform of urban education, independent of context, must rest on multiple rather than single interventions.

Multiplicity As we read the draft chapters, we were drawn all too naturally into seeking patterns across chapters, nations, and regions. There was so much richness that capturing such patterns would have required a strategy to make all the complexity manageable. Reducing it all to themes that could stretch across the chapters revealing similarities and differences is a common process for researchers and one that seemed productive when we started out. Yet we ultimately found this to be a poor plan for understanding the complexity that these chapters present to us. This process also has a tendency to strip the context from the individual themes, leaving the themes to largely stand on their own. As scholars, we know that there are ways to deal with this when engaging in a qualitative research project. Even attempts to synthesize studies have techniques to counter the context stripping of thematic analysis (Noblit & Hare, 1988; Patterson, Toren, Canam, & Jillings, 2001; Thorne, Jenson, Kearney, Noblit, & Sandelowski, 2004). Yet as we read deeper it was apparent that our natural inclinations were leading us astray. A text such as this has such range and diversity in topics as well as locales that the thematic approach ultimately fails. We suggest that context (culture, nation, and region) is so central to understanding urban education that a better approach is to read each chapter

Urban Education in the Globalizing World


so that themes are embedded in the specific context and subsequently to work hard to understand how the linkages between themes can be clearly understood. We understand that the typical approach for a reader to make sense of a book of this size is to develop a way to think about the mass of pieces as a whole: to construct, if you will, normative patterns or statements. But we argue that a better way to approach this is not to summarize and construct generalizations, but rather to recognize and embrace multiplicity. The differences between nation and region, and even within nation and region, deserve to be respected. This, in turn, means that instead of seeking some unifying process, we suggest that the reader is better served by embracing the formulation that the nature of urban education in a global sense is multiple. Urban education really is different in different places and thus understanding the many meanings of urban education is the educative goal. Importantly, we think this approach is also more likely to lead to ideas about change in any one part of the world. Through comparison, it is possible to reconsider the meanings, social practices, and policies of urban education in your own nation or locale. Indeed, we hope that embracing multiplicity will lead to transformative efforts based on the idea that there are many ways to conceive of and enact urban education that can provide alternatives to the prevailing and frequently restrictive local conceptions and enactments. Thus we recommend that you, the reader, begin this International Handbook of Urban Education accepting multiplicity as a key concept which must be both understood and embraced. Many questions arise from such a fresh perspective, including (1) “How is it that there are multiple forms of urban education, multiple interpretations, multiple arenas and multiple actors?” (2) “What can we learn about our own setting from seeing a wide variety of settings?” and (3) “What strategies enable us to consider multiplicity as an asset for change and for empowerment?” We do not wish to predetermine the answers for these questions and would also note that it is indeed a mistake to attempt to anticipate either the questions or answers for parts of the world we have not inhabited. Yet we can offer an example of the kind of thinking that we recommend. As two scholars with a long-held interest in school improvement and who reside in the United States, we naturally read the chapters that follow asking in what ways they can inform our own conception of reform for urban schools in the U.S. Using a chapter from this Handbook should suffice to illustrate the approach we recommend for the reader with respect to the concept of multiplicity. In the Europe Section, Francesca Gobbo offers an intriguing chapter on Italian circus people entitled “Between the Road and the Town: The Education of Traveling Attractionists.” Gobbo offers considerable insight into the lives of circus folk who carry both their education and their homes with them as they move around from work site to work site. Clearly, there are circuses that travel the United States and who educate the children of circus employees. Gobbo’s chapter from Italy, we suggest, while clearly situated in a particular social and cultural context, can help us understand the education of circus children in the U.S. Since there is little educational literature in the United States on the education of circus children, there are good reasons to use this study from Italy to open up that line of study here. However, in suggesting this we also want to remind the reader that we want to push this work beyond merely noting the similarity and difference to be found in the two contexts. This chapter, for example, has real


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power because it forces us to consider how education tends to be fixed to a site, a school, and a community. Pushing this further, we wonder how education the United States might be different if schools were not tied to fixed geographies. That is, if education was mobile would it also be possible to escape the stigmatization attached to education in cities? This also makes us rethink Castells’ (1979) key argument about the urban crisis in the United States. He argues that there is, in fact, no crisis because what is defined as a crisis is long-standing and because it is better understood as a crisis of a specific form of capitalist accumulation, consumption, and reproduction of the social order. Moreover, he argues that instead of understanding urban areas as having problems based on what is there (e.g., poverty, underemployment, crime, deteriorating buildings), it is more useful to understand these problems as products of what has left (e.g., capital, the upper and middle classes, political control of the city). This leads us to ask if education is not already mobile for people of privilege? The upper and middle classes, for example, have long had the resources to relocate to areas with the most desirable schools. While school desegregation efforts that transported AfricanAmerican students to White schools certainly had elements of mobility, what was missing, of course, was the option for the African-American families to also move their residence and place of employment. As a consequence, they could never belong to the new school in the same ways as White families did. Gobbo’s chapter on the education of circus children also leads us to consider how education might be different when the community itself provided it, rather than the state (see Shujaa, 1994). This raises profound questions about the future of education in cities. One central question we must ask is, “Is it possible to remove the blight associated with urban schooling by moving outside the governmental system that created and sustains the inner city schools as we know them today, by reconstituting them using a self-help logic?” The point we are making is that reading this volume through the analytic lens of multiplicity of conceptions and forms will enable us to reconsider the assumptions we have about urban education in our home countries. We suggest that multiplicity both invites and enables us to develop a key insight essential for us to gain communicative competence (Bowers, 1984). Here, we are better able to surface and name our takenfor-granted assumptions, understand how these assumptions constructed via primary and secondary socialization have both a positive and negative impact on our thinking and action, and how this insight forms a basis for an assessment of which assumptions we should change or modify, as well as which assumptions we should keep (Pink, 2004). Our invitation to read this volume with multiplicity in mind is not, of course, an innocent one. Put directly, we see reading for multiplicity as a key way for the reader to imagine doing otherwise, and potentially to actually do otherwise.

Power While there are clearly many different contexts and dynamics at play in urban education globally, urban education cannot be understood by assuming that it has come about as some sort of natural development. We must now acknowledge that the Hegelian-type histories that show time to be moving away from a primitive state towards an advanced state are not credible accounts of inevitable forces of development. The point here is multiple

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as well. History does not march forward. Indeed, this linear notion of time is clearly a Western idea, which was imposed on the wider world as part of colonialism. This linear conception of time did, of course, enable the railroads to be built in the U.S. and to run on a timetable. This was a rather different conception, however, from other notions of time as spiraling or repeating in fundamental ways. It was also clearly different from notions of time being embedded in activity, such as the farm cycle, instead of being a measure to control activity. The point is that time simply has no meaning outside of the interpretations constructed by humans. Interpreting history as the march of progress, therefore, says less about history than about our cosmology and cultural beliefs. Progress has become a problematic for a world in the face of so much destruction of human life such as in Darfur, or Iraq, or in the face of the unfortunate fate of all too many nations that escaped the control of the USSR and moved towards democracy only to fall victim to despots and criminals. Francis Fukuyama’s (1992) The End of History and the Last Man, for example, turned out to be less prescient than he had wished. Nevertheless, urbanization is a worldwide phenomenon. The question becomes, “If we reject the notion of history moving naturally towards life being characteristically urban, then how are we to account for this?” Again the answer will be multiple. Urbanization has different histories in Europe than in the United States, for example, and certainly different from Asia or Latin America or Africa. In Europe, many urban centers have their origins as fortifications, castles, redoubts, and the like. The centuries of war over who was to be the dominant king, the expansion of realms in terms of empires, and/or which was to be the dominant religion structured settlements as defensive sites. With so much conflict and conquest, many farmers came to live in or near the fledgling urban center and to leave the center for the day (or longer) to work the fields before returning home to the security of the defended settlement. While this pattern was replicated in the early settlements in the U.S., western expansion and the systematic decimation of the Native Americans who contested control over the land meant that farmers were more widely dispersed geographically. The Industrial Revolution changed patterns of urban life in both Europe and the United States. In the former, factories were often set up near cities to take advantage of labor but in the latter farmers had to be converted to urban dwellers to create a potential labor force. As factories grew in the United States, the immigration of Europeans came to be a policy of creating surplus labor to restrain wages, making the cities the multiethnic enclaves that led to the phenomena of ethnically hyphenated identities such Italian-American and African-American. In parts of Africa, by contrast, urbanization has been fueled by both failed agricultural policies and the push to westernize the economy. The chapter entitled “Urbanization and Schooling in Africa: Trends, Issues and Challenges from Ghana During the Colonial Era” by Kwabena Dei Ofori-Attah (Africa Section), for example, details the power of both missionary and British colonial interventions in Ghana to shape schooling using a materialistic European model, which showed an arrogant disregard for local practices, traditions and customs. In the chapter by Rui Yang (Asia Pacific Section) entitled “Urban-Rural Disparities in Educational Equality: China’s Pressing Challenge in a Context of Economic Grown and Political Change,” the problematics of the concentration of wealth in the urban centers of China is explored: Yang notes how these policies must be revisited, especially in light of rapid urbanization and the growing market economy,


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while arguing for the urgent need to develop the idea of social justice in education both in the urban and rural regions of the country. Yet the point is that the development of urban settlements is not natural but rather can be understood as the result of contests over power. It not necessary to accept Foucault’s (1977) notion of power being everywhere to understand how cities are the result of struggles over who shall control the different arenas of life. Foucault offers an interesting explanation of power though that helps us understand the link between power and the apparent inevitability of urbanization. Power and knowledge are inextricably linked in what he calls regimes of truth. Put more simply, power is based in forms of knowledge and the exercise of knowledge legitimates and makes political arrangements seem natural. Power also makes subjects of people because those without it can be negatively characterized and treated as less deserving: women, for example, are enslaved for sex trafficking in cities across the world, while both genders are forced to work in factories and those who are not physically coerced may have no other option than a sweat shop to earn even an insufficient wage for family survival. We remain unsure about Foucault’s argument while insisting that even the enslaved have, as Scott (1990) has argued, “arts of resistance.” Whatever perspective the reader takes on the nature of power, it is clear that cities come to exist and change through the exercising of various kinds of power. Similarly, we suggest, urban education is fully imbued with power and struggle. Education itself is always political, and when the state sponsors it or denies it to some, education is clearly being used as a currency of power. People can be denied access to knowledge and/or to jobs through such knowledge, or less robustly through credentialing: work in the sociology of knowledge, for example, has argued how access is managed by the powerful elites as a mechanism for retaining high status knowledge for those selectively chosen (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). Education systems are also large employment systems themselves, meaning that the system can be used to benefit some over others simply in terms of jobs being provided, through direct patronage or more subtly through structuring who gets access and who can be credentialed. Education, of course, is also a system that creates stratification both in terms of identifying who lacks “academic ability” and ultimately who can claim credentials as professionals (Oakes, 1985; Ogbu, 1978). Thus, education is not only structured by power, but also acts so as to create who has access to the existing power and status structures. The educated, and here we must include all of those who have contributed to this Handbook (and those of you reading this Handbook), enjoy the privilege of positing the reality of things and thus creating both ideology and, through professing ideology as true belief, hegemony. We, the educated, can create ideas that can be claimed to be facts and in doing so make the history we noted above that, over time, comes to be viewed by others and ourselves as both natural and inevitable. In many ways, the chapters in The International Handbook of Urban Education serve as a corrective to such notions of power hidden behind knowledge. Thus, we see in Latin America, for example, a conscious effort to identify the social movements that challenge the education being used to primarily serve the dominant classes and the state. Several chapters in the Latin American Section (e.g., chapters on Brazil by Luciano Mendes de Faria Filho and Diana Goncalves Vidal, and Denise Trento R. de Souza and Marilene Proenca R. de Souza, and

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the chapter on Chile by Dagmar Raczyski and Gonzalo Munoz-Stuardo), for example, interrogate how both the changing form of education in different countries, together with a reassessment of the hegemonic power of the traditional curriculums that worked to reify the power and status of elites and the state, is surfacing opportunities for significant reform of urban education. In the United Kingdom, the chapter by Martin Johnson entitled “Reforming Urban Education Systems,” creates an interesting inversion by demonstrating that even efforts to improve schools have such a political dimension that they are reserved for London with its political might rather than expended, we might say, in the provinces where the impact might escape notice. He argues that the most important force for school reform in the United Kingdom namely, national level policy, has been focused on urban schools with the singular intent of raising student achievement: it is the political, economic and social capital, London, that has enjoyed most of the attention with respect to both the reform initiatives and the available funding. Adkins (1997) has argued that educational reform is in many ways a form of colonialism, albeit a form of internal colonialism (Blauner, 1972). Her argument, when applied to urban education, highlights how cities are seen by many to exist to be exploited for economic and political gain. In noting that cities and city schools exist for reasons that benefit the ruling classes, it is easier to understand how efforts to reform either or both are likely to be used for similar purposes. The irony here is that while corruption scandals signal the possibility of a remedy, the nexus of knowledge and power often constructs inequity as natural and immutable. Thus, even those most exploited may not be able to see how educational systems make them believe they failed, rather than understanding that the system was organized to make them believe this was the case (Fine, 1991). Our point here is to suggest that reading this Handbook through a power lens provides us with insight into a dynamic that is frequently hidden from sight – hidden from sight by the explicit design of those with power to name, control and benefit from the ways things currently work.

Difference Power, of course, creates all kinds of difference. Put all too simply, those with power can decide who is with them and who is against them. This two class set-up is easily elaborated into a wider stratification process that controls who gains access to the spoils of the system. Typically, these stratification systems employ sycophants, individuals not included among the powerful but who benefit by virtue of being aligned with those in power. These individuals are used by the powerful to serve their own interests. These “lesser” individuals can be kept subordinated by assumed differences in class. A good example is the role lower class Whites played in suppressing African-Americans in the American South. Here, African-Americans were constructed by the dominant White classes as threats to the economic position of lower class Whites. The “Lost Cause,” for example, where Whites during Reconstruction (the period post-slavery) suppressed, among many other things the voting rights of Blacks, ultimately led to “Jim Crow” segregation of Blacks from Whites (Tyson, 2004). Here we see the former plantation owners trying to impose the share-cropping system on Southern Blacks and Whites, alike.


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They tried to carefully articulate the system so that Whites saw it in their interest to intimidate Blacks, thereby reducing the demands of both “races” on the landowners to share their profits in ways that would enable those working the land to change their economic and social status. This, of course, is a rural example but the urban cases are no less heinous. The guest worker program in Germany is a good urban example. In this case, while workers from the Middle East were given access to work in the burgeoning German economy in the 1970s, they were systematically denied voting and other rights. Rist (1978) documents that as a response to a worker shortage, German cities filled with Turkish workers who did the unskilled work in factories. Ironically, we must note that at the same time as their labor was important to the expansion of the German economy, these same workers were denied citizenship. The result of this officially sanctioned second-class status is that Middle Eastern nationalities became a racial formation – a distinction that made a significant difference in their life chances in Germany. This ambivalence about the “other” is not an anomaly. Rather, it is the typical pattern: cities often are full of people from different places, but this difference is stratified, so that in practice some benefit from their relocation, while most do not. Urban life has a long history of being attached to two phenomena: gesellschaft relations and difference. Toennies (1955) proposed that one key difference between gemeinschaft (community) and gesellschaft (association) patterns of living was that gesellschaft settings lacked the tight bonds of kinship and history in urban living. Thus, there was a sense that in escaping these bonds the individual had the opportunity to redefine both their belief and action. This conceptualization does seem to promise a new sense of freedom. People move to the city to make something new of themselves. Tönnies formulation did not directly address who would find this an attractive exchange or whether this exchange was equally available to everyone who was drawn into the city: the attraction being less personal relations for more possibility of redefinition. We must also recognize that while gemeinschaft societies built on personal relations are not only more binding, they also worked to exclude some people and groups. As we better understand now, community works to both include and exclude. Thus, as we saw with the rural South in the United States, African-Americans escaped the rural and small towns and moved to the cities in the hopes that they would be “freer” there. In this way, relative freedom becomes an attractor for those who by caste or class are disadvantaged by gemeinschaft life. It is essential to recognize how factors such as class, race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, are all coterminous with the impersonality of social relations in the city. Yet Tönnies’ distinction is also replicated in the city, but again differentially. The wealthy can create enclaves in which gemeinschaft relations may be developed and through their politics and economics of exclusion residential segregation can be imposed on others. It is important to note, however, that in these barrios, ghettos and/or neighborhoods, the gemeinschaft relations can be reconstructed. Gemeinschaft can exist within gesellschaft or, more specifically, gesellschaft relations exist between groups and gemeinschaft can exist within groups. In short, group identity can be constructed within cities and within the racial, gender, class, and sexuality divisions imposed by the dominant groups. As noted above, these relations of difference can be geographically marked in the U.S. In some cities, for example, poor, racial minorities

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are encapsulated in the inner city. In France, by contrast, they may be relegated to the suburbs. In Latin America and Africa, they may be ensconced in “squatter” settlements that encircle the urban areas. In cities that are predominately raced, class becomes geographically marked. Yet there remain neighborhoods or sections of cities that are less exclusive and many consider these sites of possibility. Here, race and/or class, for example, vary but efforts may be made to stabilize these proportionately. The term for this in the United States when referring to race is “stably integrated neighborhoods.” In these neighborhoods, difference is accepted, if not embraced: difference in these settings is seen as a desired quality by the residents, rather than as a liability. At the same time, however, we also see a growing pattern of gentrification where the wealthy buy up property, forcing out the less affluent, in order to transform the neighborhood into residential properties that only the rich can afford. Our argument is that difference is a key attribute of urban areas and urban education and that these patterns of difference make themselves a difference in the way that urban education plays out. We suggest that it is productive for you, the reader, to keep difference in the forefront of your minds as you read this volume: difference, in multiple forms, we argue, is a key factor for an understanding of urban education in the past, present, and future. Looking through this difference lens raises a number of critical questions: for example, “What patterns of difference are in play in the cities, nations, regions and educational systems discussed in this Handbook?” “How is urban education implicated in the reproduction of difference?” “What possibilities are suggested for how difference can make less of a difference, or better yet, no difference?” “In what ways does difference intersect with context and with what result across the various locations in the Handbook?” “How can schools be less reproductive of existing patterns of dominance and become the center of counter-hegemonic interrogation and change?” and finally, “What is the role of education in situations of extreme deprivation and how could that role be recast to reduce or even eliminate such deprivation?” The chapter by Thabisile Buthelezi (Africa Section) entitled “Dimension of Diversity: Educating Urban Township Learners, a Case of Umlazi Township School in Durban, South Africa,” on the ways students construct their own sense of safety in and around their school in South Africa is a powerful illustration of taking up the last question that we posed above. Using student drawings and diaries depicting their characterization of self within what are seen as dangerous and often violent situations, Buthelezi explores how teachers and administrators can both understand themselves in these depictions and how they might reconceptualize their role in changing the perceptions students’ have about their school and their community. In short, we can see here how understanding difference, by using a difference lens when reading these chapters, can help us develop a set of personal strategies that can contribute to change, rather than the maintenance of the status quo.

Capital Historically, capital referred to accumulated wealth that could be mobilized for investment. As such, capital is a force in much of history. In colonialism, capital was accumulated by extracting raw materials from colonized lands and selling them in other markets.


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In industrialism, these materials were transformed often in the colonizing nations and sold at a profit, enabling even more capital accumulation. In post-colonialism, raw materials and industry can be distributed globally in service of capital accumulation. All this was made possible by the development of finance. Currently, the captains of industry are no longer the owners of industry. Instead, the owners are financial corporations which buy and sell corporations to maximize profit. While these may be publicly held corporations “owned” by shareholders, the new financial elite work by owning significant quantities of stock which, in turn, are used as sources of pressure to maximize their return on investment. Capital accumulation has become the dominant industry itself. Even technology firms, which seem to be a driving force of the new knowledge-based economy, are evidence of this change. The term “venture capital” signals that knowledge and technology are the products of capital in fundamental ways. Clearly, venture capitalists are hoping that the new developments they are funding will enable even more capital accumulation to be once again ventured. Yet in this process, the production of goods and services is not the basis of capital accumulation but rather the reverse. Capital, through marketing and manufactured consumption, becomes the basis of production, and industries are but temporary vehicles for capital to expand upon itself. The global economy is characterized by a shifting geography of industry, not simply because the goods can be produced more cheaply, but because the profit margins can be maximized through such diversification. One of the ironies in this shift to a global economy is that many living in urban areas are made destitute, while at the same time the city remains the only hope for earning a living wage. The maximization of profit margins within globalization appears to be insensitive to the geographic destruction of cities and the lives that it can leave in its wake. In the global economy, there are but two classes: the creative class (Florida, 2002) and a dependent class that serves the creative class. In a twist of economic logic, the creative class is both the generator of wealth and the primary consumer. The dependent working class is to consume as well, of course, but the distribution of wealth is such that they are very much the secondary market. It is becoming clearer now that the targeted market of this new economy is not a middle class that has disposable income enabling it to be a consumer class: this class is quickly disappearing as technology is enabling the replacement of the managerial class’s control of work and workers with information systems. Rather, the new market, the growth market, has become public services themselves (Murphy, 1999). In this view, education is seen as a new market: this new market can be characterized as public services for private gain. This logic is not new, of course. Governments require the purchase of goods and services. One key turning point though was the development of what came to be called the “military industrial complex” after World War II. What is new now, however, is the concept that capital can deliver governmental services better than the government itself. The irony that must not be lost here is that these services were originally designed to protect citizenries from the excesses of capital (Murphy, 1999). Simply put, urban education is a key market because of the scale of the operations. Millions of children need breakfast and lunch, books, paper, transportation, etc. In the United States, the No Child Left Behind legislation took the move to privatization to a new level requiring, for example, that schools purchase tutoring and so on if schools

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are unable to raise test scores to a sufficient level: in Chicago, the schools were prevented from offering such remedial after school tutoring themselves and were forced to spend millions of dollars to hire for-profit venders. This effort and many others like it might well be characterized as a back door into voucher systems of private education that have enjoyed repeated support from the present federal government, but have received little support from the majority of parents and public school teachers and administrators. These fiscal systems are intended to fund proprietary schools: the danger here, of course, is that such a shift in funding priorities might ultimately reduce if not eliminate public schooling. The goal is not actually to reduce the cost of education but to transform it into a profit center for capital accumulation. This “reform agenda” now spans the globe. This makes education and urban education in particular, one the newest markets of the new economy. Bourdieu dramatically expanded the concept of capital in his work on the forms of capital (Bourdieu, 1986). He argued there are several forms of capital including symbolic, social, cultural, as well as the better known economic capital. Yet the logic of capital seems to work for each of these. His point is that each of us accumulates each of these forms of capital and that these different forms have a particular value in the various marketplaces of social life: each form of capital, he notes, can be exchanged in the appropriate marketplace. His conceptions have been used singly in very productive ways. Social capital has found a following among sociologists as network relations and obligations that can be used to signal levels of access and advantage (Coleman, 1961). Cultural capital similarly has found a home in anthropology and especially in analyses of education (Levinson et al., 2000). Symbolic capital, to date, (Bourdieu talks about both recognition and misrecognition) is but a footnote to this work and has been less popular in the social sciences. In any case, Bourdieu was never as interested in these types of capital singly, than he was in their transformations into economic capital. That is to say, he was less interested in the discrete conceptions themselves, than he was in developing a conceptual framework that could explain how people made something else of them. Focusing on transformation has a particular significance in urban education. Cities offer both peril and promise, as we have argued above, and this can be true for each type of capital that Bourdieu has theorized. Social capital often brings people to cities. Individuals often follow another family member in migration, or they realize that it will only be through patronage and/or sponsorship that they can change their status in life. Historically, cities have offered more possibilities for such transformations than the village. Social capital is also often imperative to survival in cities. Patronage is often required for protection and thus gangs can be seen as reasonable options for urban dwellers. Gaining access to work may be so organized that social capital is essential for job and housing consideration (Schmidt, Scott, Lande, & Guasti, 1977). Similarly, family or gang membership can be used to compete for and take over some economies. Even getting access to schooling, certainly what is typically considered “good schooling,” depends on social capital. Admissions decisions to selective high schools and colleges, for example, must be made on some basis and being “connected” often lends an advantage to the applicant. Tribes, families, networks, patrons, and friends all are essential to urban survival. Access to K-12 schools may require such capital, while success in schools often


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depends on being assigned to the high status classes and on being associated with the right student groups (Coleman, 1961; Foley, 1990; Oakes, 1985; Ogbu, 1978). While cultural capital acts in a more subtle way, it has great authority. With social capital, the individual needs an affiliation, which is not always an easy accomplishment. With cultural capital, by contrast, the individual signals that they belong by speaking and acting as if they belong to a group. Every group has a cultural capital, but some groups command a higher status in a society. Being a “natural” member of such a group or passing as a member of a group means holding and projecting a complex set of assumptions, beliefs and ways of acting that signal group membership (Goffman, 1959). It is important to know which fork to use at a formal dinner not because eating is impossible with the wrong fork or no fork, but because the use of the correct fork signals the affiliation of the individuals with the class that displays such “correct”/high status table manners. Cultural capital is often difficult to achieve because, in many ways, it is the small things that trip up pretenders. This is all complicated globally by colonialism, of course. Being British, for example, may require a certain way of acting at home, but with a foreign War Lord a different way of acting may give more status and more possibility of reward. Schools are often regarded as mechanisms of social mobility but cultural capital is a currency of such mobility. Access to a higher class is typically problematic for those not born into that class: this difficulty points to the difference between analysis using designations of social class versus those using socioeconomic status (the former are built around notions of class as cultural difference, while the latter are built around notions of class as an economic factor). Schools can teach elements of this but most public schools are culturally middle-brow, at best. Access to schools for the elite, by contrast, usually takes having social capital, together with the knowledge that your beliefs and social practices are appropriate for that status. Being successful in such schools, or say merely attending a Public school in England, converts into more social capital for the elites and into economic capital via subsequent entry to high status occupations. Symbolic capital refers to the recognition of status: dressing “well,” for example, does not mean the same thing for all classes. The key here is that how the individual dresses signals that they belongs to the status group. Like culture, symbols are subtle yet definitive. The individual may dress “down” but how that is done signals to others that the individual belongs, when others dressed the same do not. Symbolic capital can come with credentials as well. Graduating from the “right” schools and having the “right” family are signs for certain classes. The key, of course, is that the symbol has worth as a marker of belonging to the group in question. Clearly, having a set of appropriate symbols is more convincing that a lone symbol. Urban areas allow a considerable range of symbols to be available to all participants, but not all have currency in the labor force, or even in schooling. Teachers are key actors in adjudicating who can have access to and use which symbols in schools and thus who can potentially transform such symbols into economic capital (Bowers, 1984; Bowles & Gintis, 1976). Education is arguably the major arena where social, economic and symbolic capital may be parlayed into economic capital. That schools function as an arena for the transformation of capital does not deny that they are also institutions of social reproduction. Indeed, social reproduction is made possible by allowing some individuals and groups

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to transform, while denying that transformation to others. This makes educational institutions much more complex and dynamic than we have been led to believe by correspondence theories (Bowles & Gintis, 1976). This understanding also problematizes the usual notion of transformation as being part of liberatory or emancipatory work. Rather, the argument is that only some have currency that can be tendered in exchange for economic gains, and what is denied is not access to education but rather the ability of the individual to transform social, economic and symbolic capital into economic capital. By slipping on the capital lens, we encourage you, the reader, to examine how urban areas and urban education work together to both enable and deny the transformation of capital for individuals and groups, as well as examining how education itself has become a market that transforms public funds into private capital. Two chapters in the United Kingdom Section will illustrate the kinds of insights that can be discerned about urban education when examining it through this lens. In her chapter entitled, “Urban School Improvement,” Barbara MacGilchrist (United Kingdom Section) argues that while both research and reforms have become progressively more sophisticated over time, they have failed to fully explicate how school effects and background effects can be conjoined to close the gap in student academic achievement between white students and students of color. In short, her position is that the most important issue still confronting urban schools is how they might function more effectively to raise the social, symbolic, cultural and economic capital of students who are other than white and middle- and upper class. While arguing that schools must be seen as capable making a difference in disrupting the movement of students from social class origins to social class destinations, she notes how they certainly cannot do it alone. In taking up a set of emerging and problematic issues with respect to the privatization of urban schools, Carol Campbell and Geoff Whitty (United Kingdom Section) in their chapter entitled, “The Governance of Urban Education in the UK: A Public, Private or Partnership Future,” ask if the use of private sector strategies to address public sector problems is viable, especially when the persistent and long-standing difficulties with differential student learning (connected to factors such as race, class, gender, and school organization, etc.) are at play. In particular, their analysis details a variety of reform strategies that that are built on either rebuilding the local capacity to offer key services, or outsourcing for these same services. Here, of course, they highlight the distinction between believing that individuals in the local urban school community have the ability to improve their own education, versus the view that not only are these individuals unable to do this but that the required expertise is commanded only by experts that typically do not have their own children in the schools to be reformed. Again, our suggestion here is that to bring urban education into better focus the International Handbook should be read through the lens of capital, in each of its types.

Change We are socialized to think that change is ubiquitous. We take our aging to be natural so that as we experience the passage of time we identify it with change itself. Yet, since all lives follow this process it could be as easily argued that this is not change at all, but


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rather a steady state. We also apply a similar interpretation to the passage of time and to events. We link events and create sequences of them: we then proceed to objectify what we have subjectively created. To these patterns we can also assign broader meanings, putting them in wider contexts. It is in this way that we wrap assumptions around the passage of time to create such things as trends, causality, eras, and epochs. As Berger and Luckmann (1967) argue in their discussion of the social construction of reality, the language that we use to communicate and think is learned through both primary and secondary socialization: the problematic, of course, is that within this received language that we uncritically internalize and use to engage in the process of communicating with others, are encoded the values, beliefs and taken-for-granted assumptions of our significant others. Consequently, as we live our lives we are experiencing history in the making. More pointedly, it can be argued that we make history by the assumptions we wrap around the passage of time in human life. That is to say, we are both implicated in history and historicity. History is typically defined as the narration of events, sequences, and meanings of these sequences of events in such a way that generates an interpretation of the past as having some order amidst the documented changes. Most history narrates how one thing leads to another, even if the claim to causality is over-wrought. History then normalizes change in a particular manner. Change is narratively created as normal, leaving pace to be one of the few things that may vary. Thus, when we say that things are moving faster now than they were before, we are also normalizing change as ubiquitous. History, however, is also lived and experienced by humans. This historicity can have a rather different character than history itself. In some parts of the world, the lived history is chaotic and filled with chance rather than being a sequence of events that connect and/or unfold. Change understood in this way is less a grand narrative and more a lived life, comprising all its mundainities and drama. We can think of life on the streets of the city in this same way. Life on the streets is both struggle and boredom. Life on the streets is both dangerous and tedious. Life on the streets is both outside the experience of other urban dwellers and fully in interaction with these dwellers, as with pan handling and hustling. Change in this way is close to experience and rather distinct from the narrative of change as normal. Pace may be less salient than demarcations of drama which concentrate and explicate both the everyday routines and their disrupture. We argue that much of what follows in this International Handbook is constructed as history that explicates change and stasis. Yet the chapters that focus on close study of cases may invite us into how lives are spent over time. Change, then, for us is not an assertion of how the world is but rather an interrogation of how history and historicity both characterize urban life and urban education. To illustrate this point it would be useful to cite several chapters from the text. A chapter by Peele-Eady, Nasir, and Pang (North American Section) entitled “Success Stories in Urban Education,” details the importance of care in classrooms purposefully designed to be both personally and culturally relevant for urban students: we see here how powerful is the impact of trusting student-teacher relationships to students’ developing a perception of themselves as capable and valuable members of a learning community. In the chapter by Priscilla Qolisaya Puanau and G. Robert Teasdal (Asia Pacific Section) entitled “The Urban and the Peripheral: New Challenges for Education in the Pacific,” they focus on detailing

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the historical shifts in education in 15 independent and self-governing nations in the Pacific region. Noting how the education on these islands remains a legacy of varied colonial interventions, they argue that these old-world practices and ideologies are highly resistant to change. Puanau and Teasdal detail the potential impact of the PRIDE (Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of Basic Education) program for guiding curriculum reform and new pedagogical practices, especially for urban students: their focus on the impact of urbanization on the various indigenous cultural systems and vernacular languages is particularly insightful with respect to the ways histories are constructed. This theme of constructing a different history is also taken up by Ove Sernhede (Europe Section) in his chapter entitled “Urbanization of Injustice, Immigrant Youth and Informal Schooling.” His focus is on a group of marginalized youth from immigrant families, segregated in a Swedish suburb, who develop a positive identity for themselves which is very different from the identity projected on to them from a history of colonialism and the prevailing cultural perceptions concerning both discrimination and inequality in the society: the catalyst for building this alternative history is the development of a hip-hop subculture that enables these youth to project themselves as the leaders of the marginalized under-class. A final example is the chapter by Kinuthia Macharia (Africa Section) entitled “Urban Education Differentials and Marginalization: The Case of Educating the Youth in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements,” that explores the marginalization of Kenya’s urban population, with a particular focus on the limited access to schools afforded the children in Nairobi’s “informal settlements.” He documents the efforts underway to provide schooling for the street children in Nairobi, as well the successes of the Olympic Primary School opened to provide an education for students living in the Kibera “slum” outside Nairobi. Again, this is an illustration of the ways in which schooling can both disrupt and rewrite the conventional history. It is clear that one of the ubiquities in urban education is migration. Here again, migration seems to have contradictory meanings. For the people moving, change is evident. Yet history is replete with exodus and entrance, suggesting that migration is less a novel change than a common process of urbanization, for example. Urban centers are formed by war, by failed agriculture and by opportunities for work and a way of life. Cities have an existence because of changes and even the desire for changes, but over time migration becomes less a change than a stabilizing force. As above, Castells (1977) argues that the urban is stabilized by the exodus of particular social classes, capital, and political control. The contradiction of stasis and change may explain more about urban education than the simple presumptions of change, and often change for the worse, that is rhetorically invoked as part of calls for action to reform cities or city schools. Reading what follows for how migration defines the issues, but in the end is not easily understood as change, will offer insights into how processes of change may, in fact, change little while simultaneously allowing a claim of “crisis” that justifies extreme actions that inevitably benefit some over others (Castells, 1977). Change can be understood quite differently as well. In our epoch, change is a trope that is used to explain the emergence of urban problems, while conveniently ignoring the fact that these problems are perennial, rather than new. The issue here, of course, is determinism: to what extent can it be said that a prior event determines the emergence


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of a subsequent event? Giddens (1979) argues that this cannot be stated definitively because intention is always in play. Intention or will, of course, brings with it a set of unacknowledged conditions. Intention will arguably lead to some of what is intended but just as importantly, will create unanticipated consequences. For Giddens, the point is that intention is based in unacknowledged conditions and as a result denies the possibility of a deterministic world. Instead of will creating a specific outcome, it creates a set of outcomes, many of which are unanticipated. The narrative of history is challenged here as a retrospective reconstruction of lineages and linkages, rather than an objective account of what happened. What happened is that intention created so much more than intended and less of what was intended than a history captures. We can see this outcome played out in teacher education in Mexico in the chapter by Etelvina Sandoval (Latin America Section) entitled “Educational Policies and Realities: Teachers’ Initial Education in Mexico.” Here she argues that policies were promulgated but did not consider the policy context of multiple institutions and multiple stakeholders. Thus, again and again, policies are attempted only to misspecify the issue and ultimately to lead to unanticipated changes: we simply must acknowledge that things infrequently work out in practice in the same ways as they appear in a written proposal or policy statement. The chapter by Eva Arnold, Johannes Bastian, and Wilfried Kossen (Europe Section) entitled “Urban Regions and their Potential for Teacher Education: The Example of Hamburg,” illustrates this problematic. In noting how urban regions are well placed to coordinate a new program for the preparation of teachers, if only because there is a concentration of teacher preparation institutions in urban regions, they detail a series of unintended outcomes from policy decisions designed to coordinate factors such as a standardized curriculum and student teaching experiences: many of these problems centered on the resistance of both faculty and administration to change in historical practices and the perceived shifts in power that might follow as a result of collaborative projects. This same problematic is also explored in a different context by Lyn Tett (United Kingdom Section) in her chapter entitled “Multi-agency Working in Urban Education and Social Justice.” In exploring the efficacy of multi-agency collaborative efforts designed to promote social justice and reduce social exclusion, Tett notes how what happens in practice is frequently very different from what is written from the perspective of overly idealistic policy language concerning multi-agency partnerships: in particular, Tett illustrates the power of organizational histories, internal role practices and power differences between agencies as the reasons for such a distortion in moving from idea to practice. Finally, multiplicity sets a different stage for change as well. Many Western thinkers argue that there are optimal ways to reach desired ends. We have previously commented on the limits of this line of thinking, but an important question to ask is “How did we come to assume that there are optimal ways to obtain the desired fix?” As in mathematics, there are likely different ways to reach the desired end. Such equifinality in organizations has policy significant implications for urban education (Katz & Kahn, 1978). Specifically, instead of searching for the best way to improve urban schools, it might be more profitable to consider all the ways that could accomplish this. Such a stance “frees” urban education from the constraints of conformity, while enabling the development of culturally unique programming. It is evident that there are

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many ways to achieve educative ends and many ways that urban schools could be organized to realize them. The chapter by Sa’eda Buang (Asia Pacific Section) entitled “Madrasha and Muslim Education: Its interface with Urbanization,” develops this point while examining both the history and contemporary developments in Muslim religious schools. In exploring how these schools attempt to remain faithful to religious beliefs in the face of increasing urbanization and a diversifying economy, Buang notes how the responses have been different in countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey: this is a clear example of the different ways in which the same ends can be achieved within the context of different socio-economic and political settings. A second interesting illustration of the need to explore multiple ways to reach the goal of closing the achievement gap between urban students and others is the chapter by Maria de Ibarrola (Latin America Section) entitled “Learning to Work in an Industrial Mexican City in Transition.” While the learning of trade related skills in the shoe industry in Leon is the focus, rather than the education offered in the traditional schools in the city, what emerges is that this form of hands-on, apprenticeship learning is a highly effective pedagogical strategy. This insight leads to a discussion about the possibilities of linking schools more directly with the work sites, of bringing the participatory style of learning experienced in the work site into the school, and of developing a range of school programs that speak directly to quality, relevance, and equity. In short, the chapter points to the importance of developing a variety of school programs and learning strategies that will vary by context for improving the learning of students attending urban schools. Equifinality also offers a critique of globalization. Globalization is often seen as a social and economic process to create “one world.” In this view, difference is destroyed as is its correlate, creativity. If there are many ways to achieve a similar end, then the “one world” view is not necessary and may actually have real drawbacks. The new economy, for example, is heavily based in math, science and technology. Yet this economy is driven by a logic that is artistic. Creativity giving way to design is what fuels both technological and scientific advancement. Instrumental logic has its place, but its place is highly dependent on aesthetics. Embracing equifinality brings us back to where we started, arguing that the reader should use the multiplicity lens when reading this International Handbook. Urban education and the world, we argue, are sufficiently diverse for new conceptualizations and new possibilities to emerge.

Intersectionality The sixth and final concept or analytic lens that we want to note is intersectionality. Returning to our analogy of the visit to the optometrist, this is the point where multiple lenses are used at the same time in order for urban education to be brought into the sharpest focus possible. This construct can be seen in the movement away from the idea of linear, cause-effect thinking central to social science grounded in positivism, to thinking in post-positivist social science, the naturalistic or interpretive paradigm, that acknowledges both the social construction of reality and the existence of multiple and simultaneous causality (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The thinking in play here, of course,


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is that life is experienced differently because individuals are different: the same classroom, for example, is experienced differently by boys and girls, white and students of color, and students located in the top and lowest reading groups, etc. This leads us to question the credibility of statements about life in classrooms that fail to recognize and account for such individual differences. To complicate this idea some more, we must also acknowledge that any analysis must account for the multiple characteristics of individuals: it is not sufficient to think about gender, for example, as the social marker for any individual because each individual also holds other social markers such as their social class or whether they are good at sports. Thus, in conducting research in a classroom we must ask “What is the experience of an individual who is a boy, Black and in the top reading group?” as well as “How is that experience similar and different from an individual who is a boy, Black and in the lowest reading group?” We want to note that this isn’t the same logic as engaging in analysis to control for both gender and race while assessing the impact of reading group location, rather it is a question that asks how do gender, race and reading group location work together to structure the classroom experience for the individual. In short, we would be engaging the analytic lenses of gender, race and reading group at the same time. This perspective has made the greatest gains in education in the field known as Critical Race Theory (Crenshaw, 1988; Delgado & Stefancic, 2000; Ladson-Billings & Tate, 1995). This work has skillfully integrated theorizing from several diverse fields in education, that is, Black and Chicano Studies, critical pedagogy, feminist and multicultural education, while posing questions about the experiences of individuals and groups who are both the same and different with respect to characteristics such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation, etc. This sensitivity to the ways in which individual and group characteristics both interact simultaneously and play out differently in different contexts has enabled a significant shift in our understanding of the variability of the day-to-day lived experience. The examination of the intersectionality of these characteristics, the recognition that such characteristics are never in play alone but always function in concert with each other, opens up new ways for us both to understand how urban education functions and to conceptualize new ways of attacking the long-standing problems associated with urban education. This means, for example, that it would be a mistake to attempt to remediate the low reading scores of fifth graders in an urban school in Chicago simply by adopting a new reading program. The power of the intersectionality lens reveals that in order to remediate such low reading scores we must also consider factors such as the ways in which teachers relate to children from cultures different from their own, the ways in which the school values student learning over (or vis- a` -vis) discipline, and to what degree the students receive adequate food, sleep, and warm clothing, etc. The chapters in this International Handbook illustrate rather dramatically the importance of recognizing intersectionality as a tool for understanding urban education and for the development of reform strategies. A few examples would be helpful here. In a chapter entitled “Educational Policies, Local Dynamics, and Segregation in the Schools of the Parisian Periphery,” Agnes van Zanten (Europe Section) documents how the organization of schools and instruction, together with the outcomes that they produce, must be seen as the result of government policy, local education authorities,

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local political bodies and environmental configurations. In short, she notes how our understanding of these urban schools must remain incomplete if we do not analyze the intersectionality of these key factors: focusing on the complexity of factors shaping the education of students in urban schools, rather than searching for a single cause, also highlights the necessary scope of subsequent reform initiatives. Following a similar line of argumentation, Dagmar Raczynski and Gonzalo Munoz-Stuardo (Latin America Section) in their chapter entitled “Chilean Education Reform: The Intricate Balance Between a Macro and Micro Policy,” argue that while the Chilean educational reforms of the last 25 years have been somewhat successful, the learning gains cannot be considered adequate and the inequality of the system still persists. They suggest that the best way to address these short-comings is to integrate macro with local level micro policies, strengthen the autonomy of schools to fashion their own practices, develop specific intervention projects to address inequitable learning outcomes and prevent schools from choosing their own students and thus promoting forms of stratification. Again, this view acknowledges the intersectionality of a broad range of factors that must be addressed together in order to achieve urban school reforms. A third and final example is the chapter by Gerald Grace (United Kingdom Section) entitled “Urban Education Theory Revisited: From the Urban Question to the End of the Millennium.” Grace notes the importance of situating an analysis of education in an intersectional interrogation of the cultural, economic, historical, political and social relations in a given society. He suggests that future theorizing about urban education reforms must be built on an understanding of their historical and structural difficulties: this new theorizing, he suggests, will benefit from the promise offered by the sophistication of intersectional analysis. All this said by way of introducing the text, we suggest that this International Handbook of Urban Education is best read as a tool for opening up conversations about the current status and possible futures of urban education: this view posits the importance of six framing concepts or analytic lenses namely, multiplicity, power, difference, capital, change, and intersectionality. We now invite your close reading of the text. Again, we must remind you that the intent here is neither to narrowly define urban education, nor to offer specific solutions to problems. Rather, our goal is to focus attention on urban schools around the world and to stimulate both debate and action that will lead to improved educational opportunities and outcomes for all students attending such schools, independent of their geographic location or specific context.

References Adkins, A. (1997). The colonial vestiges of education reform. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Anyon, J. (2005). Radical possibilities: Public policy, urban education, and a new social movement. New York: Routledge. Berger, P., & Luckmann, T. (1967). The social construction of reality: A treatise on the sociology of knowledge. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Blauner, B. (1972). Racial oppression in America. New York: Harper & Row. Bourdieu, P. (1986). The forms of capital. In J. G. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of theory and research for the sociology of education (pp. 241–258). New York: Greenwood Press.


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Bowers, C. A. (1984). The promise of theory. New York: Teachers College Press. Bowles, S., & Gintis, H. (1976). Schooling in capitalist America. New York: Basic Books. Castells, M. (1977). The urban question: A Marxist approach. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Coleman, J. (1961). The adolescent society: The social life of the teenager and its impact on education. New York: The Free Press. Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K. (Eds.). (1995). Critical race theory: The key writings that informed the movement. New York: The New Press. Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (Eds.). (2000). Critical race theory: The cutting edge. (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Fine, M. (1991). Framing dropouts. NewYork: Teachers College Press. Florida, R. (2002). The rise of the creative class. New York: Basic Books. Foley, D. (1990). Learning capitalistic culture: Deep in the heart of Tejas. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish. New York: Vintage. Fukuyama, F. (1992). The end of history and the last man. New York: Free Press. Gibson-Graham, J. K. (2002). Beyond global vs. local: Economic politics outside the binary frame. In A. Herod, & M .Wright (Eds.), Geographies of power (pp. 25–60). Oxford, UK: Blackwell (2002). Giddens, A. (1979). Central problems of social theory. London: Macmillan. Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Katz, D., & Kahn, R. (1978). The social psychology of organizations. (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley. Ladson-Billings, G., & Tate, W. (1995). Toward a critical race theory of education. Teachers College Record, 97(1), 47–68. Levinson, B., Borman, K., Eisenhaut, M., Fosteu, M., Fox, A., & Suttan, N. (Eds.). (2000). Schooling the symbolic animal. Lanthan, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. Lincoln, Y., & Guba, E. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Merton, R. (1957). Social theory and social structure. Glencoe, IL: Free Press. Murphy, J. (1999). New consumerism: Evolving market dynamics in the institutional dimension of schooling. In J. Murphy, & K. S. Louis (Eds.), Handbook of educational administration (2nd ed.) (pp. 405–419). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Noblit, G., & Hare, R. (1988). Meta-ethnography: Synthesizing qualitative studies. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications. Oakes, J. (1985). Keeping track: How schools structure inequality. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Ogbu, J. (1978). Minority education and caste: The American system in cross-cultural perspective. New York: Academic Press. Paterson, B., Toren, S., Canam, C., & Jillings, C. (2001). Meta-study of qualitative health research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Pink, W. T. (2004). Going backstage: Enhancing communicative competence for pre-service teachers. Educational Foundations, 18(3–4), 45–58. Rist, R. (1978). Guestworkers in Germany: The prospects for pluralism. New York: Praeger. Rosenblatt, L. (1978). The reader, the text, the poem. Carbobdale, IL: Southern Illinois Press. Schmidt, S., Scott, J., Lande, C., & Guasti, L. (Eds.). (1977). Friends, followers and factions. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Scott, J. (1990). Domination and the arts of resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Shujaa, M. (Ed.). (1994). Too much schooling, too little education. Trenton: Africa World Press. Thorne, S., Jenson, L., Kearney, M., Noblit, G., & Sandelowski, M. (2004). Qualitative metasynthesis: Reflections on methodological orientation and ideological agenda. Qualitative Health Research, 14(10), 1342–1365. Toennies, F. (1955). Community and association. London: Routledge. Tyson, T. B. (2004). Blood done sign my name: A true story. New York: Crown.

1 URBAN EDUCATION IN AFRICA: SECTION EDITORS’ INTRODUCTION Kevin Brennan and Julius Nyang’oro University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, U.S.A.

Introduction We present here one set of snapshots of urban education in Africa, one set out of a universe of possible sets. We have engaged in this collection with authors whose disciplinary approaches describe a wide range of work available in each author’s country of focus. As a result, the reader will find references to local, regional, and national issues in each country studied. Beyond this are found references to Bronfenbrenner’s social psychology, Bourdieu’s notions of social and cultural capital, Saussure’s ideas about language and culture, and approaches in public policy around both the establishment of national language(s), and national identity formation. In addition, authors here take from urban sociology the ideas of equity in education and distributive justice as per John Rawls and Amartya Sen. In short, we sought to permit authors the space to take up their perspectives, in the context of their own research, including the particular national contexts in which they worked. On this point, Suleiman A. Adebowale (2001), in his examination of four prominent journals focusing on Africa (Canadian Journal of African Studies; Africa Development; Cahiers d’Etudes Africaines; and, the Journal of Modern African Studies), points out how few of the articles published in these four journals are written by African scholars. He takes the point further in noting how few Africans are doing their work in Africa. We sought deliberately to incorporate voices of Africa-based, African scholars in this work, in acknowledgement of the point Adebowale is making, and we have succeeded, in part. Other aspects of Adebowale’s argument, such as the idea that African scholars must know the theories of Western scholarship while the reverse is not true, is also partially dealt with here in that readers have an opportunity to investigate the Africa-focused ideas presented here, even as all authors did, in fact, connect their chapters to notions held in Western scholarship. 3 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 3–22. © 2007 Springer.


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What we have included are nine chapters that represent seven countries in Africa (Kenya and South Africa are each represented twice, a result arising from our own personal and professional experiences). Thus, a bare one-eighth of the countries in Africa are represented. As such, this collection in no way presumes to be a definitive statement of urban education in Africa. Rather, it is hoped that the work presented here only constitutes one more place to which scholars can turn to find material on issues in education in Africa.1 Beyond the need to see this work as representing a necessarily broad brush view of education in Africa, a second reaction involved the Handbook’s focus on “urban education.” This term, in the North American context that is home not only to ourselves but also to the general editors of the Handbook, often too blithely and stereotypically evokes images and thoughts of children and families in socio-economically disadvantaged, “at risk” circumstances, and schools that are in “unsafe” areas, surviving with minimal materials and supplies more readily available in American or Canadian suburbia. We consciously offered an open-ended opportunity to prospective contributors when defining for them the parameters of the Handbook project. In this sense, our initial thoughts regarding this volume held that the Africa section might well present examples, situations, and explanations of urban education that run counter to those examples presented from one or more of the other geographic regions represented in the larger volume. Representative of this initial perspective is this comment from Buchmann and Hannum, who themselves are citing Lloyd and Blanc (1996) in noting that: extended family networks in sub-Saharan Africa enable children with academic promise to move to households of “patron” family members, who help them gain access to higher quality schools – often found in urban areas. (2001, p. 83) In the end, we opted to leave it to the authors themselves to define what “urban education” means in their research and their social, economic, and political contexts. What we have found, in the collected chapters, is that our initial sense that urban education in Africa means as much “best schools” as “at risk” environments was not wholly supported. For example, Macharia’s chapter on Nairobi’s street children and efforts to return these children to schools in Nairobi’s slums, as well as Buthelezi’s work in eThekwini/Durban on schoolchildren’s perspectives regarding safety in certain school environments see much that is “at risk” in the schools they describe. Nevertheless, numerous works on schooling in Africa show that urban-based schools are frequently among the older (read: most well-established) schools in a given country.2 Resources for such schools are often found more easily at hand – larger, more accessible, and educated populace, government resources, related infrastructures, etc.3 In late 2004, when the International Handbook of Urban Education project was initially described to us, we thus felt a range of disparate, even contradictory reactions. While it seemed obvious that any such volume would by necessity have to hold within it a sufficient number of chapters and sections such that geographic breadth was achieved, it also seemed that through such achievement the Handbook would pretty well remain just that – broad. It seemed that breadth would also characterize the ways

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in which the volume’s central concept, urban education, would come to be defined. What disciplinary directions and conceptual frames would the various chapter authors utilize to focus their working definition of urban education? Finally, in our specific geographic region, Africa, how would we use the chapters available to us to describe a continent with more than five times as many countries as we had chapters? As quickly as the above realizations came to us, so too came the realization that our choices for inclusion in the Handbook would be in no sense comprehensive or definitive. Rather, we would seek authors from, or working in countries throughout Africa, and pursue chapters that would allow us to offer a multiplicity of perspectives, from a range of academic disciplines, such that an outline might emerge of the complexity of the issues faced by those whose work focuses on education in urban settings. This approach permits us to problematize the “African” as well as the “urban” in education. Joel Samoff points out (1999) that when any given country is a complex entity, often comprised of many different cultural and social backgrounds, to study, for example, Ghanaian education is a sufficiently big enough task. So, as well, would be any study of Guinean education. In Africa, a continent of 50 plus countries, to presume that a single set of ten chapters can describe and offer analysis about a continent’s efforts in education is to presume too much. For us, it is enough that each chapter included in this collection stands as one measure of urban education in its particular country, urban environment, and specific location. The collection itself necessarily becomes descriptive, and comparative, and something to be viewed in light of the contributions from other geographic regions.

Description of Africa Chapters In this section, we offer brief synopses of the included chapters on urban education in Africa. As already noted, these chapters span a number of disciplinary approaches. We have collected them here in something akin to a historical arc, beginning with four chapters that can be thought of as addressing issues in education arising out of colonial endeavors in the respective countries. We then move to a pair of chapters that look at education policy, with a focus on rural-urban comparisons. The final three chapters are more ethnographic and case study in orientation. Kwabena Ofori-Attah’s work focuses on colonial education practice in Ghana, and its impact on what subjects were to be studied. Ofori-Attah focuses primarily on coastal areas of high population, which coincides with the idea of “good schools” in colonial Ghana, which was then known as “Gold Coast.” Ofori-Attah points out that coastal areas became the site of most early schools because that is where the services (including missionary society efforts) supporting colonial governmental and commercial efforts were to be found – piped water, electricity, etc. The so-called Gold Coast Golden Triangle (the territory bound by the railroad lines built by British colonial authorities, Accra – Kumasi – Cape Coast/Takoradi) would be where 90% of colonial-era schools were located. Ofori-Attah argues that this link to commercial and governmental activity is tied to the curricula on offer in the colony’s schools, curricula still tied to those on offer in today’s schools in Ghana. For Ofori-Attah, the hegemony of missionary and


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British colonial approaches to schooling led to students’ and parents’ materialistic views of schooling, seeing education primarily as a pathway to employment, and permitting, even at times encouraging, an ongoing disregard for local practices, traditions, and customs. Thus when one analyzes the crisis in Ghanaian education today, the historical legacy of colonialism must be at the forefront of such analysis. Funwi Ayuninjam, writing on language policy in Cameroon, focuses on the ways in which colonial practice impacted which of Cameroon’s 200 plus languages, if any, would be spoken and heard in school environments.4 Ayuninjam describes the need in present-day Cameroon to define a national policy around the nation’s diversity of language(s) and their use in schools. Ayuninjam connects the choice of language with urban education in noting that Cameroon’s urban centers are polyglot sites where local languages have ceded influence to English and French (the two dominant colonial languages), as well as to Pidgin-English, which is described as a third national (though very much unofficial) language. Ayuninjam details national and regional language policy efforts at all education levels, and the need to incorporate indigenous languages and Pidgin-English as practical circumstance dictates. The inability of the Cameroonian government to come up with a clear and satisfactory language policy is a reflection of the contradiction in national development, and the inability of the government and education policy to shake off deep-seated colonial legacies. Ironically, Cameroon represents the contradictory colonial legacy in Africa where you have both the English and French influences in the contradictions. The inability of most African governments to shed the colonial legacy in education is a common theme in all chapters in this section of the Handbook. Douglas Mpondi’s chapter is a critical examination of Zimbabwe’s national cultural policy and national identity formation in the period after 1980, as Rhodesia morphed into Zimbabwe following a violent war of liberation led by the two guerrilla movements, the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Zimbabwean African Peoples’ Union (ZAPU). At the end of the liberation war, ZANU was triumphant and essentially forced elements within ZAPU to join ZANU in forming the new government. He coercion underlying the merging of ZANU and ZAPU under the former’s leadership meant that the “national question” was going to be a point of contention not only in politics, but also in other spheres, including education. National consent/unity around Zimbabweanization has been “manufactured,” with elements of the population being rewarded and others de-legitimated.5 Mpondi focuses on national examinations and curriculum and notes the conflict in the government’s Zimbabweanization policy. That is, if examinations are “national,” and thus the same for all students taking them, then the exams reflect nothing so much as the government’s imposed view of what “Zimbabwe” means. Mpondi concludes by describing the repressive apparati of cultural conformity to the Mugabe government’s presentation of “Zimbabwe,” and shows how teachers are punished for teaching critical thinking about life in the country today.6 Concluding the set of chapters that focus primarily on historical forces at play in education in Africa today we have Jenni Karlsson’s history of the architecture of public schools in colonial, apartheid-era, and post-apartheid South Africa, and the ways in which constructed spaces generally advanced the colonial and apartheid-era policies of separation of race and ethnic groups in South Africa. Karlsson uses “memory accounts”

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of adults who attended schools in apartheid-era Durban, similar accounts of teachers working at these schools, photographs taken during the period of research, personal communications with school administrators and architects, and school documents to reconstruct a complicated history of the use of “constructed space” to determine the kind of education being passed down to students of different ethnic and racial backgrounds in South Africa. Karlsson’s insightful analysis of the conflation of race and class in pre-1994 South Africa, and the contradictions of change within South African socio-economic system provides a window for a much more critical analysis of education in general, both in the apartheid and post-apartheid period in South Africa. Karlsson looks at present-day learner mobility, and the ways in which class re-emerges as a dividing line in terms of what schools are available to be attended by what kinds of students. Her study concludes with a description of a school built after the fall of political apartheid, showing the ways in which security, as a social and school-based issue, has led to the construction of exactly the kind of security fences and gates that reduce the connection between a community and a school, rendering to the school a kind of outside status and leaving it prone to more, rather than less, vandalism. In our doublet of chapters that take a comparative approach to rural and urban schools, we first offer Samson MacJessie-Mbewe and Dorothy Cynthia Nampota’s focus on resource allocation and the challenges being faced by schools in terms of the unequal distribution of state and private resources in Malawi. In Malawi, urban schools are viewed as relatively more privileged than rural schools, reflecting the distribution of wealth in the country’s political economy. The authors invoke Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital as a means of examining issues of urban education in Malawi, which they show as being relatively advantaged and privileged in comparison with rural schools. But MacJessie-Mbewe and Nampota also list a set of challenges to urban schooling, including incipient overcrowding, the presence of street children, more visible poverty, higher incidence of HIV and AIDS, and other realities of street life. Attempts to deal with these issues stress public resources, increase reliance on private resources to maintain high quality urban schools, and in the final analysis, squeeze out middle-class and lower-class families. The second chapter in the urban-rural comparison is by Alwiya Alwy and Suzanne Schech, who have undertaken a comparative study that looks at ethnicity, politics, and the allocation of scarce state resources that result in inequality in terms of access to educational opportunity in Kenya. Alwy and Schech invoke historical forces in explaining how Kenya has been divided, provincially and ethnically, in ways that have constructed patron-client relationships that enable national leaders to privilege certain regions over others in terms of access to resources for education. In essence, theirs is a comparative analysis of the two regimes that have ruled Kenya since independence: that of Jomo Kenyatta (1963–1978); and Daniel Arap Moi (1978–2002). The authors argue that in both instances, the regimes privileged the ethnic groups from whence the leaders came: Kikuyu and the Central Province under Kenyatta, and the Rift Valley Province under Moi. In both instances, regions such as Coast and North East Provinces were left hanging in terms of resources allocation. Thus, Alwy and Schech bring in the ideas of distributive justice and equity in education of John Rawls and Amartya Sen, and describe how the state should endeavor to support access for the less advantaged


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members of society, such that a level playing field is sought (if not attained).7 Alwy and Schech also briefly note the differences in approach between Tanzanian and Kenya post-colonial education efforts, explaining that it may be Kenya’s elite, and their laissez faire approach to education and societal changes that has led to regional and ethnic differentiation being maintained in Kenya, whereas Tanzania expended much state energy is ameliorating such differentiation. The remaining chapters primarily use qualitative methods in their case studies. The first case is Thabisile Buthelezi’s ethnographic look at how students construct their own sense of safety and utility about and around school in Umlazi Township in eThekwini (formerly Durban), South Africa. Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory of human development is used as an organizing analytical frame, and Buthelezi uses artsbased qualitative methodologies (drawings & diaries primarily) to get students to focus on describing themselves, their neighborhood or community, their sense of safety and other issues. Schools are a seen as a site of secondary socializing, that is, a site, like their home community, where students begin to formulate conceptions about themselves and their lives. Buthelezi is writing about ways in which this secondary socializing force is realized, and how school-based actors (teachers, administrators) can organize and understand themselves in this role. In the specific case of Buthelezi’s analysis, schools are characteristically overcrowded, and neighborhoods are often violent. School may be a safe place for most respondents, but homes are often not. And the space between the two, often to be negotiated on public transport, is similarly frequently unsafe. Utilizing the arts-based approach, Buthelezi analyzes students’ drawings, finding that both boys and girls draw aspects of strongly materialist culture, with girls generally somewhat more positive in their depictions, and boys more prone to note violence, drugs, and other pernicious elements of township life. The analysis puts a damper on the euphoria of political change in South Africa in the post-apartheid period. The next chapter is a case study of Diourbel, a middle school in a peri-urban area of Senegal, and the ways in which students and teachers create a “school climate.” Abou Karim Ndoye writes the case study from three perspectives: the relationships among the students of the school; the quality of the academic offerings of the school; and, the physical security of the school. Ndoye’s work, which describes a piece of a larger effort funded by the World Bank to begin incorporating school climate and other qualitative measures in their project design planning for Africa,8 looks initially at what students (and their parents) see as the purpose of education/schooling. Ndoye focuses more on teacher perspectives regarding their students, school administrators, and general aspects of school climate, including security and conflict. He concludes with a description of how this analysis will fit in with other research that takes school environment into account when trying to determine how successful a school is at the tasks it pursues. The final chapter on urban education in Africa is by Kinuthia Macharia, who writes about the marginalization of sectors of Kenya’s urban population, specifically, the children of Nairobi’s “informal settlements,” and their limited access to schools, especially for the “most poor” of the poor. Macharia interrogates the notions of power, ethnicity,

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and race, as he briefly describes the rise of Nairobi from a Maasai watering hole for cattle, to a British supply site for the East African railway, to the capital of Kenya, to home of some of Africa’s most densely populated slums. Macharia writes that city policy since independence continues to privilege the politically well-connected and wealthy. Macharia describes the work being done with street children of Nairobi by the Undugu Society of Kenya (USK), which has established a series of schools in Nairobi (and other Kenyan cities) specifically designed to offer these children an opportunity to reclaim some of the lost opportunities that formal education could provide. Macharia also describes the Olympic Primary School located in Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, on the outskirts of Nairobi, pointing it out as an example of how community support, parent dedication, Head teacher effort, and other factors can create an environment in which children are supported, and learn well.9

Analysis In writing this chapter, we have sought to identify a mechanism through which we can examine the various perspectives presented by the authors in this collection in a way that offers a comparative perspective while capturing the breadth of manifestations of education in Africa. While we could have investigated individual state level issues, we felt that a more macro-level approach would be more appropriate. We wanted a perspective that would resonate across the continent, connect history in Ghana with national identity formation in Zimbabwe with rural-urban disparities in Kenya and Malawi. While many African leaders were noted for their interest in education,10 and while national governments are arbiters (to a degree) of educational policy,11 we have opted to focus our analysis on the impacts of the single biggest actor influencing public expenditure on education throughout Africa over the past 40 years, the World Bank and other related international financial institutions (IFIs).12 As Heneveld and Craig note at the beginning of their 1996 report, Schools Count: World Bank Project Designs and the Quality of Primary Education on sub-Saharan Africa (World Bank Technical Paper no. 303), since 1972, the World Bank has provided loans to governments in Africa of more than $620 million in assistance for school construction.13 In roughly that time frame, enrollment in primary schools14 increased 350% (which increase might be taken as a proxy for the new classrooms constructed), though the authors note, high population growth during the same time frame has meant that relative participation rates have only increased marginally. While it is not explicitly stated whether the construction of new schools was focused more on urban or rural areas, it seems clear that urban population growth in the period being considered was significantly higher than general population growth.15 Over this time, World Bank policy makers would shift their focus numerous times regarding what types of education the Bank would support. For the first two decades of its involvement in funding educational expansion in Africa, the World Bank focused its analysis and preference on human capital perspectives,16 which measures benefits of Bank loan programs through the filter of the training of able-minded workers


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in vocational and technical schools to support the economy of their country. As Heyneman explains: From 1962 to 1980 all education investments supported by the Bank required justifications on the basis of manpower demands. Hence all Bank education investments centered on the focus of manpower analytic techniques and the scarcities of technicians and engineers. (2003, p. 317) In this scenario, engineering came to be seen as a proxy for infrastructural development. By increasing spending on the training of engineers, the Bank could say to the governments involved that its programs, and through these programs the governments themselves, were helping support the burgeoning infrastructure of Africa’s developing nations. By 1974, the Bank had hired its first science educator as well as its first educational sociologist, to undertake tracer studies of the work being done by graduates so as to showcase the “practical” nature of the curricula, and by extension, the success of the pre-figured ideas of the Bank itself.17 Heyneman writes: Though the “vocational school fallacy” argument (Foster, 1965) had been published a decade earlier, most World Bank staff were unaware that there was an alternative to the “practical” education assumptions under which lending was justified. It was taken as axiomatic that “practical subjects” and technical skill training were more useful in the labor market. That the opposite might be the case, that academic skills might be more useful, was heresy because it threatened the philosophic underpinnings for the lending program. (2003, pp. 311–312) Seeking to support development of academic skills rather than technical or vocational training was seen as incipient credentialism, and was to be avoided. In addition to its decision to focus on human capital analysis, the Bank’s policy to loan out funds for capital expenditures, and leave recurrent costs to be the responsibility of the governments agreeing to the loan terms was similarly prescriptive. This left countries financially responsible for the full range of recurrent costs associated with operating schools, staff salaries, classroom materials, and other ongoing costs. The trouble with this approach is that it does little to acknowledge the labor intensive nature of education. While it is true that education costs can be somewhat mitigated by use of technology, this presumes the ability by local governments to purchase and maintain such technology, not an easy presumption in many school sites in Africa.18 Indeed efficiencies in education can be attained, larger class sizes being one such way, but there are upper end limits to these that are more easily reached than the Bank’s initial education planning made it appear. In 1980, the World Bank released its Education Sector Policy Paper, which changed the existing lending rules, to acknowledge some of the concerns that had been raised over the first two decades of its efforts in Africa. After an extended internal debate, the Bank opted to shift away from support of only technical and vocational education. Quality of education, secondary and tertiary education, and education research all became the legitimate focus of World Bank loan programs, in what would, by the late 1980s, come to be known as its short education policy menu.19

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In retrospect, Heyneman argues that the 1980 policy paper could have constituted the start of a revolutionary shift in Bank policy. But this shift must be seen in the overall context of outside pressures during the decade of the 1980s to push the World Bank to modify not only its policies around education, but all of its social programs to address, for example, environmental, human rights, and women’s issues, even as structural adjustment programs were being negotiated that demanded that public expenditure on social programs, including education, be rationalized.20 Macro-level economic trends during this period also took their toll on access to education throughout Africa, especially for poor and working-class families. As Bredie and Beeharry (1998) point out in their World Bank discussion paper, entitled School Enrollment Decline in Sub-Saharan Africa: Beyond the Supply Constraint: [T]he difficult economic conditions [of the 1980s and 1990s] that have led to lower household incomes have made the (direct and opportunity) cost of education an important burden for many households. As the same time, the benefits of education in terms of increasing the chances of securing employment have also deteriorated because of fewer employment opportunities. Demand for education, even at primary level can no longer be taken for granted. A number of education sector studies report that parents find that education is no longer a worthwhile investment, and that expenses outweigh the potential benefits. (p. 4) Bank policy had opened up to quality issues, and expanded beyond vocationaltechnical support, but the broader economic environment had been impacted by negative global market impacts just as the structural adjustment programs had led to tightened public expenditure on these kinds of educational inputs – increased staffing, materials purchases, etc. Even as the World Bank recognized that its initial vocational-technical oriented approach to supporting education in Africa was in need of change, and even as its human capital-focused analysis was giving way to rate of return analysis that was somewhat less limited by economistic interpretations, many manifestations of education continued to be left out of the planning and design of Bank programs.21 Still, Heyneman describes an “ex ante agnosticism” at the Bank regarding education policy frameworks. In other words, after the changes wrought in the 1980s, there remained an ongoing attempt to avoid wholly prescriptive policies, and allow some (though by no means complete) flexibility for national self-determination as to how to use borrowed World Bank funds. External efficiencies would still be used, so comparative analysis of the program experiences in different countries would continue to be used as a primary appraisal criterion. In this, Heneveld and Craig’s 1996 report is indicative. They do note forthrightly the limits of World Bank policy, for example, in stating that they were unable to visit any of the 26 projects being analyzed for the report. They go on to note, “[T]he econometric input-output model of schooling and the techniques that stem from this model are not adequate to understanding and planning improvements in what goes on in schools and classrooms” (p. 3). Later in the report, they have this to say: “[N]ot one project includes a specific reference to planning for planning for in-school supervision of


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textbook use. Overall, it appears that the World Bank’s programming is paying good attention to textbook supply issues, but that much less consideration has been given to ensuring their effectiveness use in classrooms” (p. 34). It is informative that, after these kinds of comments, they nevertheless utilize a methodological framework that is entirely western: school effectiveness measures; school improvement characteristics; and school climate factors. These are then mapped onto the African contexts of the study. So, even as the change noted by Heyneman was occurring in the Bank’s policies and practices, there remained embedded Bank practices and tensions, well-removed physically from the environments for which their educational programs were designed, but which nevertheless impacted how these programs would be realized. Gonzales offers one example: [T]he allocation of promotions within the Bank are based largely on whether an official has met or exceeded her/his lending quotas. Given the extensive timecommitments required for the project appraisal process, Joel Samoff (1993) argues, World Bank officials will develop a general inclination toward lending to large-scale projects to meet these quotas rather than concentrating on what is appropriate for the host country and its needs. (1999, p. 125) In other words, Bank practice was to see success in terms not of how projects and programs worked in output terms, that is, success or failure to educate children (a longer term measure, for certain), but rather in internal, financial terms, that is, how successful the Bank’s officials were in loaning funds for projects (a decidedly shorter term measure). Gonzales notes that by the mid-1990s, the Bank’s President, James Wolfensohn, pushed to change this internal climate, informing staff that promotions would subsequently be based on the success of their projects over time. This, says Gonzales, had little immediate effect inasmuch as the projects and programs with which staff were involved were typically seven to 10 years in duration, meaning functional links between completed project cycles and World Bank promotions would scarcely be likely. Richard Sack notes: In the early 1990s, a major, in-depth World Bank report ascertained an alarming rate of non-performing projects. This report “discovered” that beneficiary countries of World Bank loans/projects had little sense of “ownership” of the development project whose conception and elaboration was often determined by World Bank staff more concerned with the logic of their institution (and its “approval culture,” according to that report) than by that of the country (the “borrower”). (2003, p. 11) The internal decision-making dynamic as described above does not get at a separate matter, which is the way data were being collected for analysis and report. Joel Samoff (1999) points out several limitations to relying on World Bank data. First, Bank officials are reliant on state-level data collection which it then aggregates. State-level data are themselves aggregates of school-, district-, and region-level collection. Mistakes at

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any of these levels are thus brought into Bank analyses, thus potentially skewing results. This is a well-known problem particularly as it relates to data collection and reporting in most African countries. Second, published analyzed measures of expenditures on education often are taken only from state-level calculations. Rarely is there a comprehensive view of what individuals, families, and local governments spend on education. This tends to overemphasize the percentage of total expenditure resulting from both state government and World Bank sources. Finally, the Bank’s own reports are, at times, contradictory. By way of one example, Samoff notes that seemingly straightforward questions such as how many children are in school? or, what percentage of children are in school? are not as easy to answer as one might believe. Samoff shows World Bank reports, and indicates that the Bank can get data mixed-up. For example, the World Bank lists 1960 enrollments at 46% in one report (World Bank, 1993), only to then list enrollment at 50% for 1960 in a different report (World Bank, 1995). Samoff’s point in all of this is that data are not always reliable, and should be taken to be estimates only. As such, broad inferences, and public policy decisions based on such data should minimally be critically examined, if not avoided. In addition to poorly reported data, numerous writers have raised the issue of how the data are collected in the first place, beyond that described previously here of the economistic nature of the analytic methods. Gonzales notes that into the late 1990s, the World Bank continued to hold on to longstanding practice of utilizing more easily measured input variables, in lieu of more qualitative measures. Heneveld and Craig concur, in describing that: Overall, a closer look at the planning done for the twenty-six projects reinforces the conclusion that the closer the factor was to the life of the school and to what touches the children directly, the less likely it was to be planned for explicitly in these projects assisted by the World Bank. [italics in original] (p. 44) In standard Bank analytic practice, for example, rather than qualitatively measuring how students progress through school, it was often assumed that an average student progressed through school by completing one level of schooling per year. But there exist long-noted patterns of interruption in educational progress that make such an assumption troubling.22 Similarly, the Bank continued to use foregone earnings as a proxy for opportunity cost incurred by those children who could be undertaking wage-based work, but who choose to remain in school. This runs the risk of overstating project costs since not all school leavers are employed in cash positions at prevailing market wages. Each of these data-related issues points to the need to incorporate more qualitative methods of data collection into World Bank planning and program design. As Buchmann and Hannum note: The study of school factors and educational outcomes similarly highlights the importance of the social and economic contexts of schools. By offering counterpoints to the common notions (usually based on US research) regarding how school factors affect student achievement, studies in less-developed contexts


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clearly demonstrate that the impacts of specific policy initiatives depend on the environment in which schools function. (2001, p. 93) Coming full circle, Heneveld and Craig repeatedly argue for the need for incorporating such qualitative measures more fully in World Bank analysis. They note two conclusions to be reached in analyzing World Bank education projects: First, the project designs analyzed addressed an array of inputs that are known to affect educational outcomes: community support; supervision; teacher development; textbooks; and, facilities. In this respect, the influence of research on design is encouraging. However, the focus is on these factors as inputs – textbook supply, residential teacher training courses, national curriculum reform, national examination systems – not on their integration within schools. Second, the project designs tend to ignore the process factors that characterize effective education within schools – school-level autonomy, school climate, the teaching/learning process, and pupil evaluation feedback by teachers. The project designs also tend to treat inputs as discrete quantifiable instruments (numbers of textbooks and teacher’s guides, weeks of in-service training) without taking into account how they will interact with other inputs, especially at the school level. (1996, p. xiv) We offer the following lengthy quote for its full description of the circumstances in which measures of analysis often hide realities. We have highlighted certain text in italics: [T]he first grade classroom was housed in the only one of the three rooms in the old school compound that still had its roof intact. This dilapidated mud-floor room had no desks and no door; there were over ninety pupils ranging from preschool siblings to teenagers sitting on raised mud ridges across the room; and there were no textbooks in sight. Queries to the teacher elicited that a few of the [12 copies of the] new books for a few subjects were in a book bag in the corner. The rest were in the teacher’s house because the [school class] room had no door and there was no cupboard which would force him to cart them back and forth each day. Also, he told the visitors that his orientation to the new books had been a one-day (including travel) seminar at the district headquarters, and there had been no follow-up to help him figure out how to use twelve copies of a textbook with ninety students. In the project’s terms, the textbook component had been successful: the books were in the school. In the teacher’s and the children’s terms, the books were not yet available. (1996, p. 2) It is only by focusing on how fully inputs are actually integrated into school, classroom, and teacher practice that solid ideas on school reform will find footing. In order for this to be realized, however, prior study must be made of the ways in which the school operates, before planning sessions decide how budgets are to be spent, resources distributed, and inputs utilized. The conditions under which the school operates must be clearly defined. Unfortunately, as Heneveld and Craig point out, these operational definitions are infrequently revealed before planning has been completed.23

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Language and the World Bank While data collection and analysis is a basic issue in regard to World Bank influence on education in Africa, there exist other issues which are fundamental in different ways. One particular issue in which the World Bank has long been implicated in its efforts in Africa is the role of vernacular and colonial languages in schools. Many writers are engaged in defining the issues involved in decisions as to what languages are to be used in primary schools (and beyond), and for what reasons. The published perspectives on such issues range from the epistemological to the political, the local to the national and international. For the purposes of this section of the chapter, we will focus on those perspectives that connect to the issue of language in classrooms as described by the authors whose work is collected in this volume. Walter Bgoya, a publisher from Tanzania, implicates colonial practice, imperialism, and neo-colonialism as forces that frequently leave African languages untaught, and thus at risk of dying out. While Bgoya is concerned with the impact of colonial and post-colonial decisions on which languages are used as media of instruction in schools, he focuses on the publishing industry, and notes that opportunities to utilize texts written in indigenous languages are rare in most schools. This only furthers a (false) belief that indigenous languages fail to meet modern needs in multilingual African nations: All languages which, for one reason or another, are denied the potential for their fullest development are threatened. One of the threats comes from the phenomenon of rural to urban migration. Many young unemployed people perennially leave rural communities in search of employment in urban areas where either a foreign language or one indigenous language dominates the other languages. And becomes ipso facto a “national language.” Over time, the “smaller languages” will lose out. (2001, p. 285) Adebowale (2001) writes about an “umbilical attachment to Western scholarship” within African scholarship. He points out that African scholars are expected to know (and cite) Western-based research theories as well as Africa-focused theories, yet this is not frequently reciprocated. These perspectives note that at the “economically viable” end of the educational arc, after having successfully negotiated school and engaging professional employment, African scholars and publishers remain linked to a perceived demand that they ought to cede to others, decisions about which languages they employ in their work. This perceived demand is an outright result of the nature of state education systems, and a result, in part of the policies of those who fund such systems, including the World Bank. Nyamnjoh notes: Only a few African countries have bothered to adopt policies that encourage education in African languages, and even this limited number have tended to confine the importance of local languages to primary and secondary school education. Thereby accentuating the remoteness and irrelevance of universities to the bulk of


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the population. With perhaps the exception of Tanzania, there is hardly a single sub-Saharan African university that “offers a full diploma programme with an African language as principal medium of instruction.” (2004, p. 172) What is implemented at various levels of education does not cease manifesting in a multitude of social and cultural forms. An irony of the globalization process is that as the trend towards the homogenization of production systems proceeds apace, and we see the rapid movements of capital and labor, the English language begins to predominate thus making its adoption in African schools and commerce not just a practical thing, but an absolute necessity for success. Alamin Mazrui (1997) posits a pair of rationales to begin explaining the reality that most post-colonial governments in Africa inherited educational systems in which colonial languages constituted the medium of instruction. The first is described as a functionalist response wherein the colonial languages (most often English and French) are defined as being useful in global ways that indigenous languages are not. This constitutes a rationale for maintaining the influence of the colonial language into future generations. The second is seen as a nationalist response that would re-center African languages in African education. Pushed along with some support from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),24 this response has been implemented in many countries for primary education. Mazrui goes on to discuss World Bank public remarks that seem to align the Bank with the nationalist perspective on language, especially as regards primary education. However, he notes that the Bank’s own policies and subsequent research shows that colonial languages are actually spreading in influence, even at lower levels of schooling. Mazrui notes: [E]stablishing the necessary conditions for sustainable instruction in the local languages – which, in the World Bank’s opinions quoted above, is crucial to the uninterrupted educational progress of a child – requires substantial government investments in generating educational resources. Yet, the World Bank’s prescriptions continue to place heavy emphasis on the reduction of government subsidies in education, though such subsidies are indispensable to the promotion of instruction in the local languages. … [U]nder World Bank – IMF structural adjustment programs, the only path open to African nations is the adoption of the imperial languages from the very outset of a child’s education. (1997, p. 38) Thus, he sees the trend in education in Africa moving away from vernacular-based education, even at earlier levels. The implications for survival of African languages, as well as the impact on Africa’s children of understanding themselves to be Kenyan (not to say Swahili, or Kikuyu, or …) is hardly to be underestimated. For Mazrui, the World Bank (and its affiliated partners in the multilateral funding of education in Africa) seeks to play the game both ways. He offers the following anecdote:

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[A] World Bank loan to the Central African Republic, supposedly intended to improve the quality and accessibility of elementary education, came with a package of conditions that required the nation to import its textbooks (and even use French textbooks) directly from France and Canada. This stringency was justified on the grounds that printing in these Western countries is cheaper than in the Central African Republic, making their publications more affordable to the average African child. It has been estimated that, due to similar World Bank projects and linkages, over 80 percent of school books in “Francophone” Africa are now produced directly in France. In the process, the World Bank has not only empowered the West to control further the intellectual destiny of African children, but has also continued to weaken and destroy infrastructural facilities, primarily publishing houses, for the technical production of knowledge locally. In terms of sheer cost effectiveness, French and Canadian publishers would have found it far more difficult to participate in this World Bank agenda had language of instruction in the Central African Republic been one of the local languages instead of French. (p. 42) The World Bank wishes to state a preference for vernacular education at early ages, inasmuch as this boosts best chances to successfully use second (and subsequent) languages fully competently. Simultaneously, it wishes to note an advantage to learning English, as this familiarizes different ethnic groups (language speakers) within a country, and permits greater national cohesion, and greater political unity. Mazrui criticizes the Bank for this, especially around the Bank’s pronouncements that it “cannot impose an educational language policy on an African country,” since “each country … has the freedom to determine language policy that is commensurate with its own unique political, economic, cultural and linguistic peculiarities.” (1997, p. 37) Mazrui notes a disjuncture between this and Bank policy in general, inasmuch as the Bank (and its Bretton Woods sibling institutions) frequently imposes conditions on borrowing. Mazrui offers the specific example of such imposition in his depiction of early 1980s Tanzania, where President Nyerere’s attempts to institutionalize Kiswahili as the medium of instruction beyond primary school ran smack into difficulties when the country faced drought, and needed to realign state outlays across the spectrum. This led to a decision to seek help from the IMF. Tanzania eventually had to capitulate to IMF conditionalities so as to be able to feed its people. One conditionality dealt with educational planning and policy, and crippled efforts to Kiswahili-ize the curriculum. Mazrui notes: The World Bank … does not seem comfortable with the Tanzanian model. In its comparative analysis of high school students’ performance between Kenya and Tanzania, for example, it casts doubt on the prudence of Tanzania’s educational language policy. It suggests that Tanzania’s high school education is qualitatively inferior to that of Kenya, and that this educational inferiority is attributable, in part, to the exclusive emphasis on Kiswahili as a medium of instruction at the primary level. (p. 39)


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In short, World Bank policy, in practice, not rhetoric, is designed to meet the needs, in African countries, of foreign capital. It is not about what is directly best for the mass of young African children as they learn.

Conclusion The children who attend schools in Africa that are the focus of this volume, are impacted by policies and practices of players at both national and international levels. These practices and policies help determine what kinds of school buildings are available to the students, what languages are spoken there for what purposes, what resources are provided for schools and students in what circumstances, and what, in the end, is left over for local communities and individual families and students to provide for themselves. In order to understand this range of relevant policies and practices, it is important to know as much about the actors involved – including the students and families – as possible. Gonzales, regarding, specifically, his own research in Namibia, offers a perspective that might resonate throughout Africa. Writing about the World Bank and similar institutions, he argues for the incorporation of qualitative approaches to analysis that permits the lived experience of the children impacted by lending practices and policies to be noted. Gonzales states that: [T]he presence of inputs indicates their utilization can only be assumed through the monitoring of projects throughout their lives. Such monitoring must not be limited to consultations with officials in the posh offices of government ministers in the capital cities … . only classroom visits and meetings with teachers and school officials showed the author the dialectic between documented claims and state realities. As such, extended site visits throughout the countries must be included in the monitoring or project implementation. (p. 132) Gonzales further argues that increased support from abroad, in the form of additional funding, technical support, lower rates of interest, longer maturities on loans, more favorable loan terms, or greater sharing of analysis on program success for the use of national governments be incorporated into the dialogue about education funding. As Heneveld and Craig write: [T]o design effective interventions for improving school quality, preparations must be done by the local people, with their choices of outcomes and means to achieve those outcomes informed, but not determined, by the experiences from elsewhere. A planning process that is based on local experience – and controlled locally – requires that certain operating principles of World Bank project preparation be revised: local commitment and capacity, not a target date for presentation to the World bank Board of Directors, should determine the timetable of preparations. (p. 48)

Urban Education in Africa


The Bank is only one of the multitude of players in Africa’s education. Yet its influence is overwhelming. Combined with the legacies of the colonial system, widespread state incapacity and incompetence, and high poverty levels, education in Africa is at a crossroads. A positive movement forward may need a concerted effort by the real consumers of education, that is, the students and their parents to demand performance from both their own governments and from the international financial institutions, in order to make education more relevant to their lives. This is a tall order, but not an impossible dream to reach.

Notes 1. Relating back to Adebowale (2001), we deliberately sought to incorporate African authors, those working in Africa, as well as those currently working in the diaspora. In this effort, we were largely successful, as the chart below shows: Africans in Africa

Africans outside Africa


South Africa South Africa Senegal Malawi

Ghana Cameroon Zimbabwe Kenya Kenya Section co-editor

Kenya co-author Section co-editor


3. 4.




non-African in Africa

It is fair to say that, as satisfied as we are with the mix of submissions included here, this chart may have tilted further to its leftmost column had we found it easier to communicate more fully with other potential authors throughout the continent, with whom initial communication had been established. Future edition of this Handbook, or, indeed, editions of a similar Handbook that focuses on Africa would do better in this regard. In this instance, “schools” operates as a synonym for “education,” a well as a gloss for Western-style formal education. See Sefa Dei (2000); Kebede (2004); Nyamnjoh (2004); Quist (2001); Tikly (1999, 2001); and many others addressing epistemological issues regarding education in Africa. See Karlsson on school architecture in South Africa, Ofori-Attah on the history of formal schooling in Ghana, as well as MacJessie and Nampota on schools in Malawi. Many African countries continue to face this issue, which impacts education in a variety of ways. See, for example, Bgoya (2001) on limited publishing opportunities in African languages; Desai (2001) on multilingualism in South Africa; Sefa Dei (2002) on language and culture, and educational change in Ghana; etc. World Bank policy regarding language of instruction issues in African education is discussed later in this chapter. See Masemann (in Arnove & Torres, 1999) on problematizing conceptions of culture. Following on Mpondi, would Zimbabweanization, in practice, have the same effect for Mashona and MaNdebele, not to mention Zimbabweans from smaller ethnic groups? Also see the writings on social justice, education, and human development by Fanta Cheru. From Harber (2002): “In recent years Zimbabwe has witnessed a steady retreat from democracy with government sponsored harassment and violence against political opponents and increasing media restrictions. Schools and classrooms in Zimbabwe have traditionally been organized on an authoritarian basis. Not surprisingly, a school-base understanding of human rights in Zimbabwe noted the problem of the mismatch between ideals and reality in planning any course on human rights.” (p. 273) Samoff (in Arnove & Torres, 1999) offers a take on the ideas of equity, fairness, and justice, and contrasts these to equality, noting that to effectively change these aspects of school access and participation,


8. 9. 10.










Brennan and Nyang’oro society must change, and that achieving equity may mandate, at least temporarily, unequal treatment, something that rarely goes unopposed by the kind of people (the wealthy) for whom the unequal seems to work well. See Heneveld and Craig (1996) for more detail on the rationale for the World Bank’s move in this direction. As with school climate, these measures have only recently begun to make their way into World Bank planning. More will be said about these issues later in the chapter. Assie-Lumumba (2000), for example, notes the post-colonial efforts of Sekou Toure (1961); Julius Nyerere (1968); Zimbabwe (1980); Namibia (1990); and South Africa (1994), and describes educational reform as akin to a new flag, a new national anthem (p. 92). Assie-Lumumba (2000), “Despite their nominal political independence, most African countries have designed their domestic policies under the guidance or influence of external powers … . Lending agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF, governments of industrial countries within bilateral or multilateral frameworks, and foundations have played a central role in defining priorities and designing policies of education in Africa. These agencies’ perceived importance of particular levels or types of education have had implications in domestic public resource allocation.” (p. 92) For additional material on the full scope of issues in education in Africa, two places to start would be the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) which maintains a website with valuable research and resource material at:, and the Educational Research Network for West and Central Africa (ERNWACA), which can be found at If we take this as given, one meaning to be ascribed to it is that from 1972 to 1996 (when this report was published), the World Bank loaned to Africa $26 million per year, or roughly one-half million dollars per country. A second way to think about it is that for the currently 800million residents of Africa, the World Bank has loaned the equivalent of 80 U.S. cents per person for school construction over 25 years. Not 80 U.S. cents per year, but 3 U.S. cents per year per person. We focus here on expenditure for primary school for the reasons outlined by Gonzales (1999), “With regard to the issue of equity in social expenditure, investment in primary education reaches a much broader cross section of society than does funding to higher education as, especially in Africa, higher levels of education are usually accessible to the wealthier strata of societies.” (p. 120) That is, as per statistics available from the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2004 Revision and World Urbanization Prospects: The 2003 Revision (available at, urban population in Africa is estimated to be growing by more than one full percentage point per year more, on average, than the general population. One necessary interpretation of this is that rural population growth must be lagging behind general population growth, and thus significantly behind urban population growth. Policies that do not take this into account are set up for problems. Assie-Lumumba (2000) notes, “The optimistic African outlook of the 1960s and 1970s’ economic development coincided with a renewed and unprecedented popularity of the human capital theory in industrial countries of the West. This contributed to create a general atmosphere characterized by a euphoria, faith, and confidence in education as the ‘great equalizer,’ a means for individual development and upward mobility, and an effective instrument for achieving national economic development.” (p. 90) Joel Samoff (1999) criticizes this, and subsequent World Bank approaches for being overly optimistic about planning skills. “This approach commonly underestimates the extent and rapidity of career changes. Since it understands education primarily in terms of its skills training consequences, it tends to disregard intellectual growth, the development of critical and problem-solving ability, the encouragement of creativity and expression, and many other dimensions of education that have no immediate and direct vocational outcome.” (p. 411) Gonzales (1999) writes that in terms of primary education in Africa, as much as 90% of recurrent expenses are teacher salary related. This leaves 10% to pay for materials, supplies, textbooks, etc., even as research shows a clear connection between increased access to such materials, and student success. The short education policy menu is described by Heyneman as being reliant on rate of return analysis, and adhering to three recommendations from late 1980s: first, that governments shift public expenditures away from vocational and higher education toward academic and basic education; second, that they increase private cost for higher education for attending university; and, finally, that they install loan schemes to set off financial burden onto individuals for paying for higher education. This set of

Urban Education in Africa







recommendations evokes the conditions on public expenditure common to structural adjustment programs of the 1980s and 1990s. There seems significant counter-posed pressures at this time from within the Bretton Woods and multilateral donor community. Mazrui (1997) addresses this point, with a specific focus on language issues. Harber (2002) joins the point around the issues of governance and democratization. Samoff (1999) notes the fall off in primary school enrollments seen in many countries during this time. He also notes that spending on education, while it did not fall in absolute terms during this time, did decline more than 5% per capita during this period. More generally, as Buchmann and Hannum (2001) point out, even as broader issues of educational quality were being brought into World Bank decision-making practices, “These policies, which facilitate debt servicing through fiscal austerity and reduced government intervention in indebted nations, have been traced to declines in educational spending, teacher quality, and educational demand (Reimers, 1991). Other evidence indicates that SAPs disproportionately affect female participation in education, likely through their detrimental impact on survival strategies in poor households (Buchmann, 1996). Finally, the pressures from the IMF and donor agencies on indebted governments to privatize and decentralize their educational systems may lead to greater inequities and declining educational participation (Arnove, 1997). In sum, research on macro-structural determinants of education and shaping stratification patterns is highly variable over time and place and is enhanced or constrained by global institutions and forces.” (p. 81) For example, adult education, pre-school education, graduate education, educational research, educational technology, education for the handicapped, professional education (medical, engineering, law, public administration, etc.). Bredie and Beeharry (2002) support this, making the further point that both the direct costs and the opportunity cost of education are thus higher than would be otherwise presumed in a circumstance in which, for example, a Kenyan student were to go through the eight standards of primary education in eight calendar years. For more on this set of issues, see Richard Maclure’s article in Harvard Educational Review (2006), essentially an overview of endogenous research across a full range of education issues in Africa, as seen in the efforts of two groups: (1) ERNWACA – the Educational Research Network of West and Central Africa; and (2) ADEA – the Association for the Development of Education in Africa, which began in 1988 as an offshoot of World Bank efforts, but evolved into an association of officials from ministries of education throughout Africa. Mazrui describes UNESCO as having “campaigned for a shift to local languages in the earlier years of a child’s education, and it has also recommended, on educational grounds, that the use of the mothertongue be extended to as late a stage in education as possible.” (p. 37)

References Adebowale, S. A. (2001). The scholarly journal in the production and dissemination of knowledge on Africa: Exploring some issues for the future. African Sociological Review, 5(1), 1–16. Arnove, R. F. (1997). Neoliberal education policies in Latin America: Arguments in favor and against. In C. A. Orres, & A. Puigros (Eds.), Latin American education: Comparative perspectives (pp. 79–100). Boulder, CO: Westview. Assie-Lumumba, N’Dri T. (2000). Educational and economic reforms, gender equity, and access to schooling in Africa. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 61(1), 89–120. Association for the Development of Education in Africa. (2003). The quest for quality: Learning from the African experience. Paris: Association for Development of Education in Africa. Bgoya, W. (2001). The effect of globalisation in Africa and the choice of language in publishing. International Review of Education, 47(3–4), 283–292. Bredie, J. W. B., & Girindre K. B. (1998). School enrollment decline in sub-Saharan Africa: Beyond the supply constraint. World Bank discussion paper no. 395. Washington: World Bank. Buchmann, C. (1996). Family decisions and social constraints: The determinants of educational inequality in contemporary Kenya. Ph.D. Thesis, Indiana University, U.S.A.


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Buchmann, C., & Hannum, E. (2001). Education and stratification in developing countries: A review of theories and research. Annual Review of Sociology, 27, 77–102. Desai, Z. (2001). Multilingualism in South Africa with particular reference to the role of African languages in education. International Review of Education, 47(3–4), 323–339. Foster, P. J. (1965). Education and social change in Ghana. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gonzales, M. C. (1999). The World Bank and African primary education: Policies, practices and recommendations. Africa Today, 46(1), 119–134. Harber, C. (2002). Education, democracy and poverty reduction in Africa. Comparative Education, 38(3), 267–276. Heneveld, W., & Craig, H. (1996). Schools count: World Bank project designs and the quality of primary education on sub-Saharan Africa. (World Bank Technical paper no. 303). Washington: World Bank. Heyneman, S. P. (2003). The history and problems in the making of education policy at the World Bank 1960–2000. International Journal of Educational Development, 23, 315–337. Jansen, J. D. (1999). Globalization, curriculum and the Third World state: In dialogue with Michael Apple. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 1(2), 42–47. Kanyongo, G. Y. (2005). Zimbabwe’s public education system reforms: Successes and challenges. International Education Journal, 6(1), 65–74. Karlsson, J. (2002). The role of democratic governing bodies in South African schools. Comparative Education, 38(2), 327–336. Kebede, M. (2004). African development and the primacy of mental decolonization. African Development, 29(1), 107–129. Lloyd, C., & Blanc, A. K. (1996). Children’s schooling in sub-Saharan Africa: The role of fathers, mothers, and others. Population and Development Review, 22(2), 265–298. Maclure, R. (2006). No longer overlooked and undervalued? The evolving dynamics of endogenous educational research in sub-Saharan Africa. Harvard Educational Review, 76(1), 80–109. Masemann, V. L. (1999). Culture and education. In R. F. Arnove, & C. A. Torres (Eds.), Comparative education: The dialectic of the global and the local. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Mazrui, A. (1997). The world bank, the language question and the future of African education. Race and Class, 38(3), 35–48. Nyamnjoh, F. B. (2004). A relevant education for African development – Some epistemological considerations. Africa Development, 29(1), 161–184. Nyerere, J. (1968). Education for self reliance. Dar es Salaam (Tanzania): Government of Tanzania Ministry of Information and Tourism. Quist, H. O. (2001). Cultural issues in secondary education development in West Africa: Away from colonial survivals, towards neocolonial influences? Comparative Education, 37(3), 297–314. Reimers, F. (1991). The impact of economic stabilization and adjustment on education in Latin America. Comparative Education Review, 35(2), 319–353. Sack, R. (2003). Explorations on the applicability for Africa of the OECD peer reviews of national policies for education. Paris: Association for the Development of Education in Africa. Samoff, J. (1993). The reconstruction of schooling in Africa. Comparative Education Review, 37(2), 181–222. Samoff, J. (1999). No teacher guide, no textbooks, no chairs: Contending with the crisis in African education. In F. A. Robert, & A. T. Carlos (Eds.), Comparative education: The dialectic of the global and the local (pp. 393–431). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Sefa Dei, G. J. (2000). African development: The relevance and implications of “indigenousness”. In G. J. Sefa Dei, B. Hall, & D. G. Rosenberg (Eds.), Indigenous knowledges in global contexts: Multiple readings of our world. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Tikly, L. (1999). Postcolonialism and comparative education. International Review of Education, 45(5–6), 603–621. Tikly, L. (2001). Globalisation and education in the postcolonial world: Towards a conceptual framework. Comparative Education, 37(2), 151–171. Toure, S. (1961). Le development de la reforme de l’enseignement. Conakry: Republic of Guinea. World Bank. (1993). World development report: Investing in health. New York: Oxford University Press. World Bank. (1995). World development report: Workers in an integrating world. New York: Oxford University Press.


Introduction Urbanization as a social process started in Africa long before the arrival of the Arabs or Europeans on the continent (Coquery-Vidrovitch, 1991; Peel, 1980). Around 320 B.C., northeast Africa witnessed the growth of urban centers when Upper and Lower Egypt merged to promote the development “of a brilliant urban civilization” (Davidson, 1991b, p. 14). Jenné-Jeno, near present day Jenne, was established by the very fertile river banks of the Bani and Niger rivers around the year 250 B.C. It is the first known city in sub-Saharan Africa and among the oldest known in the world. As Haskins and Benson (1998) have pointed out: Established – probably by herders and fishermen – as a small group of round mud huts around 250 B.C., by A.D. 800 Jenne-Jeno was a cosmopolitan center of some ten thousand people, surrounded by a massive mud-brick wall of some ten feet wide and thirteen or more feet in height. (p. 16) What triggered the urbanization process at such an early period in the history of Africa is not very clear. However, historians believe that the process of urbanization started on the continent of Africa as a result of gradual natural increase in the population, the need for security, trade, commercial and political reasons. As people developed agriculture and got frequent supply of food, and led settled life, life expectancy naturally improved. Some of the major urban centers developed through trade. Cities like Abeokuta, Ibadan, Kano, Walata, Kumbi Saleh, and Kumasi all rose to prominence before the arrival of Europeans on the African continent largely as a result of trade. Some of the items traded included salt, gold, kola nuts, ostrich feathers, ivory, pepper, and cloth. (Coquery-Vidrovitch, 1991; Davidson, 1991a). 23 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 23–48. © 2007 Springer.



Another factor that led to growth of cities in Africa before the arrival of the Europeans was the desire for many people to acquire new knowledge. At this time, Timbuktu was a primary center for learning in Africa. It had three universities, and over 100 other educational institutions. These educational institutions were run by Muslims, who taught subjects including mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, physics, medicine, history, and geography. Arabic was the medium of instruction. There is no evidence that English was taught in these schools (Chandler, 1994). These urban areas had none of the utilities or facilities that we see in modern urban areas today. There was, for instance, no piped or running water, no electricity, no roads or railway system, no hospitals or schools as we know them today, no vehicles, airplanes or trains. The primary non-walking mode of transportation within urban areas was riding on the back of domesticated animals such as a horse, camel, or donkey. The urban centers were simply a concentration of people engaged in commercial, social, and political activities. The houses were essentially built of mud, stones, or clay and covered with thatched leaves or bamboo or bark of large trees (Haskins & Benson, 1998) (See Table 1). The urban areas offered security that more isolated individuals could not afford. These urban areas were often under the control of local leaders who were generally chiefs or kings. These local leaders imposed taxes on the people to generate revenue to maintain security, law and order. Cities like Timbuktu relied on strategic locations as a trading centers and raised huge revenues to maintain the city through trading activities. The predominant occupation at this time was agriculture. A few people engaged in local industries such as cloth making, iron works, pottery, wood carving, basket weaving, and cattle rearing. In some of the urban centers, As Hull (1976) has pointed out: Kumasi was famous for its goldsmiths, who turned out fine jewelry, and for it weavers of Kente cloth … Kumasi and surrounding Ashanti towns were also famous for the manufacture of brass weights, used for measuring gold dust, a major currency. It was also in Kumasi that the famous wooden state stools were

Table 1.

Large cities in Africa: 1100–1600 A.D.








Marrakesh Cairo Fez Tunis Bougie Qus Rabat Kano Oyo Gao Zaria

150,000 150,000 125,000 – 50,000 50,000 – – – – –

150,000 200,000 155,000 – – 50,000 50,000 – – – –

75,000 400,000 200,000 – – – – – – – –

– 360,000 150,000 – – – – – 50,000 – –

– – – 65,000 – – – 50,000 60,000 60,000 –

125,000 – – – – – – – – – 60,000

Source: Chandler, 1994, p. 18.

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


carved and decorated with silver or gold sheeting … . In addition, there was fine ceramic pottery, clay animal figurines, and a wide variety iron implements of excellent workmanship. Craftsmen also fashioned gold and copper wire into bracelets for writs, forearms, and anklets and calves. (pp. 107–109) As more and more people moved to urban areas to find a better way of life, to share in the security and trade opportunities offered in these areas, populations began to soar. By the sixteenth century, the population of Jenne-Jeno had increased from a few thousands around 250 B.C. to over 10,000 inhabitants. Other areas such as Kumasi, Ilorin, Ibadan, Kano, Tamale, Bamako or Timbuktu saw similar increases in population growth. Education in these urban areas often took the form of face-to-face interaction. As Hull (1976) put it: Most urbanites acquired learning through face-to-face contacts. Youths learned from family members in their compounds or from firsthand experience in the streets, marketplace, or at work. Public information was diffused troubadors, street-singers, dancers, actors, or story-tellers … . For the masses, the major centers of education were the marketplace, community wells, and the ceremonial or parade ground in front of the palace. Education for the aristocrats took place within the compounds of kings and paramount chiefs … . Within a local chief’s compound, youths were instructed in proper ways of addressing the king and other members of the hierarchy and nobility. (p. 109) There were no formal schools as we know them today (Haskins & Benson, 1998). However, in some of the urban centers such as Timbuktu, Djenné, and Gao Arabs had established open schools and were teaching youths how to write, read, and compute figures. Instruction was conducted in Arabic. Such was the “state of formal schooling” until the arrival of the Europeans on the continent.

Objectives of the Study The main purpose of this paper is to discuss trends and issues in schooling in urban Africa with special reference to Ghana during the colonial era. The discussion will begin with the early attempts made by Christian missionaries and colonial government to open schools in the urban areas of what is today called Ghana. One primary objective of the paper is to examine the relationships between urbanization and schooling. A second objective is to examine the organization of urban schools in the Gold Coast during the colonial period. Additionally, the paper will examine the financing of urban education during the early days of formal schooling in Ghana. Finally, the paper will assess the dysfunctional aspects of urban education in the Gold Coast during the same era. The early attempts made by the Europeans to establish schools in the Gold Coast did not take firm roots until the beginning of the eighteenth century. Often the educational efforts were hampered by diseases and inter-European conflicts or



conflicts between Europeans and local people (Lystad, 1958; Martin, 1924). For instance the conflict between the British and Ashanti delayed the development of education in Ashanti for over 100 years. Until the British colonial administration took over the entire country after 1902, schooling activities were confined to the urban areas in the southern sector of the Gold Coast. From that point forward, the British colonial government became the main administrator of education in the Gold Coast until independence in 1957 although other missionaries from different European countries such as Germany, Sweden, Scotland, and Switzerland also played a role (Hilliard, 1957).

Europeans and the Foundations of Urban Education in the Gold Coast In Ghana, an urban area is defined as a city or town with a population with 5,000 or more inhabitants (Owusu, 2005). This is an arbitrary definition of urbanization (Gibbs, 1966). However, it is the standard that this paper will use in discussing the relationship between educational development and urbanization. The paper is built on the proposition that “population distribution may have a controlling influence over a country’s education system” (Anderson, 1965, p. 148). In Ghana as in many other African countries, schooling began in urban areas upon the arrival of early European merchants and missionaries. These included the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Danes, the British, and the Germans. The Portuguese are believed to be the first European nation to establish a school in the Gold Coast in the early fifteenth century (Hilliard, 1957). They established their schools in the forts along the coastal areas of the Gold Coast. The most important one was established at Elmina, where the children were taught reading and writing in Portuguese. Because of lack of schooling facilities in the Gold Coast, the Portuguese sent outstanding students abroad for further education. The educational experiments of the Portuguese came to an abrupt end when they lost their forts and trading rights in the Gold Coast to the Dutch during the early seventeenth century (See Figure 1). The Dutch revived formal schooling in Elmina when they established a strong foothold over the city in 1614. As a major port, Elmina grew into an important trading center during this period. It controlled trading routes to the interior of the Gold Coast and also served as the main trading routes along the coastal areas of the Gold Coast. During the latter part of the seventeenth century, a Dutch visitor to the city put the population around 8,000 (Feinberg, 1989). Like their predecessors, Dutch school curricula focused on reading, writing, and religious education. The medium of instruction was Dutch. In order to provide their students the best education possible, the Dutch, like the Portuguese, sent outstanding students abroad for further studies. One of the famous sent abroad was a Fanti student who was named Jacobus Capitein by the Dutch. While in The Hague, Holland, Capitein studied several courses including, Dutch, painting, reading, writing, cyphering and arithmetic, catechism, manners, and customary prayers. All these were courses that the Dutch sought to include in the

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


Figure 1. Map of Elmina under the Dutch Source: Feinberg, 1989, p. 78.

curriculum of their schools in the Gold Coast. After his studies in Holland, Jacobus Capitein returned to the Gold Coast where he became a teacher and a chaplain in the service of the Dutch Company at Elmina. Although schooling was not very popular in Elmina and vicinity at the time, he was able to educate several local boys and girls. His impressive scholarly work attracted the attention of the Ashanti King who lived over 200 miles inland from Elmina. This Ashanti King sent 14 children, 12 boys, and 2 girls to Jacobus Capitein to be sent to Holland for similar training but the Dutch Company offered to send only one boy to Holland for schooling. The rest were all enrolled in the school in Elmina in the schools run by Jacobus Capitein. According to Wise (1956): The influence of this small school was considerable. Besides introducing Christianity to a few, it established a lasting tradition of education among the Fanti people and showed that not all the Europeans who came to the West Coast were greedy and cruel adventurers. (p. 2) The Danes were another European group that left indelible marks on education in the Gold Coast. They promoted their brand of education in the Gold Coast through the Basel Mission in 1722. The Danes first established their schools in the forts in Accra, east of Elmina. In this urban school, the pupils were initially taught by a soldier who was “chosen for his aptitude and sober habits, and he was paid a little extra



for his work” (Wise, 1956, p. 2). At first, the pupils were all boys who it was hoped would become soldiers and form a literate mulatto guard. However, as more and more parents showed interest in the work of the educators, parents decided to enroll their daughters in the school. Unfortunately, the climate at this location did not favor the health of Europeans and many of the Basel Missionaries died. The Basel Missionaries relocated inland, settling at Akropong, which served as the capital amongst seventeen nearby towns. Akropong’s high altitude was attractive to the Missionaries and so they were able to their missionary work there, as well as establish schools. The local people initially resisted any attempt to embrace the values inherent in the new religion and the schools they promoted. The Basel Missionaries had to invite some Black families from Jamaica to assist them in convincing the local people to accept the new Christian religion and the schools the missionaries established. In addition to English grammar, reading, comprehension and composition, rapid arithmetic, history, geography, civics, and nature study, religious education, hygiene, the Basel missionaries made significant attempts to replace the non-vocational aim of the education promoted by the Portuguese and the Dutch. As Martin (1976) put it “The Basel Mission, for many years, included technical education. Courses for joiners, wheelrights, carpenters, lock-smiths, blacksmiths, shoemakers, and book-binders were provided in Christianborg” (p. 49). In other words, the missionaries placed emphasis on activities that were essential for managing a home or a family (Agyemang, 1967). At Cape Coast, which in 1812 had an estimated population of 8,000, the British became active in promoting education and the Christian religion. A school was started there by Revered Thomas Thompson of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (S.P.G), who was eventually joined by British merchants who showed interest in the school effort (Wise, 1956). The curriculum for this school was similar to previous ones, one difference being that English was the medium of instruction. The British and missionaries provided only elementary education at Cape Coast and like the Portuguese and the Dutch before them, they sent some students abroad to continue their education. Of all the students sent to England by the English, the most famous was called Phillip Quaque, who would spend over 11 years in England studying principles of Christianity. On his return to the Gold Coast, Philip Quaque was appointed Schoolmaster for a local school in Cape Coast. The curriculum for the school included reading, writing, arithmetic, religious education, and penmanship. He worked very hard to enroll many local boys and girls in his school but he met fierce resistance from parents who did not see the need for schooling. Over the years of colonial endeavor, progress in the development of urban education continued to be slow, poor, and uncertain. Missionaries and the trading companies continued to provide funds to support education. When the British took over the affairs of the Gold Coast during the later part of the nineteenth century, they had the task of extending schools throughout the Gold Coast (See Figure 2).

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


Figure 2. Map of the Gold Coast under the British Colonial Administration, 1907–1957 Source: Bening, 1984, p. 82.

The British and Urban Education in the Gold Coast By the beginning of the nineteenth century, the British had established Cape Coast as their main educational center. Many of the schools were under the control of the missionaries. From Cape Coast, the missionaries, ably supported by the British administration, extended schools to the urban areas in the interior of the Gold Coast, beginning in Kumasi, where a previous Asantehene1 had expressed interest in Dutch schools at Elmina. In 1842, when the Rev. T. Picot approached the then current Asantehene for land on which to establish schools and churches, the Asantehene appeared not to be interested in any form of foreign cultural practices, preferring to warn the missionaries that their type of education was likely to make the people rebellious. As Kimble (1963) has pointed out, in a letter sent by the Asantehene to the Rev. Picot, the Asantehene clearly pointed out “We will not select children for education; for the Ashanti children



have better work to do than to sit down all day idly to learn hoy! hoy! hoy! They have to fan their parents, to do other work, which is much better” (p. 75). Many of the parents agreed with their king and so for several years, the missionaries were unable to make any meaningful progress in their educational pursuit inland (Busia, 1964). When the British conquered the Ashanti early in the twentieth century, the Ashanti had no choice but to yield to British request for establishing schools within Kumasi and other cities controlled by the Asantehene. In other to win the affection of the Ashanti, the British encouraged the Ashanti to send royal children to school because they figured out if they won the hearts and minds of the royals it would be easier for them to establish a stronger foothold in Ashanti. The Ashanti people were, on the other hand, willing to send only domestic servants or slaves to school because they thought schooling had no place in the life of royals. Resistance to schooling was common in the country as previously pointed out. In northern Gold Coast, similar ideas were expressed by local chiefs and “elites” when the missionaries attempted to enroll local children in school. Thomas (1974) has provided a vivid account of a local scenario on the eve of the departure of students from a rural area to study in the urban area: When Timu was Kpembewura, he was asked to provide a child to be sent to school. He called on Chinakuli, the son of his slave, but he was rejected. None of his wives would allow their son to be taken away to Gua (Cape Coast). Timu was embarrassed and did not know what to do. Atchulo volunteered, and amid tears, Timu gave him up. He went with one Seidu, the son of a slave of Kpembewura Nyinchubore. On the day of their leaving Kpembe, all the people in the house wept, saying that they would never see Atchulo again, for he was going to be sacrificed to the Yeji river. (Braimah & Goody, 1967, p. 86., quoted in Thomas, 1974, p. 430) Schooling was offered on a limited basis for several years chiefly because of the cost involved and the problem of training teachers. Early educators continued to offer elementary education in Africa and then send promising students abroad, as had the Dutch and the Portuguese. When these students returned to Gold Coast they had acquired new social status. Some worked for the missionaries and others worked for the colonial governments as clerks, teachers, administrators with special privileges at their disposal. Many parents became aware of the new forms of employment that required an ability to read, write, and speak English. They also became aware of the characteristics of the new economy that was gradually unfolding upon their society. As Kimble (1963) has argued, “Education thus offered the prospect of a regular salary, increased authority and prestige, possibly a trip to Europe, and certainly a means of avoiding manual labour which was … demanded by the white man of any illiterate African” (p. 620). Above all, colonial administrators and missionaries lived in better homes, had domestic servants, security personnel, and often had the final say in all local matters. It was only through education that any African could enjoy some of these privileges, privileges that were once reserved for royals, kings, and other traditional elites. And so gradually, many parents changed their view about sending their children to school. This gradual

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


change in attitude of parents and others toward schooling increased the demand for education in the country especially in the urban centers where people often came face to face with modernity. As Rado (1972) has argued: Through education children learn to read and write, to perform calculations of increasing complexity, and to communicate in English or some other international language; most important of all, they may learn something about using evidence intelligently to evaluate the validity of arguments and assumptions. They will also acquire some knowledge about the society in which they live, and the world around them … . the more educated you are, the less likely you are to be unemployed; and that, if employed, the more educated you are the more you are likely to earn. (pp. 463–464) The foregoing discussion has made it abundantly clear that the missionaries and the British colonial government met resistance from the local people when they attempted to establish schools in the urban areas in the Gold Coast. The resistance put up the local people did not in any way dampen the spirits of the missionaries and the British administrators. They persisted until the Africans saw the need to embrace Christianity and Western style education. The factors that accounted for this is the subject for the next section of the paper.

Trends in School Enrollments Although many parents in the country initially resisted schooling, by the end of the nineteenth century, many local communities were clamoring for schools for their children. The newly established mining, rubber, shipping, banking, and trading firms all needed the services of clerks, typists, copyists or book-keepers. All these companies were based in the urban areas. Cities like Accra, which the British made the capital of the Gold Coast colony in 1877, Cape Coast, Salt Pond, Ada, Kumasi, Aburi, and Keta saw gradual increases in the number of missionary as well as public schools. By 1881, the colonial educators had established 139 schools, mostly located in the urban centers such as Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Sekondi, Tamale, Winneba and Koforidua. (See Table 2.) Of these schools, only three were under the control and management of the colonial government, with Cape Coast hosting one, and Accra the other two. The remaining schools were all under the management of the missionaries. The Table 2.

Population of the main towns, 1891–1931




Cape Coast





1891 1901 1911 1921 1931

16,267 14,842 19,582 38,049 60,726

3,000 6,280 18,853 20,268 35,829

11,614 28,948 11,269 14,921 17,685

1,276 4,095 9,122 9,500 16,953

4,283 5,578 5,842 6,980 10,926

– 1,406 3,891 5,364 10,529

Source: Kimble, 1963, p. 144.

432 2,138 3,901 12,941



Basel Mission had 47 schools, the Wesleyans 84 schools, the Bremen Mission 4 schools, and the Roman Catholic Church 1 school (Foster, 1965). Although the demand for western education in the Gold Coast increased after 1880, in the rural areas, many parents still needed the hands of their children on their farms and so were very reluctant to enroll them in schools. Some could not bear the thought of leaving their children under the care of strangers in the urban areas. When the Rev. Reindorf opened a school 17 miles northwest of Accra in 1872, he did not find enough students to enroll in the school. He had to recruit students from Accra, one of the main urban centers in the Gold Coast. In order to attract more local students to attend the school he had to bear the cost of the initial pupils’ clothing, boarding and lodging fees. In some cases, school authorities had to order clothes and other essential items for the students at their own expense. This was particularly the case for students whose parents were not financially able to meet the cost of the education for their children. This was not the case in all instances. In many rural areas where there were no schools, parents had to enroll their children in nearby urban centers where they commuted daily to attended schools. Many students commuted long distances daily to attend schools, some covered more than four miles each day. Where the students could not commute, their parents had to find a close relative in the urban areas whose responsibility was to house and take care of the student while studying in the urban area. In most cases, the parents relied upon a wide network of relatives for financial contributions to help such students make the trip to the urban area to attend school (Lloyd, 1968). Many of these students returned to the rural areas during the weekend and brought food and money to support themselves while they attended classes in the urban areas.

Urbanization, Schooling, and Social Mobility in the Gold Coast As Foster (1965, p. 51) has pointed out, “The urban areas with their development of an indigenous merchant class, with their heterogeneous populations predominantly dependent on an exchange economy, and with a nucleus of literate inhabitants …” served as a fertile ground for investments in schools. Some of the companies based in the urban engaged in rubber production, including companies such as the African Rubber Company, African Plantations Limited, West African Rubber Plantations, African Product Development Company (Munro, 1981). Other companies represented in the urban areas included the African Gold Coast Company, Messrs Swanzy and Company, the Effuenta Gold Mining Company, and the Gold Coast Mining Company (Silver, 1981). Here, the colonial government introduced modern amenities such as electricity, piped water, hospitals, banking, administrative offices and promoted trade and industries and modern transportation systems. The urban areas thus became focal points for economic development (Reynolds, 1975). As Konadu-Agyemang and Adanu (2003) have pointed out: Considering the important role of transportation in economic development, those areas that were located either directly on or close to the transportation network

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa

also became the focus of production. By linking the ports at Takoradi in the west and Accra in the east to the resources in the resource-rich interior centered on Kumasi, the railway network created what became known as the “Golden Triangle …” The areas encompassed by the triangle and immediate hinterland became the location of 90 percent of all education institutions, health facilities, manufacturing industries, formal-sector jobs … even though the area covered less than one-third of the country and contained approximately 61 percent of the population. (p. 517) (See Figure 3)

Figure 3. Map of Ghana showing colonial urban centers Source: Konadu-Agyemang and Adanu, 2003, p. 518.




People are generally attracted to urban centers to find better way of life, job security, and modern ways of doing things. It was therefore no accident that the urban areas saw rapid increase in population growth and consequently a rise in the number of educational institutions during this era. The British in an effort to improve overseas trade started work on a harbor at twin city of Sekondi-Takoradi. The construction of the harbor attracted a large number of people to the area. Once parents got good paying jobs, they were able to invest some money in the education of their children. One interesting observation is that in the urban areas, people who had been to school as well as those who had not, sought good education for their children, both boys and girls. The effect was that, more girls in the urban areas were able to attend school more than those in the rural areas. The new economy brought about two main types of jobs: manual labor and clerical jobs (Reynolds, 1975). Manual labor for those who could not read, write, or speak English and clerical jobs for those who could read, write or speak English. And even manual labor required the use of enough English so as to be able to communicate with a European supervisor. Those who had not been to school or had a poor education had to resort to a type of “English” that later became known as “pidgin English” or “business English.” Rodger, (1909) has provided a few expressions in Pidgin English: When a man tells you that he “lib for die”; which means he is on the point of death. “I no chop snakes” means that he does not eat them. “I look ‘em and no see ‘em means” “I look for something and do not find it.” “Massa no lib,” means “Master is not at home.” “I lib for bush one time” means “I ran away at once.” (p. 5) Often administrative or clerical jobs paid more money than the manual labor. Again, the prestige attached to clerical jobs was so high that it became the cardinal principle of every young man or woman to go to school so as to be able to land a clerical position. The only route to become literate was to attend school and the urban areas were places where these schools were usually located (Kimble, 1963). The new urban areas were the administrative centers of the Gold Coast. Here were found all senior administrators who made decisions concerning economic and social development. These senior officers embraced education and so were prepared to make significant personal contributions to the development of urban education. The natural consequence was that a higher percentage of the people in the urban areas were able to attend schools than those in the rural areas. This trend has persisted over the years. Today in Ghana, the urban areas that set up more schools during the colonial times continue to lead in the provision of educational facilities. Thus, the Greater Accra, Central, Ashanti, Western, and Volta regions have fewer people without schooling experience. In 1993 for instance, 26.2% of all males in the country had no schooling experience, 38.3% of all females in the country had no schooling experience (See Table 3). Other amenities, beyond schools, in the urban areas also attracted people from rural areas. Cinemas, theaters, modern recreational facilities, trading opportunities, and housing all served as magnets to pull young men and women from the rural areas to the urban areas. The increase in urban population naturally led to the expansion in educational institutions in these areas (Grindal, 1972).

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa Table 3.


Rural–urban distributional of educational opportunities in Ghana Formal-sector employment Percentage of population living in urban areas


Private Male with no schooling (%)

Female with no schooling (%)











All Regions Western Central Greater Accra Volta Eastern Ashanti Brong-Ahafo Northern Upper West Upper East

12.8 21.2 19 62.2 4.6 9.7 14 2.2 7.6 – –

23.1 24.7 28.5 78.8 13.1 20.2 25 15.6 13 – –

28.9 27.6 29.1 85.3 16 24.6 29.7 22.1 21.2 6.7 5.8

31.3 22.8 26.5 83.5 20.7 26.7 32.1 26.6 24.7 10.8 8.5

43.8 36.3 37.5 87.7 27 34.6 51.3 37.4 26.6 15.7 17.5

5.9 9.3 6.7 29.2 7.8 9.9 19.5 7.1 5.1 2.9 2.6

7.8 9.9 6.7 34.8 5 8.2 21.1 6.1 4.8 2.1 1.5

26.2 17.8 18.5 9.6 20.8 16.9 17.4 21.7 62 56.9 50.9

38.3 34.1 35.6 19.4 34.3 27.1 33 30.8 75.9 67.9 66.5

Source: Konadu-Agyemang and Adanu, 2003, p. 523.

Largely as a result of these social amenities, the educated people in the Gold Coast tended to remain in urban areas, where the influence of local traditional practices such as disregard for the schooling of girls was diminished. This led to a rise in the urban student population for both boys and girls. The rapid increase in urban student populations led to a number of problems in the organization and administration of urban schools, ranging from lack of textbooks to inadequate furniture, buildings, and teachers. Some of the schools were operated in one-room houses. Often some of these “served as Sunday school as well as day-school, and in some cases the chapel” (Bartels, 1949, p. 302). Under such conditions, students had very little spaces in the classroom to move around to complete projects and other assignments. Teachers, too, had to work with two or more grade levels at the same time within the same building. In many instances, students irrespective of their grade level learned the same things under the same teacher at the same time. This is was very common with respect to classes such as music, story telling, art, and drawing.

The Curriculum of Early Urban Schools in Ghana The curriculum of early urban schools consisted essentially of religion, reading, writing, and arithmetic (See Table 4). Christian religion served as the bedrock of instruction. Students were taught religious lessons that were often in contrast to what they had been brought to believe. Traditionally, children were taught to respect local gods since it was believed that these gods were the



Table 4.

Early school curriculum in the Gold Coast Syllabus for the 3 Rs. (1870)*


Class Standard 1

Standard 2

Standard 3


Narrative in Monosyllables

A short paragraph from an elementary reading book used in the school


Form on blackboard or slate, from dictation, letters, capital and small manuscript Form on blackboard or slate, from dictation, figures up to 20: add, subtract figures up to 10 orally, from examples on blackboard A short paragraph from a more advanced reading used in the school

One of the narratives next in order after monosyllables in an elementary reading book in the school Copy in manuscript a line of print





A sentence slowly dictated once by a few words at a time, from the same book but not from the paragraph read A sum in Compound Rules (money)

A sum in simple addition or subtraction, and the multiplication table

A few lines of poetry from a reading book used in the first class of the school A sentence slowly dictated once by a few words at a time, from a reading book used in the first class of the school A sum in Compound Rules (Common Weights and Measures)

A sentence from the same paragraph, and slowly read once, and then dictated in single words A sum in any simple rule as far as short division (inclusive)

A short ordinary paragraph in a newspaper, or other modern narrative, slowly dictated once by a few words at a time Another short ordinary paragraph in a newspaper, or other modern narrative

A sum in practice or bills of parcels

* From Birchenough, History of elementary education, pp. 292–297. See also J. S. Maclure, Educational documents (1816–1963), p. 80. Every scholar for whom grants were claimed must be examined according to the above standards. Source: Graham, 1971, p. 189.

custodians of the whole society. Any infraction on what the gods prescribed was sufficient to invoke the anger and possible destruction of the entire society. At school, however, the children learnt that local gods and their teachings were false, that local gods represented evil ideas and had no place in the kingdom of God. To many parents, there was no doubt the gods were very much in control of local affairs. Any attack on the status and role of local gods was an attack on the belief and value system of the people. Therefore, such teachings in most cases did not sit well with some parents and so they withdrew their children from school because “the teachers were teaching their children to disrespect their elders” (Grindal, 1972, p. 98).

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


When the British took over the entire country by the close of the nineteenth century, English became the language of instruction on all schools throughout Gold Coast. The fact of the matter was that there was no one particular local language that was recognized as a national language for development. The use of foreign language was not peculiar to British colonies, or even new to Britain itself. In England, outstanding scholars produced works in Latin even though English was the official language. Sir Isaac Newton produced his work Philosophiœ Naturalis Principia Mathematica in Latin, rather than in his native English. John Locke, a British scholar used the Latin expression, Tabula Rasa (blank slate) to explain his concept of human learning (Karier, 1986). It might thus be seen that colonial authorities, with their own history of using non-native languages in their own schools, would shrink from imposing English (as well as Latin) on the students of Gold Coast. History was another of the subjects on the school curriculum. However, it would be the history of the British Commonwealth, and Great Britain, and Europe that was taught, in part because it was then commonly thought, by colonial authorities, that there were no written historical records of the Gold Coast. As a result, missionaries and the colonial administrators felt free to immerse the African students in the traditions and values of Europe. Other subjects such as geography and English literature were taught but with examples from Europe. As if there were no large lakes or rivers in the Gold Coast, all the major geographic landforms, climatic conditions, rivers, seasons, rock formation, vegetation, animal life, and farming methods mentioned in class were essentially based upon European examples (Kimble, 1963) (See Table 5). The influence of British culture and values on education in the Gold Coast can be seen in a program for a school concert in 1922 at Tamale, one of the major urban centers in the Northern region. Below is part of the program as presented by Kimble, 1963, p. 118: Opening song Song Recitation Song Dialogue

“You Gentlemen of England” “Hurrah! Hurrah for England” “Doctor Quack” by Kwaku Dagomba “Our Home is the Ocean Blue” “The Wolf and the Lamb,” by Iddrusu

Tamale is a city which is over 400 miles from the coast. While there may be nothing wrong with the students singing about England and the ocean, what is discouraging was the absence of a performance based upon local events. Such practice was common in all educational activities during the colonial period. Colonial educators, especially the missionaries, saw the need to permit space in curriculum for local languages. However, beyond this, they wasted little time in eliminating local influences and practices they considered unacceptable to Christian beliefs and ethics. As Martin (1976, p. 50) has pointed out: The missionaries realized that African religion, art, music and other social activities were very closely connected with each other. They incorrectly thought that they could not replace existing beliefs with Christianity unless they expelled all other beliefs. African dancing and music were banned from the curriculum.



Table 5.

Typical colonial school syllabus in the Gold Coast Typical Syllabus in Geography, History, and English Literature*





English Literature (as a Specific Subject)

Standard II

Definitions, points of compass, form and motion of the earth, the meaning of a map Outlines of Geography of Great Britain with special knowledge of the country in which the school is situated

Not taken below Std. IV

1st year

Standard IV

Outlines of Geography of Great Britain, Ireland and the Colonies

Outlines of History of England to Norman Conquest

100 lines of poetry, got by heart, with knowledge of meaning and allusions. Writing a letter on a single subject. 200 lines of poetry not before brought up, repeated; with knowledge of meaning and allusions. Writing a paraphrase of a passage of early prose 300 lines of poetry, not before brought up, repeated, with knowledge of meaning and allusions. Writing a letter or statement, the heads of the topics to be given by Inspectors

Standard V

Outlines of Geography of Europe–physical and political

Standard VI

Outlines of Geography of the world

Outlines of History of England from Norman Conquest to accession of Henry VII Outlines of History of England from Henry VII to death of George III

Standard III

2nd year

3rd year

* From Birchenough, History of elemantary education, pp. 292–299 Source: Graham, 1971, pp. 190–191.

Although the colonial educators and the missionaries made several attempts to introduce other courses such as agriculture, carpentry, masonry, and other trade subjects into the school curriculum, these efforts were often resisted by the parents on the grounds that only academic subjects were essential to equip the African with skills to merit employment in the new economy thrust upon the people as a result of their contacts with the Europeans. In 1925, the colonial Committee of Privy Council made a number of recommendations for improving and expanding the curriculum of the local schools so as to map them to local needs and interests. The Committee recommended among other things, as follows: (1) To inculcate the principles and promote the influence of Christianity by such instruction as can be given in elementary schools. (2) To accustom the children of these races to habits of self-control and moral discipline.

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


(3) To diffuse a grammatical knowledge of the English language as the most important agent of civilization. (4) To make the school the means of improving the condition of the peasantry by teaching them ho health may be preserved by a proper diet, cleanliness, ventilation and clothing, and by the structure of their dwellings. (5) To give practical training in household economy and in the cultivation of cottage garden as well as in those common handicrafts by which a labourer may improve his domestic comfort. (6) Improved agriculture is required to replace the system of exhausting the virgin soils, and then leaving to natural influences alone the work of reparation. The education of coloured races would, therefore, not be complete for the children of small farmer, unless it included this object. (7) Lesson books should teach the mutual interests of mother country, and her dependencies, the natural basis of this connection and domestic and social duties of the coloured races. (8) Lesson books should also set forth simply the relation of wages, capital, and labour, and the influence of local and general government on personal security independence, and order (Foster, 1965, p. 55). These changes did not materialize in any sense because the local people had a different set of needs for going to school. Agriculture, trade subjects, and vernacular were not part of the reason they flocked to the schools; they flocked to the schools purely for prestige or economic reasons and knowledge in local ideas did not measure up to any of the skills they hoped to acquire by going to school (Blakemore, 1975; Williams, 1964).

Financing Urban Education The initial financial burden for schools in the urban centers rested with the missionaries. In many cases parents did not have to pay anything toward the schooling expenditure of their children. Some missionaries took care of all the needs of the students. The idea of the missionaries was to train a few local students to help them propagate the gospel. Another source of funding for urban schools was from fines imposed on colonial personnel who did not attend church on Sundays and other important days (Graham, 1971). Today, few if any people would pay such fines, but at the time the influence of Christianity in the schools was so great that no one questioned the morality of the fines. Although little money was raised from this to support schools, the imposition of fines on people who did not attend church on important Christian days encouraged church attendance and consequently the propagation of the gospel. There were a few social clubs in the urban centers that provided some funds to support schools. One of this was a Dining Club called the Torridzonian Society. This club was made up of the new urban elite that were gradually emerging in the Gold Coast (Reynolds, 1975). The original aim of the society was to maintain friendship among the educated elite in the Gold Coast. However, as later events showed, members abandoned this original goal and made education it principal objective (Martin, 1976). Apart from providing financial assistance, the Torridzonian Society provided “primers, spelling books, Testaments and Bibles” to the schools (Martin, 1976, p. 297).



People in business found it to their advantage to provide financial assistance to colonial urban schools. The Colonial Merchant Society that operated in the Gold Coast at that time was made up of business people who were eager to train local people to help them promote their business. This society needed clerks and other people who could help them carry out their business activities in the Gold Coast and so gave financial incentives to students to attend schools. In some cases, they provided direct financial assistance to the missionaries. Since these people were engaged in trade and industry, they were able to provide substantial amounts of money to support urban education (Kimble, 1963). The “home” governments for the various competing missionaries also provided financial assistance to promote urban education in the Gold Coast. The Basel, Wesleyan, Catholic, Bremen, Church of England, AME Zion, et al., missionaries all brought in substantial sums money of money abroad to support urban education. In 1900, the Methodist church for instance had 100 schools. These schools were essentially in the urban centers and were financed as follows: Government Grants £1,612 Fees £475 Church sources £1,567 Total £3,654 Source: Kimble, 1963, p. 75. Although the missionaries initially bore a large share of financing urban education, when the colonial government became actively involved in the development and promotion of education in the country, the government played a leading role in the financing of education in the country as a whole, rural as well as urban. Finally, the British colonial administration provided grants to support urban education. Although the British colonial office was reluctant to provide grants to support mission schools, in order to promote education in the country, given the overwhelming percentage of schools run by missionary effort, it had no choice but to provide financial assistance to the mission schools. However, the mission schools had to meet certain conditions in order to quality for these grants. The grants paid to schools in were based on student achievement which was measured by test results (Kimble, 1963). As Graham (1971) had pointed out: The grants were to be based mainly on such subjects as Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, and girls were to be examined in needlework. Grants could also be got for such “optional” subjects as History and Geography. The local Boards were to assist in the administration of the grants-in-aid system whenever these were considered necessary. (p. 111)

Urban School Organization: The Boarding School System The missionaries and early colonial educators found it necessary to institute boarding schools in the urban areas so as to be able to provide education for children in an

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


environment that was devoid of local influences. The boarding schools in particular offered “homes” for students whose parents lived in the rural areas. Some of the boarding schools were set up solely for girls; others were exclusively for boys, with few offering space to both girls and boys. In these urban boarding schools, more attention was paid to the academic work than subjects such as gardening (Graham, 1971). Fees and other important items were also clearly spelled out on the prospectus (See Figure 4). The boarding houses were designed to help the school authorities weaken or destroy the bonds of local tradition the students were familiar with. In advocating for the establishment of more boarding schools, Guggisberg (1922) argued that boarding schools are essential for the education of the African especially in terms of character training. Guggisberg saw the absence of more boarding schools in the Gold Coast as one of the main defects of the educational system. As he put it: … there is a … far more serious defect, (of our educational system) namely, the absence of efficient character training. This is chiefly due to the lack of Boarding


WESLEYAN HIGH SCHOOL—CAPE COAST PRINCIPAL: James Picot, Esquire. The Boarding Department of the above school will open on Monday, 3rd July. TERMS: Three Guineas per Quarter The following subjects are taught in the school, viz: I ENGLISH: In all its branches. A thorough instruction will be imparted at a charge of one guinea per quarter. II EXTRA STUDIES: for each of which an extra charge will be made of seven shillings and sixpence per quarter as numbered. Classics: Mathematics: Sciences: Modern Languages:

(1) (1) (1) (1)

Latin; (2) Greek. Geometry and Mensuration; (2) Algebra; (3) Trigonometry. Chemistry; (2) Animal Physiology; (3) Natural Philosophy. French.

N.B.––1st: All applications and payments must be made to the Superintendent, the latter to be Quarterly, in advance. No child will be admitted by the Principal who cannot produce her Quarterly receipt for the payment of all fees. 2nd: The academical year consists of two sessions, with a vacation of two weeks at the end of the first in June, and of four weeks at the close of the second. No Boarders will be allowed to remain on the premises during the vacation. 3rd: Parents desiring their children to belong to the Boarding Department must first correspond with the Superintendent on the subject. Cape Coast, 19th March, 1876. By 1891 the scope of the syllabus had widened to include subjects such as Fanti and Bookkeeping (The Gold Coast People––Supplement, p. 1. 26/10/1891).

Figure 4. Prospectus for girls in a Boarding School in Cape Cost, 1876 Source: Graham, 1971, p. 192.



Schools, where such qualities as sense of responsibility, initiative, leadership and discipline can be gradually, and unconsciously to himself, imbued in the boy; for, however earnest and painstaking the Master may be, it practically impossible to imbue the scholars with those qualities which go to form character if the boys are for less than one-third of the day under their control and influence. (p. 84) Once in the boarding house, the students had little contact with the outside world. They also had very little to do with local practices; they were not permitted to do certain things such using vernacular to communicate with others, eating local dish, singing local songs, or observing any local event such as the death of a relative. Nearly everything students did in the boarding schools had to be approved by school authorities. The interests of the schools authorities were not the same as those of the students and so there was often mistrust between the school authorities and the student body. Students lived according to strict code of ethics. They had to sleep and wake up, eat, study, or go to classes at specific times. They cleaned their dormitories and classrooms and swept and looked after the compound every morning. It was considered an offense for a student to attend class or go to town in a uniform not approved by the school authorities. Students needed a special permit called “exeats” to leave the premises of the boarding house. A student could be given severe punishment such as expulsion for violating the dress code or leaving the boarding house without permission. In the colonial urban schools, both boys and girls had similar education. Both studied courses like English, history, geography, reading and writing. While in the boarding house, all students were required to have own items such as the Holy Bible, cutlass, pressing iron, hymn book, bucket, sponges, bed sheets, a pillow and pillow slips, drinking cups, spoons, knife, fork, and plates. In addition to the above, girls in the boarding house were expected to have the following items. 12 pairs of scissors 1 lb. cotton in Ball 1 lb. cotton in Hanks 1 lb. of cotton in Darning 800 Queen’s needles 200 Darning needles 12 Silver Thimbles Source: Graham, 1971, p. 72. The girls needed the above items for their housecraft course. In such classes, the girls learned how to cut and sew European dresses, how to knight sweaters. In the cookery class, they learned how to bake English cakes, biscuits, bread. Later, the school authorities expanded the cookery lessons to include local dishes such as peanut-butter or palm nut soup (Masemann, 1974). While the girls usually studied their courses in a separate building on the compound, the boys busied themselves with courses like carpentry, masonry, iron works, agriculture or other courses that were considered appropriate for a male student.

Urbanization and Schooling in Africa


From the above illustrations, it is clear that one of the chief objectives for educating girls was to provide them training that would make them suitable wives or partners for the new elites in the society. On the other hand the curriculum for the boys, as noted above, prepared them for various positions in missionary and mercantile jobs. They learned reading and writing like the girls but were more frequently sent overseas to study other technical and commercial subjects that eventually qualified them to occupy top positions in government and missionary work.

Dysfunctional Consequences of Urban Education on Traditional and Social Practices The oft-presumed primary goal of schooling is to train people to be responsible and competent citizens who will see the role they play in society as vital to the overall development of their nation. However, this has always not been the case. Often we hear of people developing negative sentiments in society as a result of the training they received at school. This was what happened in the Gold Coast during the colonial days. The nature of education provided in the Gold Coast by the missionaries and the colonial government brought about several social problems. These problems included dislike and distrust of manual work, local items such as dress, and local languages and names. Perhaps, these problems emerged because the missionaries and the colonial government had different aim in mind when they opened schools in the Gold Coast. As already pointed out, their main goal was to train clerks and missionaries to manage the affairs of the Gold Coast. This view would come to be shared by parents and others who enrolled their children in the various schools that later appeared all over the Gold Coast. In order words, the educational system was initially set up to produce people who would not do manual work. So when the new economy could not absorb the labor of all those who had completed school, these people did not want to accept any job that required manual labor. At best, manual work was fit for only people who could not read or write and not for those who could speak, write or read English. In 1909, in address to the African Society in London, Rodger (1909), observed: All the main problems of the Gold Coast … are connected directly or indirectly, with Education, Sanitation, or Transport … . We found that the training in our schools was too exclusively literary, with the result that hundreds of boys were turned out every year who expected to obtain posts in the Government Service or as clerks in mercantile offices. When unable to obtain such appointments, of which the number is quite insufficient for the very numerous candidates, they become restless and discontented, and agitate against the well-being of the Colony … . (p. 9) Another dysfunctional consequence of early urban education system was the impact on local languages. In boarding schools (and perhaps in all schools), students were not permitted to use vernacular and so they saw this as a sign of “enlightenment” because



whatever they learned at school was presumed to promote excellent human behavior. Some of the students would not speak it at any place. This was particularly the case where both parents had been to school. At home, they encouraged their children to speak English because they saw their children, as Plato put it, as “Children of Gold” and not “Children of Bronze.” In Takoradi, the local Fanti women who had been to school formed an association called The Ladies Mutual Club. One of their “rules of engagement” was that no one was permitted to speak Fanti, a local language, during their meetings. Local dress also suffered. Educated Africans often refused to any longer “adopt all the trappings of traditional life” (Graham, 1971, p. 8). They did not like to dress like those who had not been to school. For the educated man, or “Krakye” (literate man), the prescribed clothes were those of European origin – suit, tie, shirt, hat, pointed shoes. The educated woman, “lady,” or “Awuraba” (literate woman) was expected to show her mark of social distinction by wearing Victorian style frocks, hats, straw bonnets, coats, and shoes. One of the rules of the Ladies Club in Takoradi referred to earlier was that “members who went out in native dress should be fined” (Kimble, 1963, p. 134). Other local customs, values and traditional practices suffered. Those educated in colonial schools were taught to believe that local practices were all outmoded or uncivilized practices or fetish observances. In Ashanti, for instance, a converted Christian urged his followers not to serve their King in any way because a service to the King was tantamount to “fetish worship” (Tordoff, 1965, p. 198). In another instance, a Christian who was rebuked by a local pastor for disobeying a chief, the Christian argued by saying “What is meant then by being a Christian” (Tordoff, 1965, p. 197). While at school, each student was given a Christian name. This was seen by the “converts” as indication of enlightenment and the acceptance of the Christian religion as a new way of life. This implied that local rules or customary laws were not applicable to such people. In a sense, Christians were “above” traditional laws and customs, customs that the elders had lived with for centuries. In the urban areas where most of the students acquired their literary skills, respect for local authority diminished and became, in some cases, non-existent. Although as the century wore on, some educated people made attempts to reverse these tendencies, the harm had already been done. The urban (as well as the few rural) school curriculum was designed in such a way that students in the Gold Coast continued to embrace European way of life and preferred anything European to African.

Conclusion This paper has traced the historical developments of urbanization and education in the Gold Coast. It has clearly demonstrated that there is a direct link between urbanization and formal schooling. As in many other countries, formal schooling started in the Gold Coast in the urban areas. These urban areas were the administrative centers for the colonial administrators and the early missionaries who sowed the seed for modern

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education the Gold Coast, the present-day Ghana. Generally, the distribution of population determined the distribution of education opportunities in that country (Graham, 1971; Kimble, 1963). Initially, the beneficiaries of formal schooling were the children of missionaries, colonial administrators, local elites, and rich merchants. As the centuries wore on, the base for selection of children for schooling expanded to include rural as well as urban children (Bibby, 1973). However, for a variety of reasons, students in the urban areas enjoyed better facilities at school than those at the rural areas. The early missionaries and the colonial government worked hand-in-hand to lay the foundations for formal education in the Gold Coast. These two bodies collaborated in many areas concerning school organization, finance, administration and curriculum development although each had a different goal in promoting formal schooling in the country. In order to have significant control over what the students learned or did, the early colonial administrators and the missionaries set up the boarding school system, where students were expected to pay no heed to local customs and traditions. European patterns of thinking and social behavior were rigidly enforced at the boarding houses by the school administrators. This in part accounted for the reason why urban students rapidly lost respect and love for any custom, tradition, or social practice that had African roots. Although the educational system the missionaries and colonial administrators set up had defects in terms of curriculum alignment and mapping, the system served as the bedrock of modern educational system in the country. One factor that emerged from this study is that the demand for schooling had economic as well as social need (Rado, 1972). The new economy, which the colonial administration brought into the country, required the services of people who could read, write and speak English. As Kimble, (1963) put it: English became the language of government, of overseas trade, and, in particular, of the schools. Education, to many people, came to mean simply the ability to speak and write English. It was both the gateway to opportunity and the main medium of communication between educated Africans of different tribes. (p. 510) It did not require a skill to use any of the local languages or farming skills to land a job in the new economy. In point of fact, their main objective of going to school was purely materialistic. These students saw schooling as a means of attaining better incomes and a higher standard of living. Hence, students did not pay attention to the acquisition of any skill that had no immediate bearing on what they wanted to accomplish after spending a number of years in school. In other words, their objective for attending school was not significantly different than any other students, whether in Europe, Asia, North or South America (Anderson, 1965; Briones & Waisanen, 1976).

Note 1. Ashanti king.



References Agyemang, F. M. (1967). A century with boys. Accra: Waterville Publishing House. Anderson, D. (1965). Geographic and economic factors and the development of educational systems in Western Europe. Comparative Education Review, 9(2), 147–154. Bartels, F. L. (1949). Education in the Gold Coast. African Affairs, 48(193), 300–311. Bening, R. B. (1984). Internal colonial boundary problems of the Gold Coast, 1907–1957. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 17(1), 81–99. Bibby, J. (1973). The social base of Ghanaian education: It is still broadening? The British Journal of Sociology, 24(3), 365–374. Birchenough, C. (1927). History of elementary education in England and Wales from 1800 to present day. London: W. B. Clive. Blakemore, K. P. (June 1975). Resistance to formal education in Ghana: Its implication for the status of school leavers. Comparative Education Review, 19, 237–251. Braimah, J. A., & Goody, J. R. (1967). Salaga: The struggle for power. London: Longmans. Briones, G. B., & Waisanen, F. B. (1976). Educational aspirations, modernization and urban integration. In P. Meadows, & E. H. Mizruchi (Eds.), Urbanism, urbanization, and change: Comparative perspectives (pp. 263–275). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. Busia, K. A. (1964). The challenge of Africa. New York: Praeger Paperbacks. Chandler, T. (1994). Urbanization in ancient Africa. In J. D. Tarver (Ed.), Urbanization in Africa: A handbook (pp. 3–14). London: Greenwood Press. Coquery-Vidrovitch, C. (1991). The process of urbanization in Africa (from the origins to the beginning of independence). African Studies Review, 34(1), 1–98. Davidson, B. (1991a). African civilization revisited. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press. Davidson, B. (1991b). Africa in history. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. Feinberg, H. M. (1989). Africans and Europeans in West Africa: Elminans and Dutchmen on the Gold Coast during the eighteenth century. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 79(7), 1–186. Foster, P. (1965). Education and social change in Ghana. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gibbs, J. P. (1966). Measures of urbanization. Social Forces, 45(2), 170–177. Graham, C. K. (1971). The history of education in Ghana: From the earliest times to the declaration of independence. London: Frank Cass. Grindal, B. (1972). Growing up in two worlds. New York: Holt. Guggisberg, F. G. (1922). The Goal of the Gold Coast. Journal of the Royal African Society, 21(82), 81–91. Haskins, J., & Benson, K. (1998). African beginnings. New York: Lothrop and Shepard Books. Hilliard F. H. (1957). A short history of education in British West Africa. London: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. Hull, R. W. (1976). African cities and towns before the European conquest. New York: Norton. Karier, C. J. (1986). The individual, society and education. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. Kimble, D. (1963). A political history of Ghana. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Konadu-Agyemang, K., & Adanu, S. (2003). The changing geography of export trade in Ghana under structural adjustment programs: Some socioeconomic and spatial implications. The Professional Geographer, 55(4), 513–527. Lloyd, P. C. (1968). Africa in social change. New York: Frederick A. Praeger. Lystad, R. (1958). The Ashanti: A proud people. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. Maclure, J. S. (1965). Educational documents, England and Wales. London: Chapman and Hall. Martin, C. A. (1976). Significant trends in Ghanaian education. The Journal of Negro Education, 45, 46–60. Martin, E. C. (1924). Early educational experiments in the Gold Coast. Journal of the Royal African Society, 23(92), 294–298. Masemann, V. (1974). The “hidden curriculum” of a West African girls’ boarding school. Canadian Journal of African Studies, 8(3), 479–494. Munro, J. F. (1981). Monopolists and speculators: British Investments in West African Rubber, 1905–1914. Journal of African History, 22, 263–278. Owusu, G. (2005). Small towns in Ghana: Justification for their promotion under Ghana’s decentralization programme. African Studies Quarterly, 8(2), 48–69.

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Peel, J. D. Y. (1980). Urbanization and urban history in West Africa. The Journal of African History, 21(21), 269–277. Rado, E. R. (1972). The relevance of education for employment. The Journal of Modern African Studies 10(3), 459–475. Reynolds, E. (1975). Economic imperialism: The case of the Gold Coast. The Journal of Economic History, 35(1), 94–116. Rodger, J. P. (1909). The Gold Coast of to-day. Journal of Royal African Society, 9(33), 1–19. Silver, J. (1981). The failure of European mining companies in the nineteenth-century Gold Coast. The Journal of African History, 22(4), 511–529. Thomas, R. G. (1974). Education in Northern Ghana, 1906–1940: A study in colonial paradox. The International Journal of African Historical Studies, 7(3), 427–467. Tordoff, W. (1965). Ashanti under the Prempehs: 1888–1935. London: Oxford University Press. Williams, D. T. (1964). Sir Gordon Guggisberg and educational reform in the Gold Coast. Comparative Education Review, 8(3), 290–306. Wise, C. (1956). A history of education in British West Africa. London: Longmans, Green and Company.


Introduction Preliminary Language multiplicity is an easily perceptible trait among African countries. With the exception of a dozen countries with two primary languages,1 and another seven countries with three primary languages,2 the remaining two-thirds of Africa’s nations are awash with languages, including colonial and contact ones. However, the choice of which language to use for formal education was never that of the speakers, but of colonial administrators, based on economic and political interests, or cultural or religious/ ethnocentric biases. For similar reasons, colonial languages were introduced either to supplant indigenous ones, or indigenous languages were introduced to supplant their indigenous counterparts, or some languages were suppressed altogether.3 In sum, the language situation in sub-Saharan Africa has had a checkered history and has not properly served the peoples due to many factors, including European imperialism, colonialism, and a myopic vision by post-colonial leaders. Okrah imputes the responsibility for failed educational reforms in Africa partially on poor pedagogical leadership, fiscal strain, and lack of parental cooperation (2003, p. 13). A UNESCO study has established that investing beyond primary education to secondary and tertiary education is economically rewarding over the long haul, and, inversely, countries whose budgetary allocations for education have been only a pittance have been left at the bottom of the pile. This correlation under girds Makulu’s (1971) position that “African education needs not the luxury of unproductive, philosophically oriented education but education that will produce men and women that will help in the exploitation of the technical coming of age of Africa in the task of nation building” (Okrah, 2003, p. 18). A people’s social, economic, or political advancement is a function of its educational advancement. That symbiotic relationship (investment in education and 49 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 49–74. © 2007 Springer.



national development) explains why the most developed nations of the world have placed a high premium on education – in particular, research and development (R&D). In the data that follow, the parenthetical information shows public expenditure on education, followed by budgetary allocations for R&D – each as a percentage of gross domestic product: Denmark (8.5%; 2.5%), Sweden (7.7%; 4.27%), Switzerland (5.8%; 2.63%), USA (5.7%; 2.67%), France (5.6%; 2.27%), the United Kingdom (5.3%; 1.88%), and Canada (5.2%; 2.0%). All these countries have primary-to-secondary-school transition rates of 99 or 100%. Cameroon, for its part, spends 3.8% of its GDP on education – the highest in Central Africa, but has the second lowest primary-to-secondary-school transition rate (43%).4 (No data were available on R&D spending). Based on the same source, sub-Saharan Africa invests the least among the developing regions of the world, at 2.6%, compared to 4.2% in Latin America. It is evident from the preceding data that educational policy is, ought to be, an intentional, considered choice, and a choice that has meaning for the intended beneficiaries; that is, education should be relevant, valuable, and applicable to the educated. The educational policy must be malleable and must evolve with the nation’s character. A crucial aspect of education is language, because it constitutes an essential pillar of cognitive development and a prime vector of the people’s culture and philosophy. Yet, as Urch (1992) points out, the African language curriculum has remained a problem without a solution: nowhere is the dilemma of traditionalism versus modernism more evident than in the language policy found in educational systems throughout Africa. The policy and ensuing practice remain an explosive issue in many countries today. While demands exist for a “National Language,” it is apparent that the ethnic tongues used in the 19th century are not sufficient to prepare the youths for the 21st century. Policies vary throughout the continent between the need to promote social and political cohesiveness through an African vernacular and the need for a European language to assist in the modernization process. (Okrah, p. 21) The rest of this chapter examines closely language considerations for Cameroon from the imperial period through the wake of the second millennium. The chapter seeks to answer these questions: What factors – pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial – shaped language education policies in Cameroon; and how effectively have the policies served the nation?

The Language Situation in Colonial Cameroon: The Pre-War Era Cameroon, with a population of 15,731,000 people, is a linguistic and racial crossroads in Africa, with over 250 different ethnic groups and 279 indigenous languages – making it the sixth most linguistically diverse nation in the world, after Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, India, and Mexico (Spolsky, 2004, p. 174). There are five major regional-cultural groups: western highlanders (or grass fielders – 38%); coastal tropical forest peoples (18%); southern tropical forest peoples (18%); predominantly

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Islamic peoples of the northern semi-arid regions (14%); and, the Kirdi-non-Islamic or recently Islamic peoples of the northern desert and central highlands (18%). Five main language groups are also identifiable: Bantu Southerners (who speak Duala, Fang, and Bulu); Bantu Northwesterners (who speak Ngemba); Semi-Bantu Highlanders (who speak Bamileke and Bamum); Sudanic Northerners (who speak Hausa, Margi, Kapsigi, and Fulani); and Easterners (who speak Beti). In addition to these are English and French – official languages used in government. Also worth noting are trade languages: Hausa, Fulani, Duala, and Pidgin-English. Community education in Cameroon, as with most of colonial Africa, has its roots in the Mission. Language education dates back to the mid-1880s with a translation of the Bible into Duala, which, as Cameroon’s first codified language, quickly became both a tool for learning and a basis for excluding the other languages.5 Evangelization was initiated by the British Baptist Missionary Society in 1845 under the leadership of Joseph Merrick and Alfred Saker, but was quickly replaced by the German-controlled Basler Missionary (also called Basel Mission) due to political maneuvering that involved Dr. Nachtigal (von Bismarck’s representative in Cameroon), the Douala chiefs, King Akwa, King Bell, King Hickory, and Kum’a Mbape (Tabi-Manga, 2000, pp. 16–20). The departure of the British ushered in a new phase for Cameroon’s educational system; missionary schools were necessarily tied to evangelization: … les Bˆalois f uˆ rent convaincus de la nécessité de construire et d’avoir des écoles pour faire avancer la cause de l’évagélisation. Car la lecture de la Bible ne peut s’apprendre efficacement sans l’école. Par ailleurs, la formation des catéchistes et pasteurs indig`enes nécessitait un apprentissage de la lecture et de l’écriture. (Tabi-Manga, p. 21) Due to the multiplicity of languages in Cameroon and due to the fact that Duala was codified and had already been chosen as a state language by von Soden, Duala easily became a language of instruction in school. This choice might have set in motion Cameroon’s linguistic conflict, as the citizens of Victoria (now Limbe), for instance, already schooled in English and German and for whom Duala is non-native, would not accept the latter, citing professional advancement or employment prospects (p. 22). German Catholic missionaries arrived in Cameroon in 1890 and quickly gained ground over the Protestant Basel Mission thanks to their political and linguistic liberalism and savvy. They taught German as well as several native languages – and translated the Bible into several of these languages (pp. 24–25). However, while the Catholics adopted a bilingual model of education – beginning schooling in vernacular languages, and then progressively introducing German in later primary years, the Catholics mainstreamed their pupils in German – both as a subject and as the medium of instruction (p. 27). However, in 1910, Governor Seitz decreed that German would be the lone language of instruction in all of Cameroon. The missionaries could not contravene this decree, on pain of losing school funding. Amidst the growing tension among the missionaries, a conference was organized on April 7, 1914 in Berlin to address the language question in Cameroon. Governor



Karl Ebermaier proposed Swahili as a regional language from coast to coast; the proposal failed in part because of strong objections from Britain, a colonial power in Uganda. Fr. Nekes proposed Ewondo for the entire Cameroonian territory, citing its use in the military, in the police, and by aides – a proposal which, today, would have made sense in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Lingala is the sole language of the military. The conference ended with no set language policy other than consideration to divide Cameroon into linguistic zones. However, with Germany’s defeat in World War I, all of its colonies were given to the vanquishers as mandates. West Cameroon (Northern Cameroon and Southern Cameroon) went to Britain, and East Cameroon to France. Because Britain and France had markedly different colonial ideologies, reflected in their respective “civilizing missions,” the assignment of Cameroon to these powers would irreversibly alter the country’s landscape both politically and culturally; and the most significant and indelible aspect of the cultural transformation pertains to the educational systems. Language education has remained the most identifying landmark of those systems, and to it we now turn briefly.

Language Education in Cameroon: The French and British Mandates France exercised “direct rule” in Cameroon, as in all its other colonial territories (Khapoya, 1997, pp. 128–130). By this system of administration, France had direct control of every facet of life in Cameroon, including its educational system. The school system under French mandate had three tiers: village schools, in which basic French relating to rural life, hygiene, and agriculture was taught; regional schools, where systematic French language programs were taught; and adult schools, which provided basic literacy (reading and writing) in French (Tabi-Manga, p. 35). France’s educational policy ran up against a rapidly spreading Pidgin-English influence, which had been permitted and encouraged by the Germans – an influence the French authorities meant to stop decisively. Tabi-Manga explains this influence in terms of its linguistic relationship to Bantu languages as well as ideology thus: La simplicité de ses structures phonologiques, morpho-syntaxiques, et lexicales le faisait s’apparenter étroitement aux langues camerounaises. Ces rapprochements structurels potentiels n’étaient pas de nature a` apaiser l’administration coloniale française. Car les populations noires pouvaient, sur cette base, assimiler plus facilement le pidgin a` la place du français. Alors, œuvrer a` l’expansion de la langue française par l’éducation, la scolarisation, revenait a` accomplir un devoir patriotique! (p. 36) The Cameroonian school system under the British mandate followed these guiding principles: caution with theoretical models of education, acceptance of diversity, free choice of value system, and school autonomy. The British elementary school system, thus, sought to develop individual character through boarding schools, while boarding schools inculcated in students a good work ethic, honesty, humanism, and discipline – spiritual and physical (Tabi-Manga, p. 55). The British policy was overtly racist, and included strict guidelines differentiating social institutions like schools, recreational

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facilities, and hospitals; there were, as a consequence, European schools, Africans schools, Arab schools, and Asian schools (Khapoya, p. 119). This policy was very much in line with Britain’s colonial policy of “indirect rule” and ultimately made for minimal development, as is evident in other countries that Britain colonized. A May 1926 “School Ordinance,” published by the Department of Education, allowed the British administration to intervene directly in the administration of mission schools and required schools to, among other things, admit pupils without regard for their philosophical or religious convictions. As if this were insufficient ire for the Basel Mission, the British authorities added an English-only requirement for the diploma-granting schools, ostensibly targeting the missionaries, who favored Duala and Bali. The Basel Mission response – complete cessation of the use of English in their schools – in turn triggered a ban on native languages or PidginEnglish in all the schools, with one proviso: “Unless two thirds of the pupils in class speak a proposed vernacular.”6 This policy, eventually upheld by the nascent Cameroonian government on September 27, 1958, was quite evident on many secondary school campuses over the following decades, and the present writer experienced that linguistic tension as a secondary school student in the 1970s. Then, school prefects and upperclassmen were empowered (and they gladly obliged) to punish their lower classmates who were caught speaking either Pidgin-English or a Cameroonian language anywhere on campus.

Language and (Urban) Education First-Language Education in Cameroon7 The National Language Education Program was born in 1967 under the aegis of the Ministry of National Education, and in 1974 the project Atlas Linguistique du Cameroun (ALCAM) was launched by Professor H. M. Bot ba Njock of the University of Yaounde I, and then buoyed up by French linguists Paul Renaud and Michel Dieu. In 1976, the French Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT) adopted this framework as a basis for cataloguing languages in all of Central Africa – the entire work is titled Atlas Linguistique de l’Afrique Centrale (ALAC). ALCAM sought, inter alia, to identify all linguistic varieties in Cameroon, locate the varieties geographically, compare and classify them by distinct languages, describe these languages systematically, and record all previous works relating to these languages (Tabi-Manga, pp. 71–72). The Operational Research Project for Language Education in Cameroon (better known by its French acronym PROPELCA) was launched in 1978 by the Department of African Languages and Linguistics of the University of Yaounde I. In 1981, PROPELCA and the National Language Education Program merged their curricula and have since pursued experimental research on first-language instruction at all levels of formal education in Cameroon. Actual classroom instruction has come a long way – beginning in 1967 (at Coll e` ge Libermann) with one language and one classroom, and reaching 34 languages and as many as 23 classrooms per language by 1995, for a total of 56 classrooms (Ayuninjam, 1999, p. 23).



Tadadjeu et al. (1988) explain how the introduction of Cameroonian languages into the regular academic curricula has been slow in coming, especially as compared to similar initiatives in other African countries. While the undoing of the assimilationist legacy of the colonial administrations on Africa’s systems of education was largely a matter of time, Cameroon – simultaneously colonized by the English and French – was about to embark on a campaign to justify the need for a departure from the colonial philosophy of education. That is why since 1960 – when Cameroon became independent – its educational system, particularly as it pertained to languages and literature, was practically alien and in large measure a disservice to its intended beneficiaries. Post-independence leaders either lacked the courage to introduce educational reform or were plain uneducated as to how to bring it about, if at all they valued it. Prior to, and for some time following, the colonial administrations’ trusteeships of the Anglophone and Francophone territories, German, English, and French missionaries set up programs of first-language instruction, although their major commitment was “to transpose the Christian message through translations into African languages” (Fabian, 1986, p. 76). These programs were all conveniently abandoned by the colonialists for different but complementary reasons: the French because such programs would only hinder their mission to bring up Cameroonians as French citizens, and the English because, knowing from the start of their trusteeship of Anglophone Cameroon that they would one day leave, they had no interest in undertaking any project that would be of long-lasting benefit to the subjects (Tadadjeu et al., 1988, pp. 10–11). Njeuma arrives at a similar conclusion in an attempt to account for the failure of Cameroonian historians to present a broad-based history inclusive of German, French, British and Cameroonian indigenous literature. He writes, “Even those [historians] who have studied at the University of Yaounde [Cameroon] have followed programs which were tailored to fit the systems in the former metropolitan countries” (Njeuma, 1989, p. xi). The consequence to the Cameroonian at large is incredible ignorance of the most basic historical or economic facts about his or her country. Ironically, Professor Njeuma was from 1979 to 1982 Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (which included the History Department) of the University of Yaounde I. This mental preconditioning by which Cameroonians for 25 years had sought to run away from their own shadows is what Tadadjeu and others find the most destructive consequence of that country’s colonial heritage, as they state: En tout état de cause il faut retenir que le plus grand mal que l’école coloniale ait fait chez nous c’est exactement cette extraversion socio-psychologique par laquelle nous méprisons collectivement nos propres valeurs et nous tournons, aussi collectivement, vers qui nous sont extérieures, étrang`eres, et a` la longue nuisibles. (2000, p. 14) Given the foregoing, it has sometimes been considered unusual, even insulting, to justify the teaching of Cameroon’s indigenous languages to her citizens. But if one were to justify this endeavor, any such effort must prove that by virtue both of content and methodology, there is a perceptible departure from the traditional Eurocentric

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approach, and that the learning experience for the young Cameroonian is authentically and uncompromisingly Cameroonian. Since culture is the prime distinguishing characteristic of a people, language should be used as the prime vector of the corresponding culture. Kluckhohn and Kelly (1945) define culture as “all those historically created designs for living, explicit and implicit, rational, irrational, and nonrational, which exist at any given time as potential guides for the behavior of men” (p. 97). Hence, the study of a language inevitably entails a study of the culture of the language community. For instance, the French terms salut, bonjour, and bonsoir may each mean a variety of things:

salut: “hi”; “good bye” bonjour: “hello”; “good morning”; “good afternoon”; “good day”; “good evening”; “How d’ you do?” bonsoir: “hello”; “good evening”; “good night”; “too bad!”; “not a chance!” In the above examples, while the French and English languages have some way of verbalizing the conceptual difference between informal usage, as with greeting an acquaintance (salut/hi) and formal usage, as with greeting a non-acquaintance (bonjour/ hello), Bantu languages, for instance, do not have the same type of social distinction. Because the concept of deference to an individual owing to unfamiliarity exists in all African cultures as it does in France and England (as demonstrated by bonjour and hello), this particular linguistic distinction may constitute a lexical gap in Bantu languages. On the other hand, the terms hello and good evening may each be verbalized in French either by saying bonsoir or bonjour, depending on the speech situation. The concept of kissing is alien to African cultures, which explains the absence of a lexical equivalent in African languages for the term kiss. There is no way of reasonably talking about the four seasons in any African language; by the same token, no Western farmer ordinarily talks in terms of a wet or dry season, certainly not in the same sense as the tropical African does. Such lexical gaps are illustrations of Pike’s belief that language is the key to culture. In the same vein, any genuine endeavor to learn a language must entail the use of the language’s culture, not a foreign culture. The rest of this section demonstrates how Cameroon’s National Language Education Program is a reflection of the people’s cultural heritage – as seen in the program’s underlying motives, its objectives and actual projects, and the pedagogical methods that under gird it.

Language Education as a Reflection of Cameroon’s Cultural Heritage The motivation behind Cameroon’s first-language education program is fourfold: historical, cultural, pedagogical, and scientific. Historically, the program sought to join ranks with other English-speaking African nations that had much earlier realized the need for, and were already vigorously pursuing, similar programs, resulting in a redefinition of their identity in terms of their own human experience, culture, and history. These countries included Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda (Bamgbose, 1991; Dalle, 1981). However, Bamgbose notes that some of the countries that had instituted firstlanguage education programs eventually reverted to foreign official languages as the



exclusive medium of instruction. They include Zaire (back to French), Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, and Nigeria (back to English) (Bamgbose, p. 71). In Cameroon, the PROPELCA project on Lamnso’ (the language spoken in Nso) and Mungaka (the language spoken in Bali) – both in the Anglophone zone – did not start from scratch as for virtually every other language, since preliminary studies had been done in these languages. Lamso’ and Mungaka had been committed to writing before the advent of the national campaign. From a cultural perspective, a people without an indigenous language are also a people without an indigenous culture or a cultural identity. One sure way of securing Cameroon’s varied cultures is by stopping the linguistic flight, thus, bridging the ever-widening cultural and communication gap for the younger speakers for whom the folklore stands the risk of becoming extinct along with its aging population that has traditionally handed it down through generations. Hence, preserving indigenous languages is an imperative to maintaining the generational link between the living and their descendants. This oral tradition is also part of the African diasporic heritage, and as the world is growing increasingly smaller, these languages and cultures will serve as some of the many needed links between the African peoples and the African Diaspora. Here the linguist has an undeniable responsibility. The third and perhaps most practical reason behind Cameroon’s language program is scientific. Generations of Cameroonians are being born into a world of ever-changing scientific and technological development, but again a science- and technology-driven world in which they and their parents are passive consumers of foreign technology. The hope, therefore, is to instill in children as early as possible (using a practical tool – the language they already speak) a creative spirit and a thirst for invention based on observation and experimentation. The claim that African languages are either unsuitable for or unamenable to scientific study is only an excuse given the economic and technological advances of Asian countries, some of which achieved their independence after most African countries. China is on a path to surpassing the United States as an economic power; with that prospect, the Chinese language is fast gaining popularity in schools around the world, including Zimbabwe, where it has by a recent presidential decree been imposed on all university students.8 Cameroon’s national language program also has a pedagogical incentive – one which emanates from local research conducted on primary school children. Results of immersion studies in Canada also served as encouragement to Cameroonian authorities as they weighed their options. In both cases, there was substantial evidence in support of potential benefits of beginning formal education in a Cameroonian language before either English or French on the one hand and, on the other, early bilingual education in English and French. The research in Cameroon proved that subjects not only began the study of their first official language (OL1) with a more positive attitude, but were able to quickly transfer learned language-processing skills (primarily reading and writing) and problem-solving skills (the basic arithmetical operations) from the mother tongue to the first official language. If learning the mother tongue had as its sole benefit a measurable reduction in children’s anxiety about confronting a new and totally alien linguistic code, such learning would still be very worthwhile.

Language Education in Cameroon


The language problem in Cameroon is compounded by the presence and widespread use of Pidgin-English among urban Anglophone pre-school children – a problem which their Francophone counterparts do not face, since there exists no comparable French-based lingua franca. Pidgin-English constitutes a “problem” in that when the Anglophone children begin school, they have to contend with three languages, instead of two. The recommendation that Pidgin-English be used by teachers as an intermediary between the Cameroonian language being taught and English – once the latter is introduced (Tadadjeu et al., p. 20) may be effective in the short term, but over time language planners must still come to grips with the Pidgin-English polemic. Thus, while the behaviorist-based Watsonian theory of speech production may appear extreme, if not simplistic according to cognitive psychologists (cf. Bruner, 1966; Osgood, 1953; Slobin, 1987), it does provide some insight into the relationship between language and cognitive growth: language can mirror thought – a difference in thought being related to a difference in language. Based on a UNESCO classification, Pidgin-English (designated as a “Creole”) is a community language in Cameroon,9 and will be treated as such here. Corresponding to the reasons cited above for undertaking this language research are objectives, which differ between primary education and secondary education. PROPELCA’s objectives, submitted at the National Forum on Education in May 1995 are in two stages: At the primary school level PROPELCA seeks to accomplish these goals: (1) Integrate the child into the written communication system in the mother tongue within his or her community. Thus, the mother tongue will be the necessary bridge between the school and the local community. (2) Integrate the child into his or her socio-cultural and educational milieu by means of an initial teaching in his or her mother tongue. (3) Awaken, at an early stage, the scientific and the technological spirit of the child by teaching him or her arithmetic and basic technological principles in his or her mother tongue. (4) Establish a balanced bilingualism between mother tongue and first official language within the first 3 years of primary school. (5) In the urban centers, place particular emphasis on the teaching of the lingua(e) franca(e) of the area, since most pupils in urban centers (especially in the Francophone provinces) start school with a good knowledge of the first official language. At the secondary school level PROPELCA seeks to accomplish these goals: (1) Enable the student to learn to read and write his or her mother tongue or second indigenous language so as to deepen the literature and the cultural heritage associated to that language. (2) Expose the student to another indigenous language different from his or her own so that he or she can appreciate the culture associated to this second language, while at the same time becoming integrated into a wider communication network.



Among the cultural aspects of the specific objectives submitted to the National Forum are the following: a blooming of the child’s personality and deepening of his or her traditional culture, as well as an initiation into activities concerned with traditional craftsmanship, environment, and morals (PROPELCA proposal, 4–6). There is, clearly, an indication here that Cameroon’s language program is intended to immerse the children in their own culture (what PROPELCA refers to in its proposal as “inculturation”) – reversing a century of assimilation to European cultures (acculturation). To achieve these objectives, PROPELCA carried out many projects and organized many workshops and seminars. It produced didactic materials (pre-primers, primers, and post-primers) – all of which “take into account the culture and the immediate environment of that language” (PROPELCA proposal, 11); it also produced a teachers’ manual on national literatures and cultures. However, the methodology in all the books is the same, irrespective of the indigenous language. Workshops were organized around the country, primarily to get each language researched off the ground. Grassroots information campaigns helped raise community awareness of the relevance of the project. In this vein, PROPELCA encouraged communities whose languages were not on the national agenda to use the research models to kick off their own language programs, but equally remained at their disposal for any further direction or advice. The difficulties were mostly material, such as manpower (training/further training of linguists and consultants), finances, printing and distribution of primers, and access to computer technology. Table 1 is a classification of community languages (CLs) in Cameroon according to two sets of criteria: UNESCO’s and Cameroon’s. Because Cameroon’s criteria are far more generous than UNESCO’s, the country’s classification divulges a correspondingly greater number of CLs than does UNESCO’s (Table 2).

Table 1.

Topology of community languages (CLs) in Cameroon




CLs according to UNESCO

CLs according to Cameroon (PROPELCA)

Adamawa Center East Far North

723,626 2,501,229 755,088 2,721,463

Ngaoundere 189,800 Yaounde 1,248,200 Bertoua 173,000 Maroua 271,700

Fulfulde – – Fulfulde

Littoral North North-West South South-West

2,202,340 1,227,018 1,840,527 534,854 1,42,749

Douala 1,494,400 Garoua 356,900 Bamenda 316,00 Ebolowa 125,000 Buea 250,000

– Fulfulde CPE – CPE



Bafoussam 242,000

Fulfulde Bëti-Fang Bëti-Fang Fulfulde, Arabic, Kanuri, Chadic family Basaa Fulfulde – Bëti-Fang Duala, Oroko, AkBBse, Nsose Bamileke, Fe’efe’e, Tikari




Language Education in Cameroon Table 2.


First-language instruction at secondary level




Coll`ege Libermann Coll`ege de la Retraite Coll`ege de Sion Séminaire Sainte-Thér e` se Coll`ege Saint-Paul Coll`ege d’Enseignement Technique Sainte-Marie Coll`ege Maya Coll`ege Saint-Pierre Coll`ege Saint-Jean

Douala Yaounde Yaounde Yaounde Bafang Bafang

Duala, Basaa Ewondo (Discontinued) (Discontinued) Duala or Fe’efe’e Duala or Fe’efe’e

Kekem Loum Mbanga

Duala or Fe’efe’e Duala or Fe’efe’e Duala and Fe’efe’e

To further promote and popularize the native languages, they were from 1970 to 1977 used over national public radio – each language representing a corresponding geo-linguistic area and province: Center and South: Bëti-Fang; Littoral: Duala; West: Fe’efe’e, Banjun; and North: Fulfulde. Today the picture has changed drastically, as the dearth of radio stations and programming in decades past has yielded to a multiplicity of provincial public and private radio stations. Currently, there are twenty-seven FM stations and one AM station, with many more scheduled to go operational.10 This process was catapulted by the ushering in the early 1990s of FM stations as well as an easing of restrictions on private ownership of radio stations in Cameroon. Each provincial station, responding to the tastes of its audience, produces ethnic programs which entail use of the “community” language(s) and other dialectal variants on a fixed schedule. As a result, Pidgin-English broadcasts are common over Radio Bamenda and Radio Buea (the two Anglophone provincial headquarters). The national and recent urban stations use only the official languages – English and French – in broadcasts, but English and French override the provincial ones for national news. Table 3 shows is a language breakdown of radio air time for Cameroonian broadcasts by province. As this table shows, even though the Anglophone provinces (South-West and NorthWest) have the least language air time, they maximize it and are the most linguistically inclusive provinces in the nation. Use of the first language in the written press is much more limited than it is over radio. Table 4 identifies a number of newspapers that promote first languages in Cameroon.

Second-Language and Official-Language Education Cameroon’s official languages (OLs) are English and French, and every Cameroonian Anglophone secondary school student is required to learn English as a first official language (OL1) and French as a second official language (OL2), while his or her Francophone counterpart learns French as a first official language (OL1) and English as a second official language (OL2).12 English to the three million Anglophones is a second language, and French to the over 15.5 million Francophones is a second language – in each case with wide-ranging degrees of first-language-level command. For all practical purposes, however, English, French, and Pidgin-English are supplanting



Table 3.

Weekly language broadcasts over radio Cameroon

Radio station


Community languages

Total time allocation

L1* Air time

% ~Eng & Fre

Radio Bafoussam Radio Bamenda

West North-West

113 hours

23 hours


Radio Bertoua


Radio Buea


Radio Center Radio Douala

Center Littoral

Radio Ebolowa Radio Garoua Radio Maroua

South North Far North

Radio Ngaoundere


Mamileke, Fe’efe’e, Tikari Aghem, Fulfulde, Hausa, Kedjun, Kom, LamsB’, Linbum, Mbembe, Mbili, Mendankwe, Menka, Metta, Mubako, Mungaka, Ngemba, Ngie, Nkwen, Nsai, Oku, Oshie, Pinyin, Yemba Gbaya, Kaka, Maka, Mpopong Bafaw, Bakossi, Bakweri, Ejagham, Fulfulde, Kenyang, Mbo, Metta, Mungaka, Ngumba, Mundani, Olit, Oroko, Wimbam Bafia, Basaa, Bëti Bakaka, Bakoko, Basaa, Duala, Yabasi Bulu, Ewondo, Ngumba Arabic, Fulfulde, Tupuri Arabic, Fulfulde, Giziga, Mafa, Masa, Mofu North, Mundang, Mousgoum, Tupuri, Wandala Dii, Hausa, Mbum








120 155

9 34

7.5 21.94

147 90 120

13 10 34

8.85 11.11 20

106 114

29 19

27.35 16.67

L1  First Language.

Table 4.

Newspapers in Cameroonian Languages11







Bëti Duala

Lay (cultural)

Bamileke Bëti

Lay (political)

Basaa Bulu Ewondo

Nkul Zambe (God’s Drum) Nleb Bekristen (Christian Counselor) Bulu Mefoe (News) Dikolo (Information) Mulee Ngea (The Guide) Mwendi ma Baptist (The Baptist Message) Ngenteti (The Star) Nifi (Something New) Radio-Nam (People’s Voice) Nkul Béti (Beti Voice) Essamndzigi (The Educator) Mongo Bëti (Beti Child) Njel Lon (The People’s Voice) Sosso Efia (True Talk) Bebela Ebug (The Truth)

Language Education in Cameroon


most indigenous languages, especially the unwritten ones, whose use and function are limited to the school setting. The presence of European languages has relegated the use of indigenous languages largely to the so-called “uneducated” population, as these languages are steadily losing their place of dominance. The “official” use in Cameroon of two foreign languages is the basis of the nation’s bilingual education policy. The term “bilingualism” has taken copious shades of meaning, many writers tending to approach the concept from their respective vantage points. “Bilingualism” is generally understood to mean the ability to use two languages, often with equal proficiency. According to the International Association of Conference Interpreters (IACI), true bilinguals are “people who have lived in two different countries as children, pursued their secondary and higher education in both countries and have […] consciously striven to keep their languages separate” (Selescovitch, 1978, p. 74). By this orthodox definition, there might, then, be no bilingual Cameroonian. Alternatively, in Cameroon, as opposed to the IACI meaning, the term “bilingual” is largely understood to mean someone who has pursued bilingual studies in the two official languages at a higher institution of learning (and has obtained a degree or diploma). The term also generally refers to translators and conference interpreters. Bilingualism in Cameroon is, therefore, quite relative. Besides referring to individuals, the term is also commonly used to designate institutions; for example, “bilingual high school,” even when not everyone is expected (let alone required) to be linguistically proficient. Cameroon’s post-secondary education system is known to be bilingual in the sense that, in addition to one’s first official language, one also needs a knowledge of the alternate official language to succeed, even if one did not pursue the bilingual track at the secondary level. Cameroon’s bilingualism aims both to make available to each citizen the two official languages (English and French) and to enable the State to communicate with its citizens using both official languages. To attain these goals, Cameroon has relied on its educational system (formal and informal) and its civil service (Tabi-Manga, p. 112–113). Bilingual education at the primary school level rests solely on bilingual primary schools, which exist in major urban centers – evidently to meet the language needs of Cameroonian families who have relocated to these towns and are outside of their cultural and linguistic zone – Francophone or Anglophone. This relocation began after reunification of the two Cameroons – East and West, which (as in virtually all other post-independence African nations) triggered a centralization of the government. The threshold of bilingualism in Cameroon was the country’s attainment of independence in 1960. The so-called urgent need for linguistic revolution was for political and administrative purposes. Early language institutions were created for rapid language learning by the administrative personnel as there was sudden, increased mobility between the two linguistic zones. The Federal Linguistic and Cultural Center (FLCC), opened in 1968 and based in Yaounde, was the first such institution. Prior to it, and as an independent program, English-speaking administrators were sent to France for 6 months of basic French language education. This remains an ongoing process, albeit on a reduced scale today. A major drawback of Cameroon’s primary-level bilingual programs is quality, as Gis`ele Tchoungui notes Francophone parents’ discontent with their children picking up Pidgin-English from their Anglophone peers within the school setting.13 If this is



more a pedagogic than a social solecism, it might be addressed by “Operation Bilingualism,” launched by the French and British to prop up language education in Cameroon’s primary schools. Through this effort, the French reinforced Frenchlanguage education in bilingual schools in the Anglophone zone, while the British complement English-language education in bilingual schools in the Francophone zone. This Anglo-French program tackles the problem from three complementary angles: reconsideration of pedagogy, infusion of didactic materials, and teacher training (TabiManga, p. 115). Bilingual education at the secondary level has yielded far more palpable and positive results than at the primary level. The Federal Linguistic and Cultural Center was followed in 1963 by the Federal Bilingual Grammar School in Buea, and in 1965 by the Bilingual Practicing College in Yaounde, both of which are seven-year institutions (also called lycées) that prepare students for the university. Until now, they are Cameroon’s only bilingual grammar schools. Admission into either school is open only to pupils who earn “A” grades on the Common Entrance Examination, administered at the end of primary school. The curriculum includes literary studies, with emphasis on language. The mode of teaching in these institutions complies with the definition of bilingualism as discussed earlier. In the grammar schools, the Anglophone and Francophone students are kept apart for the first 2 years, during which their education is geared strictly towards the rapid acquisition of the second official language while they also improve on the first one. From year three, the two groups come together and follow the same courses in both languages alternately until they graduate. This method has thus far proven successful, albeit time consuming. Bilingual education at other secondary schools has produced less glowing results, especially in verbal production. Tabi-Manga imputes this gaffe to an inappropriate pedagogy: La solution a` ce probl`eme pourrait eˆ tre de nature didactique par le développement de structures pédagogiques communicationnelles. On s’apperçoit aujourd’hui que la mise en place de la politique du biliguisme n’a pas été précédée d’une réflexion méthodologique d’enseignement des deux langues officielles dans un contexte nouveau. Le probl`eme devrait eˆ tre traité dans une perspective globale en prenant en compte les rapports entre les langues officielles et les langues nationales. (2000, p. 117) Bilingual education at the tertiary level assumes yet another dimension. Cameroon’s public universities and advanced professional schools are officially bilingual, and each student must adapt to the instructor’s choice of instructional medium – French or English. To forestall any linguistic hoops, especially for students who enroll in Mathematics or the physical sciences, Bilingual Training was instituted. The program awards academic credit to successful completers, and students have regularly availed themselves of the opportunity. The bilingual degree program, offered through the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Yaounde I, is open to all students interested in careers in translation, conference interpretation, terminology, and foreign-language teaching and who meet the language entry requirements. The track offers a high dose of French and English languages, literature, and linguistics, and it

Language Education in Cameroon


graduates students who are largely equally competent in both official languages. A parallel program exists for student teachers, enrolled in the Higher Normal School for Teachers, better known by its French acronym ENS (Ecole Normal Supérieure), whose enrollees commit to teaching their respective foreign language at the secondary level upon graduation. ENS has two cycles: an undergraduate campus in Bambili, NorthWest Province for Anglophones; and a graduate/undergraduate campus in Yaounde for Francophones and Anglophones. The Yaounde campus shares the same premises with the Bilingual Practicing College, which serves as a testing ground for the studentteachers. The bilingual program includes a semester or two abroad – the Anglophones in France, the Francophones in Britain. Sometime in the mid-1970s and again in the 1990s, students were sent rather to university towns in the opposing linguistic zones: Francophones to Bambili (on the ENS campus), Anglophones to Douala. Recruitment of lecturers at Cameroon’s public universities pays no regard to working language (save for the language staff), and students are expected to contend with any attendant language difficulties. Students in the bilingual series or students majoring in any of the foreign languages (English, French, Spanish, German) hardly have difficulty with the system. For decades, riotous complaints at the University of Yaounde I (the largest of Cameroon’s public institutions) have emanated from the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Science, where most students are obliged to swap and then “translate” class notes. Bilingualism in Cameroon is, therefore, largely the ability for one to manipulate English and French with relative flexibility and especially for educational and professional ends. The need to maintain and unremittingly refine one’s language skills beyond the realm of academics is, in the main, social and professional. The next section takes up bilingualism as a means of socialization.

Code Switching and Code Mixing One of the consequences of inadequate language preparation is the rapid development of Cameroonian English and Cameroonian French that differ structurally and semantically from the respective standard mother tongues as they are used in Britain/North America and France. These differences are manifested through code switching (deliberate transition from one language to another) and code mixing (unintentional, erroneous transitions between languages). Below are three contexts of code switching on Cameroon Radio-Television (CRTV), Yaounde.

Context 1: “Chit-Chat” – a mid-night to 4 A.M. program hosted by two women This is a phone-in program that addresses issues of the day. People call or send electronic messages on the particular topic. One of the journalists is Francophone, the other is Anglophone, but they each invariably speak in French and English, both out of choice and because they have to. The following exchange occurred on the night of February 22, 2006. The switches are underlined. Anglophone (English-speaking) journalist: That record is by Henri Dikonge. Francophone (French-speaking) journalist: Yes, I like his style. His records in this album are short. Here is an e-mail that just came in: “I like this program. It is a bilingual



and talks about things of interest to me. Thank you, ladies, for doing a great job.” Maybe we still have some time. Charles, give us one last bar of music. (Music is played.) Anglophone journalist: We have just 5 minutes to the end of our program. Is there anything you want to say before we end the program? [This wordy question form is based on the French Y a-t-il …] Francophone journalist: Before we go, nous voulons, Guy Roger, vous remecier pour votre contribution, pour nous avoir fait confiance. Anglophone journalist: Il y a une grande réunion le 27 Février au centre des handicappés. Vous pouvez nous contacter a` travers notre numéro de téléphone. Ladies and gentlemen, it is 4 A.M. and time for our bilingual news. On this level, Cameroon’s bilingualism may be considered imposed in that the messages come indifferently in English and French, and the journalist has no choice but to read them in the language in which they are written – French or English.

Context 2: A newscast (February 22, 2006) done by two journalists, one Francophone, one Anglophone: Francophone: Good evening Jessie, and welcome to the 7:30 news. Anglophone: Bonsoir Alain, et bienvenue au journal de 19:30. In the headlines: the Head of State today received an august guest, Prince Andrew Betty, Grand Master of the Order of Malta. Francophone: Trois anciens directeurs généraux interpelés, parmis eux l’ancien directeur général du FEICOM. Ils sont soupçonés de corruption et détournement de biens publics. Context 3: Single-host programs At times a single journalist hosts an entire program, but may interview both Anglophones and Francophones, some of whom are monolingual. The journalist then switches from one language to another depending on the language the guest. Context 4: Cameroon’s multilingual setting The average Cameroonian operates in four languages: a first language (L1), pidgin English (PE), French (F), and English (E), and all four languages may be woven into a single communicative event, as the examples below show. In addition to these languages is Mbanga English (ME), a highly informal youth tongue spoken all over the country. It originated in the Littoral Province and is also commonly blended with English, French, and Pidgin-English. Mbanga English has been popularized by Makossa (music) star Lapiro de Mbanga. Here are some lexical items: nyie, n. (cowardice), meng, vi. (die), zone mené, n. (secured area–with police presence), sisia, vt. (scare; frighten), nkollo, n. (one thousand francs). In the following exchange, each linguistic code is marked accordingly.

Language Education in Cameroon


Ngu: PEMassa, weti I go do eh? ECan you imagine that that fellow has not come back with my change? I don’t have anymore cash on me. FS’il te plaˆit Jean, tu peux me presser cinq mille francs ? Neba: E Sorry man, Fje n’ai que deux MEnkollos. Ngu: FDonne-les-moi. Je vais me débrouiller. EThis fellow’s attitude is indeed annoying. PEMassa, we go quick quick. Code switching, as illustrated above, is ostensibly spontaneous, pleasant, and mannerly, yet perhaps as linguistically insidious as code mixing, which occurs by error or ignorance. Code mixing is common among Cameroonian students, especially those who live in Yaounde, Douala, Buea, and Dschang, where there are large concentrations of Anglophone and Francophone students (Table 5). In this section, we will examine three types of code mixing: lexical, grammatical, and syntactic. Some of these examples are from Simo Bobda (101 ff). Grammatical code mixing involves, among other things, confusing aspectual and temporal categories in English and French (Table 6). Simo Bobda (1997, pp. 105ff) has catalogued many such cases among university students and professionals: Table 5.

Code mixing in Cameroonian

Form/Usage (Source Language)

Intended Form

Convocation (F) Organigramme (F) Quartier (F) Mini-cité (F) Sense (F) Surveillant général (F) Commissaire (F) Concours (F) Direction (F) Promotion (F)

Summons Organization chart Neighborhood Student hostel Meaning; direction Discipline master Commissioner Competitive examination Department Batch; class (e.g., class of 1977) Policy Address Busy day To mark … To submit … A terrible …/horrible … A wonderful … Compensating Facilitate Community Characteristics Sympathetic Lack of civic responsibility Fanaticism

Politics Discourse Charged day To correct exam scripts To deposit an application A wonderful accident A terrible achievement *Compensing *Facilite *Commuaty *Carataristics *Sympatic *Incivism *Fanatism


F sens (direction; meaning)

French: politique  politics; policy French: discours (speech) French: chargé (busy) French: corriger (to correct) French: déposer (to submit)

French: compenser French: faciliter French: communauté French: caratéristiques French: sympathique French: incivisme French: fanatisme

An asterisk (*) beside a non-French form means that the form does not exist in standard English.



Table 6.

Grammatical code mixing

Form/Usage (Source language)

Intended form


The head of State speaks to you

The head of State is speaking to you

French: Il parle  He speaks; He is speaking (no distinction between the simple present and the present continuous)

I am here since 8 o’clock The faithfuls are … The union for the change

I have been here since 8 o’clock. The faithful are … Union for change

Ministry of the Health

Ministry of Health

French: Suis … depuis French adjectives have plural forms. French common nouns take the indefinite determiner: le/la/les. (See above).

Other Language Education Programs and Official Bilingualism Cameroonian linguistic centers were opened in 1960 to train Cameroonians from all walks of life. Successful program completion was recognized with the Diploma of English Studies. In response to the needs of both Cameroonian civil servants and foreign diplomats working in Cameroon, the cultural services of the embassies of France, Britain, and the United States established bilingual training programs in Yaounde and Douala that have remained popular. Other bilingual structures are inherent components of public administration: translation and interpretation services at the Presidency and the National Assembly, translation services in ministerial agencies, bilingual news broadcasts over Cameroon Radio-Television (CRTV), bilingual editions of print media (public and private), and bilingual versions of the nation’s official journal, The Cameroon Official Gazette. By the same token, all legal forms, government stationery, public notices, and names of government offices are written in both languages. As some of the examples above suggest, mistranslation of public documents, such as billboards and forms, is quite common. As many of the examples indicate, the source texts are generally in French, so the victims of mistranslation are, generally speaking, Anglophones and learners of English. There is no excuse for these labels: “The Ministry of the Public Service” (for Ministry of Public Service); “Department of Planification” (for Department of Planning); and “Christian Name” (for Given/First Name). Even the names of some of Cameroon’s provinces are simply wrong: “Extreme North Province” (for Far-North …); and Central Province (for Centre …); and “Western Province” (for West …). The last example appears on a passport application form at Cameroon’s embassy in Washington, DC. These mishaps are inexcusable in a country with well-staffed translation services at the Presidency and the National Assembly and whose ministerial agencies are replete with trained translators. Tabi-Manga imputes Cameroon’s unlikelihood to achieve its goal of full bilingualism to three hurdles: an inadequate promotional strategy; bilingualism not being fully incorporated into the country’s educational system; and, bilingualism not being fully incorporated into the country’s national multilingual plan (2000, p. 121). These pitfalls might have been averted had the implementers heeded Professor Fonlon’s prophetic call in

Language Education in Cameroon


1963 for “early bilingualism” in English and French starting from primary school. Rather, Cameroon’s primary bilingual schools, Tabi-Manga regrets, are not the product of strategic, purposeful reflection, either in terms of goals or academic expectations: Cette école a été conceptuellement appréhendée non pas comme une structure éducative particuli`ere ayant une finalité propre, mais comme un établissement ordinaire de formation a` dominante soit francophone, soit anglophone. Par ailleurs, l’absence de réflexion approfondie sur le profil de l’école primaire bilingue a rendu évidente la faiblesse de qualifications des enseignants engagés dans cette tˆache de formation a` laquelle ils n’étaient pas préparés. (2000, p. 123) He adds that, despite the political will, Cameroon’s policy of official bilingualism has been out of tune with its educational system, alluding to Tchoungui’s recommendations for countering the educational disjuncture: establishment of a bilingual education program in the primary schools and introduction of community languages at the same level; training of secondary school bilingual teachers using a pedagogy and curriculum that reflect a revamped bilingual policy; and, research into a pedagogy that is suitable for bilingual education. Tabi-Manga dubs Cameroon’s failed national language policy “linguistic liberalism,” as each ethnic group has assumed responsibility for promoting and keeping alive its own language. The risk, he points out, is that some native languages might die, as would the corresponding cultural heritage of the linguistic community. Potential beneficiaries of such death, he posits, are languages such as Basaa, Beti-Fang, Duala, French, and Fulfulde. Pidgin-English, too, might spread even more widely, albeit at the expense of English. Cameroon’s ostensible linguistic indeterminism today is in sharp contrast to Law No. 96–06 of January 18, 1996 (amending the country’s 1972 constitution). Article 1, Section 3 is clear on the language issue: “The official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both languages having the same status … . It shall endeavor to protect and promote national languages.” Three terms are particularly worth noting here: “same status,” “protect,” and “promote”; nonetheless, during research on this chapter, only the French version of this text was available on the web site of the Presidency. The problem of equal access to official documents in both French and English is quite frustrating to Anglophones, particularly those in the Diaspora. It is also common for English web pages to be unavailable, whereas their French equivalents are. Tadadjeu terms Cameroon’s bilingualism “institutional bilingualism,” because it caters only to English and French. Tabi-Manga captures this inadequacy thus: Le bilinguisme institutionnel, pour M. Tadadjeu, est une composante essentielle de l’identité camerounaise. Cependant, le français et l’anglais ne peuvent exprimer toutes les richesses de l’héritage culturel camerounais dans toute sa diversité. Aussi, les langues officielles cohabitent-elles nécessairement avec les langues nationales. Le bilinguisme ne saurait constituer le seul élément de la politique linguistique du Cameroun. Ce bilinguisme doit évoluer vers un trilinguisme. (2000, p. 77)



A possible solution to this drawback is “extensive trilingualism,” by which each Cameroonian can communicate in three languages, including the two official languages, and, by extension, in a Cameroonian native language as well.14 Tabi-Manga proposes four national languages as community languages for adoption if Tadadjeu’s model were to be implemented: Fulfulde (spoken in the North, Adamawa, and Far-North provinces), BëtiFang (spoken in the Center, South, and East provinces), Basaa (spoken in the Center and Littoral), and Duala (spoken in the Littoral and South-West). A crucial consideration in language planning is a sense of identity in the chosen language(s). Tabi-Manga is aware of this fact when he identifies guiding principles of a functional language policy, as adopted by the National Education Forum of 1995: multilingualism, national unity, and regional (or sub-regional) integration (L. I. Tambo, 260). However, none of the languages native to either of the Anglophone provinces (North-West and South-West) make the short list; also absent are languages of the West Province, which, as Grassfields languages, share many features with the other Grassfields languages of the North-West Province. Robinson (1990, p. 13) posits the following questions for consideration in crafting a language policy: (1) Which language(s) should be used for communication with the largest number of citizens? (2) Which language(s) might best promote national unity? (3) Which language(s) could best symbolize the identity of the country? (4) Which language(s) can be most easily and efficiently used in specialized sectors such as higher education and technology? (5) Which language(s) can be used with the least economic burden? Sadembouo and Watters (1987), on their part, posit a “Language Development Threshold” based on these criteria: existence/number of scientific studies of the language; popularizing publications in the language; trained personnel; written institutional language use; and, oral institutional language use. Below is a matrix that combines the three above-mentioned criteria by Robinson, Sadembouo/Watters, and the National Education Forum. Included among the languages is Pidgin-English (Table 7). Table 7.

Combined language planning matrix

Population National unity National identity Regional Integration Adaptability for higher education & technology Cost-effectiveness Existence of scientific studies Existence of publications Existence of trained personnel Institutional use: Written Institutional use: Oral Total






1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 7

1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 7

1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 7

1 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 7

1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9

Language Education in Cameroon


Pidgin-English, Cameroon’s only lingua franca, scores highest on this matrix. This language has its roots in Anglophone Cameroon, and is also widely spoken in the Littoral and West – provinces that are contiguous to South-West and North-West provinces, respectively. It should be pointed out that several languages from the three unrepresented provinces are included in a second tier of eight national languages, to wit, Arabic, Fe’efe’fe, Hausa, Mungaka, and Yemba. Yet 12 languages would be far too many for a nation of less than 16 million people as each linguistic zone would average only 1.3 million speakers. Even with the four national languages that TabiManga proposes, each language would average 4 million speakers – well below the UNESCO threshold of 20 million speakers per national language. The question then is can Cameroon achieve lasting national unity linguistically while its only two Anglophone provinces are not linguistically represented? The only reason TabiManga advances for not counting Pidgin-English among the proposed community languages is that it is not a Cameroonian language. That justification deserves another look, to which we now turn.

The Place of Pidgin-English in Cameroon Pidgin-English has carried a rather unfair share of stigma in Cameroon as a language which lacks the prestige assumed to accompany European languages, and the prestige that now showers native languages. Until Vatican II (1962–1965), Latin was the official language with which to communicate with God in Catholic churches around the world, including Cameroon; and Cameroonians were punished for speaking their native languages or Pidgin-English on school grounds. While the British colonists did not find Africans worthy of knowing and using the Queen’s language with near-mother-tonguelevel command, the French banned the use of native languages in all its territories in 1933 in order to promote or ensure French self-identification. Whose language is PidginEnglish after all? Whence and how did it originate? How does it differ from Fulfulde, Fulani, or Hausa – all considered Cameroonian languages? But just how Cameroonian are these languages anyway? It is worth noting that the Afro-Asiatic languages Fulani, Fulfulde, and Hausa are no more native to Cameroon than Pidgin-English as these languages have become part of Cameroon’s (and indeed much of West Africa’s) linguistic heritage thanks to trade, pastoral agriculture, and Islam (Bohannan & Curtin, 1995, 206–214). The term “pidgin” itself derives from a Chinese term designating “business” and simply refers to a mixed language. What language has ever survived the influence of other languages? Otherwise, why has the Académie Française declared war on Americanisms? Would French be complete without English? And how would present-day English be were it not for the Norman Conquest? Today’s Romance languages began as dialects of Latin, and were treated with comparable derision by the Roman conquerors. Pidgin-English is an admixture of Cameroonian Bantu languages – Bantu contributing primarily the underlying structural base, and English primarily the surface lexical forms. In the early 1990s, an argument raged in southern Africa about the propriety of elevating Swahili to the status of a regional language on a par with foreign ones like English, French, and Portuguese. Some detractors contended that Swahili was not



“African” enough by virtue of the preponderance of Arabic and English loan-words in it; yet Swahili is a lingua franca and community language in nine eastern and southern African nations,15 is an official language in Kenya and Tanzania, and was nearly imposed on Cameroon by the Germans. For millions of speakers of Swahili and an ever-growing number of speakers of Pidgin-English, these languages are creoles (or first languages). Tabi-Manga begins to make the case for Pidgin when he states that the simplicity of the phonological, morpho-syntactic, and lexical structures of Pidgin-English make it slightly resemble Cameroonian languages (36). Many persons have branded it variously: “uncivilized English,” “bad English,” “bastardized English,” “broken English,” “Bush English,” “incapable of civilized discourse.” In an electronic forum of the on-line version of Cameroon Post newspaper of June 15, 2005, a contributor wrote: “Ideas have space on this forum not Pidgin-English. Shame to whomever writes in Pidgin-English, more to that we the chattering classes are instituting a war against Pidgin-English on this forum.” The contributor would be much disheartened to learn that his short text is egregiously blighted in one respect and that there are several other minor violations of formal English (which he presumably meant to use). On the campus of the University of Buea, in the South-West province, here are some of the official signs posted on the beautiful campus lawns: “Speak a language well to write a language well”; “Pidgin is taking a heavy toll on your English. Shun it”; and “Be my friend. Speak English.” If one were to adopt the Saussurean perspective about language and appraise PidginEnglish primarily from its communicative endowment and as, fundamentally and not by pity, by accident, or through privation, a means of communication, one would concur with Saussure that “[s]peech sounds are only the instrument of thought, and have no independent existence” (1983, p. 9). This mind set stems from Saussure’s conviction that language is a collective social gift to the linguistic community and has no proprietary essence, as he explains: In practice, the study of language is in some degree or other the concern of everyone. But a paradoxical consequence of this interest is that no other subject has fostered more absurd notions, more prejudices, more illusions, or more fantasies. From a psychological point of view, these errors are of interest in themselves. But it is the primary task of the linguist to denounce them, and to eradicate them as completely as possible. (Saussure, p. 7) Assuming Saussure’s position that speech (and by extension language) has no independent existence, we are also to assume that the thoughts that Cameroonians verbalize using Pidgin-English are formed a priori, while the actual enunciations occur a posteriori. Consequently, an inclusive, unifying language policy in Cameroon must take into account the most widely spoken, easiest-to-learn language in the land – Pidgin-English, and without being either bashful or apologetic about its ancestry. This position joins both the Saussurean perspective and the one posited much earlier about language as the prime vector of and the key to culture.

Language Education in Cameroon


Conclusion It has been established here and elsewhere that colonial language and education policies that were implemented in Cameroon were driven not by Cameroon’s needs but rather by the colonial governments’ geo-political, economic, and cultural ambitions. The multiplicity of languages in Cameroon was seen and used as a tool of political control when the nation was under the yoke of Western powers. Today, the 279 indigenous languages are a symbol of cultural diversity, richness, and pride. Navigating the linguistic waters is the idyllic life of the average Cameroonian farmer, teacher, folk artist, trader, and health professional. That anyone venturing into any of the population centers (such as Bamenda, Bafoussam, Dschang, Buea, Yaounde, and Douala) should be prepared to hear English, French, or Pidgin-English testifies to the country’s cultural growth and to Cameroonians as a linguistically and culturally tolerant people. As with most advantages, Cameroon’s linguistic endowment could be a real threat to its advancement in an increasingly competitive age. Colonial administrations used language to create a two-class society comprising the educated and the uneducated, the powerful and the powerless, leaders and followers; modern-day political elite have sought to maintain or widen the schism. The economic argument against aggressively protecting and promoting Cameroon’s indigenous languages is persuasive, but the failure on the national level to craft a cohesive, harmonious language policy for all levels of education could wreak havoc over the long haul on an already fragile school system. Cameroon (as other African nations) has survived colonialism and can chart a course for itself. Any coherent language policy must give careful consideration to Pidgin-English for the following reasons: it is Cameroon’s only lingua franca; it is spoken widely throughout the territory and especially in four provinces (the North-West, South-West, Littoral, and West) – both by the schooled and the unschooled; more Cameroonians speak it fluently than they do even English or French; it has a literature; it is easy to learn because it has a Bantu underlying structure (grammar) and an English surface structure (lexicon); and it is used in and would continue to be promoted through popular music. In addition to Pidgin-English, French and English ought to be the two other pillars of a cogent, pragmatic, and potentially enduring trilingual policy. English and French that children learn in Cameroonian schools will and should always reflect the Cameroonian socio-cultural milieu; yet Cameroonian students (from elementary through graduate school) ought to be held to appropriate minimum universal standards of oral and written proficiency to secure the nation’s future on all levels. No physics, chemistry, economics, law, philosophy, or for that matter French or English books are likely ever to be written in any of the 279 native languages; therefore, scarce material resources should be deployed accordingly. Native languages should remain a matter for the respective communities, which should be provided professional guidance by the State in matters such as preparing phonetic alphabets and basic phonetic transcription. A trilingual policy as advocated here is likely to meet the guiding principles set forth by the National Education Forum of 1995: multilingualism, national unity, and regional (or sub-regional) integration.



Notes 1. Botswana, Cape Verde, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, São Tomé and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Swaziland, and Tanzania. 2. Burundi, Malawi, Mauritius, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Togo, and Zimbabwe. 3. Johannes Fabian (1986) cites from an 1885 letter from John B. Latrobe, President of the US Colonization Society and King Leopold backer, to H. S. Sanford, the US intermediary on the État Indépendent du Congo (EIC) as saying, “What, en passant, is to be the language of the Free State? Has this been thought of ? It seems to me worthy of a good thought … . Of course, my preference would be English, not because I speak English, but for reasons connected with commerce alone. What are the natives to be taught? I mean what language, or is there to be a ‘Pidgin-English’ or ‘pidgin French’? In the history of the world, there have never been such opportunities as are now presented to mould the people of future ages in a vast continent,” p. 165. 4. From the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, June 2005. The figures for research and development are based on budget years varying from 2000 to 2003, because recent data were unavailable. 5. Duala is the language spoken in Douala (Cameroon’s economic capital) as well as many contiguous coastal towns. 6. Tabi-Manga, Les politiques linguistiques du Cameroun: Essai d’aménagement linguistique [Translation: Language policy in Cameroon: Essay on language planning]. Karthala, 2000, p. 65. 7. This section is based partly on a revision and update of a 1999 article by this writer, titled “First language instruction in Cameroon: A lesson learned or new wine in an old calabash?” The Literary Griot: International Journal of Black Expressive Cultural Studies, 11(1), 17–34. 8. It should be noted that President Robert Mugabe’s decision to make Chinese mandatory in the college curriculum may have had more to do with an ideological shift toward communism (and away from U.S.- and British-led capitalism) than an appreciation of the role of language as a market force. 9. UNESCO map: “African Community Languages and their Use in Education,” 2005. 10. From TvRadioWorld, 1996–2004: 11. Based on Tabi-Manga’s Les politiques linguistiques du Cameroun, pp. 107–108. 12. In Anglophone Cameroon a first official language, therefore, corresponds to ESL, while in the Francophone region English constitutes EFL – English as a Foreign Language. 13. Referenced in Tabi-Manga, Les politiques linguistiques du Cameroun, p. 114. 14. Tabi-Manga, Les politiques linguistiques du Cameroun, p. 178. 15. Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Mozambique, and Namibia.

References Ayuninjam, F. (1999). First language instruction in Cameroon: A lesson learned or new wine in an old calabash? The Literary Griot: International Journal of Black Expressive Cultural Studies, 11(1), 17–34. Bamgbose, A. (1991). Language and the nation: The language question in sub-Saharan Africa. Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press. Bohannan, P., & Curtin, P. (1995). Africa and Africans. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. Bruner, J. S. (1966). Studies in cognitive growth. New York: Wiley. Dalle, E. L. (1981). Les probl e` mes de l’enseignement des langues au Cameroun [Problems of language instruction in Cameroon]. Yaounde: Centre National d’Education, Cameroon. de Saussure, F. (1983). Course in general linguistics. Illinois: Open Court Classics. Department of Linguistics, University of Yaounde. (1995). National language education programme in Cameroon. Ms. Yaounde: PROPELCA. Fabian, J. (1986). Language and colonial power. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Khapoya, V. (1997). The African experience (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Kluckhohn, C., & Kelly, W. (1945). The concept of culture. In R. Linton (Ed.), The science of man in the world crisis. New York: Columbia University Press.

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Makulu, H. F. (1971). Education, development and nation-building in independent Africa: A study of the new trends and recent philosophy of education. London: S. C. M. Press. Njeuma, M. (Ed.). (1989). Introduction to the history of Cameroon. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Okrah, K. A. (2003). Nyansapo (the wisdom knot): Toward an African philosophy of education. New York: Routledge. Osgood, C. E. (1953). Method and theory in experimental psychology. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP. Robinson, C. D. W. (1990). The place of local-language literacy in rural development in Cameroon: Presentation of an experimental program. African Studies Review, 33(3), 53–64. Sadembouo, E., & Watters, J. R. (1987). Proposition pour l’évaluation des niveaux de développement d’une langue écrite. Journal of West African Languages, 17(1), 35–59. Selescovitch, D. (1978). Interpreting for international conferences. Washington, DC: Pen and Booth. Simo Bobda, A. (1997). Sociocultural constraints in EFL teaching in Cameroon. In M. Pütz (Ed.), The cultural context in foreign language teaching. Berne: Peter Lang. Slobin, D. I. (1987). Psycholinguistics. Glenview, IL: Scott & Foresman. Spolsky, B. (2004). Language policy: Key topics in socio-linguistics. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP. Tabi-Manga, J. (2000). Les politiques linguistiques du Cameroun: Essai d’aménagement linguistique. Paris: Karthala. Tadadjeu, M., Gfeller, E., & Mba, G. (Ed.). (1988). Manuel de formation pour l’enseignement des langues nationales dans les écoles primaires [Training manual for national language instruction in primary schools]. Yaounde: PROPELCA. Urch, G. E. F. (1992). Education in sub-Saharan Africa: A source book. New York: Garland.


Introduction This chapter discusses urban education reforms in post-independent Zimbabwe in the context of the government’s project of national cultural policy and national identityformation. Zimbabwe is an emerging post-independent society in Africa in that it gained its independence at a later stage than many African countries. It thus provides a raw field of study on issues of identity, educational reform and cultural struggles. The study of urban educational reforms provides an important lens through which to understand the politics of transition in post-independent Zimbabwe. In underscoring how the Zimbabwean cultural struggles over educational meanings and representations are deeply entangled with the government’s definition of culture, the study furthers the theoretical reflection on the political dimensions of culture. Cultural contestations are constitutive of the efforts of the Zimbabwe people to redefine the meaning and limits of the political system itself. This paper paves the way for understanding on a broad theoretical and practical basis, the trajectories of education, culture, politics, and identity-formation in post-colonial transformations like Zimbabwe. An analysis of the Zimbabwean educational system and national culture allows one to scrutinize the contradictions within official discourse on education and culture and to assess the gap that exists between the real urgency of preserving, valorizing, and reinvigorating collective spiritual heritage and identity. The moribund and critical state of the contemporary Zimbabwean nation calls for a more subtle and nuanced historical analysis of the relationship among national politics, culture, and education. Cheru (2002, p. 72) argues that independent African governments responded to the inherited educational disparities in two ways: (1) Africanizing school enrolments, and (2) rapidly expanding the educational system from primary school to university. The advent of Zimbabwean national independence in 1980 ushered in far-reaching reforms in education and training based on the development needs and goals of the new dispensation, which included democratization and expansion of the provision of education and 75 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 75–90. © 2007 Springer.



training. In this equation of community development enacted largely from above, the partisan, monopolized “institutionalization” of civil society, the state and its agencies, stood as the primary organizing instrument in the hands of the ruling party. Mungazi (1993, p. 50) states that “the victory that the Africans eventually scored in their struggle for political independence then set the stage for a more challenging struggle for national development through education.” The main aspect of the educational reforms in Zimbabwe was to increase the number of students enrolled in schools and colleges as a means of trying to give access to the black majority that had been denied the opportunity during the colonial period. This led to the “massification” of the education system. The other aspect was to “localize” the syllabi and the examinations system to reflect the aspirations of a new national identity. Local languages were to be elevated and recognized both as official languages and as media for instruction, for languages symbolize cultures and identities. This was in line with the Zimbabwean leadership’s socialist project of using the educational system to create a single and unitary Zimbabwean identity. Carnoy and Samoff (1991) argue that there is a reciprocal relationship between education and social change in transition societies. In such societies, education becomes a center for social conflict and contestation among competing political interests. In this perspective, educational reforms become a challenge and a threat to long-established social values and institutional interests. In postcolonial Zimbabwe, as in other countries, the government controls the institutions which produce and legitimate culture – this includes the realms of education, media, arts, popular culture, and other agencies of cultural formation. According to Radcliffe and Westwood (1996, p. 14): in order for the nation to become hegemonic in the identities of subjects, elite/ official versions of nationalism containing certain histories, images and representations must be shared across class or ethnic lines, in order for an imagined community to be created with “shared self-awareness.” According to Raftopolous (1996), the immediate post-independence period in Zimbabwe was characterized by a government which, though it had a fairly broad basis of legitimacy founded on both the legacy of the liberation struggle and a general developmentalist program, still faced the task of establishing its domination both in national governance and over those parts of the country where its support was weak. Thus the form of its rule was characterized by both a popular level of consent, however conditional and uneven, and a distinctive coercive strain that sought to enforce unity and compliance where this was not immediately forthcoming. In political terms this has meant the introduction of political structures, which have marginalized dissenting voices and counternarratives. The participation of parents in the massive building program was motivated by their belief that education would bring about better employment and socioeconomic advantages for their children. The disparities that existed throughout the colonial era were largely attributed to the fact that most Africans had been denied access to education. The independent Zimbabwean government considered education to be one of the key ways to redress colonial injustices and establish a democratic and egalitarian

National Culture and Urban Education Reforms


society. The new education policies were based on the following goals: the expansion of educational facilities and school places; the abolition of racial segregation; a new emphasis on scientific and technical education, particularly at secondary school level; localization of the O-level and A-level examinations and revision of syllabi, to make them more relevant to local conditions and requirements (Nherera, 2000, pp. 5–6)

Objectives This chapter was inspired by the problems that have affected postcolonial Zimbabwe, mainly the declining standards of education, the authoritarian political regime, lack of democracy and a reversal of the promises that were made at independence by the ruling party especially in education and health sectors. The specific aims of this study are: (1) To examine the role of urban education reforms in identity-formation in postindependent Zimbabwe; (2) To explore the interplay of education, politics and culture in identity-formation and social transformation.

Research Questions The approach used to conceptualize the research question was informed by actual public discourses and struggles for culture and education in post-independent Zimbabwe and existing perspectives on the relationship among education, culture, and politics in Zimbabwe. The research attempts to answer the following questions: How have urban versus rural educational reforms helped in forming a national cultural identity in postindependent Zimbabwe? What does the process of educational reconstruction in Zimbabwe tell us about the politics of transition?

Urban Education Reforms vs. Rural Education Reforms in Zimbabwe At independence in 1980, the government set to increase enrolment of students in both urban and rural areas so as to achieve universal primary education (UPE) for those who had been denied access during the colonial period. Even adults attended literacy classes in the evening. Primary education was free and secondary education was subsidized for those who wanted to attended post-primary education in both urban areas and rural areas. Urban areas in Zimbabwe include the capital Harare, Bulawayo, Bindura, Gweru, Mutare, Kwe Kwe, Chitungwiza, Chegutu, Marondera, Masvingo, Kadoma, Chinhoyi, and other smaller locations. There were, however, discrepancies and inequalities in terms of reforms in poor urban and rural areas as compared to rich urban areas and rich semi-urban areas. In rural areas, where schools were built to expedite increased enrolment, there was a shortage of books, many of the teachers were untrained, and some students had to walk



long distances to the schools they attended. Living conditions for teachers were also poor and unattractive. Secondary schooling in the rural areas became a conduit for youths to migrate to urban areas. In poor urban areas, the schools were over-enrolled and had to use the hot-seating system (double shifts) to accommodate the increasing numbers of students. Books were in short supply and because of the shifting system, students did not have adequate time to use the poorly equipped libraries. The education system in Zimbabwe was hailed as being among the best in Africa by 1990. The national literacy rate was over 85%. Zimbabwe appeared to be a nation of teachers and learners. However, this expansion in access to education was not matched with expansion of the economy. As a result, many graduates from secondary schools were not absorbed by industry. Rural pupils migrated to towns and cities to look for jobs. By 1991, the government had introduced the Economic Structural Adjustment Program (ESAP) to recover costs of the free education and health that the government had subsidized since independence. With the various crises in Zimbabwe since the year 2000, there have been considerable numbers of graduates leaving the country because they could not find productive employment and there is seen to be a lack of commitment by the government to maintain the standards in education. Wealthier schools in both rural and urban areas are better kept and able to pay professional bookkeepers and keep track of revenues and expenditures. Poorer schools, conversely, with fewer well-educated parents, experience high levels of fraud and corruption in the running of their schools. Overall, however, the formally colonial, exclusive and selective system has been transformed into a somewhat more open system in which quantitative expansion is the main goal. There have also been attempts at integration of formerly white schools to accommodate all races in the country. However, many of these schools remain expensive for the majority of Africans and only a few African parents can afford the fees. These schools maintain their elitist values and interests by charging prohibitive fees and levies that are out of reach for poor African parents. The main difference between urban schools and rural schools is seen to be that urban schools received more attention from the national government in terms of funding, while issues such as curriculum and examinations remain the same throughout the country. Thus, urban areas are no more Zimbabwean in terms of national identity, but tend to be the loci of developments in the country. One possible result of this neglect is that some urban schools have “rebelled” against the government by supporting (and where possible) voting for the main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). In rural areas, where the government has imposed controls over newspapers and other primary media, people have little access to information outside the propaganda of the ruling party. Government militias have at various times banned the independent newspapers that have long been sold in rural areas. The ruling party has turned rural Zimbabwe into “no go” territory for the political opposition. Teachers in rural areas have been blamed for teaching opposition “politics” to students, and been victimized by the militias. This has contributed to an exodus to nearby towns, while some rural Zimbabweans have even left for opportunities in neighboring countries, and within the broader Zimbabwean diaspora.

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Education and Development in Zimbabwe According to Moyo, Makumbe, and Raftopolous (2000, p. xiii): after Zimbabwean independence, there was the search for a common national identity for indigenous development policy frameworks and the perceived need to mobilize the Zimbabwean society for the development of the new and emerging nation. Cheru (2002, p. 64) argues that: Education is the cornerstone of human development in every society. A sound development strategy aimed at promoting economic development, democracy and social justice must be fully cognizant of human resource development … … . Development is about people: their physical health, moral integrity and intellectual awareness. Through education, people become aware of their environment and of the social and economic options available to them The idea of the nation, according to Bhabha (1990) is the epithet commonly used to express the “authenticity” of cultural location. National identities are expected to arise from ceremonies and practices that draw citizens into the national sphere. Individuals acquire consciousness at the same time as they acquire the national language, an education and other cultural resources. The most significant proposals for change in postindependent Zimbabwe focused on the massification and nationalization of the educational system. The post-independent government of Zimbabwe centered issues of nation-building and reconstruction within the institution of education. It was felt that that the education system was a convenient institution to build a new national culture and identity to suit the new political environment. An essay entitled “Education and African Modernities,” published by the African Studies Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2002, p. 2), summarizes how central education was to the issue of nation-building in the immediate post-independent Africa: At the center of it all was education, seen as a vehicle for intellectual enlightenment, social engineering, cultural production, and political participation. Thus, education as a process and project through which social and cultural capital is acquired and reproduced, and the nation and the world are productively imagined, has dominated African discourses about development, nationalism, and globalization for a long time. At independence, virtually all African governments put great stock in education as one of the engines of social transformation, economic development, and nation-building. ( 03-04.htm) In Zimbabwe, the government saw education as one of the most useful means of restoring the lost connections with the past, along with the purpose and civic possibility



which had not been possible in the colonial system. Education reform meant transforming the colonial curriculum and replacing it with one that had a Zimbabwean cultural content and orientation. In the mid 1980s to late 1990s, Zimbabwe was hailed as having better access to schools and a higher literacy rate than most African countries. In independent Zimbabwe, anti-colonial nationalism eventually resulted in the replacement of a Western, colonial ruling class with a Western-educated, “indigenous” ruling class who claim to speak on behalf of the people but seem to function in ways that disempower the people. Representations of nationalist struggle in Zimbabwe tend to celebrate the inspirational activities of individual members of the elite and not recognize the role played by less privileged individuals or groups in resisting colonial rule. Historical, particularly divisive criteria have been used as a means of manufacturing national consent and “unity,” criteria based upon ideas of ethnic, racial and geographical exclusivity. While this has rewarded some people with trappings of power, others have found themselves restricted from positions of authority and condemned as second-class citizens. Regions that show little support for President Robert Mugabe’s party receive little in terms of development and access to the national fiscal policy. Education had been seen by the colonial government in Zimbabwe as a dangerous tool in the hands of Africans. The colonial system of education limited the amount, content, and quality of education that the local population could obtain to fit into the needs of the colonial administration. At independence, the new government of Zimbabwe put a lot of effort into educational reform and innovation. It attempted to create a “Zimbabwean identity” by reforming the education system to meet local needs and the Zimbabwean cultural context. Schools and streets that bore colonial names were changed and named after African “heroes.” External examinations1 in most schools were eventually replaced with locally created examinations, because, according to the authorities, the external examinations did not reflect a Zimbabwean context and identity. Indigenous languages were elevated to the level of national languages, even as English remains the official language. Thus, the contest of what it means to be Zimbabwean has become a matter of cultural politics. In this context, cultural politics is not only about what counts as official knowledge but also about the resources that are employed to challenge existing relations, to defend any counter-hegemonic forms that may exist, or to bring new such forms into existence. In their continuous struggles against the dominant projects of nation building, development, and repression, people in urban post-colonial Zimbabwe have mobilized collectively on the grounds of very different sets of meanings and stakes against a dominant and oppressive system. Parents in urban areas have resisted the government’s intention to control the school fees that should be paid in both private and government-run. Urban areas in Zimbabwe have become sites and terrains of struggle and contestation against the excesses of the government and leadership over how the public sphere should operate (Raftopolous & Yoshikuni, 1999). In rural areas, there have been resistance to the government’s control over education but this has been very minimal and limited as a result of the ruling party’s grip in those areas.

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Politics and Educational Reforms Paulo Freire, in his Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2000) and The Politics of Education (1985) sees learning as a political act and describes people struggling for learning and learning from struggles in many places around the world. For Freire, politics is about power, it is about taking sides, and making decisions which often favor one’s constituency, class, or group. Freire saw powerless people being excluded from and made invisible in mainstream educational histories. Socially dominant groups create situations, in which even where there are compromises and accords to include the less powerful, they are the beneficiaries of any such concessions. To Freire, viewing education as a neutral entity is a contradiction in terms: First, education is a political act, whether at the university, high school, primary school, or adult literacy classroom. Why? Because the very nature of education has the inherent qualities to be political, as indeed politics has educational aspects. In other words, an educational act has a political nature and a political act has an educational nature. If this is generally so, it would be incorrect to say that Latin American education alone has a political nature. Education worldwide is political by nature. (Freire in Segarra & Dobles, 1999, p. iv) Freire’s argument is that education and politics feed on each other. The way curricula are designed is political in the sense that certain material is selected that has to be taught to preserve the values and interests of certain groups. The construction of knowledge is never neutral and the circulation of knowledge is part of the social distribution of power in society (Fiske in Apple, 2000, p. 42). Limage (2001) argues that education is neither neutral nor separate from the polity because schools are non-neutral and political. According to Sylvester (1991), for most of the 1980s, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANUPF) provided the most important broad framework for political and social organization in Zimbabwe. Educational reform in a ZANU-PF controlled, post-independence Zimbabwe must be interpreted against the social, political and educational policies of the former Rhodesia. Segregation between whites and Africans formed the basis of the economy, social order and consequently of providing education. Moyana (1989, p. 8) posits that the value system of African education in colonial Rhodesia was designed to complement the socio-economic imperatives of white domination. Its emphasis on Christian values and devotion to manual labor, on habits of discipline, neatness and punctuality and insistence on things British and alien to the indigenous child’s experience were all intended to process, out of an African, a docile set of loyal laborers as well as a loyal middle-class. This kind of cultural invasion inevitably leads to an increased cultural “unauthenticity” of those invaded. Thus the education provided for Africans, whether in urban or rural environments, was inferior to that for whites and was aimed at producing a humble and subservient student who could serve the colonial system and entrench the privileged position of whites.



At the time of its relatively late political independence in 1980, it was thought that Zimbabwe, having seen the post-colonial experiences in the majority of African countries that had achieved their political independence in the period from 1957– 1975, might be able to avoid some of the pitfalls of these other countries’ experiences of educational development. For instance, it was hoped that the quantitative expansion necessary to meet the demands of mass education could be married to the high quality of what had been an elite educational system, particularly in the urban areas. Additionally, some saw the promise of transferring nascent, socialist educational practices from the ZANU-PF and other camps in Mozambique to a new, mass Zimbabwean education system. The successive colonial governments had used restricted access to education as a means to marginalize the majority black population in economic activities. There was a general belief that increasing access to educational facilities would open opportunities that would lead to an improvement in the livelihoods of the majority of the population. The rate of educational expansion that was embarked on by the new Zimbabwean government in the 1980’s was ranked as one of the highest in the world. According to the statistics cited from the Parliamentary debates of August 1983 by Mungazi (1993, p. 173): by 1983, only three years after it had achieved independence, Zimbabwe, had a total school enrolment of 2.4 million students out of a population of 7.1 million, which meant that the government was educating more than 33% of its citizens. A top government official echoed these sentiments in an interview, A lot of Zimbabweans were denied access to education during the colonial period. Only a few were educated to serve the colonial system. Now that Zimbabwe is independent, we are saying, here is your chance. And we proved it. It is not that the government can not provide employment for all those who finish school, but that we produced so many graduates in a short period. (Transcript of Interview, July 18, 2002) The Zimbabwean government was concerned first with offering access to education to those who had been denied in the past rather than matching enrolment and maintaining quality. This shows the ambitious commitment the government had towards educational expansion and access to the Zimbabwean people who were denied education as a result of the segregationist policies of the colonial system. While the excitement that characterized this independence-era euphoria and enthusiasm is understandable, it was sobered by financial limitations and the inadequacy of economic growth. Mungazi (1993) says that the reality of the situation was that in order to expand access to secondary education, the government had to borrow money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and to heavily recruit expatriate teachers. This need was exacerbated by the unexpected economic difficulties resulting from an extended drought that impacted Zimbabwe and other countries of Southern Africa for several years starting in 1981.

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The new developments, especially de-linking the colonizer-colonized relationship, helped to explain the correlation between political independence and educational reform in that most educational policies were towing the ruling party agenda of matching Zimbabwean culture with educational innovation. It was a quest to achieve a new national identity through educational innovation in which the recognition of the Zimbabwean national culture in the curricula was sine qua non to the realization of this new dispensation. Mungazi and Walker (1997) argue that the Zimbabwean government also recognized that the diversity of the educational program, the relevance of the educational curriculum to the Zimbabwean context, and the utilization of the best resources possible, all combined to meet the needs of individual learners while giving new meaning and direction to the purpose of a new nation and national identity. Mungazi further states that when an individual is given an opportunity to learn according to his/her interest and talent, there emerges a fulfillment of life, a satisfaction, and a yearning to produce what the country needs thus helping to create a truly liberated society. For Mungazi, this is where literacy becomes important to national purpose and justifies the government’s efforts to eradicate adult illiteracy in the formative years of independence. As a matter of strategy, the government launched the adult literacy campaign in Zimbabwean villages in conjunction with the development of the primary schools and secondary schools with a curricula that emphasized “Education with Production” (Chung & Ngara, 1985). This program would be widely misunderstood and variously interpreted in different schools and colleges, and universally resented by teachers, pupils, parents and administrators. The main focus of educational change in post-independent Zimbabwe was designed to help the individual recognize himself/herself as the most important factor of national development and also as a way of attaining self-actualization and national identity (Mungazi & Walker, 1997). Education was seen as promoting a new cultural enrichment, which is a product of a national pride which surfaces from a deep sense of self-worth that education can bring about. Memmi (1965, p. 129), in his work, The Colonizer and the Colonized, argues that, for the recently colonized “the important thing to do is to rebuild, to reform, to communicate, and to belong” as a fulfillment of themselves. It is this definition and conception of liberation, both political and mental, which gives birth to a new society, a true symbol and a manifestation of the search for a new social system. In the quest for educational reform along cultural lines and as an embodiment of independence, the Zimbabwean government has been attempting to launch a new cultural and social revolution which required the reconstructing of the total society by utilizing the knowledge that Zimbabwean people must cling to their own cultural traditions which make it possible for them to reject the educational practices of their erstwhile colonizer. The rigidity which Zimbabwean politicians cited as the injustice of the colonial educational system did not disappear under the new ZANU-PF government. This became one of the major problems faced by Zimbabwe during the first years of its independence, and one that will likely to remain in place for some time to come. In the thrust for educational innovation, Zimbabwe’s new government had hoped that it was introducing a system of education that would inspire citizens with confidence for the future, a



system that would seek to resolve the conflict that often existed between the learner and the school during the colonial period. But public examinations, which had become a hot political issue during the colonial period, remained in practice after Zimbabwe became independent. Thus, as during the colonial period, all schools in Zimbabwe took the same examinations regardless of their local value systems and structures. Mungazi (1993) states that, in 1983, the Zimbabwean government announced its intention to redesign a national syllabus that would be in tune with its national development plans. The government felt that the reform was necessary because the entire system of education inherited in 1980 remained a colonial imposition. The mammoth task was meant to eradicate the colonial nature of the education system and rebuild to suit the aspirations of the new Zimbabwean nation. This was the Zimbabwean government’s definition of national liberation. This effort would liberate Zimbabwe from the educational chains of its colonial past, advance the country progressively towards the future, and develop its full human and national potential, such that all citizens would be able to demonstrate an understanding of the benefits and importance of equality of educational opportunity in all its aspects. Ndabaningi Sithole, founding father of African nationalist movement in Zimbabwe, during an interview with Mungazi, said that “Education provides an individual a mechanism of articulation and self-expression. It gives one a wider scope, a depth to one’s thinking, a comprehensive grasp of who one is (identity) and the problems that one faces. Adjustment to a new social and political is impossible without educational innovation.” In this sense, education becomes an act of national culture (Cabral, 1970). The resulting school system in Zimbabwe is centralized, and with the establishment of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC), all examinations are to be conducted by this board and all foreign examinations have to be abolished. According to a former director of ZIMSEC, the Council was set up to reform the Zimbabwean educational system in terms of localizing the schools examinations which had been done in colonial times by the University of Cambridge Examinations Syndicate. While economic reasons are given in partial explanation of the change, the former director said political decisions were largely behind the change: Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) was set up as an examination authority in order to localize exams in this country. What had happened was that the curriculum which we inherited from the colonial period was gradually changed at independence to reflect local conditions, in other words, more relevant to an independent country like Zimbabwe. Therefore the body to run examinations and curriculum had to be set. So ZIMSEC was set up. Clearly ZIMSEC could not have the skills- examinations skills-so we entered into an arrangement with Cambridge who have been … examining here to train our people in the skills of testing our own curriculum. (Transcript of Interview, Harare, Zimbabwe, July 16, 2002) Since the establishment of ZIMSEC there have been numerous reports about examination leaks and thefts of examination papers which led at one time to the resignation of one Minister of Education when his daughter was found in possession of exam

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questions which were yet to be written. The Ministry of Education in Zimbabwe (1992) emphasized that Zimbabwean schools should teach Zimbabwean content and Zimbabwean history. Zimbabwean history has been made a compulsory subject, with students, interestingly, being made to read books written by the very Minister invoking the changes. Thus we see those in power defining official and legitimate knowledge. Schools remain the site of numerous contests over community and societal values and priorities. The revamped Zimbabwean curricular content’s exclusion of other, non-privileged voices serves to legitimate and sustain a group’s or class’s interests or views by having the schools endorse and transmit them via curriculum policy and practice. The question of what knowledge is most worth is not only an educational issue, but also overtly ideological and political. The curricula in Zimbabwe have never been a neutral collection of knowledge, somehow appearing in the texts and classrooms of a nation. Apple (1996) argues that curriculum was always part of a selective tradition, someone’s selection, some group’s vision of legitimate knowledge. It was produced out of the cultural, political, and economic conflicts, tensions, and compromises that organize and disorganize a people. The selection and organization of knowledge for schools in Zimbabwe is an ideological process, one that serves the interests of particular classes and social groups. According to Apple (1996), the differential power intrudes into the very heart of curriculum, teaching and evaluation. What counts as knowledge, the ways in which it is organized, who is empowered to teach it, are part and parcel of how dominance and subordination are reproduced and altered in society. Sylvester (1991) aptly sums up the contradictions and dilemmas facing Zimbabwe in its efforts at national transformation: Zimbabweans are experiencing pressures to assert and at times to invent cultural authenticity through ethnic identification, traditional religion, racial politics, and artistic themes. Ironically, this is an aspect of modernity’s engulfment of difference by submerging it in a discourse of integration, unity, and commonality. Yet positions in between and marginal to old and new also struggle for space in Zimbabwe’s inherited matrix of identities, as does a state that is itself multicentered and cross-pressured (160). The legacy of the war for national liberation in Zimbabwe had established an uneven support and “imagined” pattern of support from and control over the African population in post-independence Zimbabwe. The first order of business was therefore not only to “Africanize” the state, in terms of personnel, a task which was largely completed after the first 5 years of independence (Moyo et al., 2000), but also to extend the breadth of its control, not only to confirm existing support but to dominate areas of opposition and uncertainty. The expansion of educational facilities in Zimbabwe combined with the announcement of the establishment of a one-party state was the most concerted attempt to establish and extend control by the state. With the ensuing state control over electronic media, especially radio transmission, space for alternative political perspectives became extremely limited by the late 1980s. To the extent that radio is one means of educating rural people, and since most of the rural population



receive much of their information through the radio and the issuing of licenses is done by the Department of Information in the President’s Office, ever more control over education powers is held by central government authorities.

Conclusion and Findings The institution of education was used by the government of Zimbabwe as a starting point and site of departure for defining the postcolonial Zimbabwean culture and condition. The idea of a Zimbabwean national culture was a way of legitimizing the political leadership’s continued stay in power. Official discourse in post-colonial Zimbabwe has exalted a virtually mythic “national culture” kept alive by the inflamed rhetoric of politicians and the attendant establishment of national institutions like the Zimbabwe War Veterans Association and the National Service Training Centers where the Zimbabwean youth are taught “nationalism” and “patriotism.” Designed to organize and disseminate national culture through civic education, these “institutions of terror” have actually done nothing more than manage violence and force people to vote for the ruling party. The graduates from the National Service Training Centers have been used by the ruling party as militias and foot soldiers in urban centers to harass people who are seen as supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Teachers have been punished for teaching “politics” to students and not confining themselves to the national curriculum. Zimbabwe has become a political laboratory and battlefield where systematic repression legitimizes a culture of violence and selectively protects or give immunity to those who prop up the ruling regime. The myth of prosperity and the image of Zimbabwe as “a land of milk and honey” fostered after independence contributed to the government’s increasing rigidity and further strengthened its reflex to shut down thought, debate and dialogue on issues of national transformation. The attainment of independence in 1980 has failed to improve the living conditions of Zimbabweans, and the population exhibits a clear loss of confidence in the idea of the state and hence a lack of interest in the official cultural discourse. They however still want to belong to political parties. People distinguish themselves politically by the political discourse, either defending the establishment or supporting the emergent opposition. The education system in Zimbabwe used to be among Africa’s finest and similarly, used to constitute one of President Robert Mugabe’s greatest achievements. Even into the late 1990s, Zimbabwe had a higher percentage of literate people than any other country on the African continent. According to the UN, as recently as 2000, 90% of young Zimbabwean children went to primary school. Again, the highest attendance in Africa. But today, only a few years later, after evermore repressive government practice, schools are in crisis, the economy in collapse, and political interference by centralized government is seen to be having a devastating impact. Separating the politics of education from the politics of the larger society is not all that useful in the Zimbabwean context. The politics of the society spill over into the schools and manifest in the choices made by parents regarding where to send their children. Zimbabwe’s political leadership has taken its hard fought, 1980-era nationalist

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legacy as an ongoing license to privatize the national interest, defining it in terms of the interests of the governing rather than the governed. The government of Zimbabwe has replaced a white autocracy with a black autocracy. The attack on shanty towns and homeless people in June 2005, which was condemned by the United Nations, left many urban children displaced and out of school. In addition, those in the semi-urban areas have been affected by the chaotic land reform programs that also enrich those in power. The Zimbabwean government has developed an almost pathological drive towards cultural conformity in a society that is culturally heterogeneous. Such an obsession with a common culture becomes synonymous with the idea of one people, one nation and with the integrity of national identity itself. The critique of a single definition of culture and single public sphere by residents of Zimbabwean urban areas holds significance as it undermines any rigid notions of what culture is and what the public sphere mean when they speak out. The fragmented, decentered, multiple identities that constitute urban Zimbabwe might well be construed as living proof of the end of the government’s “imagined” single and common culture. The contesting forces, according to Said (1993, p. xxv), “is between advocates of a unitary identity and those who see the whole as a complex but not reductively unified one.” Said further states that as a result of imperial history, all cultures are involved in one another, none is single and pure, all are hybrid, heterogeneous, extraordinarily differentiated, and non-monolithic. Zimbabwe is a post-colonial nation seeking to come to terms with its own identity. It is a country full of ambivalence and dilemmas whose people continue to seek to identify their own culture(s). The need to reclaim and celebrate a culture denigrated by colonialism was at the heart of the nationalism that led to the fight for independence in Zimbabwe. At independence in 1980, this nationalism was used to forge a new Zimbabwean national identity and the nation sought reconstruction not only to survive but also to re-imagine and reconfigure its past. Said (1993, p. 50) notes that, “nationalism is an assertion of belonging to a place, a people, a heritage. It affirms the home created by a community of language, culture, and customs.” Thus nationalism was seen as an important means to attain unity and became a central part of the dictum of a new Zimbabwean national thought which assumed that homogenization of diverse ethnic and racial groups would occur with the nationalization project of nation-building. The educational system had to transmit a homogeneous perception of the cultural, social and political character of a new Zimbabwean nation. For the achievement of such a purpose teachers had to be trained in such a way that they would be capable of evaluating and promoting the sense of nationality, and encouraging the knowledge, the respect and the love for the country and its history, traditions and culture. This, in the end, might help to explain why the Zimbabwean leadership under Robert Mugabe, has been using the state apparatus to coercive hegemony to retain control of public institutions including the schools and discouraging teachers to teach “politics” in the classroom. The nation-state serves as a powerful model for configuring identity through its idioms of political representation and citizenship and through its organs, be they administrative, legal or educational systems. These systems project ground rules for the negotiation of identities and entitlements, of representation and legitimacy. This



provides an avenue for the expression and appropriation of identities and has constrained the space in which negotiation and evasion of identities took place, with institutional implications for public life and ideas. The nationalized curriculum in Zimbabwe legitimates inequality in that it creates an illusion of a “mythic national culture,” that whatever the massive differences between elite schools and poor urban and rural schools, they all have something in common. They are supposedly all equal culturally, because they have a “common culture and a common curriculum.” This was meant to disguise the differences between the rich elite who had benefited from the “national cake” and the poor, who fought the struggle but were denied the proceeds of the victory in the struggle. Education was and remains a political subject, a matter of access to political power (or closure from that power) at all levels, from the primary school to university. Nationalizing culture through teaching and learning makes education an instrument of assimilation, normalization and class stratification.

Notes 1. In the Zimbabwean case, external examinations were most often created in Britain, and shipped out to Zimbabwe, and other former British colonies in Africa and elsewhere.

References Apple, M. W. (1996). Cultural politics and education. New York: Teachers College Press. Bhabha, H. K. (Ed.). (1990). Nation and narration. London, New York: Routledge. Cabral, A. (1970). National liberation and culture. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press. Carnoy, M., & Samoff, J. (1991). Education and social transition in the Third World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Cheru, F. (2002). African renaissance: Roadmaps to the challenge of globalization. London, New York: Zed Books. Chung, F., & Ngara, E. (1985). Socialism, education and development: A challenge to Zimbabwe. Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House. Education and African Modernities. Retrieved December 23, 2005, from postdoc/postdoc03–04.htm Freire, P. (1985). The politics of education: Culture, power, and liberation. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey. Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Limage, L. J. (2001). Democratizing education and educating democratic citizens: International and historical perspectives. New York: Routledge Falmer. Moyana, T. (1989). Education, liberation and the creative act. Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House. Moyo, S., Makumbe, J., & Raftopolous, B. (2000). NGOs, the state, and politics in Zimbabwe. Belgravia, Harare, Zimbabwe: SAPES Books. Mungazi, D. (1993). Educational policy and national character: Africa, Japan, the United States, and the Soviet Union. Westport, CT: Praeger. Mungazi, D., & Walker, L. K. (1997). Educational reform and the transformation of Southern Africa. Westport, CT: Praeger. Nherera, C. M. (2000). Globalization, qualifications and livelihoods: The case of Zimbabwe. Assessment in Education Principles, Policy and Practice, 7(3), 335–362(28).

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Radcliffe, S., & Westwood, S. (1996). Remaking the nation: Place, identity and politics in Latin America. London & New York: Routledge. Raftopolous, B. (1996). Zimbabwe: Race and nationalism in a post-colonial state. Harare: Sapes Books. Raftopolous, B., & Yoshikuni, T. (1999). Sites of struggle: Essays in Zimbabwe’s urban history. Harare: Weaver Press. Said, E. W. (1993). Culture and imperialism. New York: Vintage Books. Segarra, J. A., & Dobles, R. (1999). Learning as a political act: Struggles for learning and learning from struggles. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Educational Review Series No.33. Sylvester, C. (1991). Zimbabwe: The terrain of contradictory development. Boulder, CO: Westview Press; London: Dartmouth. Zimbabwe, Ministry of Education and Culture. (1992). Development of education, 1988–1992: National report of Zimbabwe. Harare: Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Higher Education.


Introduction As schools age, their sites and built environments become palimpsests imprinted and overprinted with traces, shifts, removals, and additions from each subsequent social era. In cities, the story of an urban formation’s waxing and waning is mirrored in the fortunes of its schools and can be read off their collective histories. Even the peculiar racial, cultural, and economic politics of South African cities, from the colonial period to the post-apartheid present, are inscribed in school built environments, with each school’s location still articulating a history of center-periphery advantage, marginality, and discrimination, despite endeavors to ameliorate the inequalities of the past. This understanding underpins my study of schools in South Africa’s second largest city, Durban, or eThekwini, as it is known in the more widely spoken local language of isiZulu.1 The French social theorist, Henri Lefebvre (1991, p. 54) has asserted that “a revolution that does not produce a new space has not realized its full potential.” This implies that the social space of city and school is reworked continually as social relations evolve from what was there before. Lefebvre has also contended that simultaneously urban development constitutes relations of center-periphery tensions that yield social difference and diversity (Lefebvre, 1991, 1996). These propositions about urban formation and social space are the theoretical horizon for this work and frame my exploration of city schools as inseparable from the geo-political history of their locale. Urban schools are nested in areas comprising a heterogeneous population of the poor and middle classes and many cultural and linguistic groups (Massey, Allen, & Pile, 1999). By serving the educational needs of the diverse residents, a city gives its schools defining characteristics that render these schools different from those of other cities. Notwithstanding this influence, schools affect city life through the rhythms of school terms, the start and end of each day’s lessons that show in the patterns of traffic flow, and in the ethos and activities of the school. City schools, too, are a special type of consumer, drawing on the various utilities and specialist services in the city such as museums, libraries, 91 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 91–114. © 2007 Springer.



recreational areas and public transport. But the relationship of school and city is largely one of supply and demand: the city as an urban center of trade and industry requires schools for the education of citizens’ children and for preparing the next generation of managers and workers, and – at the risk of being overly reductionist – schools meet these (re)productive ends (Apple, 1995; McLaren, 1995; Ranson, 1994; Teese, 1997). In this paper I show how public schools in Durban/eThekwini were harnessed to the evolving political project of the South African city in colonial, segregated and apartheid eras, and that this continues in the political dispensation of democracy. I present an account of how the schools were originally established in a particular area and then developed to respond spatially in subsequent periods as the city changed politically and economically.

The City of Durban/eThekwini Several years into the twenty-first century, the city of Durban/eThekwini is a rapidly expanding polycentric conurbation on the eastern coast of South Africa. It is a distinctive South African city in terms of its population, culture and built environment. Durban’s population is estimated to be more than 3 million comprising roughly 60% blacks, 21% Indians, 11% whites and the remainder being colored and other groups (Corporate Policy Unit, 2004, p. 1).2 Durban is home to most of South Africa’s Indian population, infusing the city with an Asian cultural orientation. The white community differs from many other parts of South Africa by being almost totally English-speaking, a legacy of the city’s British history as part of the former colony of Natal. In the 1990s Durban’s built environment was increasingly defined by a creeping “squatterscape” (Beavon, 1992) that outstripped such trends in all South Africa’s other cities (McCarthy & Bernstein, 1996). Thus, by 2000, almost two thirds of all Durban households lived in informal settlement shacks (Durban Metro Urban Strategy Department, 2000). Vast development of low-cost housing across the expanded area administered by the new eThekwini Municipality has stopped this trend and given thousands of such households access to land tenure, basic utilities, and services such as public schooling (Corporate Policy Unit, 2004). The naming of this place reflects a checkered history. Portuguese and Dutch sailors referred to this area as Port Natal until European settlers named their settlement Durban, after Sir Benjamin D’Urban, in the nineteenth century. However, the black isiZulu-speaking community has always referred to this locale as eThekwini. This latter name derives from itheku, referring to the horns of a bull, as seen in the curvature of the bay (UniCity Committee Durban, 2000, p. 4). The large polycentric local government, established in 2000, now officially is named eThekwini. It encompasses a vast rural periphery with Africa’s busiest port city of Durban at its center.

Methodological Issues In this chapter I use six schools in Durban/eThekwini to illuminate the relational development of the city and school, and to show how schools reflect political trajectories of their locale even when a local government does not administer them. My argument is

Reforming the City School in South Africa


based on an amalgam of data collected in 1999–2000, comprising memory accounts from eight selected adults who attended such schools in their youth, and now teaching at these schools (see Figure 1), photographs taken by learners at each school and during my visits to the school sites, personal communications with significant role players such as a school administrator and an architect, as well as school documents such as yearbooks.3 The six schools (see Table 1) were selected on the basis of the former race-based education authorities that administered them prior to 1994, that is, Natal Education Department – for whites (Heather Primary and Centenary High, the latter being a school for girls only); House of Delegates – for Indians (Maximus Primary and Highway Secondary); and Department of Education and Training – for blacks living in urban areas and outside bantustan/homeland territories (Khayalihle Primary).4 The sixth school, Simunye Secondary, was built and opened after South Africa adopted democracy in 1994. In their geographic location and relation to the harbor and city center, the school case studies lay bare the unfolding history of the city. The colonial era school, Centenary High, stands as a large beacon in a leafy middle class suburb overlooking the harbor. Four other schools (Highway Secondary, Heather Primary, Maximus Primary, and

Figure 1. Map of Durban/eThekwini outer boundaries in 2000, and showing the location of the six selected schools



Table 1.

Description summary of selected schools

School name

Opened in

Former dept.*

Primary/ Secondary

Residential zoning

Distinguishing features



NED (white)




HOD (Indian)




DET (black)


Middle class suburb Middle class suburb Working class township with squatters



NED (white)




HOD (Indian)




Not applicable


Desegregated; coeducational Desegregated; coeducational Racially homogenous but formally desegregated; coeducational Girls only; desegregated Desegregated; coeducational academic & technical curriculum Racially homogenous but formally desegregated; coeducational

Middle class suburb Semi-industrial/ working class

Working class development area with squatters

* This column refers to the race-based apartheid education authorities i.e. Natal Education Department (NED), House of Delegates (HOD), and the Department of Education and Training (DET).

Khayalihle Primary) that were established during the apartheid era, fall neatly within the apartheid city pattern in that the former white school is close to the city center, the two former Indian schools lie to the south of the city adjacent to industrial areas, and the fifth black school is furthest away from the center in a distant area that is a formal township interspersed with informal settlement homesteads. The sixth post-apartheid school, Simunye Secondary, lies about 2 km from the white schools, and is part of a large postapartheid urban renewal and planning project that serves a community of black working class and urban poor.

The Colonial and Segregated City School Durban’s colonial past iterates the infamous land scramble by European masters and erasure of an earlier history when Zulu kings would come to bathe on the lagoon verges, now the Victoria Embankment so named by colonizers after the Thames riverside in London, United Kingdom. Many place names in Durban speak to this colonial legacy. Following unsuccessful attempts in 1688 and 1705 by Simon van der Stel, the Dutch East India Company representative at the Cape of Good Hope, to acquire title deeds to the bay from Zulu chiefs, Durban was permanently settled by Europeans in 1823 after British lieutenants King and Farewell took refuge in the bay (Morrison, 1987, p. 8). In 1835, the colonial settlement was named Durban, taking its name from Sir Benjamin D’Urban, the British governor of the Cape colony at the time.5 Durban’s future as an important commercial harbor and industrial city, however, was assured

Reforming the City School in South Africa


after a harbor engineer was appointed in 1850 and South Africa’s first railway line was laid in 1898. In the 1880s, a few public schools were established to meet the education aspirations of Durban’s settler residents for their children. Centenary High School was one of these and originally it was located on a site near to the harbor. Settler farmers, land owners and religious organizations also established several private boarding schools at this time in Durban as well as country districts of the colony (Morrell, 2001). Most of those colonial era schools were single-sex (and continue to be so in the twenty-first century), and are sought after for their high quality liberal education. In the 1930s Centenary High relocated to its present position in a middle class, predominantly white neighborhood. It represents approximately 120 years of tradition as a single-sex school for girls. Urban historians and town planners (see Lemon, 1991b) have theorized that Durban’s spatial layout followed the model of the “segregated city” for the post-colony period of 1910 leading up to the 1950s. In the “segregated city” model households lived in organized but unlegislated racially homogeneous clusters. Centenary High’s buildings that date from the 1930s comprise symmetrical threestory wings overlooking the harbor city. The colonnaded verandahs, wide corridors and triangular stairwells follow the Art Deco architectural style seen in other government and residential buildings of Durban from that period and was allegedly “meant to affirm the progressive, ‘modern’ outlook of its inhabitants” (Radford, 2002, pp. 47, 49). The wings housed classrooms, reception and administration offices, a staff room, well-stocked library, and an elevator (exceptional for public and privately funded schools from that era). Behind the wings stands a large school hall, equipped for theatre productions and surrounded by colonnaded verandas, with a fully equipped gymnasium on the floor above. Outdoor sports facilities comprise a swimming pool, several tennis courts and a hockey/athletics field. The generous spaciousness and variety of facilities in this public school indicates the privileged yet classical education ambitions that white English-speaking settlers held for their daughters in the first half of the twentieth century. These spanned both intellectual and scientific endeavors as well as sporting prowess. There is a foundation stone near the main entrance to the building. Despite the tradition of Centenary High being an English language school and the prime school for English-speaking girls of a British colonial city, the foundation stone text is written in two languages: English and Afrikaans.6 It states that: This stone was laid by the honourable H. G[-] W[-] I.S.O. the Administrator of the Province of Natal on 29 September 1937. Hierdie steen is gelˆe deur die edelagbare H. G[-] W[-] I.D.O. Administrateur van die Provinsie Natal op 29 September 1937. The text in English and Afrikaans, being languages spoken among South Africa’s white communities, indicates the exclusive bilingualism that constituted a European linguistic supremacy in the post-colony period and still remains deeply entrenched in South Africa. Bilingualism was enforced later at schools serving all other linguistic



communities through legislation such as the Bantu Education Act of 1953, until Afrikaans in black township schools became an important organizing point for resistance against the apartheid regime, as occurred on June 16, 1976 (Hyslop, 1999, pp. 158–164). Throughout the period of segregation, that is, until 1948, when the Afrikaner dominated Nationalist Party came to power, daughters from Durban’s white families were educated at Centenary High. The tradition of sending the next generation in the family to Centenary High as Durban’s most prestigious public school for young ladies was encouraged through the formation of an alumni association. The “Old Girls Club” assisted in fund-raising for the development of the school and groomed the school girls to provide charitable community service.

The Apartheid City School The trauma of the Anglo-Boer War (now known as the South African War) and peace agreement that established the Union of South Africa, followed by two crippling World Wars, set massive social restructuring into motion throughout South Africa. A key impetus was the rise to power of the Nationalist Party in 1948. Once elected into government, the Nationalist Party set about introducing legislation and implementing a way of life. This social order became known as “apartheid” because of its provisions that forced racially identified groups to live and, as much as possible, work apart. In the same period, stimulated by hysteria during the World War II, concerning the “penetration” of white Durban by the Indian middle class, the white City Council was a prime mover in a combination of slum clearance and urban racial engineering (Lemon, 1991a). More than other South African municipalities, the Durban City Council was fundamental in this process (Freund, 2000, p. 154). After 1948, legislation was passed that proclaimed racially-constructed residential zones, forbade marriage and sexual relations across the racial divide, and prescribed the racial classification of all citizens, amongst other things (Dubow, 1995; Ebr.-Vally, 2001). These developments required the removal of many groups of people into racially-proclaimed and restricted parts of the city and has led to the theorization of the “apartheid city” (Lemon, 1991a). These removals of people consolidated and gave preference to white residential and commercial districts. Thus, in Durban, white communities lived close to the commercial center, harbor and beaches, as well as on the hilly ridges with ocean views and along the Western highway out of the city, while town planning pushed residential areas and townships for “non-white races” to the periphery where they were out of sight from whites and where land was unsuitable for commercial and industrial use. Township residents provided the steady flow of labor for the adjacent industrial development zones that, in addition to rivers, often acted as buffers between white and black residential areas. In the three decades 1920–1950, Durban had experienced dramatic growth in African urbanization (Lemon, 1991a, p. 4). Durban’s whites, however, were less threatened by blacks than they were by Indian residents of the city who were rising in numbers and achieving success in their commercial ventures (Lemon, 1991a, pp. 3, 13–14). By 1950,

Reforming the City School in South Africa


the majority of Durban’s black residents lived in relatively uncontrolled concentrations such as at Cato Manor near the city center. Rioting between blacks and Indians in 1949 exacerbated anxieties among Durban’s whites (Davies, 1991, p. 82) and left a painful legacy in the collective memory of the Indian community (Thiara, 1999, pp. 161–162). Following the proclamation of the Group Areas Act in 1953, which applied to ownership and occupation of property and fixed certain geographic zones for the use of only one racial group, Durban’s City Council rezoned the city’s residential areas along strictly segregated lines in 1958 (Davies, 1991, p. 79). This necessitated appropriating properties and building vast low-income Council housing estates and a few middle class suburbs for Indians, followed by their forced removal to these areas during the 1960s (Figure 2). The townships of KwaMashu to the north and Umlazi to the south of the city were established in 1958 and 1962, respectively (Davies, 1991, p. 82). These developments concentrated and fixed power at the core of center-periphery relations of the apartheid city and the arrangements were also used to justify the legal imposition of segregated education systems (Davies, 1991, pp. 80–81).

Figure 2. Durban: Metropolitan group areas circa 1958 Source: Davies, 1991, p. 80.



There is a swampy river delta that enters the harbor precinct. This is now crossed by a busy corridor that runs from the city center, past the harbor and south to the airport. Nearby is a busy terminal that handles over 80,000 ship containers monthly (Local History Museum & Portnet, 2000, p. 15). The river is canalized to drain the land for industrial use and control flooding (Freund, 2000, p. 151). Although initially the domain of early Indian land-owners outside colonial boundaries of Durban, the area was incorporated in 1932 and became a densely populated and thriving Indian enclave that is described by geographer Dianne Scott (1994) as a “communally constructed space,” partly because the facilities and institutions, including schools, were developed through the vision and social cohesion of kinship and relations of local residents. By the end of the 1950s, over 50,000 residents including fishermen, merchants, artisans and market gardeners, were housed here (Scott, 1994, p. 1). In 1956, Highway Secondary was established by this local community to provide an education for their children, which the government of the day was not adequately serving. Now that a motorway has been built nearby, access to Highway Secondary is via an obscure cul de sac that passes a Hindu shrine. Originally there were several schools built together on adjoining sites. Now these form an untidy sprawl of blocks named A, B, C, and so on, referring to previous schools that were amalgamated to form Highway Secondary, an academic and technical high school that was once the largest Indian school in KwaZulu-Natal province.7 The school’s proud history of serving the local Indian community is evident in a carved school crest and Hindi symbols commemorating the school’s jubilee in 1980. In the 1960s Durban’s white City Council was engaged in zoning of the city for different racial groups. This was linked to implementation of the race-based Group Areas Act, as well as a boom in population growth. Thus, 2 km from Centenary High, a new neighborhood zoned exclusively for whites was established, and Heather Primary was opened to serve the local white community. The name of the neighborhood commemorates the deep valleys between the Northwest Highlands and Grampian Mountains of Scotland, beloved by a nineteenth century settler whose farm had once covered the hills surrounding the school site (Fielden, 1887/1973). In the suburb, roads named after settlers from Scotland also recall this colonial past.8 Although the school was opened in 1961, there is no foundation stone to mark that event.9 The school’s crest, displayed on signage at the main entrance, includes two spikes of Scotch Heather that grows in the valleys of Scotland. The white and green of the heather forms the color base for the school uniform, repeated in green cardigans and blazers, check cotton dresses for girls and striped ties and socks for boys. The approach to the school is from a dangerously undulating through-road, and cottages for elderly descendants from English settlers and a municipal cemetery lie across the road from the school. The parallel rows of red brick classrooms joined together by covered corridors, open yet sheltered from the weather, are tropes of countless other public schools throughout Durban. The wing for Grades 1–3 classes was purpose-built with inter-leading toilet and wash areas and special storerooms for the bulky materials and equipment used in teaching younger learners. In the 1960s, there was a large specially equipped room for teaching girls sewing and cooking, while boys had a workshop

Reforming the City School in South Africa


where they went to learn about carpentry. After some years these rooms lost their gendered curriculum ethos when they were transformed into a library and music room and used by all. The school was also extended with the construction of a school hall and addition of a swimming pool. In 2005 the school undertook further extensive additions.10 In the same decade after Heather Primary was established, the city expanded to the south where it proclaimed huge low-income council housing estates. In these areas near the southern industrial belt and oil refinery, working class Indians were relocated to act as a labor pool and buffer against nearby southern townships that central government had established for black workers (Davies, 1991, p. 80). Ironically, the area was named after a wealthy country estate in England and continued the semiotic link of former colony and empire. At the entrance to the vast council housing estate, the Council laid out a suburb with a shell of roads, shops, schools and religious sites, and residential plots. The latter were earmarked for middle class Indians from whom the Council had appropriated property located in white zones near the center of the city. The central government administrators for Indian education established Maximus Primary as a public school to serve this local neighborhood. One participant in this study of Durban/eThekwini schools was a former pupil of Maximus Primary in the 1970s. She recalled that: [the school] was built so that it [could] service the incoming residents, the new young families that were beginning to reside and build homes in the suburb … with the assistance by the [City] Council … . There was a high level of professional people that had moved in, predominantly teachers, and then lawyers and doctors that had moved into the area. So their kids were coming to the school and there were a few odd families like mine where the parents were not professional but the Council had allocated them property – suppose because they could meet the deposit and meet the payment for that kind of property. My dad was a [supervisor] at the factory at the time when we moved in here. But he had received assistance from his family … . In contrast to the monotony of nearby hills covered by rows of identical terrace houses for working class families, each home in this neighborhood was uniquely designed to serve the needs and aesthetics of the owner. Ashwin Desai (2001, p. 23), a sociologist and social commentator, has asserted that the Council’s placement of an affluent area at the entrance to a low-income area served to hide the poor social conditions resulting from the relocation program. Maximus Primary nestles in a valley between these homes, a Hindu temple and a cluster of local shops. The lower road running along the valley’s marsh, acts as a boundary separating the suburb from an adjacent black working class township. The school principal reported that the community had been involved in selecting the name of Maximus Primary. This signals the high aspirations and inspiration of an Indian middle class community to excel educationally and is reminiscent of a classical liberal education that would have been characteristic of white schooling. The choice of name



may also have signaled the community’s determination to rise above the spatial partition and evictions that were meted out by the white councilors of apartheid-era Durban. Later an administration block was added, comprising a reception foyer and the usual rooms for management and school administration, as well as a staff room, library, music room and tuck shop. Behind this stand the original tiered rows of low red brick classrooms, each row opening onto an open but covered corridor facing away from oncoming southerly weather, with a science laboratory and toilets on the flanks. Washtubs were installed along the terraces adjoining classrooms. The grounds were planted with trees indigenous to the coastal forests that once covered these hills, and the inter-leading corridors were named after these trees. Various outdoor sport facilities with change rooms were laid out for netball, soccer and cricket. By the mid-1970s, the number of white learners increased at Centenary High. This should be understood within the context of political change and independence in Zimbabwe and the former Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique, as whites from those countries moved to South Africa, which still had a white government. The marked increase in enrolment at Centenary High drove the construction of extra classrooms. Two large blocks were built as flanks fronting the 1937-era wings. Built during a period of economic boom and confidence when the political regime consolidated its apartheid system, the late modern minimalist architecture presents to the city a bulkhead of robust resolution and regimen of uniformity. During the 1980s, Durban’s local white politicians and industrialists sought suitable real estate for industrial expansion. As the area of Durban/eThekwini is hilly, land in the vicinity of Highway Secondary became the targeted growth point (Scott, 1994, pp. 2–3). This would have required Highway Secondary’s local residents to be removed – as had happened in the 1960s on a large scale elsewhere in the city. This would have entailed Council appropriation of properties and the relocation of the community, against their will, to another area of Durban. Geographer, Dianne Scott (1994, p. 3), outlines the City Council’s strategy for this southern area at that time: When the racial segregation of space became the purview of the national state with the promulgation of the Group Areas Act [in 1950], the Durban City Council had to rely entirely on planning and technical procedures in order to achieve its goal … [M]any other strategies were implemented to reduce the residential component and character of the area and force residents to relocate either by expropriating their properties or by creating a climate of uncertainty about the future. Also occurring simultaneously with this process was the systematic removal of thousands of Indian families from the shack areas in the surrounding “District” […], by terminating their leases on Council property. This removal process dovetailed with infrastructural developments and the provision of alternative housing in the largescale public housing schemes provided for to accomplish racial segregation via the Group Areas Act. Thus, the resident Indian community around Highway Secondary has the distinction of being among the last to be threatened with forced removal during the apartheid era. With the support of civil society groups the community was successful in resisting

Reforming the City School in South Africa


removal. Though unrelated to those political contests, in the administration wing foyer a commemorative plaque dates from this period, which says: This building was officially opened by the director of Indian education, G[…] K[…] Esq., during the silver jubilee celebration of the [Highway] Secondary School on 30 August 1980. Hierdie gebou is amptelik geopen deur die direkteur van Indieronderwys, Mnr. G[…] K[…], tydens die silwerjubileumherdenking van die [Highway] Sekondere Skool op 30 Augustus 1980. The use of the two official languages of the apartheid era, reference to “Indian education” and name of the officiating white bureaucrat, signal the school’s history of being caught in a contradictory space of segregation and subjugation during the apartheid era. The rapidly expanding apartheid city also located Highway Secondary within an ambiguous transitional and marginal space of the city: at the interstice of industry, commerce, harbor, and neighborhood. The muddle and mayhem of this locale manifests now in Highway Secondary’s amalgamated precinct. The different architectural textures of the classroom blocks, administration wing, and warehouse-like vocational training workshops yield a discordant urban landscape that is either over-exposed to the sun in bare concrete and tarred courtyards, or lost in dimly lit rooms, dark passages and rampant sub-tropical vegetation. Two years after Highway Secondary had celebrated its silver jubilee, Centenary High installed a bell tower overlooking the hockey field. It was to commemorate the school’s centenary in 1982. What is striking is its contrast to the modernity of the 1970s blocks. The bell tower’s stone masonry, matching the original entrance posts at the street, signals the school’s endurance as a significant education institution in the city. Words on the two pillars of the bell tower state that: This bell tower erected by past and present pupils and staff, generously assisted by the Durban City Council, was unveiled by the Mayor of Durban, Councillor Mrs S[…] H[…] on 26th April 1982. “Time lost is never regained.” Erected to commemorate the centenary of [Centenary] Girls High School 1882–1982. Fortiter Fideliter Feliciter. The absence of Afrikaans and the use of English and Latin in this inscription signals a subtle shift in the school’s politics and identity from the era when the 1937 foundation stone was laid. The honorable mention given to a female elected (liberal Jewish) city councilor, rather than a male bureaucrat, such as that from the education authorities in the provincial capital cited in the 1937 foundation stone, suggests that in the intervening years a strong connection had been established between the school and the city’s new liberal politicians. In the 1980s, the city’s liberal politics contrasted with the increasingly ruthless and repressive central government of the apartheid regime. The gender shift, as noted in reading the two plaques, suggests that Centenary High had deepened its gendered identification as a school for girls. The epigram and Latin motto restate the school’s pursuit of a classical liberal education tradition with connections to Europe.



What school provision was there for black children in the apartheid city? A key component of central government’s apartheid planning was the establishment of rural homeland governments or self-governing territories where black communities could govern themselves. These self-governing territories were also intended to reduce the flow of black people moving from rural areas into towns and cities. Nevertheless, in Durban urbanization was not stemmed. Fleeing the poverty and under-development of rural areas and in hope of employment and an improved quality of life, people continued to seek their fortunes in the city, settling informally on the fringes of townships, such as at Inanda, which lay between the city and the KwaZulu homeland territory.11 In the 1970s, the apartheid government had reconstituted the Trust that had jurisdiction over Inanda, renaming it the South African [ex Native] Development Trust (Hughes, 1996, pp. 305–307). The infrastructure in the area was minimal and conditions were reminiscent of rural areas, with many homes built from wooden poles, a mud or cement mix and corrugated iron sheets, with unhygienic pit latrines nearby. In the aftermath of the 1976 township uprisings, South Africa’s largest corporations, fearing further unrest among a discontented black working class, established the Urban Foundation, a development initiative (Urban Foundation, 1981). Collaborative engagements for “orderly urbanization” brought groups like the Urban Foundation and central and local governments together, for the development of new housing schemes on Durban’s northern fringes (Davies, 1991, p. 86). By the 1980s, Durban had grown as a metropolis, with regional and town planners conceiving of the city, its satellite towns and outlying rural areas as a single economic region that deserved coordinated planning (Davies, 1991, pp. 83–84). Thus, in that decade, the Urban Foundation led and funded the planning and development of a section of Inanda. This new township offered prospective homeowners a house built according to established urban building standards and with basic amenities and access to public services, such as clinics and schools. To serve the densely populated area, a cluster of four schools was established atop a hill, one being Khayalihle Primary. The school’s name, meaning “beautiful home,” and school motto, imfundo isisekelo, which means “education is the foundation,” encapsulate the aspirations of planners and occupants for the new houses and the futures of their children. The ideas of early apartheid era township planners help us to understand the way schools were socially constructed to inflect particular center-periphery relations between the city and school: … sites selected for school and hostel buildings affect not only the educational process and the school environment but also the greater area of the surrounding neighbourhood or town. The school is, in fact, a social centre and is an important and integral part of the locality … The site must therefore meet the requirements of the greater town plan, provide the school with a complementary setting and finally supply the children with a satisfactory environment in which to play and learn. (le Roux, Nel, Hulse, & Calderwood, 1956–1957, p. 3) The late apartheid town planning activities of the Urban Foundation continued this early apartheid framework. In its first years, Khayalihle Primary occupied prefab

Reforming the City School in South Africa


premises adjoining its present site, but once buildings were ready in 1985, the institution moved. This was a government primary school administered by the authorities for black education within the white-dominated urban areas of South Africa. Although these authorities had their own architectural plans for their schools, the palmate layout and locally fired red bricks of parallel rows of classrooms and open corridors, with a discrete administration wing is not dissimilar to other primary schools in the city. The foundation stone inside the administration offices states that a senior manager from the Department of Education and Training, Mr. N[…], officially opened the school at the end of 1985. To identify the school to passers-by, the crest was once painted on a wall facing the street, but by 2000 this had deteriorated and faded in the weather. Though special facilities, such as a library and tuck shop, may have appeared on architect’s plans, no such rooms were built at Khayalihle Primary.12 From the outset there were only the most essential facilities at Khayalihle Primary, unlike schools, such as Maximus and Heather Primary Schools, in the city’s white and Indian zoned areas. The conditions at Khayalihle Primary were consistent with the systemic under-funding of black education at a central government level, though the funding was greater than that for rural schools in the adjacent KwaZulu homeland territory. Thus Khayalihle had a purpose-built administration wing, was electrified, and had on-site water and flush toilets. However, compared to Heather Primary and Maximus Primary, at Khayalihle there was no kitchen and only outside wash tubs, the lesson bell had no timer and was rung manually, and two sets of learner toilets had been built so the septic tanks could be rested.13 In some of these infrastructure conditions we see how the apartheid city arrangements of locating black townships peripheral to the city, and at a disadvantage to access the amenities offered in the city, played out in the everyday practices of Khayalihle Primary. To sum up the period of the apartheid city, 1948–1990, the rapid spread of Durban was linked to its political rupture into clearly demarcated racialized areas and its economic expansion. In addition, the city was pressured by an inflow of people seeking refuge from the poverty and under-development associated with rurality and the political uncertainty of black rule in South Africa’s neighboring states. These social forces and trends are paralleled in the establishment of new urban schools that served those removed and newly settled communities, and minimalist township schools to calm a restive black working class. By the 1980s, Durban’s City Council was led by a liberal female mayor although central government was still in the grip of the apartheid regime. These changes and tensions manifested in the contrasting brave-new-world expansionism of the city’s leading school for girls as it sought to accommodate an influx of learners. So, too, the disheveled reconfiguration of the school for Indian learners epitomizes how many schools serving politically marginalized communities were neglected, stressed and strained by a contradictory and, in the late 1980s, embattled political system.

The Post-Apartheid City School Housing shortages became acute in South African cities at the end of the apartheid era when influx controls, which had restricted black people’s access to the city for employment and residence, were abolished. In the early 1990s, the city also began to relax



segregated access to beaches (Davies, 1991, p. 86). The strictly segregated school system began to fracture as Indian schools admitted small numbers of black learners. Then, in 1990, new models of school governance and funding were proclaimed for white schools, ushering in the first stage towards formal desegregation of public schooling (Karlsson, McPherson, & Pampallis, 2001, pp. 145–146). Up until South Africa’s democratic elections in 1994 and the start of transitional local governments, white councilors had controlled Durban. However, after 1994 a non-racial City Council was elected and was dominated by South Africa’s post-apartheid ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC). In 2001, transitional local government arrangements came to an end and the greater Durban region was re-demarcated and named eThekwini after the original isiZulu name for Durban and surrounding areas. Increasingly the name eThekwini is used in business, the media and conversation, with Durban used to signify the developed harbor city and this name is retained where it is more readily recognized, such as in the international arena. In the 1990s many changes occurred in the built environment at Centenary High that required substantial capital investment and which took the school to new heights as one of the city’s prestigious schools. The original wooden gates that had graced the entrance to the school since the 1930s were replaced in 1997–1998 by automated security gates with an intercom and close circuit camera linked to the reception office.14 Then in 1999, a three-story science and career counseling facility following a post-modern architectural style was opened. The wing adjoins the 1937 building and runs alongside the hall to enclose a paved courtyard with palm trees and a drinking fountain reserved for learners in the final grade. A granite plaque commemorating the opening of the wing bears a brass plate of the wing’s three-story profile overprinted with the words: [Centenary] Girls High School The A[…] M[…] Wing Opened 7 May 1999 The wording on this plaque differs significantly from the 1937 foundation stone and 1982 bell tower commemorative inscription. It drops the classical references and excessive wording in the previous plaques and prefers an economical use of language. As with the 1982 centenary inscription there is continuity in the reference to a female leader, A[…] M[…]. However, in the new inscription, the female is not merely an officiating dignitary; she represents the heart and the head of the school: the incumbent principal. This may have provided the school with some political fence-sitting by avoiding any city dignitary from the local government, which had come under the control of the African National Congress. Rather than progressing to recognition of a post-apartheid female (black) leader, the safe choice of the white principal on this commemorative plaque suggests a withdrawal in 1999 into the continuity of institutional history and culture as a school traditionally for white Englishspeaking girls. Further, while the previous inscriptions merely state the names of two dignitaries present at the event, the 1999 plaque assigns the name of the dignitary to the building, thereby fusing the identification of the subject with the new wing (the

Reforming the City School in South Africa


A[…] M[…] Wing is A[…] M[…]) and ensuring such continuity well into future decades. The new science and counseling wing is named after the principal in tribute to her vision of a state-of-the-art science teaching wing that would fully prepare girls to consider scientific careers in the twenty-first century.15 The wing has a science lecture theatre with data projection facilities, and nearby are a fully equipped laboratory with an industrial extractor fan that also serves an interior design aesthetic, and a wellappointed museum-style display of scientific paraphernalia. Another level of the wing houses a career guidance and counseling suite. It includes a carpeted space for larger casual group sessions, a soundproof room for confidential counseling, an office for counselors and a records storeroom. As Centenary High’s built environment has been elaborated over the years and as the post-apartheid political dispensation has brought a new generation of learners commuting from the periphery of the city, spatial practices have been recalibrated in keeping with technological advances and economic dynamics. Yet the gendered schooling for girls and the middle class encoding of quality education remains constant. When viewed from the street and commercial center of Durban, the wealth and weighty physical presence of Centenary High’s spatiality within its showcase of middle class homes, represents a dramatic contrast with the modest township and flimsy informal settlement homes where most of Durban’s population reside. This gives Centenary High a potentially significant position in city-school power relations. However, the school’s inward retreat since 1994, garrisoning itself behind the façade of its own buildings, security walls and locked gates, indicates that the potential to exercise that power positively in the city has not been exploited. Reasons for this might be related to fears about a post-apartheid political dispensation and the ANC-led government’s funding policy of radically reducing non-personnel funds to schools in middle class areas so that previously under-resourced schools serving poor communities will receive higher levels of funding than in the past (Department of Education, 1998). Within this regulatory framework, schools, such as Centenary High are expected to mobilize local community-based funds through enrolment fees and donations, and these sources of funding have been utilized for much of the development in Centenary High’s built environment since 1994.16 In her foreword to the school’s 1999 yearbook, a representational space in which the school showcases its achievements, the principal signaled a confident yet guarded stance that locates the school in the local position on the multi-tiered global–local stage of world history: Established in 1882 [Centenary] Girls High School has responsibly educated the girls of this city for 118 years. This school will move forward into the next decade – century – millenium with confidence. During this century meaningful education continued through two world wars. In the last decade we have coped with the social and educational changes brought about by democratic rule in the Republic of South Africa. Although the principal does not finger any particular tier of government, her reference to the country’s official name suggests that the national rather than local level of city



government is presenting the school with the most challenge. Her phrase of “coping with” conceals the power in the social bulwark being constituted through the school’s spatial arrangements. The defense is for a place that secures middle class privilege, that affords recreation and leisure in its park-like grounds, courtyards that are exclusive to certain grades, sports facilities and learning facilities that ensure an offering of diverse career prospects, and classroom conditions that ease the discomfort of the sub-tropical heat. The defense in a post-apartheid era for such a socially classed place has eclipsed what was forfeited of apartheid-era racial exclusivity, while the racially integrated spatiality conceals an informal spatial practice of segregation that is seen in the gardens where girls wander at lunchtime and in friendship group photographs in the yearbook ([Centenary] High School, 1999). Thus, the gloss being given this public school in the post-apartheid era continues the quality education offered down through the years since its establishment in the colonial and segregated eras, and through the middle years of apartheid, though it is no longer the exclusive preserve of white girls. At Highway Secondary a very different scenario of marginalization and neglect played out. Despite reasons to be optimistic in the first decade of democracy in the city and even in the presence of hard urban-edginess of its durable concrete and asphalt, the school was deteriorating. Though once a respected school with a proud history of Indian education, by 2000 most learners were not local and were black. Further, as state funding had dwindled, the school’s vocational workshops had become obsolete technologically. In learners’ photographs of graffiti, vandalism and their misdemeanors, social alienation and malaise were prevalent. The tensions that infused Highway Secondary suggest a disjuncture in its identification during the unsettling aftermath of the apartheid era and as an educational institution caught in a thoroughfare between the city’s center and periphery. South of the city, there was rapid expansion of low-income townships to provide housing to the black working class. On a hill near to Maximus Primary these housing developments eroded the buffer zone between black and Indian residential areas. Whereas prior to the 1990s, middle class families from the neighborhood had sent their children to this school, this had changed since. More and more learners attending Maximus Primary were from black low-income families residing in nearby working class townships. As a result, local Indian families no longer enrolled their children at Maximus Primary. With these enrolment changes, Maximus had lost the resources that had previously developed and maintained the school site. With local middle class families no longer associating with and supporting the school, the school’s facilities were vulnerable and decaying. There were signs of decline in the discontinued use of the science laboratory, the closure of the art room that vagrants had broken into, an empty music room, peeling paint, graffiti, sports change rooms used as the security guard’s lodging, and the addition of a concrete palisade fence topped with razor-wire to secure the school site from the surrounding community who allegedly used water from taps in the grounds.17 Adjacent to the sports field, disused cricket nets stood rusting and overgrown with grass and benches in the playground lay broken. The school was in need of exterior painting, there were missing doors and dankness in seeping toilets. To counteract the loss of power and prevent further theft and vandalism, the school had adopted a defensive spatial

Reforming the City School in South Africa


strategy to secure property and conserve the condition of what resources remain. This manifested in a new perimeter fence and gate in 2000. The secure perimeter represented the changing social relations between Maximus Primary and its surrounding area. Whereas in the past the boundary between school and neighborhood was not rigid and impenetrable so that mutual identification would have been strong, in 2000 the security fence cordoned off the school and alienated it from families living in adjacent homes. The increasing spatial isolation weakened the school within the neighborhood and undermined the prospect of the school being a center of community life. Perceptions about the social climate of the city, especially concerning crime, had led to changes at Heather Primary. Although government architects had designed the reception and administration offices to be the first entry point for visitors from the street, in the post-apartheid era traffic and security considerations have led the school to permanently lock off the main pedestrian entrance to the school and set vehicle and pedestrian gate entrances elsewhere, deeper into the school grounds. Whereas in the past the public and local residents had had easy access to the school, by 2000 gates blocked their access to the premises. Nevertheless, although Heather Primary shared the same concerns about security as other schools in Durban/eThekwini, its security measures did not appear to be isolating it from the local community. A strong bond between the school and local community was evident when thieves murdered a local shopkeeper; the community meeting to discuss ways to keep such shared threats in check was held in the school’s hall. Notwithstanding this community-school bond, Heather Primary was no longer merely a local neighborhood school. It had opened its doors to enroll learners from all parts of Durban/eThekwini so that many learners were commuting by taxi or private transport from townships and other areas of the city. These are generally black children. Not far from Heather Primary and Centenary High is one of Durban’s newest schools opened in 1999: Simunye Secondary. These three schools are in sharp contrast and illuminate the contradictions in city schools of the post-apartheid era. Simunye Secondary is nested within the Simunye Multi-Purpose Community Centre, on the second spine of hills overlooking the harbor. Its situation within the multipurpose centre distinguishes this school from older schools in Durban/eThekwini that are discussed in this chapter. Although a new school in the post-apartheid city, its location nevertheless resonates with the city’s colonial and apartheid history. The area was formerly named in the isiZulu language after the river where Durban’s first mayor, George Cato, farmed in 1845 (Dingezweni, 2001, pp. 12–13). By the 1930s, ownership of the farm was taken over by Indian market gardeners who sublet pockets of land, turning the area into a culturally mixed shantytown of 120,000 people (Dingezweni, 2001, pp. 12–13). Following riots in 1949 between blacks and Indians, and the passing of the Group Areas Act in 1950, which the Durban City Council was among the first to implement in 1958 (Davies, 1991, p. 79), this area’s residents were forcibly removed to townships on the perimeter of Durban. Lemon (1991a) notes that such removals signaled the transition of the segregated city, in which urban residential patterns were segregated loosely along racial lines, to the apartheid city with rigid racial zones of “group areas” (Lemon, 1991a, p. 1). From that time, the “Cato Manor” hills stood fallow and became



reforested, pending expansionary endeavors of the white City Council to develop this valuable real estate so close to the city center. It was only after 1983 that fringes of the area came under residential construction by the House of Delegates, the authority for Indian affairs. However, in 1994 the area was marked for redevelopment by the post-apartheid government in collaboration with the local community development association, and became one of South Africa’s largest urban renewal programs (Corporate Policy Unit, 2004; Dingezweni, 2001, pp. 12–13). Forty-one thousand houses are planned, serviced with shopping centers, markets and multi-purpose centers that will incorporate 106 schools, 4 libraries, 10 community halls, 4 sports complexes, and 5 clinics (MacGregor, 1994, pp. 23–24). In the fluidity of the transitional period (1990–1994), informal settlements sprang up on vacant lots nearest to transport routes. When the urban renewal program got underway in the late 1990s, Simunye Multi-Purpose Community Centre was among the first institutional clusters to be constructed on a narrow ridge with steep slopes falling away into a valley. The Centre serves the urban poor living on the hills round about in informal shelters and post-apartheid matchbox houses built as part of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (Ministry in the Office of the President, 1994) for those in a low-income bracket. The Multi-Purpose Community Centre was structured to contain four institutions: a primary and a secondary school, and a community hall and public library. Durban’s eThekwini local government is responsible for the staffing and maintenance of the hall and library, while the schools are administered by the provincial government’s KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education. A brass plaque on a pedestal near the library commemorates the opening of the Centre. The phrasing of this plaque contrasts with that for Centenary High’s new Science Wing. Notably, in the post-apartheid era Centenary High named its Wing after the incumbent white principal. However, Simunye Secondary, within the precinct of Simunye Multi-Purpose Community Centre, restored local black history, endorsed the new political elite of South Africa, and signals its service to the urban poor: [SIMUNYE] MULTI-PURPOSE CENTRE THE [SIMUNYE] LIBRARY COMMUNITY HALL PRIMARY SCHOOL and [SIMUNYE] SECONDARY SCHOOL WERE OFFICIALLY OPENED BY THE HONOURABLE DEPUTY STATE PRESIDENT

Reforming the City School in South Africa


Jacob Zuma ON 14 AUGUST 1999 There are several points of interest in the wording of this plaque. For example, although the Centre is located within an area where people are predominantly isiZulu-speaking, the plaque uses only English indicating the hegemony of the colonizers’ language for public use in the post-apartheid era. However, this is offset by the isiZulu institutional name, which represents official recognition of the pre-1960s history when mostly people of Zulu ethnicity populated the area. A further point is that the opening was conducted by none other than the deputy president of the country, a popular and local political leader respected for brokering peace in the city in the early 1990s. This underlines the importance of the area and its development as a form of post-apartheid restitution and social transformation of land from which communities were once evicted. Thus, unlike the officiating dignitaries in past eras whose names appear on foundation stones and commemorative plaques for public schools, at Simunye Multi-Purpose Community Centre the dignitary was a black leader. Lastly, it is notable that the joint opening of the institutions within the Multi-Purpose Community Centre signified the agreement among the various tiers of government, including the city, to provide communities with holistic social services. It also works towards government’s aspiration that schools should be centers of community life (Asmal, 1999, pp. 9–10; Department of Education, 1995). Each institution within Simunye Multi-Purpose Community Centre was designed by a member of a team of four architects practicing within the city, working together to conceptualize the optimal use of shared facilities. However, each institution was designed to function and articulate separately since different government spheres administer them. Thus, each institution manages its own territory and secures its property. Two fundamental ideas inform the conceptualization of the multi-purpose center. First, local residents should be able to access a range of public services and information offered at the Center (Department of Public Works, 2001; Matsepe-Casaburri, 2000). This accounts for the two public schools, free library and information service, general purpose rooms above the library that are suitable for adult education classes, the hall that can be hired for large group meetings, and cultural and sporting activities. Second, the Center is designed with economic sustainability in mind, to avoid duplicating costly specialist facilities. Thus, neither of the schools have halls or libraries since they are expected to use the specialist facilities provided nearby. As a post-apartheid school, Simunye Secondary has been provided with many specialist facilities that might not have been standard at older township schools serving the urban poor – as was the case for Khayalihle Primary. One wing of Simunye Secondary comprises fully equipped purpose-built rooms for science and technical subjects such as technical drawing, home economics and laboratories. Another distinctive feature at Simunye Secondary, not found at schools built in the apartheid-era, are toilets for people with physical disabilities and wheelchair access ramps. While during apartheid the children of the black working class had inferior and inadequate school buildings and education, Simunye Secondary offers good teaching and learning facilities, professional support from public librarians, a library collection, and community hall that might provide school-leavers with further study and career opportunities.



Despite the huge intellectual and economic investment in Durban’s largest and historically most significant urban renewal project, photo-observations of Simunye Secondary show signs of theft and vandalism and deliberate effacement of the buildings within its first year. Graffiti is scratched outside cloakrooms, change rooms and toilet areas, inside toilets, and on walls furthest from the administration offices and adult eyes. In one of the girls’ cloakrooms, toilet seats and mirrors are missing, water leaks onto the floor and one ceramic bowl and cistern have been smashed to pieces. Although graffiti may not be uncommon in public toilets, the theft and damages inflicted at Simunye Secondary after only 1 year by the very learners intended to be beneficiaries of post-apartheid schooling and urban renewal, raise questions about local geo-political relations to the school. An ambiguous politics of space is evident at Simunye Multi-Purpose Community Centre and in the spatial field of the neighborhood. Notwithstanding the boundary security fence around the Centre, the open and easy access to the Centre’s precinct during the day signals the Centre’s endeavor to maintain a balance between public access and security concerns. This arrangement and the school ramps and toilets for people with physical disabilities, signal the postapartheid government’s batho pele [people first] public service policy (Department of Public Service and Administration, 1997). This policy is the official discourse of centerperiphery power relations aimed at providing a caring and professional service to communities. Further, the single foundation stone and perceived outer perimeter fencing and continuous paving in the interstices between each component of the Centre, also allows the Multi-Purpose Community Centre to masquerade as a single public institution for the local community. However, as Lefebvre (1996) notes, spatiality produces difference and the inner security gates, roof structures and distinctive architectures distinguish the institutional components, their different functions and administrative authorities. Thus, while the local community may perceive institutional unity through tropes such as the perimeter fence, they conceal administrative ruptures in the city-province unity such as when the principal of Simunye Secondary has to negotiate access to the municipality’s facilities. Use of the hall for any events first requires that a booking fee is paid at an administrative office in the center of the city. As a result, the school rarely uses the hall, and instead uses the courtyard for school assemblies. Although Simunye Secondary is an exemplar of Lefebvre’s proposition that new social relations render new practices and new spaces (Lefebvre, 1991, pp. 52–59), traces of the past continue in the present and public domain. These are found in the name of the school and in a nearby Moslem memorial and place of prayer that dates back to when many Indians lived in the vicinity. The last difference to note here is a disjuncture between the spatiality of the surrounding homes and that of Simunye Secondary. The low-income “matchbox” houses stand as a post-apartheid revision and reduction of Calderwood’s (1964, p. 80) notion of the nuclear family township residence and they contrast with the elaborate customization and complexity of the architect-designed Simunye Secondary. These contrasts point to disparities between the public space of a government school and the private space of the home. While Simunye Secondary appears as a richly endowed space, the matchbox house reflects the confined space of poverty in family life. The inequality in these power relations may account for the vandalism evident at Simunye Secondary.

Reforming the City School in South Africa


Conclusion In this chapter I have used the histories of six schools in Durban/eThekwini to illuminate three periods of urban schooling in South Africa. These were the colonial and segregated era (up to 1948) when well-appointed urban schools were restricted to white learners; the apartheid era (1948–1990) when racially exclusive government schools were established in new residential areas of the expanding apartheid city and then when national and local governments sought to pacify urban unrest by improving living conditions and social services for black working class communities on the outskirts of the city. Lastly, I outlined developments in the post-apartheid era (1990-present) when schools and cities were desegregated and urban renewal projects have been used to alleviate conditions among the urban poor. This latter period of racial integration and democracy has rendered some contradictory urban experiences that suggest that many communities in Durban/eThekwini feel alienated within the post-apartheid city. For example, many urban schools have cordoned themselves off from the public sphere by way of their own security fences. Others appear to be unsettled and distressed. In some this may be linked to changes in their institutional ethos as learners commute across the city to attend schools where they might once have been forbidden to enter. In others, we see the city reformulating its priorities to include informal settlement communities and co-operating with other government authorities to provide an integrated public service framework. However, even within such a new urban school the state’s well-intentioned investment and effort jars strikingly with the dire conditions among the urban poor and may account for the evident pilfering and deterioration. Some urban schools have become racially integrated in their enrolments even though the city’s residential areas remain largely patterned by racial homogeneity. This is possible because of the support of the city’s transport systems and parents’ strategies to ferry their children across the city by minibus taxi. In relation to the city of Durban/eThekwini, two of the selected schools take up parenthetical and antithetical positions. Centenary High, as one of the city’s oldest schools, represents an isolated privileged space of cumulative institutional history, with traditions going back to the nineteenth century when single-sex schooling was the norm. It has retained its central and middle class privileged position close to nodes of power for the city: the university, harbor and commercial center. In contrast, Simunye Secondary, one of the city’s new schools, represents an integrated, shared social space that militates against a class-based entitlement to quality education with an egalitarian rights-based education for the children of poor and working class families in a new space not yet encumbered with tradition. It is ironic that Simunye Secondary lies just 3 km over the hill from Centenary High. Simunye Secondary stands to reclaim the black history of Durban in the vicinity where apartheid injustices of racially motivated riots and forced removals once took place. It is a rebuttal of that history of violence, dispossession, and discrimination, affirming the rights of blacks and poor people to live in peace and with adequate shelter, schooling, social services and leisure, near their places of work in the city center. It was the relations of we-them nested in center-periphery spatiality of the city and school that enabled the white Durban City Council to use the spatial arena for rendering



socially constructed difference. While center-periphery geographic differences continue, the blurring of apartheid race/class divisions in the current changing urban environment have slowly begun to effect changes in schools. This is most pronounced in the daily movement of learner populations transported to schools across the city. Learner mobility is enabled by education policies that prohibit schools in the post-1994 era from restricting enrolment to learners from a geographic area and that allow parents to exercise choice in selecting schools for their children. Learner mobility has desegregated former white and Indian schools more rapidly than home ownership and residential patterns. Although public schooling continues to be confounded by race and class issues, the daily commuting of working class learners to schools across the city has desegregated suburban schools and brought new issues of spatiality to the fore, such as the working class learner’s mobility, contingent on safe and affordable public transport, to schools beyond the local neighborhood. That points to the need for research that will consider the significance of the street as the interstice of school and city space in the post-apartheid era, the street as a fluid city space that bridges home and school and in which learners are vulnerable, especially in a city such as Durban/eThekwini that has known taxi wars between rival minibus taxi operators. The post-apartheid urban project, exemplified in Simunye Secondary, testifies to the vision and capacity of the city authorities in collaboration with provincial and national governments. Amidst the present tangle of rapid infrastructure installation, low-income housing construction, public utilities, markets, and shacks, stand such new centers of learning, offering the urban poor their constitutional right to (quality) basic education and lifelong learning. Just over the hill, Centenary High is witness to the continuing commitment to tradition and quality public schooling among middle and working class families willing and able to pay the school fees. The contradictory co-existence in such close proximity of Durban/eThekwini’s old and new schools is a disquieting yet charismatic feature of the city. As the rural population increasingly drifts to the city and families establish new homes in urban centers, such schools and cities will point to the complex challenges in the urban experience and they may provide lessons for the better development of urban schooling in the “new” South Africa.

Notes 1. This chapter is based on parts of my doctoral thesis on apartheid/post-apartheid discourses in urban school space. 2. Legislation that classified racial groups in South Africa was repealed in 1991 although differentiation through various descriptions (such as language/poverty/previously disenfranchised) is still used for the purposes of tracking redress and employment equity. In this chapter four race descriptors are used for South Africans: black (i.e., indigenous African), colored (descendants of mixed race origin), white (descendants of European origin) and Indian (descendants of those originally from the continent of India). 3. Fictitious school names are used in this chapter. 4. The selection was aimed at providing a range of schools that served the main population groups in Durban/eThekwini in the past. Schools for Afrikaans-speaking white learners and schools for “colored” learners were omitted because these groups are minorities within the city. 5. (Consulted on July 25, 2003). 6. Afrikaans is a derivative from Dutch, the first language of many early settlers from Europe.

Reforming the City School in South Africa


7. Pers. Comm. Gregory McPherson, March 2000, in Durban. By 2007 the school no longer offered technical subjects for the training of artisans. 8. Pers. Comm. Neville Brooks, resident, in April 2001, in Durban. 9. Pers. Comm. Principal, May 22, 2003, in Durban. 10. Pers. Comm. Mr B. Cockwell, November 2005, in Durban. 11. The vast area of Inanda, north of the city, is where Mahatma Gandhi had established his Phoenix Settlement in 1904, comprising the Kasturba Gandhi Primary School, printing press, museum, library and clinic (Nyathikazi, 2000, pp. 14–15). Gandhi had emerged as a community leader when, as a lawyer, he helped Indian communities fight discriminatory laws and practices. Phoenix Settlement was badly damaged during the riots of 1985 and taken over by informal settlements. 12. Pers. Comm. Patrick Culligan, Deputy Chief Architect, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Works, on November 14, 2002, in Durban. 13. Pers. Comm. Acting Principal, August 17, 2000, in Durban. 14. Pers. Comm. School Administrator, on June 22, 2000, in Durban. 15. Pers. Comm. School Administrator, on June 22, 2000, in Durban. 16. Pers. Comm. School Administrator, on June 22, 2000, in Durban. 17. Pers. Comm. Principal August 17, 2000, in Durban.

References [Centenary] High School. (1999). [Centenary] Girls High School 1999. Durban: [Centenary] High School. Apple, M. (1995). Education and power (2nd edition). New York: Routledge. Asmal, K. (1999). Call to action! Mobilising citizens to build a South African education and training system for the 21st century. Pretoria: Department of Education. Beavon, K. S. O. (1992). The post-apartheid city: Hopes, possibilities, and harsh realities. In D. Smith (Ed.), The apartheid city and beyond: Urbanization and social change in South Africa (pp. 231–242). Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press. Calderwood, D. (1964). Principles of mass housing: Based on a series of lectures on housing delivered to postgraduate students in Town and Regional Planning. Pretoria: Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research. Corporate Policy Unit. (2004). Making city strategy come alive: Experiences from eThekwini Municipality Durban South Africa 2000–2004. Durban: Corporate Policy Unit, eThekwini Municipality. Davies, R. J. (1991). Durban. In A. Lemon (Ed.), Homes apart: South Africa’s segregated cities (pp. 71–89). London: Paul Chapman. Department of Education. (1995). White Paper on education and training: First steps towards a democratic society (White Paper). Pretoria: Department of Education. Department of Education. (1998). National norms and standards for school funding (No. Government Gazette, 400(19347)). Pretoria: Department of Education. Department of Public Service and Administration. (1997). Batho Pele – “People First’’: White Paper on transforming public service delivery. Pretoria: Government Printer. Department of Public Works. (2001). Infrastructure development and poverty alleviation. Retrieved on June 17, 2003, from html/govdocs/pr/2001/pr1011c.html Desai, A. (2001). The poors of Chatsworth: Race, class and social movements in post-apartheid South Africa. Durban: Institute for Black Research/Madiba Publishers. Dingezweni, K. (2001). Cato Manor: Durban’s District Six. Metrobeat (15 Dec–15 Jan), 12–13. Dubow, S. (1995). Scientific racism in modern South Africa. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press. Durban Metro Urban Strategy Department. (2000). Metro profile: Socio-economic characteristics. UniCity Durban Community Update: One People, One City, (2), 4. Ebr.-Vally, R. (2001). Kala Pani: Caste and colour in South Africa. Cape Town: Kwela Books. Fielden, E. W. (1887/1973). My African home, or bushlife in Natal when a young colony (1852–1857). Durban: T W Griggs and Co. Freund, B. (2000). The city of Durban: Towards a structural analysis of the economic growth and character of a South African city. In D. Anderson, & R. Rathbone (Eds.), Africa’s urban past (pp. 144–161). Oxford: James Currey.



Hughes, H. (1996). The city closes in: The incorporation of Inanda into metropolitan Durban. In P. Maylam, & I. Edwards (Eds.), The people’s city: African life in twentieth century Durban (pp. 299–309). Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press. Hyslop, J. (1999). The classroom struggle: Policy and resistance in South Africa 1940–1990. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press. Karlsson, J., McPherson, G., & Pampallis, J. (2001). A critical examination of the development of school governance policy and its implications for achieving equity. In E. Motala, & J. Pampallis (Eds.), Education and equity: The impact of state policies on South African education (pp. 139–177). Sandown: Heinemann. le Roux, T., Nel, J. G., Hulse, E. V., & Calderwood, D. M. (1956–1957). The site: Site selection for school and hostel buildings and the layout of playing fields. Pretoria: Government Printer. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space (D. Nicholson-Smith, Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell. Lefebvre, H. (1996). Writing on cities (E. Kofman, & E. Lebas, Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell. Lemon, A. (1991a). The apartheid city. In A. Lemon (Ed.), Homes apart: South Africa’s segregated cities (pp. 1–25). London: Paul Chapman. Lemon, A. (Ed.). (1991b). Homes apart: South Africa’s segregated cities. London: Paul Chapman. Local History Museum, & Portnet. (2000). The port of Durban: gateway to Southern Africa. Metrobeat, [n.d.], 14–15. MacGregor, K. (1994). Banana tree battles and space wars. Leading Edge, 12(4), 21–25. Massey, D., Allen, J., & Pile, S. (Eds.). (1999). City worlds. London: Routledge. Matsepe-Casaburri, I. (2000). Briefing by the Ministry of Communications. Retrieved on June 17, 2003, from govdocs/speeches/2000/sp0209a.html McCarthy, J., & Bernstein, A. (1996). Durban – South Africa’s global competitor. Johannesburg: Centre for Development and Enterprise. McLaren, P. (1995). Critical pedagogy and predatory culture: Oppositional politics in a postmodern era. London: Routledge. Ministry in the Office of the President. (1994). White paper on reconstruction and development. Cape Town: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa. Morrell, R. (2001). From boys to gentlemen: Settler masculinity in colonial Natal 1880–1920. Pretoria: Unisa Press. Morrison, I. (1987). Durban, a pictorial history: A photographic record of the changing face of the city of Durban, with emphasis on its buildings. Cape Town: Struik. Nyathikazi, T. (2000). Preserving the past: Historical places in the townships. Metrobeat, 14–15. Radford, D. (2002). A guide to the architecture of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers. Ranson, S. (1994). Towards the learning society. London: Cassell. Scott, D. (1994). Communal space construction: the rise and fall of Clairwood and district. Unpublished Doctor of Philosophy Thesis, University of Natal, Durban. Teese, R. (1997). Reproduction theory. In L. Saha (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the sociology of education (pp. 92–97). Oxford: Pergamon. Thiara, R. (1999). The African-Indian antithesis? The 1949 Durban “riots” in South Africa. In A. Brah, M. Hickman, & M. Mac an Ghaill (Eds.), Thinking identities: Ethnicity, racism and culture (pp. 161–184). Basingstoke: MacMillan Press. UniCity Committee Durban. (2000). Short-list of names for the new Unicity. Unicity News, (Nov), 4. Urban Foundation. (1981). The Urban Foundation. (Pamphlet.)

6 URBAN PRIMARY SCHOOLING IN MALAWI: OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES Samson MacJessie-Mbewe and Dorothy Cynthia Nampota University of Malawi, Malawi

Introduction The notion of urban/city schools in developing countries in Africa, such as Malawi, is different from that of developed countries, such as America. For instance, while city schools are considered poor schools by American standards, urban schools in Malawi are regarded as high-status schools by Malawian standards. In the context of developing countries, such as Malawi, urban schooling is considered a privilege or an opportunity by both parents and children. However, there are some challenges that urban schools face that render their opportune status questionable. It is therefore the purpose of this chapter to discuss the opportunities a child attending urban schools has in Malawi and the challenges urban schools face in providing education to the urban population and the socially disadvantaged. In order to contextualize urban schooling in Malawi, the chapter begins with a brief discussion of the geographical characteristics of Malawi, its socio-economic and political contexts, and the education system. This discussion is followed by a brief description of cultural capital and education as a guiding theoretical framework for the chapter. Thereafter, the opportunities of attending urban schools in Malawi are presented, followed by discussion of the challenges. These are illustrated using the city of Blantyre as a case-study. In some instances, comparative references to rural schools are made in order to clearly explain issues of urban schooling in Malawi. The chapter concludes with recommendations to improve urban schooling in Malawi. It is important to note that the urban schools discussed in this chapter are those that are public.

Geographical Characteristics Malawi is a landlocked country in Sub-Saharan Africa. It shares borders with Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique. It was under British Protectorate until July, 1964. The total surface area of the country is 118,480 square kilometers of which 24,000 square kilometers 115 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 115–128. © 2007 Springer.


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is freshwater from Lake Malawi (CIA, 2003). The main natural resource of the country is arable land with hydropower from river Shire as another added resource. In terms of minerals, the country has limestone and small unexploited deposits of uranium, coal and bauxite (CIA, 2003). Malawi currently faces environmental challenges in form of deforestation, land degradation, water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage and industrial wastes and siltation of the lake and the river Shire. These challenges affect the lives of Malawians both directly and indirectly. For instance, land degradation has led to loss of fertility of arable land that has in turn resulted in low agricultural productivity. The siltation of the lake and rivers endangers fish populations. Wood is the main source of energy and this, along with uncontrolled agricultural practices, lead to deforestation and consequently loss of arable land and therefore, again, low-agricultural productivity. The eventual results of all these challenges are reduced household income, high-food insecurity and poor health. The population of Malawi is estimated at 12.0 million of which 91% live in rural areas while 9% live in the main urban areas (National Statistical Office, 2002, p. 3). Young people constitute a large part of the Malawi’s population. According to the Malawi Education Status Report (n.d., p. 1), half of the population are under 18, hence of school going age. However, in urban areas alone, 41% of the population is aged less than 15 years (National Statistical Office, 2002, p. 3).

Socioeconomic Context Malawi is generally a poor country. It is ranked 164 out of 174 countries on the Human Development Index with an estimated GNP per capita of US$210 in 1997 (UNDP, 1999). According to the 1998 Integrated Household Survey (Government of Malawi, 2000), 65.3% of the population is poor and about 28.2% of these are in dire poverty. It should be noted however that poverty is more prevalent in rural than urban areas. The Malawi Poverty Reduction Paper (Government of Malawi, 2002) for example shows that 91.3% of the poor and 91.5% of the ultra poor live in the rural areas. Therefore, in general, people living in urban areas in Malawi are of higher socioeconomic status than those living in rural areas. The relatively higher socioeconomic status of the people living in urban areas is further substantiated by the findings of the National Statistical Office. In a survey conducted in 2002 (National Statistical Office, 2002), it was observed that there is a big difference between rural and urban heads of households in relation to the socioeconomic sectors to which they belong. The Survey indicated that 20% of the heads of households in urban areas work as public servants and only 5% of their counterparts in rural areas are in public service. In addition, 45% of the household heads in urban areas are employed in the private sector compared to 12% of the household heads in the rural area. This means that the majority of the people living in the rural areas are in subsistence agriculture, which, although important for the economy of the country (CIA, 2003), does not result in adequate personal income. The indicators on education do not stand in good stead partly due to the generally bad economic conditions. The country has an estimated adult literacy rate of 60.9%

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(Ministry of Education, 2004), with illiteracy more prevalent in rural than urban areas. Statistics show that the adult literacy rate in urban areas is 90.5% while that in rural areas is 58.7%. This shows that many adults in urban areas are educated and have the culture of reading and writing. The low literacy levels could be a factor of low enrolment of pupils in school. For instance, the enrolment rate for children aged 6–13 is estimated to be 77.76%, such that the challenge to the Malawi government is to get the remaining 22% in school in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of Universal Primary Education (UNDP, 2003), to which Malawi is a signatory. The children who are not in school include those that live on the streets of the major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe (Afrol News, 2003) and Zomba. This is a challenge for urban primary schools and will be discussed later in the chapter. The health indicators for the country are equally bad. In particular, affecting the education sector of both urban and rural primary schools, is the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In general, life expectancy at birth has dropped over the years from 43 years in 1996 to 39.5 years in 2000 and 37.98 years in 2003 partly due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic (CIA, 2003; UNICEF, 2000). HIV/AIDS prevalence is at 15.96% for adults and 8.8% overall. Although there are no settled statistics showing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS for urban and rural areas, Chisomo children’s club (2002) estimated that 25% of the urban population is infected with HIV/AIDS. The consequence of this is the existence of an increasing number of orphans in urban areas, some of whom end up as street children. For instance, Chisomo children’s club estimated that of the 1.2 million children orphaned by AIDS, 0.4% became street children. On the other hand, Afrol News (2003) estimated that AIDS orphans account for 80% of the street children in Malawi. The challenge for urban schools is to include and retain such children in school.

Political Context Malawi had been a one party state for 30 years, that is, from 1964, when it gained independence from British rule, to 1994. However, in 1993, the people of Malawi indicated that they wanted a multiparty system of government through a referendum. In 1994, a new multiparty government was ushered in via elections. The ascent of multiparty politics has seen a number of changes in the education system, the most significant being the introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) soon after the new government was voted into power. The introduction of FPE aggravated the inequalities that existed between urban and rural schools. Some of the benefits and challenges urban schools got from FPE and the impact of multiparty democracy will be discussed later in the chapter.

Education System The education system in Malawi is 8-4-4. That is, there are eight years of primary, four years of secondary and at least four years of tertiary education. The system is realized in a pyramidal sense, with very few spaces available for students at the tertiary level. Consequently, as students move further into their education, the system becomes ever


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more competitive and selective. Students are required to write national examinations in order to move from one level to another. For instance, for them to move from primary to secondary level, students sit for a national Primary School Leaving Certificate Examination (PSLCE), and only about 30% who pass the exam with high marks are selected to secondary level, regardless of how many have passed the PSLCE. As is the case with other developing countries in Africa, students’ access to secondary and higher education has been a growing problem because of the mismatch of the number of students in one level and the available spaces in the next level. So it is only those schools that are well equipped in terms of teaching and learning materials, qualified teachers, good advisory, and supervision services, as well as those with a high-culture of competition, that manage to send their children to the next level. The competitive nature of the education system in Malawi has some implications for urban schools, which this chapter will attempt to unveil.

Cultural Capital and Education This chapter uses the theory of cultural capital as a guiding framework for the discussion of issues of urban education in Malawi. The main proponent of this theory is Pierre Bourdieu. Bourdieu refers to cultural capital as a “cultural wealth” (Bourdieu, 2000), the accumulated values, dispositions, habits, and information that are transmitted from one generation to another. According to Coockson and Persell (1985, p. 74) “cultural capital is socially constructed.” As stated by Bourdieu and Passeron (1977), though not inherently superior, high culture is constructed as superior in various fields using “symbolic power.” It is through cultural and educational practices that dominant classes institutionalize their high culture (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1977). This high culture “consists mainly of linguistic and cultural competence and that relationship of familiarity with culture which can only be produced by family upbringing when it transmits the dominant culture” (Bourdieu, 2000, p. 58). Consequently, “the curricular, linguistic and pedagogical biases of educational institutions tend to be misrecognized by the subordinate classes and are thus viewed as inherently legitimate rather than class-based and arbitrary” (Moss, 2005, p. 6). According to Bourdieu (2000), the education system plays a significant role in the social reproduction of the structure of cultural capital. Schools try to reproduce a set of dominant cultural values and ideas. These schools expect students to possess the capacity to receive and internalize a complex body of high culture (Moss, 2005). Nevertheless, “students who acquire this capacity generally do so as a result of a complex and largely unplanned acculturation process that occurs within their family origin” (Moss, 2005, p. 2). This cultural preparation of students is invested in their “scholastic pursuit,” hence, students’ educational achievement becomes high (Moss, 2005). Students who are socialized in families that do not honor high culture enter school with very low levels of cultural capital while those socialized into the dominant culture enter school with enriched cultural capital. As a result, students socialized into a dominant culture have a big advantage over those not socialized into this culture. For instance, Roscigno and Ainsworth-Darnell (1999) define cultural capital in relation to

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household educational resources, which may be physical resources, such as books or computers, or cultural resources like reading habits or speaking the language of the school, which create the cultural capacity necessary for success in school. It is against this framework that this chapter attempts to discuss urban education in Malawi as an opportune ground for students coming from families with high culture and a challenge for the children that are not socialized into this high culture. Furthermore, the chapter discusses cross cutting challenges that students both socialized into the high culture and those not socialized in this culture face in trying to pursue education in urban primary schools.

Urban Schools and Educational Opportunities in Malawi Many parents and children in Malawi work to create the opportunity to attend an urban school. A number of reasons contribute to this, including provision of teaching and learning resources and availability of advisory and supervisory services. The urban elite control schools in Malawi. Elites make sure that urban schools are well equipped with both human and material resources. This ensures that the schools reflect the urban families’ high culture and perhaps more importantly it ensures that the children of the urban elite acquire high-quality education. In so doing, the elite maintain their position of power. To begin with, schools in urban areas generally have adequate teachers, many of whom are categorized as well-qualified. While the Malawi Government’s Policy and Investment Framework (PIF) (Ministry of Education, 2001) targets a pupil to teacher ratio of 1:60, in urban schools the ratio is 1:44 and in rural schools the ratio is as high as 1:77 (Ministry of Education, 2004, p. 10). These different ratios imply that pupils in urban areas get greater levels of individual attention from teachers, which may contribute to higher student performance. In terms of professional qualification, by 2004, 85.6% of teachers in the urban schools were qualified as compared to 73.8 % of those in rural schools (Nsapato, 2005, p. 35). In addition, urban schools reflect the culture of urban families where pupils come from. As indicated in the socioeconomic context, many adults in urban areas are able to read and write. As a result, these families transfer the reading and writing culture to their children and also encourage them to go to school, which helps them excel in school. As research shows, educated parents are more likely to encourage their children to go to school than uneducated parents (Lewin, 1993). In addition, urban children have access to a variety of reading materials including newspapers and books that are available in libraries. Such facilities are seldom available in rural areas. Furthermore, urban schools have relatively better infrastructure than rural schools. For instance, in Lilongwe district, where Malawi’s capital resides, schools are both rural and urban, it is generally the case that urban schools have higher quality school blocks than rural schools. As indicated in the education statistics (Ministry of Education, 2004, p. 46), 90% of urban schools have piped water compared to 4% of the rural schools. Moreover, the same statistics show that 38% of the schools in the urban area have electricity compared to 2% of the rural schools.


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Another opportunity for attending urban schools is that education advisors regularly visit them. This is because such schools are closer to the offices of the education advisors and also that there are better roads in urban areas. Besides, education advisors live in urban areas and their own children attend urban schools. The regular visits by education advisors therefore work to ensure that children in urban areas are provided with high-quality education. Finally, education statistics show that urban schools have relatively more female teachers than rural schools (Ministry of Education, 2004). For example, according to the current education statistics, the female teacher to pupil ratio is 1:54 for urban schools while for rural schools it is as high as 1:245. This means there are more potential role models in urban schools for girls gaining their education.

Challenges in Urban Schools Even though urban schools in Malawi are advantaged in several ways, there are some challenges that make their opportune status questionable. These challenges include overcrowding, misinterpretation of multiparty democracy, and inclusion of street children. Some of these challenges emanate from the very opportunities discussed previously.

Overcrowding Overcrowding is one of the chief challenges experienced by urban primary schools in Malawi, and one that has an effect on education quality and the participation of children in education. Relatively more pupils enroll per school in urban areas than in rural areas. There are a number of factors that contribute to the overcrowding in urban schools. To begin with, overcrowding in urban schools is a result of having more educated parents, including mothers, in urban areas than there are in rural areas. As argued earlier, education statistics show that although the average literacy rate for Malawi is 60.9%, that for urban areas is 90.5%. In terms of mothers, James and Kakatera (2000) found that those in urban areas have an average of 5.7 years of schooling compared to 3.4 in rural areas. Since one aspect of cultural wealth for educated parents is the value for education, and as research worldwide has shown, educated parents, especially mothers, are more likely to send their children to school than uneducated ones (Lewin, 1993). It is therefore not surprising that urban schools in Malawi have more pupils. In addition, some of the overcrowding in urban schools is due to lower dropout rates in these schools relative to rural schools. It should be noted that one of the nationwide problems in primary education in Malawi is the dropout rate. It is found that every year some pupils drop out of school for various reasons, most notably lack of interest, which is responsible for over 90% of the dropouts (Ministry of Education, 2004). There is evidence however that pupil retention rate in Malawi is related to the socio-economic status of the family of the pupil (James and Kakatera, 2000). Although the finding is more applicable to primary schooling than other levels of education, the general impression is that children from lower socio-economic status households are more likely to drop

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out of school than children from higher socio-economic status households. For example, in a study of out of school youth, Kadzamira and Nell (2004) found that the main occupation of the parents of out of school youth is small-scale farming. In Malawi, families involved in small-scale farming are generally poor. Although not all parents in urban areas may realistically be described as enjoying a high socio-economic status, it is a fact that they are relatively better off than the rural poor. This, coupled with the fact that literate parents appreciate the value of the long term benefits of education more than illiterate parents do (Dzimadzi, Chimombo, Kunje, & Chiuye, 2003), means that relatively fewer pupils drop out of school in urban areas. Furthermore, overcrowding in urban schools is augmented by the rural–urban migration of primary school pupils, especially those in the senior classes of standard six to eight. From our experience, many pupils migrate to urban areas in order to get high-quality education and increase their chances for selection to secondary school. The pupils that migrate are those who have somebody to stay with in urban areas while they attend urban schools. These pupils take advantage of the extended family system in Malawi and go to urban areas to stay with their aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers and so on. Because of the competitive nature of education in Malawi, schools that offer low-quality education fail to send children to secondary school. With most of these weaker schools being in rural areas, children seeking higher quality education are somewhat forced to migrate to urban schools. Overcrowding in urban schools has side effects to urban education and the participation of pupils in these schools. Because of overcrowding, there is frequently a lack of infrastructure in urban schools, especially the school classrooms. According to the Education Statistics (Ministry of Education, 2004), the pupil to classroom ratio for urban schools is 138:1 as compared to 105:1 for rural schools. To some extent, this high pupil-classroom ratio compromises the quality of education in urban schools and it offsets the benefits of low teacher–pupil ratio cited earlier. In trying to decrease class sizes, some pupils are taught under trees or in the open air. This has been found to be problematic especially during rainy seasons (Dzimadzi et al., 2003). When it rains, students no longer attend classes hence losing time they would have used to learn. Furthermore, learning under the tree and sitting on the ground due to lack of desks has adverse effects on children from high socio-economic status families. At home, these children are used to sitting comfortably on a chair when either reading or doing other work. When they come to school and do their work under a tree sitting on the ground, the comfort of the home is missed then their concentration on education is affected.

Misinterpretation of Multiparty Democracy The second challenge affecting urban schools in Malawi results from misinterpretation of multi-party democracy. Multi-party democracy in Malawi was introduced in 1994 after over 30 years of one party, autocratic rule. Following this change, a number of effects, both positive and negative, of the new democratic system especially in the transition period have been felt in different sectors. The effects on the education sector in general and urban primary schooling in particular can best be understood from the historical perspective.


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Missionaries first introduced formal education in Malawi in the 1800s. The emphasis of their curricula was on reading and writing. When the colonial government took over education, following World War I, education was for the elite and still emphasized reading and writing. Following the dissatisfaction with the colonial administration by the Malawians and British, the Malawi Congress Party (MCP), under the leadership of Kamuzu Banda, took over the government in 1964. When Banda first came to power, he advocated education for all, a democratic society and the right of every individual for self-determination. However, following an alleged coup attempt by some leaders of the MCP in 1965, Banda started to reshape the education system to provide access to a select few. Politically, his rule has been described as undemocratic, he could “hire and fire” even members of parliament. He advocated political centralization that put him in control of everything, including education. During his reign, curricula emphasized the importance of one correct answer for every question and discouraged inquiry for fear of educating pupils who would in turn question his motives and actions. Banda’s autocratic approach to governance infiltrated all organizations including schools. As stated by MacJessie-Mbewe (1999, p. 19): The political atmosphere of the country instilled in people fear of those in authority and encouraged the power-holders to dictate to their subordinates. This type of leadership in schools and other organizations penetrated throughout Malawian society. This type of dictatorial leadership became the leadership of the day and was embedded in the Malawian’s cultural capital, which was transferred to all institutions including families and schools. For instance, a head teacher had power over teachers although this power did not extend to direct hiring and firing. In turn the teachers had power over pupils. According to Clifton and Robert (1993) power is the ability to force somebody to do something regardless of their resistance while in authority, “orders are voluntarily obeyed by those receiving them.” So punishment (mostly corporal), in Banda’s regime, was given to pupils who could not behave accordingly. The teacher had the right answer and pupils had to look to the teacher for everything. The 1980s however saw a slight weakening in Banda’s tight control of the education sector, when policies to widen participation in education started to be discussed and implemented with the influence of international donors. Eventually, pressures on Banda’s autocratic rule would lead to a referendum being held in 1993 on creating a multiparty democratic government. The next year, 1994, thus saw the first multiparty elections that put a new party, the United Democratic Front, into power under the leadership of Bakili Muluzi. The change from autocratic rule to a democratic government meant that any reforms to governance had to reflect the definitions and values of democracy. Gordon (1992, p. 129) argues that in a democracy: Leadership could not be exercised by those at the top of a hierarchy solely at their discretion. Rather leadership depended for its effectiveness largely upon the willingness of others (followers) to accept and respond to it.

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The implication here is that the local community should participate in decision making on issues that concern them and that the leaders should be accountable to the people they represent. The values of democracy are therefore participation, accountability and representativeness (Pindani, 1994). These values are in contrast to those advocated in the autocratic one party state by Banda, which also formed part of the cultural capital of most Malawians. As a result, the transition to multiparty democracy required creation and strengthening of some structures and perhaps more importantly, a true shift in the mindset of both the leaders and the general populace about their rights and responsibilities, hence need for change in the cultural capital. People had to understand that those in authority have an important but accountable role to play in their lives and that the people themselves have rights that should be exercised with responsibility. While some post-1994 reforms, especially in the education sector, seemed to have reflected, to some extent, the values of democracy, there have been indications that these were not always democratically carried out. One example of such reforms is the introduction of Free Primary Education (FPE) in 1994. Although this could be taken as an example of the democratic value of increasing participation, its implementation did not follow democratic procedures. For example, communities, teachers, Ministry of Education (MOE) officials and other actors in the education system were not consulted. As a result, MOE officials and international donors opposed its wholesale implementation, in favor of gradual implementation, in part for fear of compromising on quality. Despite this, the government went ahead in implementing the policy and local communities initially received it with enthusiasm. School enrolment rose from about 2 million to nearly 3 million, representing a 50% rise in enrolment (Ministry of Education, 2001). However, the government was unable to adhere to the structural demands of the expanded school population. Consequently, indicators of quality education, such as pupil/teacher ratio, textbook/pupil ratio, classroom/pupil ratio and average years of teacher training were indeed affected. The lack of consultation in the formulation and implementation of democratic reforms to the education sector was also true regarding other policies such as those concerned with school uniform and pregnancy, which were also implemented soon after FPE. While the uniform policy removed the burden of buying school uniforms from parents, some people, especially those from urban areas who could afford to buy uniforms, were not happy with it. The fear was that pupils, especially girls, who might walk without the school uniform on, are more prone to abuse than those in school uniform. Besides, it was thought that this could promote truancy in that some pupils could simply not attend school and instead would engage in small income generating activities, such as casual labor, and then return home when schools closed for the day. Generally, both truancy and abuse are more experienced in urban than rural schools (Dzimadzi et al., 2003). Decentralization of Ministry of Education delivery services to regional, district and local levels is another of the education reforms that took place after the introduction of multiparty democracy. This led to the increasing role of parents, local leaders and local Ministry of Education officials in school management and operations. However under the decentralization plan, local participation was to be done through locally elected


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councils. To date, some dozen years after multiparty democracy arrived, the local councils have not yet been elected, thus the implementation of the decentralization plan is not complete. What appears to contribute to this situation is a widespread misunderstanding of democracy that starts from government leaders and extends to school pupils. From interviews carried out in 2000/2001 for example, Kaunda and Kendall (2001, p. 2) found that people of all regions, of both sexes and of all ages, tended to define democracy as, “freedom to do whatever a person wants, regardless of the consequences of their actions to others.” According to this study, democracy is perceived to be associated with rudeness, changes in cultural practices, robberies, corruption and even murder. This perhaps explains why although the majority of Malawians prefer democratic to non-democratic forms of government, most of them still applaud some aspects of one party rule and most could not defend democracy if it were under threat (Tsoka, 2002). Beyond this, in urban schools, teachers and head teachers fail to control students when they misbehave for fear of how their parents, who are often well educated and among the political elite, will react. So, this kind of misunderstanding of the concept of democracy has brought deterioration of educational standards in urban schools, where democracy has been interpreted to mean lawlessness and no one seems responsible for anything. In a situation where neither the teacher nor the head teacher is in a position of authority, both give up once they cannot control a pupil. Corporal and even light punishments are no longer practiced and pupils have taken advantage of such a situation to behave in whatever way they want. Furthermore, human rights activists and the nation’s courts have taken precedence over school discipline such that both teachers and Ministry of Education officials are unsure how to handle pupil disciplinary issues. Inasmuch as these activists and courts are largely urban phenomena, and in some cases the activists, lawyers and judges are parents to some pupils, the urban primary schools are more adversely affected. In addition, many teachers in urban schools have themselves misinterpreted the concept of democracy so that they do not want to be tightly controlled by the head teacher and MOE officials. In general, multiparty democracy poses a challenge more to urban than to rural primary schools in Malawi. Some democratic policies have been counterproductive as a consequence of poor consultation of different stakeholders in their formulation and implementation. The urban populace in general, and pupils and teachers in particular, have yet to be fully enlightened regarding how to exercise their rights with responsibility, And, finally, activists and the courts have tended to uphold human rights without emphasizing responsibility in exercising them.

Urban School Inclusion of Street Children Children who are commonly known as “street children” occupy the streets in the cities and peri-urban centers of most countries of the developing world. While these children are commonly found during the day, some are present in the streets even at night. A number of factors contribute to the migration of children to the streets. The major ones are poverty and orphanage due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. UNICEF (1994) identifies three different types of street children:

Urban Primary Schooling in Malawi


(1) Children who have continuous family contact; (2) Children who spend their days and some nights on the street but have occasional family contact; and, (3) Children who do not have any family contact. Despite the gravity of the problem there are no exact figures for the numbers of street children in Malawi. However, it is increasingly acknowledged that the problem of street children is real in Malawi and needs to be dealt with in the immediate future. Although poverty was the main contributing factor to the problem of street children in the past, in recent years, HIV/AIDS has proven even more devastating. As argued earlier, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Malawi is high with an estimated 16.4% of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 being infected. It is with this realization that, in 2003, it was estimated that 80% of the street children in Malawi had been orphaned by the epidemic (Afrol News, 2003). In addition, Afrol News reports that food shortages are occurring as a result of recent droughts and the continued loss of arable land due to environmental degradation, and these have contributed significantly to the increasing number of children found in the streets in the cities of Malawi. It is important to note that the effects of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Malawi are aggravated by the food crisis that periodically hits the country, creating a vicious cycle. Increased malnutrition weakens the resistance of the people infected with HIV thereby reducing the workforce for agricultural and other work. There are also allusions to the breakdown of the extended family structure in Malawi as another contributing factor to the increasing number of street children in recent years. The general observation is that many families are not willing to take on the responsibility of looking after the children of relatives, partly because they cannot provide for them a better life, and partly because they are already overburdened with children from other closer relatives like sisters and brothers. The extent of this problem may, however, benefit from further research. That there are an increasing number of children living in the streets in the cities, especially Blantyre, Lilongwe, Zomba and other peri-urban areas in Malawi, is a cause for concern. Such children have limited opportunities to uplift themselves out of poverty because they are not in school. Although there are some organizations, clubs, and churches that attempt to feed them, these are only temporary solutions. If the claims made by human capital theorists, such as Schulz and Becker are anything to go by, accommodating such children in school could be one way of ensuring that they rid both themselves and the nation of poverty. Shultz (1971), for example, argues that education is a form of investment that results in profits that could be recouped later in life. If the street children are educated, they increase their chances of getting employment that could result in some income. However, to date, there is no policy on the inclusion of street children in schools in Malawi. As a result, there is no deliberate attempt to bring the children in school. The challenges of including street children in school are many, and in the absence of policy, it is an almost impossible task to carry out. Such children require such basic needs as food, clothing and shelter, before they require even such other basics as access to


MacJessie-Mbewe and Nampota

schooling. It is imperative therefore that policies relating to street children be formulated and implemented if Malawi is to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by the year 2015. In addition, urban schools must recognize that street children develop their own culture, which is often contrary to that cherished in schools. When street children go into an urban school, they often find themselves unfit for the demands of a school culture that reflects the values of the elite. Consequently, they drop out of school and go back to the street where they feel relatively more secure. Unless urban schools understand the cultural capital of street children and work towards dealing with it, many of the school interventions to retain street children in school will be futile.

Urban Schooling in Blantyre City Blantyre is the largest commercial and industrial center in Malawi. It has an estimated population of 620,000 with an annual growth rate of 3.3% (Government of MalawiDistrict Education Plan, 2005). According to the District Education Plan (DEP), there are 79 primary schools in Blantyre, 31 of which are private schools. Total enrolment in the city’s public schools is 130,700 comprising of 49% boys and 51% girls, which reflects an increment of 12% from 1994 to 2005. Blantyre has a relatively high number of qualified teachers, and has a qualified teacher-pupil ratio of 1:57. This is nevertheless higher than an average teacher-pupil ratio for urban schools cited earlier because unqualified teachers are excluded. Moreover, 85% of teachers are female (Government of Malawi, 2005), which is conducive to the education of girls. The DEP further indicates that schools in Blantyre are easily accessible because of the good roads and adequate transport facilities. This enables education advisors to regularly visit the schools for quality control. In addition, a sizable portion of the population of Blantyre earns steady income through employment or business. The income allows parents to participate in school development activities and support the education of their children. Despite the advantages, schooling in Blantyre faces a number of challenges. One of the challenges, as outlined previously, is overcrowding. For example, the DEP indicates that there are inadequate classrooms, which results in a pupil to classroom ratio of 178:1, which far outstrips the sought after ratio of 60:1 according to the Policy Investment Framework. Furthermore, the pupil to desk ratio is 16:1 against the expected ratio of 2:1 and pupil to latrine ratio is 164:1 against the expected ratio of 100:1. Furthermore, the DEP indicates that vandalism of buildings and theft of teaching and learning materials is a key problem in Blantyre schools. Although the DEP does not state the reasons for this, misinterpretation of democracy and its resultant impact on pupil indiscipline (Kuthemba-Mwale, Hauya, & Tizifa, 1996) could be among the contributing factors. The issues discussed are not unique to Blantyre schools, but are also common to schools in other urban areas in Malawi.

Urban Primary Schooling in Malawi


Conclusion In conclusion, it is clear from this chapter that schools in the urban areas in Malawi face challenging issues even though they are treated as better places for most children. Indeed it is widely known that urban schools enjoy the availability of adequate and well-qualified teachers, that they reflect the culture of most urban dwellers that facilitate urban children’s participation in education, that they have good infrastructure and are regularly visited by education advisors so that there is greater quality control, and that they are staffed with a considerable number of female teachers who then serve as role models for girls. However, urban schools are challenged by a number of factors that render their status problematic. Such challenges include overcrowding which results from the encouragement that the children receive from their parents to remain in school, the relatively low pupil dropout rate for urban schools and the rural to urban migration of school pupils, the effects of multiparty democracy that have led to loss of authority by school administrators and teachers over both pupils and themselves resulting in rudeness and lawlessness, and the failure to enroll and retain street children in school.

Recommendations In order to make urban schools a real heaven for children of different socio-economic status, the Government of Malawi, through the Ministry of Education, should consider implementing the following recommendations: ●

Expand infrastructure in all urban schools in order to cater for the growing population of both pupils and teachers in these schools. Provide civic education to the general population and teachers and pupils in particular on human rights and the importance of exercising human rights with responsibility. Educate parents, pupils and teachers on the relationship between education and democracy and also how the educational process should be carried out in a democratic society. Introduce feeding and clothing program in urban schools in order to keep street children in school. Introduce guidance and counseling services in urban schools to help street children adjust to the school culture and eventually remain in school.

References Afrol News (2003). Retrieved on June 30, 2003, from Bourdieu, P. (2000). Cultural and social reproduction. In R. Arum, & I. R. Beattie (Eds.), The structure of schooling: Readings in the sociology of education (pp. 56–68). Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J. C. (1977). The inheritants: French students and their relation to culture. Translated by Richard Nice. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


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Chisomo Children’s Club. (2002). A report on street children. Retrieved on June 30, 2005, from &country15 CIA. (2003). World Fact Book - Malawi. Available at: Clifton, R. A., & Robert, L. W. (1993). Authority in classrooms. Scarborough, Ontario: Prentice-Hall Canada Inc. Cookson, P. W. Jr., & Persell, C. H. (1985). Preparing for power: America’s elite boarding school. USA: Basic Books. Dzimadzi, C., Chimombo, J., Kunje, D., & Chiuye, G. (2003). Creating enabling teaching and learning environments in primary schools. Zomba: Centre for Education Research and Training. Gordon, G. (1992). Public administration in America (4th edition). New York: St. Martius Press. Government of Malawi. (2000). Profile of poverty in Malawi: Poverty analysis of the integrated household survey, 1998. Zomba: National Statistical Office. Government of Malawi. (2002). The Malawi poverty reduction strategy paper. Lilongwe: Malawi Government. Government of Malawi. (2005). District education plan for blantyre city: Year 2005/06–year 2007/08. Lilongwe: Malawi Government. James, C., & Kakatera, F. (2000). Assessment of the primary education sector in Malawi. Zomba: Centre for Social Research. Kadzamira, E., & Nell, M. (2004). Potential programmes for out of school youth: Exploring the interface between basic education and vocationa education and training. A research report. Zomba: Centre for Educational Research and Training. Kaunda, Z., & Kendall, N. (2001). Prospects of educating for democracy in struggling third wave regimes: The case for Malawi. Current Issues in Comparative Education, 4(1). December 18, 2001. Retrieved on June 30, 2005, from Kuthemba-Mwale, J. B., Hauya, R., & Tizifa, J. (1996). Secondary school discipline study: Final report. Zomba: CERT (Unpublished data). Lewin, K. M. (1993). Defining the Education Agenda: Six key issues. Oxford Studies in Comparative Education, 3(2), 14–46. Macjessie-Mbewe, S. L. W. (1999). Power vs. authority in the democratic Malawian classroom. In M. Chimombo (Ed.), Lessons in hope: Education for democracy in Malawi, past, present, future (pp. 19–30). National Initiative for Civic Education (NICE) series no. 1. Zomba: Chancellor College Publications. Ministry of Education. (2001). Education sector: Policy and investment framework. Lilongwe: Government of Malawi. Ministry of Education. (2004). Education statistics 2004. Lilongwe: Government of Malawi. Moss, G. (2005). Cultural capital and graduate student achievement: A preliminary qualitative investigation. Electronic Journal of Sociology, ISSN: 1198 3655, pp. 1–28. Retrieved on June 30, 2005, from http:// National Statistical Office. (2002). 2002 Malawi core welfare indicators questionnaire survey: Report of survey results. Zomba: Malawi National Statistical Office. National Statistical Office (n.d.). Malawi education status report. Unpublished manuscript. Nsapato, L. (Ed.) (2005). Are public funds making a difference for pupils and teachers in primary schools? Lilongwe: Civil Society Coalition for Quality Basic Education. Pindani, D. G. (1994). Bureaucracy and democracy: The missing linchpin? A paper presented at the University of Malawi research conference. Mlangeni Holiday Resort. April 5–8, 1994. Roscigno, V. J., & Ainsworth-Darnell, J. (1999). Race, cultural capital and educational resources. Sociology of Education, 72, 158–178. Schultz (1971). Investment in human capital. New York: The Free Press. Tsoka, M. G. (2002). Public opinion and the consolidation of democracy in Malawi. Afrobarometer Working paper No. 16 Retrieved on June 30, 2005, from UNDP (1999). Human development report, 1999. New York: Oxford University Press. UNDP (2003). Human development report- Millennium development goals: A compact among nations to end human poverty. New York: UNDP. UNICEF (1994). Children at work: A report based on the ILO & UNICEF Regional Training Workshop on programmatic and replication issues related to child labor and street children. Bangkok, Thailand.


Introduction Despite international and national level recognition of the importance of education for all, both for development purposes and as a basic human right, its achievement still remains a huge challenge. Persistent inequalities of gender, class, ethnic, and regional context are evident in education systems worldwide, whether at the stage of enrolment and attendance, in outcomes and achievement, or in terms of consequent opportunities to which education is expected to give rise (Watkins, 2001). While gender inequalities in education are at their most extreme in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (Challender, 2003), inequalities relating to ethnic minorities and indigenous people are widespread in many African countries, where they are often strongly linked to regional inequalities, and to the distribution of poverty (Watkins, 2001). In Kenya, despite heavy government investment in education, enrolment at various levels of education is characterized by regional, socio-economic and gender disparities and declining gross enrolment ratios (SID, 2004). Researchers have also identified imbalances in terms of financial allocations, inadequate facilities, poor teacher qualifications, and high teacher-pupil ratios as further evidence that not all is well in the Kenyan education system (Abagi, 1997; Kimalu, Nafula, Manda, Mwabu, & Kimenyi, 2002; Oyugi, 2000; SID, 2004). But research on education, as presently constructed, has tended to treat the issues of inequality as specific to the Kenyan education system, and consequently assumed that they can be addressed through educational reform. By seeing inequalities in education as a symptom of wider social processes and structures, this chapter aims to connect the issue of educational inequality to the broader notions of equity and the right to education. In pursuing this approach we argue that social inequality emanates from the unequal distribution of resources, power and privilege among members of society. In many societies, particularly in Africa, ethnicity is one of the instruments of division by which access to opportunities and power is distributed among the population. Some ethnic 129 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 129–144. © 2007 Springer.


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groups appear to have better access to national power, and thus are in a better position to enhance access to resources, such as education, when compared to other ethnic groups. Hence, the first challenge we face when looking at inequalities in education is the silence around ethnicity as a factor of inequality. Although ethnic divisions are a fact of life in Kenya, there is a lack of research that focuses on the impact of an individual’s ethnic identity on his or her life choices and opportunities. The everyday presence of ethnicity encourages a primordialist “blood and soil” notion of ethnicity that refer to “inherited” or “objective” characteristics such as kinship, culture, “race” and territory shared by a group. Although this notion of ethnicity is still pervasive in African studies, a growing literature recognizes that ethnicity is not simply an objective fact (e.g., Banton, 1998; Kornblum, 1991). Rather, ethnicity is created, imagined and felt with a group of people in interaction with their surroundings, and “typically has its origins in relations of inequality” (Comaroff, 1995, p. 250). Such a constructivist perspective on ethnicity opens the door for an engagement with ethnic inequalities in education that allows for the possibility of change and reform. In using this definition of ethnicity, we are also arguing that it cannot be discussed in isolation; other concepts such as race, inequality, and stratification also come into play. As in many African countries, ethnic inequalities in Kenya can be traced back to the colonial period. In the early 1900s the British colonial administration divided the Kenyan territory along ethnic lines into eight provinces, each with a different ethnic majority, and sub-dividing each province into districts, often according to ethnic groups and subgroups or “clans” (Oucho, 2002). Upon independence in 1963, the post-colonial government consolidated this ethno-political structure by aligning parliamentary constituencies with ethnic boundaries, which still continue to frame Kenyan politics and provincial administration today. Despite demographic growth and population movements, the provinces have basically retained the ethnic or clan-based boundaries as created by the colonial administration. For example, Nyanza Province is predominantly inhabited by Luo people, Western Province is the home to the Luhya, Rift Valley Province is the traditional home of the Kalenjin, and the Kikuyu inhabit the Central Province and predominate in Nairobi Province. North-Eastern Province is an exclusively Somali-speaking region, and the Coast Province is mainly inhabited by the Swahili and the Mijikenda (Table 1). Hence, from the district to the provincial level, ethnic groups are clustered together, so that regions in Kenya are ethnically distinct. An argument can be made, following Oucho (2002), that ethnicity is the fulcrum of administrative boundaries, constituencies and development patterns in Kenya. Political power in Kenya, as Kanyinga (1995) notes, has been associated with a few ethnic groups since the onset of colonialism. Under the first president Jomo Kenyatta (1963–1978), political and economic power was vested in his trusted circle of fellow Kikuyu. This benefited the Central Province (including the capital city, Nairobi) where the Kikuyu form an ethnic majority in terms of public investment and development, while other provinces received fewer resources. After Daniel Arap Moi assumed the presidency in 1978, political power became concentrated in the hands of Kalenjin elites. By the early 1980s, Moi had purged many Kikuyus and non-Kikuyu allies of Kenyatta from both central cabinet and senior posts

Ethnicity, Politics, and State Resource Allocation Table 1.


Distribution of ethnic groups in Kenya by province


Nairobi Central Coast Eastern North-Eastern Nyanza Rift Valley Western

Total provincial population

Dominant ethnic group Name

Population (No.)

Population (%)

1,324,570 3,112,053 1,829,191 3,768,677 371,391 3,507,162 4,981,613 2,544,329

Kikuyu Kikuyu Mijikenda Kamba Ogaden Luo Kalenjin Luhya

428,775 2,919,730 994,098 2,031,704 133,536 2,030,278 2,309,577 2,192,244

32.4 93.8 54.4 53.9 36.0 57.9 46.4 86.2

Source: Kenya Population Census, 1989.

located within administrative districts, and deliberately promoted the Kalenjin in these positions (Ogot & Ochieng, 1995; Oucho, 2002). Cooksey, Court, and Makau (1994, p. 211) argue that Moi adopted a laissez-faire development approach that was not concerned with the alleviation of regional disparities in development, including education. The Rift Valley was the main beneficiary of the change of power from the Kikuyu to the Kalenjin (Ogot & Ochierg, 1995, p. 15): [Moi] started purging or cleaning the civil service that was dominated by the Kikuyu. He replaced them with the Kalenjin. By 1983, the Kikuyu were a minor force in both the civil service, the army, and in politics. He played one Kikuyu leader against the other until they exhausted themselves. Like Kenyatta, he realised that for one to succeed in African politics he had to have trusted generals from home ground. […] There is open Kalenjinisation of most sectors both private and public. Funds were channeled to develop the infrastructure in the Kalenjin land. A succinct summary of the socio-economic inequalities in Kenya is provided by a recent report by the Society of International Development which states that Inequality in Kenya is much more than is conveyed through unflattering figures: it, in fact, leads to discrimination and exclusion, thereby becoming not only a matter of social injustice, but also a matter of human rights and governance. (SID, 2004, p. 5) According to the Third Human Development Report on Kenya, the Central and Rift Valley Provinces had better human development performance than other areas due to policy bias from the colonial and successive regimes. Policies and allocation of resources have tended to favour the high potential areas (UNDP, 2003). Looking at the issues of urban educational opportunities in Kenya, we find very few studies which explicitly look at the issues of urban educational inequalities. However, as discussed earlier on, that other than the Nairobi Province, the urban areas in the


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eight provinces in Kenya, are mostly (over 50%) covered with people from the majority ethnic group of the province. For example, Nyeri, the largest urban area in the Central Province is mostly populated with the Kikuyu ethnic group; the Rift Valley Province with the Kalenjin ethnic group; Nyanza Province with the Luo ethnic group, and so forth, as discussed earlier on. Thus, if the Province has had a strong political presence in the government it is bound to have better educational opportunities for its students in the urban areas, respectively. This rings even more true if the ruling President comes from that constituency. Comparatively, students from the rural areas in Kenya have better educational opportunities if their community has strong political influence in the government. A case in hand is Baringo District, the home constituency of President Moi. During Moi’s term as President (1978–2002), the District continually received educational resources such as new public schools, highly qualified teachers, libraries and other educational facilities. Other comparably rural districts in Kenya without this kind of strong political influence, areas such as those in Coast Province or North Eastern Province, continually received far fewer educational resources. We argue that the underlying cause of inequalities in education is the patron-client relationship between the ethnic group of the ruling elite and the government that prevails in Kenya. Political and economic power, and the wealth affiliated with it, is highly skewed to the ruling ethnic group, whose exclusionary practices have created marked inequalities in access to resources, including educational resources. Our argument is that the ruling group uses the resources of the state for the special benefit of its own ethnic community and its allies, and this is reflected in the educational development pattern in the urban and rural areas. The rest of the chapter is organized as follows. In the next section, we seek to bring greater clarity to the concept of equity in education, explaining its links to the rights-based approach to development and education. We then offer an analysis of statistics relating educational resource distribution and opportunities in Kenya, followed by the conclusions. Our motivation for shining a spotlight on the country’s education policies is primarily due to Kenya’s position as an African country with a consistently high public expenditure in education, both as a percentage of GNP and as a share of total government expenditure (Abagi, 1997), and yet home to the largest contingent of students subject to socially unjust or unfair educational disparities (SID, 2004).

Educational Equity and the Rights-Based Approach The need for greater clarity about the definition of educational equity has arisen in the context of recently proposed rights-based approaches to educational reform (Subrahmanian, 2002). Assessing educational equity requires comparing education and its social outcomes among more and less advantaged social groups, like the marginalized ethnic groups, and the rural and urban poor. Without this information, we are unable to assess whether policies and programs are leading toward or away from greater social justice in education. Equity is an ethical concept, grounded in principles of distributive justice (Rawls, 1985). It implies that greater resources should go to those with greater needs in order to aim at more equal levels of well-being overall. In this sense, equity incorporates a

Ethnicity, Politics, and State Resource Allocation


concept of justice, which recognizes some fundamental humanity, but still attempts to respond to the differing and increasing complex needs that exist within a society. This approach seeks to ensure that the less advantaged members of society (whether the poor in the urban areas or the poor in the rural areas) have a fair opportunity of receiving a reasonable amount of education that would enrich their personal and social life (Rawls, 1985). Amartya Sen brings to the discussion on equity the concept of capability, which conceives justice not only in distributive terms but also considers a person’s capability to convert primary goods into his or her ends – that is, to achieve a life he or she has reasons to value (Sen, 1999, pp. 294ff.; see also Sen, 1993). This is an approach which takes into account the need to empower all students, including the marginalized groups, or the poor in urban and rural areas, with educational opportunities and choices to uplift their life status. One of the tenets of distributive justice is that resources at the disposal of the state should be apportioned fairly (Jupp & McRobbie, 1992). Therefore education, which is generally reckoned to be a primary good, and which is largely financed by public funds, should be made available according to some just principle of distribution. However, because social justice and fairness can be interpreted differently by different people in different settings, a definition is needed that can be operationalized based on measurable criteria. For the purposes of operationalization and measurement, equity in education can be defined as the absence of systematic disparities in education between social groups who have different levels of underlying social advantage/disadvantage – that is, different positions in a social hierarchy. Inequities in education systematically put groups of people who are already socially disadvantaged at further disadvantage with respect to their education – a good that is essential to their human development and well-being and to overcoming other effects of social disadvantage. Underlying social advantage or disadvantage refers to wealth, power, and/or prestige – that is, the attributes that define how people are classified within social hierarchies. Thus, more advantaged and less advantaged social groups are those groups of people defined by differences that place them at different levels in a social hierarchy. Examples of this kind of definition by difference include: socioeconomic groups (typically identified by measures of income; economic assets; occupational class; and/or educational level); racial/ethnic or religious groups; or, groups defined by gender, geography (urban or rural), age, disability, sexual orientation, and other characteristics relevant to the particular setting. This is not an exhaustive list, but social advantage is distributed along these lines virtually everywhere in the world. Equity in education means equal educational opportunity for all population groups. If schooling can be viewed as a continual process that operates as a mechanism for selection, then equity in education can be viewed from the perspectives of access, survival, output, and outcome. Equality of access refers to the probabilities of being admitted into school. Equality of survival refers to the probabilities of staying in school to some defined level. Equality of output refers to the probabilities of learning the same thing at the same level. Equality of outcome refers to the probabilities of living similar lives as a result of schooling (Farrell, 1997). Equity in education thus implies that resources are distributed and processes are designed in ways most likely to move toward equalizing the educational outcomes of disadvantaged social groups with the outcomes of their more advantaged counterparts.


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This refers to the distribution and design not only of educational resources and programs, but of all resources, policies, and programs that play an important part in shaping education, many of which are outside the immediate control of the educational sector. A selective concern for worse-off social groups is not discriminatory; it reflects a concern to reduce discrimination and marginalization. At its core, the right to education refers to the legal rights of an individual to seek and receive education, and a corresponding duty on the state to provide such opportunities. According to human rights principles, all human rights are considered interrelated and indivisible (UN, 1993). Thus, the right to education cannot be separated from other rights, including rights to a decent standard of living and education as well as to freedom from discrimination and freedom to participate fully in one’s society. Equalizing educational opportunities requires addressing the most important social and economic determinants of education, including, as stated earlier, not only equal educational resources for all but also access and opportunities, and policies that affect any of these factors. Concern for equal educational opportunities is the basis for including within the definition of equity in education the absence of systematic social disparities not only in educational status but also in its key social outcomes.

Statistical Contours Inequalities in the distribution of educational resources and opportunities among the provinces/districts constitute a formidable challenge to Kenya’s development. For equity in education it is important to know at which level of schooling the constraints on the socially disadvantaged are most binding. Additional data1 analysis was therefore undertaken in order to help pinpoint the current location of inequalities within the education system. The issue of regional disparities will be explored using the existing administrative provinces2 as units of analysis. It is seen that inequalities in educational access and participation often take a regional dimension in Kenya. These differences are observed between urban and rural areas, and between defined administrative regions. Inequalities in regional or geographic educational opportunities often, but not always,3 coincide with ethnic identities because ethnic groups often reside in given geographical regions as discussed earlier in the background section. Key education statistics for the year 2002 are summarised in Table 2 below. The statistics show wide disparities in respect of access to education across the provinces. In Central Province, the gross enrolment rates (GER)4 in primary school in 2000 was 106% compared to only 17.8% in North Eastern Province. The corresponding figures for secondary school for the two regions are 37.7% and 4.5%, respectively. There are also wide disparities in the pupil-teacher ratio at the provincial levels. Eastern and Central Provinces have the most favourable (lowest) teacher-pupil ratio while North Eastern Province has the least favourable (highest). It is notable that the regions differ also in terms of school drop-out rates with the highest being in North Eastern Province. The data analyzed by rural-urban residence, reveals that about 36% of the rural population was attending school compared to about 31% of the urban population. A larger

Ethnicity, Politics, and State Resource Allocation Table 2.


Access to education 2002 GER %

Province Nairobi Central Coast Eastern N/Eastern Nyanza Rift Valley Western Kenya

Pupil-teacher ratio





52.0 106.0 71.0 96.9 17.8 94.0 88.3 93.3 87.6

11.8 37.7 14.4 23.3 4.5 23.5 18.3 25.1 22.2

33.7 32.2 35.7 30.4 43.8 32.7 33.1 34.1 32.9

11.4 16.2 15.7 16.0 19.3 17.8 16.9 17.2 16.5

Dropout rates %

11.3 7.1 11.8 8.8 12.6 6.8 8.2 16.9 8.1

Source: Ministry of Education Statistics Division 2003.

Table 3.

Number of primary schools and trained teachers by province, 1999

Province No. of schools No. of trained teachers Population age 6–13



248 4,537 305,175


















816,629 1,702,318





Source: Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Statistics Section, 2000.

difference existed between rural and urban populations for those who had left school, as well as for those who had never attended school. Some 55% of the urban population had left school compared to 39% of the rural population. On the other hand, 22% of the population never attended school in rural areas, compared to 11% of the urban population. The number of schools is an indicator of the supply of education in a particular area. It determines the capacity of the education system in a given area to provide for educational needs. Table 3 indicates a large disparity in the provision of government schools in the different provinces, with the Rift Valley having the highest number of schools and the Northeastern having the least number of government schools. Educational inequalities are closely related to regional disparities in the sense that some rural districts have fewer schools, which are far from each other, and attendance is thus more difficult. This is not the case with non-slum urban areas, where there are many schools, which are located closer to one another. The long distances that many rural and urban poor children must walk are a serious deterrent to school participation. Rural inhabitants, in particular, do not enjoy many opportunities in this regard. There are also variations in the distribution of schoolteachers across regions. In the Rift Valley Province, trained teachers are the majority, standing at 44,764. This is


Alwy and Schech Table 4.

Gross and net rates of enrolment by gender, Kenya, 1994


Rural females Urban females All females Rural males Urban males All males National

Gross enrolment rate Primary


92.56 90.20 92.28 96.21 89.22 95.40 93.88

20.37 42.74 23.78 23.64 63.65 28.21 26.01

Source: Welfare Monitoring Survey, 1994.

compared to the Northeastern Province which has 1,145 trained teachers. Table 3 shows the extent to which some areas are being understaffed while others are overstaffed. Gender inequalities in education remain an issue of concern in Kenya. The percentage of girls going to school is still low and becomes even lower as they move up the educational ladder, as seen in Table 4. However, the Kenyan government has tried to narrow the gap between girls’ and boys’ enrolment, and has made great strides in gender equality, as Deolalikar (1999, p. 35) observes: The ratio of male to female gross secondary enrolment ratios in Kenya is far lower than would be predicted at its level of GNP per capita, given the observed relationship between per capita GNP and gender disparity in secondary enrolments in Africa. Indeed, Kenya’s ratio of male to female gross secondary enrolment ratio is comparable to countries such as Egypt, that have a per capita GNP that is three times as large as Kenya’s. Data on access to education by wealth group reveal that the wealthier groups in Kenya have generally better access to education than the poorer ones (Table 5). The poorest 20% of Kenyans, both in rural and in urban areas, do not have adequate access to primary education. These disparities increase in secondary school enrolment due to the fact that the relatively high costs of secondary education are affordable only to richer families, which also tend to benefit more from government subsidies and bursaries. Education, then, acts to perpetuate socio-economic inequalities rather than bridging them. The attendance ratio in primary schools for the top wealth group is 86% compared to the lowest wealth group whose attendance ratio is only 61%. Although attendance is much lower in secondary schools than in primary schools, the richer segments of the population still maintain their dominance over lower wealth groups. The net attendance gap in both primary and secondary schools between the top and bottom wealth groups is about 25%. The degree of inequality is even more severe if one looks at the distribution of public spending across all school-age children instead of across households, due to the fact that poor households in urban areas have more out-of-school children of the relevant age

Ethnicity, Politics, and State Resource Allocation Table 5.


Access to education by wealth group in Kenya, 2003

Wealth group

Poorest 20% Second 20% Middle 20% Fourth 20% Highest 20%

Net attendance ratio Primary


61.3 79.9 83.8 88.1 86.0

4.0 7.3 11.4 16.2 28.2

Source: 2003 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey.

range. Children from poor households who do go to school are further disadvantaged by the fact that schools in poor communities tend to receive less public resources, such as teachers from the government. The increase in poverty has exacerbated the problem of access. Many of the poor are unable to afford even the low costs associated with participation in school or training programs. They also feel a greater need for the involvement of their children in their household economics and in the generation of the resources they need for survival. The result is an increasing number of children who do not enroll in school, who do not complete the primary cycle, or who are withdrawn early by their parents. Cultural and social practices, particularly those affecting girls, also contribute to this failure to make adequate use of existing facilities for education. Poverty is frequently accompanied by extensive child malnutrition, tuberculosis, sicknesses caused by poor sanitation and inadequate access to safe source of drinking water, as well as a range of vitamin deficiencies. These factors adversely affect child development and the possibility of profitable participation in education. The nationwide impact of HIV/AIDS further aggravates the situation for young children, particularly by increasing the number of orphans and child-headed households, and for youths and adults whose health or economic situation debars them from further participation. One distinctive issue that calls for immediate public policy intervention is the basic education coverage in urban slum areas. For example, the urban slum areas cover over 60% of the population in Nairobi. Public school coverage is in general low and leads to the low GER in these areas. In addition, the existing public schools in these areas tend to be over-crowded. Although many community schools exist, they usually are not covered under school census, and thus have limited support and supervision from the Government.

Education as a Basic Right: Performance Benchmark in Kenya The rapid development of education in Kenya was an aftermath of the Sessional Paper No. 10 of 1965 on African Socialism and its Application to Planning in Kenya, which emphasized combating ignorance, disease and poverty. It was based on two long-standing


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concerns that: (1) every Kenyan child, irrespective of gender, religion and ethnicity, has the inalienable right to access basic welfare provision, including education; and (2) the Kenyan government has an obligation to provide opportunity to all citizens to fully participate in the socio-economic and political development of the country and also to empower the people to improve their welfare. For nearly four decades therefore, the education sector has undergone several reviews by special commissions and working parties appointed by the government. The U. N. Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified by Kenya on September 30, 1990. However, the convention has not been incorporated into Kenyan law,5 as children’s rights are not explicitly enshrined in the country’s constitution, and nor are there specific sections in the constitution that focus on children. Although the Kenya Constitution guarantees citizens rights, it is silent on education as a basic right and need. In this connection, Chapter V, Sections 70–86, entitled “Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms of Individual,” does not directly mention education as one of the fundamental rights. Further, although the sections of the constitution may reinforce the right to education and public participation in policy formulation and debates, they do not make non-attendance or denial of schooling to a child a legal offence. This is why basic education is not compulsory in Kenya. Cooksey et al. (1994, p. 211) argue that the post-colonial Kenyan leadership adopted a laissez-faire development approach that was not concerned with the alleviation of regional disparities in development, including education. The official government response to inequality in educational opportunities was less equivocally stated than was in Tanzania, which had inherited a similar colonial segregated education system. For example, according to Kenya’s 1974–1978 Development Plan: Government’s provision of education and health services will be accelerated. The present plan provides opportunities for everyone to participate actively in the economy … . [however] … . Equal income for everyone is therefore not the object of this plan. Differences in skill, effort, and initiative need to be recognized and rewarded. This implied the ruling elite used the functional theory of social stratification as their social ideology and henceforth development policies. As a result, inequalities were justified because they reflected differences in achievement and in the individual’s contribution to society. The unstated rationale for this meritocratic ideal was the notion that people will accept inequalities and personal relative deprivation if they believed that they had an equal chance to benefit and did not choose to question the criteria by which merit and hence mobility were determined (Court, 1979). The lack of policy efforts to tackle the inequalities in education has been lamented widely, most notably by Amutabi (2003) in his study on the effect of the politicization of decision making in the education sector in Kenya since independence in 1963–2000. Amutabi (2003) argues that political decisions have marginalized the role and contribution of professionals and thus impacted negatively on educational policy formulation and implementation in Kenya. Utilizing a catalogue of major political

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decisions that have influenced trends and patterns of educational growth and policy formulation in Kenya, he demonstrates how such decisions have interfered in the running of education, causing the inequalities and decline in educational outcomes in the country. One example still relevant today is the introduction of the quota system in 1985, where a Presidential directive stipulated that each school must draw at least 85% of its students from its local area (Amutabi, 2003). This was a political move to prevent Kikuyu residing in the Central Province and other ethnic groups in other provinces from accessing schools in the Rift Valley which experienced greater investment in schools under President Moi at the expense of the rest of the country. This directive contravened the policy of national integration that was recommended in the Ominde Report of 1964 (GoK, 1964), as well as denying students the chance of joining better equipped secondary schools in other provinces.

Conclusion and Policy Recommendations The proposed definition of equity supports operationalization of the right of education to the highest attainable standard of education as indicated by the education status of the most socially advantaged group. Assessing educational equity requires comparing education and its outcomes between more and less advantaged social groups over a period of time to assess its trend. These comparisons are essential in determining whether national and international policies are leading toward or away from greater social justice in education. Inequities in education systematically put groups of people who are already socially disadvantaged (e.g., by virtue of being poor, female, and/or members of a disenfranchised racial, ethnic, or religious group) at further disadvantage with respect to their education. The principle of equity requires fair opportunities both to enter education programs and to succeed in them. Applying the principle of equity implies, on the one hand, a critical identification of existing inequalities which are the product of policies, structures, and practices based on economic, ethnic, gender, disability, and other forms of discrimination or disadvantage, and on the other, a programme of transformation with a view to redress inequalities. Such transformation involves not only abolishing all existing forms of unjust differentiation, but also measures of empowerment, including financial support to bring about equal opportunity for individuals. Hence, the rights-based framework is important because it ensures that resource allocation and policies are not just based on limited calculations of returns, but on the perspectives and interests of the most powerless and disadvantaged, too. The chapter has shown that the ethnic element has been, and continues to be, one of the salient features of Kenyan politics. A combination of factors account for this: the existence of relatively ethnically homogeneous geographical spaces in pre-colonial Kenya; the colonial policy of divide and rule which intensified ethnic separation by establishing administrative jurisdictions along ethnic and racial lines; and, two ethnically biased post-independent regimes that have legitimized ethnic representation and state resource allocations.


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Kenya’s development strategy sanctions growing socio-economic inequalities and these are inevitably reflected in the education system. The data has shown substantial inequalities in educational opportunity and educational resources between students from the Kenyan provinces where the ruling elite have originated, past and present, a difference that has remained largely unaddressed by current public educational policies. The issues of access to schools, distribution of qualified teachers and other educational resources are equity issues and influence the educational outcomes and achievements of the disadvantaged groups. Nairobi Province, Central Province and Rift Valley Province have the highest enrolment rates in all education sectors, primary, secondary and tertiary. Inequities also exist in the number of schools and higher institutions, where schools in the three better resourced provinces are more numerous than in the other provinces, and these inequities are compounded by the fact that students from other regions, like the North Eastern Province and Coast Province, are more likely to have poor parents, inaccessible road networks, and poor qualified teachers. Available data also indicate the greater disadvantage of girls at the primary level, and the widening gap as one ascends the educational ladder, suggesting that the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women through education are still a remote dream for Kenya. To equalize educational opportunities for all students in Kenya, it would seem pertinent that in its educational policies the government should give preference to those groups which seem to be currently disadvantaged. Spending additional public resources on urban poor and underserved districts and fewer resources on better-off and well-served districts would thus not only be more equitable but also increase the effectiveness of public spending on education. Taking into consideration the current economic and educational situation in Kenya, there is a need to shift policy in ways that will reinforce the right to education. The Kenyan Government has already signed numerous international and regional declarations and conventions guaranteeing every citizen the right to education. What the Government now needs to do is to translate the provisions of the signed declarations into practice. This study relied on the Kenyan national surveys. While the surveys were useful in raising questions and generating new hypothesis for testing, this usefulness is limited by the fact that the surveys were not designed, nor the data gathered in ways that fully suit the purposes of our research. While the descriptive evidence of ethnic inequality in Kenya is conclusive, this study is exploratory with respect to understanding the determinants of education inequalities among ethnic groups in Kenya, insofar as it highlights provincial inequalities among selected groups and offers an explanation of the findings based on the limited data at its disposal. The consistent results presented here strongly support placing the notion of ethnicity at the forefront of analyses of educational policies in Kenya. Based on these results, this chapter argues that ethnicity should be placed at the forefront of analyses of educational development in Kenya, as well as in policy efforts to reduce inequalities in education.

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Appendix 1: Kenya’s International Obligations on Education United Nations Treaties

Date of admission to UN: December 16, 1963. -International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights – ICESCR Acceded: May 1, 1972. Reports submitted/due: 1/2 No reservation related to the right to education - International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – ICCPR Acceded: May 1, 1972. Reports submitted/due: 1/5 No reservations - International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination – CERD Acceded: September 13, 2001. Reports submitted/due: 0/0 No reservations - Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination – CEDAW Acceded: March 9, 1984. Reports submitted/due: 4/5 No reservations - Convention on the Rights of the Child – CRC Ratified: July 30, 1990. Reports submitted/due: 1/2 No reservations

ILO Treaties

ILO 98 Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention (1949) – date of ratification: January 13, 1964. ILO 111 Convention concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation (1958) – date of ratification: May 07, 2001. ILO 138 Minimum Age Convention (1973) – date of ratification: April 04, 1979. ILO 182 Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999) – date of ratification: May 07, 2001.

African System

The African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Date of ratification: January 23, 1992. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child Date of ratification: July 25, 2000.


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Appendix 2: Constitutional Guarantees on Education Kenya Date of Adoption/Date of Entry Into Force 1969 Relevant Provisions

The Constitution includes human rights guarantees, but not the right to education. But, see: Chapter V – Protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual Art.78 – Protection of freedom of conscience

Full Text of Relevant Provisions

Art.78 (1) Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, and for the purposes of this section the said freedom includes (…) freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in (…) teaching, (…). (2) Except with his own consent (…), no person attending any place of education (…) shall be required to receive religious instruction (…) if that instruction (…) relates to a religion other than his own. (3) Every religious community shall be entitled, at its own expense, to establish and maintain places of education and to manage any place of education which it wholly maintains; and no such community shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for persons of that community in the course of any education provided at any place of education which it wholly maintains or in the course of any education which it otherwise provides.

Notes 1. The data used in this report is from three main sources: the 1999 Population and Housing Census; household surveys; and administrative records. The Population and Housing Census cover mainly demographic data such as population size, distribution and socio-economic characteristics. This dataset was collected by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and covers all the districts, locations and divisions in the country. Three Kenyan Welfare Monitoring Surveys (WMS), conducted in 1992, 1994 and 1997, were used to access information about enrolment rates, completion rates, the teaching force as well as the physical resources in the different provinces. While not comprehensive, these household surveys sampled both rural and urban areas in all provinces of the country. For other administrative records, we rely on government data made available by the Ministries of Education. These include budget figures disaggregated by province, and unit costs calculated using statistics on the number of students in each province and districts. 2. The province is the most convenient unit of analysis because government opportunities and resources tend to be distributed more or less on a provincial basis. It must be borne in mind, however, that there are definite limitations to analysis in terms of such large units, for differences within provinces, districts

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and urban centers tend to be obscured. Nevertheless, since the goal of the chapter is to demonstrate the general disparity patterns, we feel that this may not be a major limitation likely to affect the conclusions drawn based on the overall trends at the provincial level. National statistics do not show socio-cultural and economic disparities in educational access and opportunities. At best, provincial educational statistics do not reflect the anomalies except by inference, but as mentioned earlier on there is a strong interrelationship in Kenya between ethnic groups and the region they populate. 3. Rural areas are more ethnically homogenous than large cities which have a more ethnically diverse population due to urban migration. 4. Gross enrolment ratio refers to the number of students enrolled in a given level of education, of whatever age, reflected as a percentage of the total population of official school age individuals for that level. The GER can be greater than 100% if grade repetition occurs, or if school entry at ages either earlier or later than the typical age for that grade level occurs. 5. See Appendices 1 and 2 for details on Kenya’s International Obligations and Constitutional Guarantees on Education.

References Abagi, O. (1997). Status of education in Kenya: Indicators for planning and policy formulation. Nairobi: IPAR Special Report. Amutabi, M. N. (2003). Political interference in the running of education in post-independence Kenya: A critical retrospection. International Journal of Educational Development, 23(2), 127–144. Banton, M. (1998). Are there ethnic groups in Asia?. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 21(5), 990–994. Challender, C. (2003). Counting gender equality in education – not as easy as 1,2,3. London: Institute of Education, University of London. Comaroff, J. L. (1995). Ethnicity, nationalism and the politics of difference in an age of revolution. In J. L. Comaroff, & P. C. Stern (Eds.), Perspectives on nationalism and war (pp. 243–276). Yverdon (Switzerland): Gordon and Breach. Cooksey, B., Court, D., & Makau, B. (1994). Education for self-reliance and Harambee. In J. D. Barkan (Ed.), Beyond capitalism versus socialism in Kenya and Tanzania (pp. 201–233). Nairobi: East African Educational Publishers. Court, D. (1979). The education system as a response to inequality. In J. Barkan, & J. Okumu (Eds.), Politics and public policy in Kenya and Tanzania. New York: Praeger Publishers. Deolalikar, A. B. (1999). Primary and secondary education in Kenya: A sector review. Unpublished Research Report. Nairobi. Farrell, J. P. (1997). “Social equality and educational planning in developing nations.” In L. J. Saha (Ed.), International encyclopedia of the sociology of education (pp. 473–479), Oxford: Pergamon. Government of Kenya. (1964). Kenya education commision report, Part 1. Nairobi: Government Printer. Jupp, J., & McRobbie, A. (Eds.). (1992). Access and equity evaluation research. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Office of Multicultural Affairs. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Kanyinga, K. (1995). The changing development space in Kenya: Socio-political change and voluntary development activities. In P. Gibbon (Ed.), Markets, civil society, and democracy in Kenya. Uppsala: Nordic Africa Institute. Kimalu, P., Nafula, N., Manda, D. K., Mwabu, G., & Kimenyi, M. (2002). A situtional analysis of poverty in Kenya, Working Paper No. 2. Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), Nairobi. Kimalu, P. K., Bedi, A., Manda, D. K., & Nafula, N. N. (2001). Education indicators in Kenya. Working Paper No. 4. Nairobi: KIPPRA. Kornblum, W. (1991). Sociology in a changing world. New York: The Drydhen Press. Mwaruvie, J. (1999). Political party cooperation in post-election as ethnic tensions: Kenyan case. Anthropology of Africa and the challenges of the third millennium – ethnicity and ethnic conflicts, Management of Social Transformation Programme (MOST) – ETHONET/UNESCO. Kenya: Moi University.


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Ogot, B., & Ochieng, W. (1995). Decolonisation and independence in Kenya: 1940–1993. London: East African Studies. Oucho, J. (2002). Undercurrents of ethnic conflict in Kenya. The Netherlands: Koninklijke Brill. Oyugi, E. (2000). The legacy of colonialism. Nairobi: Kenya Coalition for Social Watch. Rawls, J. (1985). Justice as fairness. Philosophy of Public Affairs, 14, 223–251. Sen, A. (1993). Capability and well-being. In M. Nussbaum, & A. Sen (Eds.), The quality of life. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Sen, A. (1999). Development as freedom. New York: Alfred Knopf. Society for International Development (SID). (2004). Pulling apart: Facts and figures on inequality in Kenya. Nairobi: SID. Subrahmanian, R. (2002). Engendering education: Prospects for a rights-based approach to female education deprivation in India. In M. Molyneux, & S. Razavi (Eds.), Gender justice, development, and rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press. UNDP. (2003). Third human development report on Kenya. Nairobi: United Nations Development Programme. UNDP. (2004). Human development report 2004. New York: Oxford University Press. United Nations. (1993). UN world conference on human rights. GA resolution number 48/121, Vienna. Watkins, K. (2001). The Oxfam education report. Oxford: Oxfam International.


Introduction This chapter examines educational tensions and social constraints existing in the South African urban township environment that make it difficult for learners in these contexts to receive quality education. In the learners’ perceptions and experiences reported in this chapter, I identify the specific daily challenges that learners experience in both township life and the township school. Here, I argue that these challenges make youth in the township settings more vulnerable to HIV infection, different forms of violence, substance and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy, suicide, child abuse, and so on. Based on the analysis of stories, drawings and poems that were written by learners from a secondary school at Umlazi Township, near Durban in South Africa, I further discuss the negative effects of the township context on learners. Central to this discussion of negative effects is my argument that effective education can mediate these effects. Schools and teachers, with substantive support from communities, government and other sectors, can develop social competence in this group of learners. In order to realize this, schools should effectively implement the new South African school curriculum, particularly the subject field that is called Life Orientation (LO), which is outlined in the South African curriculum policy document, the Revised National Curriculum Statements (RNCS) (Department of Education, 2002). Nevertheless, in order for the effective delivery of the school curriculum to happen, schools should provide an enabling environment. In other words, schools should employ democratic and transformational strategies to school organization and classroom management. My recommendations, therefore, include further research projects that aim to assist urban township schools to engage fully with transformation and to implement the RNCS document effectively in order to improve the learners’ quality of life. 145 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 145–182. © 2007 Springer.



Central Issues Recent studies in education, and some educational interventions in South Africa, focus on disadvantaged African students living and schooling in urban townships. In most literature, African students from urban townships, together with students from rural areas, are often referred to as students from “disadvantaged backgrounds” (Mangena, 2005; Marais, 2002). The growing interest in researching African students from disadvantaged backgrounds arises because a great proportion of school-leavers from this group of learners are not adequately prepared for higher education (Hay & Marais, 2004). Many of them have lower academic achievement in Matric,1 which does not qualify them to enter into tertiary education and this severely restricts their educational and career choices. In order to qualify for university entrance in South Africa, a “Matric endorsement” is required. This means that of the total Matric subjects passed, a minimum of three subjects should be passed with higher grade.2 Students, who do not meet this requirement, obtain a standard school-leaving certificate, which allows them to apply only in a technikon or technical college (Garson, 2005). Because many of the school-leavers in urban townships obtain neither a “Matric endorsement” nor a standard school-leaving certificate, they join a large unemployment “pool” of people in society. Research has also revealed that students who successfully enter university are often underprepared in terms of the skills needed in Higher Education. They have very low literacy levels, language and critical thinking skills. As a result, they struggle to succeed in higher education courses. In trying to support school-leavers coming from “disadvantaged” backgrounds who are not ready to enter into higher education, different universities in South Africa are making a number of efforts to increase access and success rates in Higher Education. For instance, various universities have developed access programs, which are sometimes called foundation courses, or bridging courses (Hay & Marais, 2004; Mapesela, 2004; Paterson, 2005), which aim to support students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and require additional academic tutoring. Remarkably, several authors have used the concept “students who are coming from disadvantaged backgrounds” to describe students coming from urban townships. This signifies that the context in which one lives and is educated plays a role in determining the nature and quality of education that one receives and the chances of success that one has in life. Furthermore, from the concept we see that while South Africa is now governed by one constitution and a single set of laws, persistent inequality based on the diversified urban contexts still prevails. Given the unequal distribution of resources that happened during the apartheid3 system of government, urban townships (including urban township schools) were the most poorly resourced areas in South Africa. Africans who lived in urban townships were employed in poorly paid jobs in the mines, industries or cities. Authors such as Brink, Malungana, Lebelo, Ntshangase, and Krige (2001), Nhlengethwa (2004), Bhengu (2004), Thloloe (2004), and Le Roux (1993), have documented the difficult life – characterized by poverty, crime, violence, and death – that

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Africans endured over the years in urban townships. Miyeni (2004), who was born in Soweto (a township near Johannesburg), briefly comments about his traumatic life experiences during his growing up years in Soweto. His story exemplifies the traumatic life that many Africans had endured in urban townships during the apartheid and postapartheid era in South African urban townships. He writes: But it is so difficult for me to write about my childhood township. I grew up in an asbestos-roofed, three-roomed house in Soweto. Most weekends involved watching drunken death stabbings of neighbours over girlfriends and old grudges of no real importance. Monday trips to school often meant walking past weekend corpses that had not yet been claimed by relatives or collected by authorities. In addition, I had to duck and dive from glue-sniffing young hooligans who wanted to rob me of my meagre food money and tear my books apart. Miyeni (2004) However, more than ten years of democracy in South Africa have not eradicated poverty, deprivation and inequalities that are experienced by people living in urban townships. South African urban township learners still experience the “history” of social disadvantage, which is embedded in both the township social life and township schools. The unchanging urban township context has resulted in the migration of learners from urban township schools to urban city and town schools previously occupied by Whites. This happened after 1994 when South Africa achieved democracy, when some parents in urban townships started to send their children to the privileged multiracial schools in towns and cities so that they could get better education. In this way, African learners from urban townships came to form an emerging group in South African privileged multiracial schools in towns and cities. However, only the African middle class families can afford to pay more for school fees and for transport to send their children to privileged schools in towns and cities. Most parents can only afford to send their children to urban township schools. The experiences that learners who live in urban townships bring to the public classroom setting are significantly different from those of other groups of learners who live in towns and cities. Generally, South African urban township learners come from a distinct cultural background – where life is “survival.” In urban townships, you have not only to survive gangsters, rape, and road accidents, but putting a plate of food on the table is a struggle that needs one’s survival strategies. The combination of poverty with a materialist and consumerist culture means that having money forms the key part of the world of youth who live in urban townships. Because of the changes in the way families are organized and function, which have resulted in lower quality “adult-child” closeness, parental authority is sometimes lacking or challenged. Formal urban township schools, which can play a secondary socialization role, are not adequately resourced and supported to play this role. Besides, schools are seriously undermined as many young men (the role models for in-school youth) who lack marketable skills have access to money through their involvement in crime as gangsters.



This study, therefore, addresses the following two main questions: 1. In which way are urban townships and township schools a disadvantage to learners in these settings? 2. What are the effects of the township context on learners in these settings? To address these questions, I begin by giving a brief overview of South African urban township life. In the second section of the chapter, I highlight some challenges that are still facing the South African education system. This is followed by a third section that discusses Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory of Human Development which postulates that the environment with its complex structures such as the family, school, church and culture, exert negative or positive pressure on the child’s development (McCollum, 1997; Paquette & Ryan, 2001). Supporting Bronfenbrenner’s theory about the influence of context, I discuss the anti-child culture phenomenon (Smith & Le Roux, 1993) in order to provide a framework for analyzing the oppressive nature of the township context to the learners. Furthermore, I discuss Van Greunen’s (1993) concepts of co-existentiality and co-essentiality, to argue that while the environment influences the development of the child, the child herself or himself as a human being cannot be reduced to the status of a mere response to his or her environment. I argue that when adequate education and support are given, a human being can alter his or her environment. This is followed by fourth section, which presents a detailed discussion of the research strategy where I highlight the setting, design and methodologies that I used in the study, including the arts-based methodologies, particularly the category of drawings and poems. By identifying and analysing the life experiences and perceptions of learners in a secondary school situated at Umlazi Township, in Durban, I discuss, in fifth section, the day-to-day sociocultural and educational challenges faced by urban township learners. Here, I argue that an interplay of social and school factors such as violence, inadequate family life, exposure to crime, gang culture, availability of drugs and alcohol, particular gender relations, and traditional authoritarian school culture, render youth in these settings more vulnerable to HIV infection, teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, child abuse, suicide, and so on. I conclude the chapter by arguing that the school and teachers, with substantive support from communities, government and other sectors, can develop and promote social competence in this group of learners by employing transformational strategies in their approaches to school organization, leadership, management (including classroom management) as well as effective teaching of the Life Orientation (LO).

Democracy in the Context of Apartheid – “Urban Townships” in the New South Africa All over the world, definitions of “urban” and perceptions of urban areas differ widely (Haberman, 2004). One dictionary meaning of the term “urban” is “a city or town” and it is used to oppose “rural” (Allen, 1992). However, when viewed through South African history, this definition is insufficient to describe urban areas in South Africa, as there are different kinds of urban environments; for example, urban

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cities and towns, urban townships and informal settlements. In this chapter, only one category of urban residential area will be discussed – the urban townships. Urban townships have their origins in South Africa’s apartheid past, which was rooted in the various legislative acts such as the Bantu Education Act of 1953, the Natives (Black) Urban Areas Act of 1923 and the Extension of University Education Act of 1959. Systematic racial segregation was not only prevalent at social, political, economic and educational levels, but was also used as a criterion to allocate urban residential land. For instance, the Group Areas Act of 1950 forced physical separation between races by creating different residential areas for different races. Townships emerged when the government permitted that certain areas (usually some distance away from each town or city and near rubbish dumps and smog-producing industries) would be set-aside for Africans. In this way, towns and cities became almost exclusively for whites while townships were exclusively for Africans. The only Africans that were allowed to live in towns and cities were domestic workers who were working for white families. The division of South Africa into urban cities (towns) and urban townships created the diversity of urban contexts with distinct standards and resources. For a range of reasons, it is likely that this social order will remain for a long time. As Miyeni (2004) puts it, urban townships are the “true symbols of racist triumph over innocent victims.” South African urban townships are still characterized by limited space, poverty, crime, violence and poor schooling. Because of the apartheid laws, which restricted Africans from formal economic activities, many people in townships turned their three- or four-roomed, “match box houses” into shebeens4 (Brady & Rendall-Mkosi, 2005, p. 136; Mona, 2005). The continued existence of many shebeens in townships increases the availability of alcohol. Moreover, the abundance of alcohol in the context of unemployment and poverty that exist in urban townships leads to the escalation of crime rates. Robbery, car hijacking, torture, and murders, had long become the daily ritual of township life. In most townships, certain areas such as bus stops have become common crime spots where people are robbed and killed. Such areas have acquired nicknames that describe the common criminal activities that take place in them. For example, many townships have areas nicknamed KWAMSHAYAZAFE (which means that, you beat a person until they die), or EMPHELANDABA (which means, where all stories end – usually where people fight each other) or KWADLULA-WAFA (meaning that you pass, you die) or EMLAMLANKUNZi (meaning, you survive by your strength). Because of crime and violence, gangsterism has become a common feature in township life. As Sampson (2004, p. 76) accurately says: If you offend them, they’ll beat you up. If you bring a case against them, they will beat up the witness. If you cause them any trouble, they will kill you. At inquest, the witness will be absent. Given this context, the survival of young men depends on keeping on the right side of gangsters. Therefore, some young males either join the existing gangs or form their own in order to develop skills and gain support to survive in the harsh environment of the township. Gangsters are role models for young ambitious males because they have big power, big money, big cars and the best girls (Sampson, 2004, p. 76). They wear



expensive clothes, drink expensive liquor and can afford expensive drugs and expensive weapons (guns). From the young man’s perspective, they are “cool.”5 However, not all Africans in townships become involved in crime in order to improve their financial situation. Many still see education as a solution to their problems and they study continuously. As a result, a new aristocracy of doctors, nurses, teachers, lawyers, and other professionals had emerged over the years in townships, though few of this group of African aristocrats have chosen to remain in townships. However, even if they stay in townships, most send their children to better schools in towns and cities because they can afford the higher fees in such schools and can pay for the transport that takes their children to school. Poor families, some headed by single women, send their children to urban township schools where there are affordable fees. One of the gains made in the difficult life in urban townships is the involvement of illiterate and semi-literate African women in the country’s economy. Although an argument can still be made about the low-paying jobs such as domestic work, shop assistantship, factory work, and so on, most women in townships are hard workers who maintain their families and make sure their children go to schools. Women also may become informal traders, selling vegetables, fruit and clothes, and other goods in taxi ranks as well as juice or sweets in school gates. Because of their low income, these women, together with other poor families, can only send their children to township schools. Unfortunately, the system of education is still failing these families and their children because the quality of education in most township schools is greatly compromised.

Urban Education and Issues Haunting the South African Education System Though South Africa has fixed most of the apartheid policies, it still has to improve its educational quality, particularly in urban township and rural schools. Since 1994, the South African Government has made impressive gains in terms of transforming the education system through various legislative instruments and policies such as the South African Schools Act (Department of Education [DoE], 1996), Revised National Curriculum Statement (DoE, 2002), and others. Nineteen different educational departments separated by race, geography and ideology, which were operating under apartheid have been replaced by a single system of education. All schools have to follow a single curriculum (DoE, 2002) underpinned by one ideology. Through the application of the policy of Norms and Standards for School Funding (DoE, 1998), the Department of Education is able to differentially allocate funding to schools according to individual school needs. In this, the government has made serious efforts “to redress inequities arising from past discrimination” (Taylor, Muller, & Vinjevold, 2003) in terms of providing resources to poor schools. Besides these and many other legislative provisions that are geared to transform education in South Africa, a number of initiatives that aim to support teachers, curriculum delivery and management in schools, are being implemented. Here, I can mention the Dinaledi project, which supports the delivery of numeracy, math, science and technology in schools. In this project, selected

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teachers from a number of disadvantaged schools across the country are re-skilled to effectively teach science and technology subjects in schools. Although the current government, through interventions such as the Dinaledi project that I have mentioned above, is intent on rectifying the imbalances in education, the apartheid legacy lingers on as Cele (2004) correctly says: Even as we aspire to create productive non-racial, multi-ethnic democracies, we need to acknowledge and study the ways our past responses to difference have shaped fundamentally the conditions in which we now seek to create new forms of community. These legacies of strangeness and estrangement must be confronted, because they accompany us into our current social encounters, providing the warp and woof of our social tapestries. They are like irons on our legs, and we stumble because of them even as we try to move forward. While in the budget allocation of the national Government, education gets a big slice, usually 20% of the total budget each year (Garson, 2005), more money is needed to address the immense backlogs in schools owing to more than 40 years of apartheid education, when money was pumped into “white education” at the expense of African schools in urban townships and rural areas. Even now, most schools in townships and rural areas are still struggling for resources. Despite the unequal resources across schools, all schools are now expected to deliver on the new school curriculum. Given the differing access to resources, it is not surprising that troubling reports have documented that most schools have difficulty in implementing the new curriculum (Chisholm & Muller, 2000; Taylor & Vinjevold, 1999). Furthermore, inadequate training of teachers on the new curriculum, lack of appropriate materials for the new curriculum, and the challenges related to the language of learning and teaching (LoLT),6 have also been offered as explanations for teachers’ difficulty with the new curriculum. However, these are not the only reasons. The pedagogical shift that the new curriculum demands from teachers is perhaps the most crucial one. Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) forms the foundation for the new curriculum that is outlined in the RNCS document (Department of Education, 2002). The OBE approach challenges the traditional pedagogy where teachers were transmitters of knowledge. In OBE, the classroom becomes a space where knowledge is processed and produced. All learners as well as the teacher bring into the classroom their existing “knowledges” and experiences (which might be full of stereotypes, prejudices, beliefs, and so on). The teacher facilitates activities aimed at processing the shared knowledge and challenging existing domains of knowledge. In this situation, the learners are highly cognitively involved and the process aims to empower them with a number of skills, including decision-making skills, which they will use to develop their own individual principles and values. This pedagogical shift requires that classrooms be managed democratically. The teachers themselves have not been prepared for this change. Most teachers in township schools were poorly trained by the previous system of education. Their college training did not develop in them critical thinking and analysis skills (Wieder, 2003).



Overwhelmed by curriculum change, teachers resort to traditional methods of teaching where they stick to theory and “spoon-feeding.” This does not prepare the learners for life and for entering into higher education.

The “Context Debate” – Some Theoretical Reflections In highlighting the importance of context in child’s education and development, Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory of Human Development emphasizes a person-process-context model (McCollum, 1997), where the child’s development is looked at within the system of relationships that form his or her environment (Paquette & Ryan, 2001). The theory postulates that child development is fundamentally social since individuals construct their learning through interacting with their environment (McCollum, 1997). The child’s environment is comprised of “complex” layers each of which has particular structures such as the family, church, culture, school, community, and so on. The interaction within and between the systems and structures in the child’s environment may directly or indirectly exert negative or positive force on the child’s development. One example given by Bronfenbrenner (1984, p. 52) (as cited in Paquette & Ryan, 2001) is that the instability of family life, which results from the society’s economic crisis, may be a destructive force in the child’s life. In such situations where family life is compromised, the child may feel insecure and he or she may present with problems such as antisocial behavior. In South Africa, the interplay between bigger environmental systems and structures at different levels, such as capitalism, the former political system of apartheid with its ideology of segregation and social factors that resulted from it, created an environment that was not conducive to the development of the African child in particular. The traditional, rural family and community lifestyle was replaced by urbanized township life, in which many parents struggled to provide for their families, because the apartheid policy of unequal distribution of resources among different race groups meant that African urban townships and families would get the least of resources, including land. Given the economic imperatives faced in urban townships, many African children were affected because parents had neither the time nor adequate resources to effectively care for their children. As a result, most African children in townships grew up in an environment where the quality of life was greatly compromised. To describe the negative social, economic and political influences in South Africa, which undermined the African child’s family life, education and development, Smith and Le Roux (1993) came up with the concept of “anti-child culture phenomenon.” They give the following definition of the anti-child culture phenomenon: An anti-child culture is an anti-child educational environment. In an anti-child educational environment, the education of children is seriously hampered by educational and societal factors. A child accordingly experiences his [or her] family and society as situations in which he [or she] has no legitimate place. Smith and Le Roux (1993)

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From this, I deduce that the anti-child culture phenomenon is consistent with the ideas of Bronfenbrenner because it posits that the environment with “negative” factors will have negative influence on the child’s development. According to Smith and Le Roux (1993), the South African urban township environment, with its inadequate accommodation, lack of adequate health and recreational facilities, poor quality education and poverty, constrains many African children. However, Van Greunen (1993) has the view that while we recognize the importance of the environment in the development of a child, we should guard against overemphasizing the influence of the environmental factors because this could result in subjecting a human being to his or her environment. In this way, we would be “reducing the child to the status of a mere response to situational events” (Van Greunen, 1993). According to this view, the child cannot become a victim of the environment because the child is a human being and all human beings possess (within themselves) hereditary factors, which Van Greunen (1993) has termed the “genetically determined multipotentiality.” Such hereditary factors mean that the child has a range of possibilities or dimensions for development that can be categorized into physical, emotional, cognitive, conative, moral, spiritual and social (Van Greunen, 1993). In support of this idea, I argue that the outcome of the child’s development is not always reflective of the nature of the environment in which the person grew up. However, it may be reflective of how that particular person interacted with their environment. This means that the nature of the relationship or interaction between the person and the environment might be a determinant of the outcome of development. To conceptualize the idea of a relationship between the child and his or her environment, Van Greunen (1993) came up with the concepts of co-existentiality and co-essentiality. Co-existentiality means that the child and the environment are interdependent, inseparable and interwoven, and should both be present at the same time for the child’s development to occur because they need each other. The concept of co-essentiality implies the interrelatedness between the child and the environment, where there is interaction between the self-developing child and the environment. According to this postulate, the child is not passive but actively participates to change and affect his or her circumstances. He or she is also “simultaneously being changed and affected by the very same circumstances he or she is trying to change and affect” (Van Greunen, 1993). In this regard, the nature of the interaction between the child and their environment is important as it determines the outcome of the developing child. Then, what is the role of education in this relationship between the child and the environment? Van Greunen (1993) has the view that education acts as a mediating factor between the child and his or her environment. He says: In this sense, education is not only essentially an interaction between the child and the educator, but also a purposeful endeavour to facilitate meaningful interaction or dialogue between the child and his [or her] environment. [Education] thus becomes a powerful agent in helping the child constitute a meaningful life world, a world he [or she] can meaningfully orientate himself [or herself ] by being actively and purposefully involved in it. Van Greunen (1993)



From this definition, we understand that education is part of the process of interaction between the child and his or her environment and that it enriches this process. Therefore, in an educational situation the educator leads, guides, or helps the child to reach out to his or her environment and assign meaning to its realities. For education to effectively play this mediating role, an important relationship needs to be established and maintained between the child and the educator who is guiding the child. Both the educator and the child have to fulfill their responsibilities in order to maintain this relationship. For instance, the educator has a responsibility to trust, accept, respect, understand the child, apply meaningful discipline and create an educational climate where the child is adequately engaged in exploring the environment. This learning environment should be safe, exciting, challenging and should provide opportunities for personal development (Davidoff & Lazarus, 2002, p. 4). However, it is not only the classroom environment (during formal subjects) that constitutes the learning environment, but also all the experiences that the child has at school (e.g., the values the school holds, the way teachers relate to each other and to learners) are part of the learning environment. The total sum of this environment shapes the thinking, insights, perceptions, skills and behavior of learners (Davidoff & Lazarus, 2002, p. 4). On the other hand, the child has the responsibility to actively participate and engage with and learn from their environment. To reflect on the South African situation, I argue that the urban township anti-child cultural environment successfully constrained the lifestyle of many African children, because apartheid education did not facilitate interaction between the child and his or her environment. It did not act as a mediating factor between the children and their environment. As Wieder (2003) puts it, apartheid education “was a kind of built-in learning disability and extreme disadvantage.” The inferior curriculum had nothing to do with what was going on in the everyday lives of the children. As a result, children became victims of the negative urban township environment, which negatively affected them. From this, I can therefore conclude that it is possible for the child to become the victim of the environment if education does not actualize hereditary factors (Van Greunen, 1993).

Research Strategy This paper is the result of the research conducted in one of the secondary schools in Umlazi Township near Durban. It is situated to the southwest of central Durban. Like all South African townships, Umlazi Township is designated for African people. It originated in 1845 when the British forcefully occupied Natal and established a number of “locations” (townships) for the Zulus (Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, 2005). Not different from other South African townships, Umlazi Township offers shebeens, izinyanga’s (traditional doctors’) shops, artwork and township music such as jazz and kwaito (South African Townships, 2005). As is typical of South African townships, Umlazi Township has more than 30 sections, which are differentiated by alphabetical letters, for example Section A, Section B, Section C, Section AA, and so on. Established in 1983, the school that participated in the project is situated in one of the sections of Umlazi Township. Adjacent to the school is an informal settlement. Not

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typical of township schools that are characterized by vandalized buildings, the school has good buildings and a well-maintained schoolyard, which are little different from some of the city or town schools that are well resourced. On entering the overcrowded classrooms and seeing the empty bookshelves in the school library, however, one immediately recognizes the difference between this school and city schools. I purposefully selected the school because it is one of the biggest schools in the area with about 2,600 learners and 110 teachers. Learners come from several sections of Umlazi Township, as well as from other townships in KwaZulu-Natal since the school has some boarding facilities. In order to gain entry into the school, I formally applied to the school management to work at the school. Then followed a meeting with the principal. Having obtained permission from the school, and obtained ethical clearance from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, my home institution, I worked with two guidance teachers in the school to select the sample and to set up dates to visit the school. Because I had to use the school time to work with the learners, it was therefore more appropriate to work with learners in one class to utilize some of the class periods in the timetable. As is common with all South African urban township schools, the classrooms are overcrowded. The class I worked with, the Grades 11, had 9 classes and the number of learners in each class ranged between 47 and 60. I worked with a class that has the least number of learners, 47 (35 females and 12 males). In this class, learners come from several sections of Umlazi Township (Sections A, C, D, E, K, M, N, R, U, and Z). Some come from other townships near Durban; Amanzimtoti, Chesterville, Lamontville, while others come from townships that are next to other South African cities and towns, such as Imbali Township near Pietermaritzburg (about 72 km from Durban), Emondlo Township near Vryheid (situated in Northern KwaZulu-Natal and within striking distance of both Durban and Johannesburg) and townships near Stanger (about 80 km in the North coast of Durban) and Newcastle. Therefore, the sample included perceptions and experiences of learners who come from a number of sections at Umlazi Township and from several other townships in KwaZulu-Natal Province. Several concerns informed the choices I made about the kind of data collection methods that I used. I considered the focus of the study, which has as its main purpose to gain a deep level of understanding of the township social context and how this context affects learners’ lives and their education. Based on this view, a neat, “scientific” approach to data collection was deliberately avoided in favor of an individual learner narrative, in the hope that this would lend itself to an in-depth analysis. To collect data, I therefore used arts-based methodologies: the drawings, language arts, such as written poems and written songs as well as the textual narratives that were completed in the dialogue journal. By using arts-based methodologies I wanted to uncover the youths’ frame of reference (Babbie & Mouton, 2002) on such issues existing in their environment. It is important to note that by developing a study that places particular emphasis on learners’ voices about their perceptions and experiences, my intention is to nurture an understanding of the township context and the difficulties learners experience in such contexts. I also incorporate learners’ experiences and viewpoints in recognition of children’s rights and the principle of young people’s participation as set out in the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC) (1989) as well as in the South African Constitution, Act 108 of 1996.



The arts-based methodologies used in this project draw from a growing body of work on visual and arts-based participatory methodologies such as photo-voice, performance arts, video documentary, collage and drawings (Mitchell & Reid-Walsh, 2002; Walker, 1993). The use of these methodologies is meant to expand an ongoing research and teaching agenda within the social sciences in the area of media education studies and participatory visual and arts-based approaches to inquiry and representation with young people and HIV prevention (Mitchell, De Lange, Moletsane, Stuart, & Buthelezi, 2005), where research has a social change orientation. In the project at Umlazi, I was interested in the category of drawings as forms of art and narrative mode of inquiry in working with young people. Scientists have discovered similarities between art experiences and the function of the human brain and as Silver (2005) says: Art tells a story. Through pictures, images and symbols, the art maker communicates feelings and thoughts and creates pathways for others to understand what often lies just beyond the realm of verbal awareness. Drawings are also used in psychology to assess aggression and depression in adolescents. As an activity that emphasizes a focus on meaning, while providing a natural space for learners to express their experiences, views, values and the meanings they make of their lives, a dialogue journal that was titled “Dear Diary, Sawubona Dayari” was given to each of the 47 learners who were participating in the study. Validity and reliability was ensured by the use of several themes in the dialogue journals. The dialogue journal had the following four themes with instructions: ●

Theme One: My Self ● Learners had to draw a self-portrait; write a song or poem about, for and to themselves; write about themselves, for instance, what they like, do not like, what other people say about them; their future dreams and plans and unforgettable moments in their lives. Theme Two: My Home ● Learners had to draw and write about their home, and neighborhood. Then they had to write about safe and unsafe spaces in their home and neighborhood and what they think should be done to make all spaces safe. Theme Three: My Education ● Learners had to write about what they like and not like about their school; their typical school day; the school day they will never forget; and safe and unsafe spaces at school. Theme Four: Experiences and thoughts about issues ● Learners had to write about their experiences and thoughts about HIV, AIDS, education and employment, alcohol and drugs, violence and gender-based violence, sex and sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy and abortion and what they liked and not liked about the project.

The dialogue journal provided an avenue for spontaneous conversation with the learners. For most learners, the concept of the dialogue journal combined with the arts and

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free writing expression required by the project was novel, exciting, fun and led to a sense of freshness and authenticity. Respondents’ anonymity was fully protected by omitting the use of names on the written responses. The notion of a diary that was embedded in the title of the journal “Dear Diary, Sawubona Dayari” affirmed confidentiality. This, together with the permutation of an “outsider” (researcher) rather than a class or subject teacher as a dialogue partner, granted the learners anonymity and therefore greater freedom of expression. Learners could use the language of their choice to respond to the “Dear Diary, Sawubona Dayari” dialogue journal, as all the learners were not first language speakers of English. The majority of learners speak isiZulu, and a few speak isiXhosa. Forty-six learners (35 females and 11 males) between ages 14 and 19 years all from grade eleven responded – one male learner returned an uncompleted dialogue journal. The high response rate and the wealth of information suggest that respondents felt comfortable in participating in the project and they wanted to use the opportunity to talk about issues that affect them in their context. Most learners expressed their views openly that such opportunities, which allow them to talk about issues that affect them, should increase. I did not consider it appropriate to apply statistical analysis to the qualitative data collected. Therefore, data were captured, analyzed and creatively organized by means of codes. The most frequently occurring items were re-coded and organized into themes. Drawings were analyzed at a narrative level and not artistically, via such elements as colors and shapes. Significant thematic overlaps were noted and the results presented below.

Urban Townships, the “Disadvantaged Backgrounds” A total of 46, 32 page dialogue journals titled “Dear Diary: Sawubona Dayari” were completed by learners who participated in the project. Together the dialogue journals express narratives of danger, survival, violence, crime, alcohol and drug abuse, poverty, anger, resilience and hope. For most children in South African urban townships, “being a child” is a traumatic experience and life is a risk. The insecurity in township environments presents a situation in which children are routinely exposed to gang violence, with the possibility of being raped (with its possibility of HIV infection), assaulted or robbed by gangs. The learners’ responses expressed in dialogue journals reveal structural problems in the community, systematic problems in the school and unresolved personal, emotional and family problems that they experience. In this section, I present the day-to-day socio-cultural and educational challenges faced by urban township learners at Umlazi Township, in Durban, to reveal the disadvantaging nature of township situations. As discussed earlier, Le Roux (1993) came up with the concept of “anti-child culture,” to explain situations that children experience in societies, where “… [children] cannot be adequately accommodated” because of the nature of the context. As such, from the learners’ narratives, there is considerable evidence to suggest that the urban



township environment provides this anti-child culture situation. In urban townships, the fear of gang-related violence, as well as alcohol and drug related crimes restricts learners’ freedom to use many of the public spaces such as the roads, bus stops, shops and tuck shops. Almost all learners in the project mentioned home and school as the only places where they feel safe. Their route to and from school is not safe. When learners leave their homes in the mornings to catch a bus or taxi to school, they risk being mugged, robbed, assaulted or killed by criminals at the bus or taxi stops. Learners expressed the following concerns: A place, which gives us problems near my home, is an important place. At the bus stop of my home it is not safe because if you happen to be delayed until evening not even at about 7.00 (P.M.) I am talking about 5.00 (P.M.) you must know that you have little chances of passing at the stop. And, in the morning it is not easy that you reach where you are going to … As far as I am concerned, I can say that the only way that can help is that there should be about three law people (meaning police) so that they see to it that it is safe. Another thing that can help is that robots should be put because road accidents are so many. Every year we bury people who have been run over by cars others have been stabbed others have been shot. I would be happy if we can get help near my home. {Translated from isiZulu} (Female 06: 17 years) … if it is in the morning I go to school and it is winter I feel unsafe because it is still dark. {Translated from isiZulu} (Female 11: 16 years) Clearly, learners are not only exposed to criminals and gangsters on their route to and from school, but they are also prone to road accidents, as female learner number six above has expressed. Again, three participants mentioned that they had been involved in serious road accidents and they expressed how traumatic their experiences were. For instance, the first participant would not forget how shocked the class was when she came on crutches after the accident; the second participant, would not forget the day he was in a speeding taxi that overturned; and; the third participant, was in a coma after being run over by a car and she was hospitalized for a month. As stated previously, along with the home, most learners mentioned school as a safe space. Almost all participants in the study – male and female – said they feel very safe everywhere within the school premises. To emphasize how safe the school is, a few of the learners mentioned that the school had stamped down theft that had occurred in the school hostels. This was when people from outside the school started to break into the schoolyard to steal learners’ clothes. However, it should be noted that the school participating in this project is one of what the provincial Department of Education recognizes as best, or safe schools, both in Umlazi and in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Otherwise, several studies have revealed that safety is an issue in most South African schools. One study, by Human Rights Watch (2001), reported that most South African schools are places of violence, particularly gender-based violence such as rape and sexual harassment.

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However, respondents in the project reported that they are only safe when they enter the school gate. As soon as they leave the school in the afternoon, learners, particularly girls, face harassment from gangs in the bus stop: I am very safe if I am at school. When I am outside the school [premises] that is when I am not safe. Because some boys who did not finish school, wait for us and demand our moneys. As we are at school, they just say we are children of rich people. {Translated from isiZulu} (Female 13: age not indicated) When it [is] after school at the stop, but inside the school I don’t have an unsafe spaces. (Female 05: 15 years) Because of the gang culture that is a common feature of youth sub-culture in South African townships, learners in townships daily survive harassment and violence. The presence of gangsters in many public and sometimes private spaces was a theme running through several responses: Their [there] is a speace in my neighbourhood called ka Joe I real real do not live [like] that place because the [there] is a corruption boys like to rape girls and they real not good for me I do not love them they have storng laugage. [strong language] (Female 04: 16 years) At Kwa-Joe, at Umlazi, in every place we meet with hooligans because at times when you are just walking you sometimes suddenly feel a cold thing on your neck [meaning you feel a knife or a gun], then you realise they [hooligans] want what you have got, which is not theirs and they’ll end up killing you. All places in my neighbourhood are not safe. {Translated from isiZulu} (Male 08: 19 years) There are a lot of corners where hooligans hang out and do bad things. To be on the safe side you just have to stay at home and be sure to be at home before seven P.M. (Female 01: 16 years) I was walking with my brother there came many boys who wanted to take our bag. We refused [to give them the bag] and we fought with these boys. They took out the gun trying to shoot us. They missed; only one of them was shot. {Translated from isiZulu} (Male 11: age not indicated) Brady and Rendall-Mkosi (2005) have mentioned “Having too many liquor outlets in one area puts people who live in that area at risk because of possible alcohol-related crime problems.” This is because the high consumption of alcohol is likely to result in public drunkenness, car crashes, fights, rapes and homicide. While a source of income for many families in townships, numerous shebeens and taverns provide too many outlets for alcohol and this increases consumption in urban townships. Furthermore, some tuck shop owners have (illegally) combined their businesses to also serve as shebeens. In such places, when drunken people fight each other and use weapons such as guns,



children who have come to buy anything from the tuck shops risk being shot by stray bullets, as one learner expressed it: The places we buy from like tuck shops are now also used as shebeens. If people are drunk they fight each other and shoot you find yourself being shot by a stray bullet. {Translated from isiZulu} (Female, 29: 18 years) Given the economic constraints faced in townships, many parents are preoccupied with the daily struggle of earning income for their families. As a result, adult-child closeness is compromised. This leads to the lack of adequate childcare and open communication between children and their parents, which communication is necessary for a balanced upbringing and socialization. Sometimes the family’s supportive and protective roles to the child’s life are also affected. For instance, instead of parents (families) protecting their children from the unsafe environment of the township, some parents expose their children to the risks of being robbed, harassed, shot, stabbed, and even killed when they send them to the shops and tuck shops as the following learners said: We have shops, which sell cards for electricity. It ends up that children are robbed of the money when they are sent to the shops. We need safety and security there is unemployment at Umlazi I am not blaming anyone. {Translated from isiZulu} (Male 8:19 years) I feel safe when I am in my room. I am not safe if I am in the sitting room because my father sends us even at night to shops or to his brother’s house. My father does not think [carefully] before he sends us. {Translated from isiZulu} (Male 01: age not indicated) The earlier discussion expressed that most participants reported that they are safe in their homes; conversely, a few learners stated that they were not safe even when they are at home. Because there is limited space in townships (Smith & Le Roux, 1993), properties are small, and houses are built too near each other as well as too near the roads. Lack of sufficient income often means that properties are not properly fenced and secured. When this situation is coupled with increasing crime and violence rates, and the common use of guns in townships, people are not safe even in their houses as the following respondents reported: The most safe place at home it’s the passage because no-one can see me. The unsafe places at my [home] are the kitchen, at the dining room near the door and outside. It is unsafe at the kitchen because there is a big window and anyone can see me. The dining room is unsafe because it is near the door and I don’t even study at the dining room. Outside it unsafe because there is no fencing. (Female 10: 15 years) The safe place at my home is inside the house it very safe cause it always locked and the unsafe place is in my room. It unsafe because my room is out side. So it realy unsafe I can get raped without being herd (heard) by anyone. The thing that should be done is my mom have to buy a new house that the only solution. (Female 19: 17 years)

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In an environment where the anti-child culture sentiments prevail, children do not experience personal relationships, security and support that are often found in a stable family environment. Understandably, the African family in urban townships has become unstable, because of the increasing socio-economic forces that are continually producing family patterns that are undesirable for the “adequate nurturing of the growing children” (Smith & Le Roux, 1993). Some learners mentioned domestic violence and alcohol abuse within the family itself: My home has a lot of domestic violence, My mom my dad and my dad’s girlfriend. I also like my dad’s girlfriend. (Transvestite7 04: born in a leap year) … What I do no like in my home is my father who drinks. And, I can see clearly that I’ll end up not respecting him at all because of certain reasons. (Female 13: age not indicated) When my uncle gets drunk he acts strange and calls us names and when we ask him the next days he denies everything. (Female 31: 15 years) The critical concerns to the above representations are that South Africa has many urban townships, which provide this anti-child culture environment. For millions of African children, each day is a battle to survive poverty, violence, harassment, and death.

Education as Dialogue – a Gap in the Dialogue In his or her development, the child continues to interact with the environment in which he or she grows (Smith & Le Roux, 1993). Again, as Van Greunen (1993) states that education facilitates this interaction so that it becomes more meaningful – what happens at schools, lays the foundation for what happens later on in the children’s lives. Therefore, the ultimate goal of education is to develop learners’ knowledge, skills, capacities and attitudes they need in order to make clear decisions about their lives. In other words, education provides them with a base to participate and contribute towards a meaningful life. However, in most South African schools, it is still difficult to realize this educational goal. With schools having a different history and traditions, the “social history of disadvantage” is still evident in historically disadvantaged schools, such as the urban township schools. Due to apartheid-era exploitation and economic oppression of the urban townships and the rural areas, urban township schools still lack vital educational resources: classrooms, equipment and teachers. Because of a large number of people concentrated in small townships, schools are never adequate in townships, and classrooms are characterized by overcrowding. Although I was working with a class which has the least number of learners (47), compared to other classes in the same grade, I still did not have a space to move in between desks. Most learners use their laps to put their school bags on, so that they can have a space to write on the desk. Some of the learners expressed their concerns that the large classes meant destruction of learning and overstretched resources: What I don’t like: the crowdiness in classes because it causes (sometimes) distruction. (Female 18: 18 years)



As discussed earlier on, education acts as a mediating factor in the interaction process between the child and his or her environment (Van Greunen, 1993), and this means that education has to be relevant to the child’s environment. The South African new school curriculum (Department of Education, 2002), which was implemented soon after 1994, aims to realize this ultimate educational goal as it envisions a learner who will: … act in the interest of a society based on respect for democracy, equality, human dignity, life and social justice. The curriculum seeks to create a lifelong learner who is confident and independent, literate, numerate, multi-skilled, compassionate, with respect for the environment and the ability to participate in society as a critical and active citizen. (Department of Education, 2000) While the new school curriculum is moving towards a more holistic and integrated understanding of educational practice, the effective implementation of such a curriculum rests with teachers. The curriculum alone cannot bring about transformation. The quality of the teacher who is delivering on the curriculum is equally important. As Luthuli (1982, p. 29) accurately says: … in a pedagogic situation, it is only a competent, efficient and mature teacher who is able to implement the desirable educational reforms and innovations reflected in a school curriculum. However, most teachers in urban township schools have been poorly trained by the previous apartheid system. As mentioned previously, in that system, it was not just that the curriculum was irrelevant to learners’ lives, but the teaching methodologies were damaging. It is unlikely that the teachers’ previous training prepared them for what is expected of them now in the new curriculum. Several learners questioned the competence of some teachers in the subjects that they teach: What I also do not like in my school is that other teachers speak wrong English which you can see that even a six-year old child will not speak but I ask myself and I do not get an answer how are the teachers employed. Another thing is that they do not want to be corrected they say you take advantage of him/her. He/she is a teacher they cannot be told by a learner. {Translated from isiZulu} (Female 28: 17 years) For education to play a mediating role, an important relationship that is built on trust, acceptance, respect, understanding and meaningful discipline should be established between the child and the teacher who is guiding the child (Van Greunen, 1993). The Revised National Curriculum Statements document for South African school curriculum is more engaging and requires teachers who will interact differently with learners. However, this essential relationship between the teacher and the learner cannot be established when teachers still exercise the authoritarian mode of communicating with the learners. In most township schools, the history of top-down control of schools, learners and the curriculum that was part of the apartheid legacy, remains part of the school culture (Davidoff & Lazarus, 2002). In this culture, rules were made for people

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to unquestioningly obey and discipline was not meaningfully applied. Rote learning, together with textbook and telling methods were the dominant modes of instruction in the classrooms. It is within this context that corporal punishment (which teachers harshly and sometimes unfairly exercised on misbehaving learners), was the common disciplinary action in South African schools. However, the current South African legislative framework declares corporal punishment illegal (Human Rights Watch, 2001, p. 7; The Abolition of Corporal Punishment Act, 1997). And to assist teachers in disciplining unruly learners, the National Department of Education has developed a manual for teachers on alternative modes of discipline. Despite this new framework, evidence from responses shows a learning environment that is typical of the previous apartheid schools. The traditional formality of the teacher-learner relationship that is characterized by power, control and undemocratic practices by the teacher, was evident not only from the classroom seating arrangement (all learners are sitting in straight rows facing the chalkboard), but also as many learners mentioned that harsh and unfair corporal punishment was still administered by teachers, including the principal: The principal and classmates beat me to death when I was in grade 7. (Transvestite 04: born in a leap year) … when we were drunk at school, they called the police and the police beat us. I will never forget. {Translated from isiZulu} (Male 01: age not indicated) … What I do not like is that if a teacher is angry about his or her own things, he or she just pour that anger on us who were not there (when those things annoyed him or her). Then he or she would beat us for indaba kaZibandlela (IsiZulu expression that has a literal meaning “for a December story”––which means that so severely that we’ll not forget that story for the whole year). {Translated from isiZulu} (Female 11: 16 years) Kwaku (It was) last year when uthisha ongasifundisi engena kubangwa umsindo (the teacher who does not teach us, got into the class) and I was asleep but he hit us all ezinqeni (at the back) even if I didn’t talk in my class. Sorry Shame!!! Angikaze ngikhale kanje ngangikhaliswa nanokuthi (I had never cried like this, I cried because) I did not make noise with other but!! (Female 14: age not indicated) The harsh discipline that certain teachers impose on learners, and the learners’ (and parents’) silences about it indicate that the school environment is still oppressive to learners. Although some learners mentioned that corporal punishment was not changing the behavior, there was little evidence that learners know it is a criminal offence as only one male learner saw corporal punishment as a rights violation. Many learners saw it as justifiable. For example, one learner stated: First thing I don’t like in my school is standing for hours at assemble and ukushawa (to be beaten) I can say I don’t like it but we do deserve it and I don’t think any one likes to be punished by being hitted on the bums or hands. (Female 14: age not indicated)



From Van Greunen’s (1993) view of education that I discussed earlier, it is clear that education is part of the process of interaction between the child and his environment and it enriches this dialogue. Moreover, the quality of education on offer to the child will determine his or her outcome of development. As I argued earlier, and in support of what Van Greunen (1993) calls co-essentiality, the developing child actively participates in the interaction process to change and affect his or her circumstances while he or she is also simultaneously being changed and affected by the same circumstances. In South Africa, the new school curriculum, based on the values expressed in the constitution, attempts to facilitate this kind of dialogue between the learner and his or her environment. However, evidence presented in the previous section indicates that the school culture and ethos has not changed so as to adopt human rights values and deliver on the new curriculum. This situation means that for children who live in urban townships, and receive education that does not facilitate the dialogue between the child and his or her environment, the danger is that such children might lack a base on which to participate and contribute towards a meaningful life. In other words, they may not be able to make meaningful decisions about their lives and may become victims of the environment. The following section reveals evidence of how the urban township life and the ineffective township education negatively affect learners in these settings and make them victims of the township environment.

Effects on Learners Literature has proved that the township environment, which Van Greunen (1993) has described as an anti-child culture environment, has negative social, economic and educational influences that are not conducive to the development of the child. In the absence of effective education, children who grow up in such an environment might be negatively affected by it. Miyeni (2004), who grew up in Soweto Township (near Johannesburg) has expressed his hate of Soweto in his brief story “How I hate the place” and he says: If I could wave a magic wand and make a wish come true, I would wipe Soweto off the face of the earth and have leafy suburbs for all its residents. I hate the place with an unfathomable passion because it reminds me of my oppressor’s hold over me as I wriggled in pain under his grinning red face. Miyeni (2004) Similarly, learners who grow up in urban townships are affected by township conditions. The interpretation of learners’ drawings and poems provides us with an indication of some of the effects of urban township life on African learners. Not all participants were able to draw their self-portraits. Some learners started to draw, but gave up when they discovered they could not draw. I analyzed 30 learners’ drawings of their self-portraits (10 from male and 20 from female learners).

Female Learners The female learners’ drawings mostly show strongly positive attitudes of subjects who are achieving goals in their lives. The solitary figures are wearing beautiful, fashionable

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and sometimes professional clothes, necklaces, earrings and beautiful hairstyles. At least one drawing has a car next to the subject. However, 64% of the drawings do not have legs and feet, only 36% of the drawings have feet and legs. A few do not have hands and fingers. Only two of the female learners’ drawings are portraying subjects in particular scenes. For instance, see the descriptions of drawings below: Drawing 1. This drawing reflects an independent, bright and progressive life of a woman. In this, we see a woman wearing a dress, a necklace and carrying a small handbag. Next to the woman are a car and a flower above the car. The sun is shining from the back of the woman. (Female 33: 17 years)



Drawing 2. This drawing shows a peaceful, prayerful woman with inner strength and progressive life. Here, we see a portrait of a woman at the centre and arrows radiate from the centre to point at other objects (the bible, trophy, heart, candle, flower, musical instruments) drawn in all corners of a page. The learner has given labels of what each object symbolizes: the heart symbolizes peace and love, the trophy symbolizes success, the flower symbolizes everlasting life, the candle symbolizes light and the bible represents prayer. She describes herself as the Christian who loves music. (Female 18: 18 years)

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Drawing 3. This drawing portrays isolated parts of the body with funny sexy gestures. For instance, we see a face with one eye closed labeled ‘ordinary,’ six isolated mouths two smiling, two with lips closed and one with a tongue sticking out of the mouth. The labels scattered among the parts of the body are ‘fit,’ ‘short hair,’ ‘tall,’ ‘long legs,’ ‘small lips’ and ‘small hands.’ (Female 17: 17 years)



Drawing 4. This drawing portrays a woman dressed in beautiful fashionable clothes, with a label. She is wearing earrings and a beautiful hairstyle, but she has no feet. (Female 09: 18 years)

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The solitary figures indicate that learners have a positive self-image – they value self. The positive self image that the drawings project reflects the resilience that the girls learn from their mothers. As mentioned earlier, in townships, most females work hard to keep life going in their families. In the study, most female learners mentioned their mothers as role models. Assertiveness was evident in both the drawings and the poems, and contrary to what is commonly discussed in most literature on gender, that is, that females see themselves in relation to men, the female learners in the project described themselves as independent. Resilience and inner strength was also reflected from all the poems that the female learners wrote about themselves; for example: Me, Myself and I I’m independent (Female 3, 17 years) … I am a girl, a young township girl I may not be the pretty girl but I try to keep myself looking neat and Beautiful I’m not a person who lives up to The people’s expecties And for that I am glad To know that people don’t Like the way I am That keeps me going in life Female 01: 16 years … I’m going to rise and the day I rise you will be down I’m down but not for Long and I’m going up Slowly but surely I can’t give now I’ve come to far from where I started from. (Female 17: 17 years) The beautiful, seemingly expensive clothes and jewelry in the drawings is representative of the materialist and consumerist culture of the township life. However, while learners dream about this life and about achieving their goals, they do not have realistic plans of how they will realize their dreams. Therefore, the absence of feet and legs in most drawings indicate their insecurity in life.

Male Learners As in the females’ drawings, the male learners’ drawings show evidence of materialist and consumerist culture. The males drew subjects in fashionable clothes and most subjects were wearing neckties. About 50% of the drawings have solitary subjects. The



rest of the drawings have subjects drawn in social contexts, reflecting alcohol drinking, drugs, guns and smoking, condoms and cars. One drawing has an accompanying female and an expensive BMW car. See descriptions below: Drawing 5. The drawing reflects a solitary subject wearing decent clothes and a necktie. He is smoking and the words written at the bottom say: “I’m smoking weed, Folishi bbolwabishi.” (Male 03: 17 years)

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Drawing 6. This drawing shows a solitary subject lying down, stoned with drugs, the tongue is protruding and saliva dripping from the mouth. Next to him are injection, dagga, benzene, glue, ugologo (alcohol), petrol and drugs. (Male 11: Age not indicated)



Drawing 7. This drawing shows a solitary subject holding a bottle in one hand and a gun pointing up, with another hand. There is a car next to the subject. (Male 02: 18 years) Drawing 8. In this drawing, the male subject is with the female subject. The male is smoking. There is a small table with several bottles of alcohol on top and some bottles are scattered on the floor. There are two chairs on the others side of the subjects and on another side is a BMW car, which has what I can call here a gun-firing device attached at the back. (Male 06: 17 years)

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Unlike females’ drawings, which showed some insecurity, only 20% of the subjects in males’ drawings were without feet and legs. This reflects that male learners feel that they are in control of their lives although there was no evidence that they have clear plans for their lives. Apart from the socially defined male status that they have, male learners might belong to gangs, a position which also gives them a sense of security. The social scenes which show expensive clothes, expensive liquor, the presence of guns as well as “binge and booze” in dagga smoking, condoms, doing drugs and drinking alcohol, indicate tensions between male power (defined by the resources that one has: money, cars, guns) and male powerlessness (which shows itself through



engagement in risky and self-destructive behavior). This reflects that beyond feelings of security and being in control, males have deep-seated insecurity that projects itself as self-destructive behavior. This is also in line with many gender studies that have revealed that societies socialize males not to show their true feelings. Contrary to the female learners, who mentioned their mothers as role models, none of the male learners mentioned fathers, mothers, teachers or anybody else as role models. Nevertheless, there is considerable evidence that male learners see gangsters as role models. One would not normally associate the wearing of a necktie with “binge and booze” in drug, alcohol and sex. However, male learners’ drawings reflected subjects wearing neckties, though in social scenes where there is indulgence in drugs, alcohol, sex (indicated by the presence of condoms), and so on. From this, I conclude that male learners fantasize about power. Moreover, from the township point of view, power is associated with powerful gangsters who rule all spaces in the township. The gangsters’ power is defined in terms of their involvement in risky behavior as well as what they have: the expensive clothes, the expensive liquor, the powerful guns, the beautiful girls, the big money, the big cars as well as what they can do: their involvement in risky behavior like doing drugs and crime. In line with what is reflected in the drawings, drug and alcohol abuse is obviously a growing problem and many male learners are involved in the abuses. Most expressed that they had been at some stage arrested by police although they did not mention the kinds of crimes they did. Crime, violence and drugs, feature as a common theme in many responses from male learners, see for instance the following prose and stories: What can I tell u about me, the name is anonamous, with no house, also known as a suicidal vigilanty, Addicted and evicted by my crazy sisters Aunti, I walk with a bounce, Talk while im smocking an ounce, stalk all my prey then pounce, right before they announce, that he was the forgotten spouse, silence sharper than violence, this Geometric alliance, is fucked up like defiance, Domestic violence, thretoning my innocence, please do confess that I travelled a parralel universe, into an uncoatios diverse, lyrical curse, this clinical curse, has made most of my thoughts worse, moving forward in reverse, for these words, are made real, by my conscious skill, A contest of poing pills, Just like I fear ivy, I scribble on my Dear diary. (Transvestite 04, born in a leap year) … I have a problem of liking drugs now I cannot stop, and I have a problem of liking girls too much and that disturbs me in my schoolwork. And I have a problem, with my relationship with my parents because I have given them too much trouble, I take other people’s things and loose them and people report at home. My parents no longer buy me any clothes because they say I am still doing drugs; I will sell them and buy drugs. And I do not feel all right in my head. I need a person who can help me with all the problems I have. And help me reduce the drinking of alcohol because it makes me mad. And at school, I am troublesome to teachers. Now I do not like this thing. I need a person who can advise me so that I listen and stop being rude to teachers, and I become popular with good things and not bad things. {Translated from isiZulu} (Male 11: age not indicated) The unforgettable moment in my life is when I was arrested. It is when I experience crime. (Male 02: 18 years)

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Some More Effects High rates of crime and violence in townships greatly compromise the lives of children in these settings and make them vulnerable. Much behavior that is violent, harassing and degrading has become normalized in urban township societies in that it remains unchallenged by communities and not addressed by relevant structures such as police services. For instance, if the bus and taxi stops were unsafe for children in towns and cities, the parents, teachers, police and security companies would immediately address the situation. This exemplifies how in South Africa the different contexts still influence service delivery. The numerous shebeens in urban townships that lead to common public drinking and drunkenness has normalized alcohol drinking. Several learners did not see alcohol as bad and at least one said drugs were not bad either. However, the following learner expressed contrasting views: … I wouldn’t say alcohol is bad because I’m one of those who drinks alcohol but infact it is bad for us because uma sesiphuzile umuntu akakwazi (if we are drunk, one cannot) even control him/her self. (Female 11: 16 years) Some learners have developed “unhealthy” coping strategies to deal with crime, conflict or violence. They do not assume the victim status in their communities; instead, they return violence with violence. In addition, they view violence as the solution to any conflict: … I do not like a person who gossips about me, tell lies about me, and provokes me I do not want to fight with people because I am quick to fight and I am not scared of anybody. I do not rely on anybody except myself. (Female 12: 18 years) As another learner expressed it: Near my home I am not scared because when a person does anything to one of us (people in the neighbourhood), we all go straight to that person and we teach him/or her a lesson that he/she will not repeat that in future. {Translated from isiZulu}(Female 11: 16 years) A number of gender stereotypes including sexual prowess for boys and “bitching” by girls emerged. Although there was no evidence of a passive, dependent and conventional female, girls still embrace traditional gender expectations for the future, such as getting married. Such beliefs may hold young females in abusive romantic relationships and raise their risk to HIV infection, pregnancy and violence. For the boys, power and sexual prowess is still important, as the following expresses: Many people regard me as isoka lamanyala (a man who is valued because of his many girlfriends) because I have had many girlfriends. Everywhere I go, I am also known for my playing of soccer, and I always speak about my football club which I support the-Orlando pirates. (Male 10: 18 years)



However, there was evidence of some transformation from traditional gender role stereotypes. For example, female learners were more assertive. As discussed earlier, almost all female learners were comfortable with themselves and valued self, though they still mentioned beauty as an important quality. Particularly, female learners saw general cleanliness as important although one male learner expressed that he values cleanliness. The females’ career aspirations covered a wide range of fields. Interestingly, females mentioned careers that were traditionally for males such as being an advocate or accountant. Again, as is evident in the earlier quotations, fighting and alcohol drinking was not only associated with male learners, but also involves some female learners.

Implications – Life Skills Education and Social Competence Though more South African children are now being sent to schools, many African children are still confronted with an anti-child culture in their contexts. In the absence of effective curriculum delivery, the urban township environment greatly affects the lives of children in these contexts. However, the urban township environment cannot be held solely responsible for the proper development of children. As Van Greunen (1993) states, children are not passive recipients of home and environmental influences, but are actively involved in their own development. However, in order for this involvement to be meaningful for the child, education should intervene and facilitate the dialogue between the child and his or her environment. In this way, the child will become an author of his or her own life rather than a follower of meaningless behaviors, rituals and rules that are prevailing in his or her environment. Having said that, not all kinds of education can facilitate this dialogue. As Davidoff and Lazarus (2002, p. 4) state, a particular kind of education that: … provides a learning environment, which is safe yet exciting and challenging; where self-confidence is developed; where self-concept is positive and intact; and where there is meaning; where there is provision of rich enjoyable times; and where there are opportunities for personal development in the context of a humane society. The classroom is not the only space where such education is obtained. But, all the experiences that learners have at school shape their thinking, their values, their insights and their skills. For example, the values that the school holds, the way teachers relate to learners, the conditions of buildings, and all other practices and behaviors prevailing in the school. Clearly, the quality of the teacher that provides such education is equally important. In his theory of multiple intelligences, Gardner (1993) included interpersonal intelligence (the ability to understand people and relationships), and the intrapersonal intelligence (the ability to be deeply aware of one’s inner feelings, intentions, and goals). Gardner (1993) argues that one can learn and nurture these intelligences. Given the context of the urban townships in South Africa, there is an urgent need to

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make these humanistic personal intelligences an integral part of the school curriculum through social and emotional education. As defined by Weinstein and Rosen (2003), social and emotional education means “strategies and techniques used to promote social and emotional competences.” In this education, learners learn to “read” themselves and others and then use that awareness to develop themselves, to be creative and to solve problems. In South African schools, this could be incorporated in Life Orientation (LO). The current school curriculum in South Africa has a new learning area, Life Orientation (LO), which is relevant in developing social competence in learners. As mentioned earlier, LO is outlined in the South African curriculum policy document, the Revised National Curriculum Statements (RNCS) document (Department of Education, 2002). The RNCS document is based on the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) one aim of which is to “improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person.” Of the eight Learning Area Statements identified in the RNCS document, LO is central to the realization of this aim. Within the post-apartheid South African context, which is characterized by socio-political change and the fact that the country is facing many challenges such as socio-economic development, unemployment and environmental degradation, LO was introduced as a subject in schools. This was done in order to develop a sense of confidence and social competence that will enable learners to live well and contribute productively to the shaping of a new society. LO is an inter-disciplinary subject that “draws on knowledge, values, skills and processes embedded in various disciplines such as Sociology, Psychology, Political Science, Human Movement Science, Labour Studies and Industrial Studies” (Department of Education, 2003). By integrating several disciplines in one subject, LO aims to guide learners to develop their full potential holistically. In this subject, learners will engage on “personal, psychological, neurocognitive, motor, socio-economic, and constitutional levels” to respond positively to the environment and assume responsibilities for their lives in order “to make the most of life’s opportunities” (Department of Education, 2003). The effects of the urban township environment on learners signify the urgency in properly teaching LO in schools in order to empower learners with knowledge and skills of addressing issues that affect them. For example, learners will know how their constitutional rights relate to corporal punishment as well as their safety and security on their way to and from school. Again, they will know their responsibilities and have relevant skills to respond to an environment that is full of gangsters, alcohol outlets, crime, drugs, HIV, and so on. However, for LO to have an impact, it has to be properly taught in schools. In addition, proper teaching of LO in schools depends on the teachers and the approaches they use in the classroom. As with all other subjects that in South African school curriculum outlined in the RNCS document, Outcomes-Based Education (OBE) forms the foundation for LO. This means LO teaching should follow OBE principles and approaches. For instance, the notion of a learner-centered approach is central to the OBE approach. It emphasizes that teachers should make place for, listen to and extend learners’ thinking in the classroom. Teachers are asked to focus on learners’ thinking and ways of knowing, to respect the learners’ diversity and to build on what learners already know. Teachers



need to find out about learners’ experiences and how learners are thinking to help them build on and transform their ideas. This approach takes into cognizance the proven learning theories, which advance that what people learn is constrained or afforded by what they already know. Therefore, what learners think, say and do make sense to them in relation to what they know. The new curriculum (including LO) does not provide content detail. What is outlined in the RNCS document are outcomes that have to be achieved in each grade. This is because teachers are recognized as professionals who can make curriculum decisions in the best interest of learners and who do not have to rely on the dictates of a centrally devised syllabus. Therefore, teachers ought to be curriculum developers who would design a learning program according to the needs and levels of development of the learners. This means that the same outcomes will be achieved through a wide range of learning activities and contexts. Teachers must choose the content and locate the activity in contexts of relevance for their particular learners in order to achieve the set outcomes. Currently, LO is not implemented properly in schools because teachers have neither the knowledge nor the skills to implement it, despite having attended workshops organized by the Department of Education. Several studies have revealed the inadequacy of teachers in implementing LO. These teachers have not been educated as to the philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of OBE. This gap needs to be filled by developing quality teacher-training programs for LO teachers to assist them in making sense of and adapting to new pedagogies. However, the curriculum alone will not bring about transformation in urban township schools. Therefore, to effectively serve young people in urban townships, culturally sensitive and youth-friendly programs have to be developed. These should aim to support learners in all facets of their lives. For example, several interventions such as the following, should be developed: ●

Comprehensive counseling programs, which address multiple problems affecting learners. Within LO, social and emotional education should be well developed and made relevant to different contexts, such as urban township contexts, in which schools are situated. Educational and occupational learner support programs that will increase the learners’ chances of realizing their dreams. Programs that address the needs of learners who are no longer able to remain or communicate with their families, providing them with caring adults and organized community activities. Peer support programs in areas of substance and alcohol abuse, gang involvement, and sexual and physical abuse.

For such programs to be effective, communities, government and non-governmental organizations should assist school management, in systematically transforming their schools according to the existing legislative framework. Transformed schools will function as part of and with the communities in which they are situated. Unfortunately, funding for programs that target young people in urban townships for youth-driven programs is still very low.

Dimensions of Diversity


Conclusion This research highlights urban township life that renders youth vulnerable to violence, child and substance abuse, etc. Suggestions have been made and further research could be undertaken, particularly in implementing transformation in schools, proper implementation of the subject, LO, including incorporation of social and emotional competence education within LO, and developing quality teacher training programs and youth-driven, youth-friendly programs.

Notes 1. Matric constitutes the school-leaving exams that are taken during the final year of high school, and which will determine students’ chances for entrance to tertiary institutions. 2. There are two types of papers set for matric examination in each subject. One is set on higher grade and the other is set on standard grade. These papers differ according to the types of questions that are asked, and the level of thinking skills that they assess. For instance, a higher-grade paper would require higher levels of thinking and application of knowledge than the standard grade paper, which might require more of the acquired knowledge than the application of it. 3. Apartheid is originally an Afrikaans word, which means separation or segregation. Especially in South Africa, it has acquired the meaning of a system or policy of segregation or discrimination on the grounds of race. 4. A shebeen is a person’s house, which has been turned into “a place where people can stop for a drink, a date, a chat or beautiful music” (Mona, 2005). 5. “Cool” is a word used in township slang, which means the best person, usually young males who are perceived to be having no problems because they can do whatever they want at any time. 6. The English language is still the Language of Learning and Teaching in most schools, while many teachers and school learners are second language speakers of English. 7. This learner identified him/her self as transvestite in the dialogue journal that was completed.

References Abolition of Corporal Punishment Act, Act No 33 of 1997. Allen, R. E. (Ed.) (1992). The concise oxford dictionary of current English. London: BCA. Babbie, E., & Mouton, J. (2002). The practice of social research. New York: Oxford University Press. Bhengu, R. (2004). My Soweto. In A. Roberts, & J. Thloloe (Eds.), Soweto inside out: Stories about Africa’s famous township (pp. 43–47). Johannesburg: Penguin Books. Brady, M., & Rendall-Mkosi, K. (2005). Tackling alcohol problems: Strengthening community action in South Africa. Cape Town: University of western Cape, School of Public Health. Brink, E., Malungana, G., Lebelo, S., Ntshangase, D., & Krige, S. (2001). Soweto: 16 June 1976. Cape Town: Kwela Books. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1984). The changing family in a changing world: America first? Peabody Journal of Education, 61(3), 52–70. Cele, N. (2004). “Equity of access” and “equity of outcomes” challenged by language policy, politics and practice in South African higher education: The myth of language equality in education. South African Journal of Higher Education, 18(1), 38–56. Chisholm, H., & Muller, J. (2000). A South African curriculum for the twenty first century. Report of the review committee on Curriculum 2005. Pretoria: Department of Education. Davidoff, S., & Lazarus, S. (2002). The learning school: An organisation development approach. Second edition. Cape Town: Juta.



Department of Education. (1996). South African Schools Act, No 84 of 1996. Department of Education. (1998). Norms and Standards for School Funding. Pretoria: Department of Education of South Africa. Department of Education. (2002). Revised National Curriculum Statement (Schools). Pretoria: Department of Education of South Africa. Department of Education. (2003). National Curriculum Statement. Grades 10–12. (General). Life Orientation. Pretoria: Department of Education, South Africa. Gardner, H. (1993). Multiple intelligences: The theory in practice. New York: Harper Collins. Garson, P. (2005). Education in South Africa. Retrieved on July 30, 2005, from pls/procs/ Haberman, M. (2004). Urban education: The State of Urban Schooling at the Start of the 21st Century. Milwaukee: University of Wisconsin. Retrieved on July 28, 2005, from urban-education-the-state-o-furb.htm Hay, H. R., & Marais, F. (2004). Bridging programmes: Gain, pain or all in vain. South African Journal of Higher Education, 18(2), 59–75. Human Rights Watch. (2001). Scared at school: Sexual violence against girls in South African schools. London: Human Rights Watch. Le Roux, J. (1993). The anti-child sentiment in contemporary society (with specific reference to the black child). In J. Le Roux (Ed.), The black child in crisis: A socio-educational perspective. (Vol. 1, pp. 49–79). Pretoria: Van Schaik. Luthuli, P. C. (1982). An introduction to black-oriented education in South Africa. Durban: Butterworths. Mangena, M. (2005). Address by Minister of Science and Technology, Mr. Mosibudi Mangena, at the launch of the ECD/Foundation Phase Science and Technology Week, and Certificate Awards, Alexandra. Mapesela, M. L. E. (2004). Academic staff satisfaction suffers due to increased learner access and redress. South African Journal of Higher Education, 18(2), 265–277. Marais, F. (2002). Addressing the education needs of disadvantaged learners in open learning: A joint venture of higher and further education. Paper presented in the second Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning, Durban, South Africa. McCollum, S. (1997). Insights into the process of guiding reflection during an early field experience of pre-service teachers, Doctoral thesis. Virginia: Virginia Polytechnic and State University. Mitchell, C., De Lange, N., Moletsane, R., Stuart, J., & Buthelezi, T. (2005). Giving a face to HIV and AIDS: On the uses of photo-voice by teachers and community health care workers working with youth in rural South Africa. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2, 257–270. Mitchell, C., & Reid-Walsh, J. (2002). Researching children’s popular culture: Cultural spaces of childhood. London: Routledge Taylor Francis. Miyeni, E. (2004). My Soweto. In A. Roberts, & J. Thloloe (Eds.), Soweto inside out: Stories about Africa’s famous township (pp. 162–163). Johannesburg: Penguin Books. Mona, V. (2005). South African Arts and Culture – Shebeens. Retrieved on July 28, 2005, from http:// Nhlengethwa, S. (2004). My Soweto. In A. Roberts, & J. Thloloe (Eds.), Soweto inside out: Stories about Africa’s famous township (pp. 35–38). Johannesburg: Penguin Books. Paquette, D., & Ryan, J. (2001). Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory. Retrieved on July 28, 2005, from Paterson, A. (2005). Information systems and institutional mergers in South African higher education. South African Journal of Higher Education, 19(1), 113–128. Sampson, A. (2004). Drum: The making of a magazine. Johannesburg: Jonathan Ball Publishers. Silver, R. (2005). Aggression and deppression assessed through art: Using draw-a-story to identify children and adolescents at risk. New York and Hove: Brunner-Routledge. Smith, M. E., & Le Roux, J. (1993). The anti-child sentiment in contemporary society (with specific reference to the black child). In J. Le Roux (Ed.), The black child in crisis: A socio-educational perspective. (Vol. 1, pp. 27–47). Pretoria: Van Schaik. South African Townships. (2005). Retrieved on July 27, 2005, from 3132406047

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Taylor, N., Muller, J., & Vinjevold, P. (2003). Getting schools working, research and systemic school reform in South Africa. Cape Town: Pearson Education Trust South Africa. Taylor, N., & Vinjevold, P. (Eds.). (1999). Getting learning right: Report of the President’s Education Initiative Research Project. Johannesburg: Joint Education Trust. The Bantu Education Act, No 47 of 1953. The Group Areas Act, No 41 of 1950. The Extension of University Education Act, No 45 of 1959. The Natives (Black) Urban Areas Act, No 21 of 1923. Thloloe, J. (2004) My Soweto. In A. Roberts, & J. Thloloe (Eds.), Soweto inside out: Stories about Africa’s famous township (pp. 21–34). Johannesburg: Penguin Books. Tourism Kwazulz-Natal. (2005). Umlazi Township. Retrieved on September 18, 2005, from http:// Van Greunen, E. (1993). The anti-child sentiment in contemporary society (with specific reference to the black child). In J. Le Roux (Ed.), The black child in crisis: A socio-educational perspective (Vol. 1, pp. 81–113). Pretoria: Van Schaik. Walker, R. (1993). Finding a silent voice for the researcher: Using photographs in evaluation and research. In M. Schratz (Ed.), Qualitative voices in educational research (pp. 74–92). London: Falmer Press. Weinstein, E., & Rosen, E. (2003). Teaching children about health. (2nd ed.). A multidisciplinary approach. Canada: Thomson Wadsworth. Wieder, A. (2003). Voices from Cape Town classrooms: Oral histories who fought apartheid. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.


Introduction The province of Diourbel is one of the smallest in Senegal in terms of square mileage. It is, however, very densely populated, with a regional density of 243 inhabitants per km2 in 2004, and a total population of more than 115,000 (2004). The population is unequally distributed throughout the province. For example, and apropos this chapter, less than twenty percent of the provinces population lives in the town of Diourbel. Given its location, however, and relative proximity to the cities of Thies and Dakar, Diourbel has seen net population inflow from throughout Senegal. The town of Diourbel, which serves as the capital of Diourbel province, is characterized by its accessibility. It is a relatively populated town where one can find all governmental administrative services, from the Governor’s office to more basic services (water, electricity, and telephone services, etc.). Civil servants are numerous and people are engaged in a range of economic activities beyond agriculture and cattle raising. Greater-Diourbel, comprising settlements in the peri-urban zone of the town, is a poor district in which the population is generally low income civil servants, petty traders, farmers, and craftsmen. This section of the province suffers from the lack of roads, water network, public sanitation, and other services found in other areas.

The Research Issue The notion of school climate refers to the quality of work and communication perceived within the school. It gives a general indication of the atmosphere that prevails in the social relations of the values granted to individuals and the institutions as a living place. In other words, the climate of a school refers to the values and attitudes, and feelings that are obvious among the actors of the school (Fraser, Walberg, & Herbert, 1991; Freiberg, 1999; Gadbois, 1974; Sangsue, Vorpe, & Nguyen, 2004; Taguiri, 1968). In a middle school, for example, the climate is a subjective variable linked to the perception 183 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 183–204. © 2007 Springer.



established by the teachers on their roles in relation with the students. It corresponds in general terms to the culture of the school and can be analyzed on the basis of the set of the perceptions of all the school actors. In recent years, a growing number of works have focused on the study of school climate. The literature shows that school performances is not simply a function of individual characteristics of the students, and student success, but are in some meaningful way influenced by the attitudes and behavior of the teachers. More specifically, some works have demonstrated that these attitudes and behavior contribute to determining school climate, and that this in turn facilitates the promotion of quality teaching (Brault, Durand, & Janosz, 2003; Janosz & Leclerc, 1993; Louis, 1998; Parkes & Stevens, 2000; Solmon, 1996; Thomas, 1976). In a middle school we can estimate that the school climate will be of great importance because it has an important impact on the quality of school life quality beyond issues directly related to the learning of the students (Janosz, Georges, & Parent, 1998; Rutter, 1983; Steinberg, 1996; Stickard, & Mavberry, 1986; Thiebaud, 2003). The question of education quality is of interest to decision-makers, planners, education managers, trade unions, families, communities, development agencies, and others, as well as educators who wish young people to master the key competences that allow them to participate to the new global knowledge economy (ADEA, 2004). Bearing in mind that quality education is the key to development, Senegalese political actors have determined that they must set quality education standards in general, with particular focus on middle schools (Bregman & Bryner, 2004; Ministére de l’Education, PDEF, 2003; Ndoye, 2003; Sourang, 2004). Through this policy they aim to implement the frameworks the country needs to realize an appropriate development policy, as well as articulated means by which to break the poverty circle. Taking into account the issue of quality in middle school education, the issue of the work climate for middle school teachers today appears not only as an important aspect, but as an imperative need. Given this, it seems strange that until recently while some studies have focused on the influence of the professional climate in firms (Brunet, 1983; Likert, 1967), few have studied school climate. In a more focused sense, even those studies done on school climate seem to put aside African middle schools. Finally, on those rare occasions when research interest looks at school climate, teachers’ opinion are only infrequently taken into account. This chapter aims to begin filling this gap through the use of a psycho-sociological framework in which the subjective perceptions of teachers are considered as firsthand, meaningful data. The objective of this chapter is to describe and analyze the atmosphere that prevails at the middle school of Greater-Diourbel. More precisely, the chapter looks at the impact that this climate may have had on the attendance and performances of the students.

Conceptual Framework Researchers in the field of psycho-sociology of education have established a set of similar results on the relation between school climate and school efficiency. Indeed, many researchers agree that schools differ not only in some of their ecological variables but also

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


in the atmosphere and the climate (Halpin & Croft, 1963; Kalis, 1980; Owens, 1998), and that this difference bears on the results of the students (Brookover, Beady, Flood, Scweittzer, & Wisenbaker, 1979; Heck and Marcoulides, 1996). In the same way, Anderson (1992), Matluck (1987), Cruickshank (1990) and Bliss, Firestone, and Richards (1991) for North America review the research conducted on the influence of the climate on school results. Per the conclusions of these studies it seems that ecological variables (physical and material aspects) have a weak influence on school performances (Brunet, Brassard, & Corriveau, 1991; Janosz & Le Blanc, 1996; Klitgaard & Hall, 1974). It is important, however, to be cautious with such conclusions since some studies show that behaviour and academic success tend to be better in clean schools, thus favouring the view that a positive climate is good for learning (Rutter, Mortimore, Ouston, & Smith, 1979). At the level of milieu variables (individuals and groups) it appears that the characteristics of the teachers (e.g., level of training; salary) and those of the schools (e.g., socio-economic markers; ethnic origin) have little influence on school performances. On the contrary, it seems that teachers’ morale is in positive correlation with school success (Ellett & Valberg 1979; Lumsden, 1998; Pelletier, Saeguin, Levesque, & Legault, 2002). Indeed, many studies indicate that the more the teacher’s surroundings offer social support the more people are motivated by what they do (Cropanzano & Kacmar, 1995; Ryan & Deci, 2000; Sagor, 1996; Short & Rinehart, 1992). About the social system variables (relations between individuals and groups) it seems that good relations between school administrators and teachers (Ellett & Valberg, 1979; Sweeny, 1992), and between students and teachers (Chittom & Sistrunk, 1990; Grisay, 1993; Phi Delta Kappan, 1980) favour school success. On the other hand, decision-making, when shared with teachers (Fitzgerald, Young, & Grootenboer, 2003; Norman, 1988), and in combination with good communication (Gonder & Hymes, 1994; Hanna, 1998; Silverman, 1970) seem to positively influence students’ performances. As for the school climate variable, acknowledging its role as a force on the various factors linked with the students’ and teachers’ work and welfare has been supported by many researchers. Bloom (1964), Bandura (1969) and Savoie (1993) each recognized the environment as a powerful source of influence on learning. Students show greater readiness for learning (Janosz et al., 1998) and better performances (Bulach, Malone, & Castleman, 1994; Stronge & Jones, 1991) when they perceive the climate of their school as good. Also Sweeny (1988) strongly says that if the school climate is positive, the teachers stimulate learning and improve pupils’ performances. Finally, Klicpera and Gasteiger-Klicpera (1994) demonstrated the existence of a significant relation between a bad classroom climate, a lack of confidence between teachers and pupils, and a high rate of aggression. In the same way, classes with few problems of aggression are marked with good relations with teachers. These results do not differ from those reported by Debarbieux, Dupuch, and Montoya, (1997); Janosz et al. (1998); Steffgen (2003); and Bowen and Desbiens (2004), all of whose works say that the climate of a school is narrowly in relation with the perception of the problems of violence in the school. Among the rare studies on the school climate in developing countries Samoff, Assie-Lumumba, and Cohen, (1996), and Garrett (1999) reached the conclusion that some organizational measures (e.g., school equipment; infrastructure; material resources; availability of course books; hours devoted to learning; teachers’ qualification; etc.) do exercise significant influence on the school climate.



Studies in the African context have shown that in middle school, academic variables had an effect on the teachers’ morale as well as on the school success of the pupils. Among variables analyzed were school authorities’ policy, school buildings, syllabi, teaching styles, class oral interaction, staff’s qualification, equipments, course books, didactic materials, computers and printing materials, personal contacts, school security (Fuller, 1986; Lahaye, 1987; Watkins, 2000). With an interest in the effect of the middle school climate on academic performance we take into account the fact that, despite the heap of results suggested by the authors quoted here, none was researched and uncovered through empirical work conducted in Senegal. Conducting such a study does raise some questions of methodology. For example, which pieces of information ought be collected? From whom should the data collection be taken? How will the collected data be analysed? How will the results be exposed?

Methodological Framework The present psycho-sociological research is exploratory and consists of a qualitative study with the teachers. The proposed approach used intensive interviews to better emphasize the meanings which carry the perception of the teachers of Greater Diourbel.2 As the aim was to deepen the knowledge of school life through a careful, structured, scrupulous study of the motivations and perceptions and intentions of the subjects the methodology was necessarily to use the new research paradigms in the social sciences, and identify and preserve the individual meanings offered by those interviewed (Rogers, 1985).

Subjects For the choice and the number of subjects of inquiry we relied on Bertaux who described a sampling procedure that seemed particularly suitable to the characteristics of our study. It is on the concept of saturation, defined as being “the phenomenon through which, after a number of interviews, the researcher gets the impression that he has nothing new more to learn as far as the object the inquiry is concerned ” (Bertaux, 1980, p. 205). Following this logic, the election of the teachers to be interviewed proceeded without any problem in terms of the number of subjects, though some difficulty did arise at the level of the redundancy of the gathered pieces of information. In the case of this present research we collected information through deepened interviews with 13 teachers.

Measurement Tools An interview grid covering all the themes of this research was elaborated to be used as a flexible guide rather than a rigid protocol. The interview scheme was tested and refined in the course of the first phase of contact. The approach to data collecting

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


was planned in two steps: first, initial contact was made with the political authorities of the province. This was followed with contact with the educational authorities of the school. Only on receiving their approval did contact with the teachers take place. These meetings were aimed at rousing the support of some of those people and their participation in the inquiry for others. The Target Group Deepened Interviews (TGDI) were conducted by two assistants, and took place at the school. The research assistants were well-trained in sociology, and had rich experience in research interviews. Systematically in the course of the deep interviews and remaining inquiry, tests of concordance were administrated in order to check first if each interviewer was gathering information in line with the research objectives. The interviews lasted 2 hours each on the semi-directive mode. Subjects were asked to freely answer general questions on each theme of the study. More specific questions were then asked to glean more precise impressions of the initial response. In this way, dimensions and themes were allowed to develop over the course of the individual interviews. The interviews were then taped and transcribed “verbatim” later.

Analysis Data was initially analysed every evening in order to identify any holes in information gathering or potential new directions. Lists were made of main ideas, words, themes, phrases and quotations which translated the perceptions and feeling of the subjects vis-à-vis their work conditions. This first-level analysis consisted of various deepened readings to get out the common specificities and the different aspects of the collected corpus. Thus, many partial analyses were written in the course of the first 2-week period of field inquiry and in the 4 weeks before the writing of the first version of the study. The fidelity of the data was maintained via regular review by two trained judges who were to reach full agreement. A more deepened content analysis was done when writing the final version. The gathered data was submitted to a double reading: first via a grid highlighting the main socio-demographic characteristics of each subject, and then full transcription of the interviews were done with EPI-INFO software designed for processing and analysis qualitative data. This allowed us to identify links between social conditions and the personal life experience of the teachers for comparison.

Results Teacher Characteristics The teachers were interviewed on the elements that we identified as being most immediately linked to their teaching and the administration of the middle school. These included: – Some important features of the individuals (sex, marital status). See Table 1. – The main conditions for the practice of their profession (state of the school buildings, types of equipment, tasks and material resources).



Table 1.

Personal and professional profiles of the teachers of Greater Diourbel Middle School (GDMS)

Family and first name



Matrimonial status

Académic level

Professional diploma

Professional status

Bachelors A’ Level Under graduate


MST MST Part time teacher

Married Single M M. Sarr C. T. Kone M. Fall


49 51 32

M. Thiam F. Seck A. Badji B. Gning M. Sene M. Seck R. Diouf B. Ndione S. Gueye A. D. Diaw Number of teachers


27 34 34 32 27 44 37 27 48 49


1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8


Under graduate Under graduate B. A M. A A’ level A’ Level A’ level M. A M. A A’ level

MST MST MST Part time teacher MST MST MST MST Primary school teacher Primary school teacher


Notes: MSTC: Middle School Teaching Certificate. MST: Middle School Teacher. ESTC: Elementary School Teaching Certificate.

The teaching body of the Middle School consists of eleven male and two female teachers. Eight of the men are married with one wife, and three are single. One female teacher is married, the other single. This faculty composition aligns with the national demographic of teachers in Senegal (Ndoye, 1996). The discrepancy males/females is a difficulty in a school where girls’ excellence is promoted when we consider that the sociological studies on that question underlined the positive impact of the female presence on the schoolgirls’ learning (Ndoye, 1999).

Age The average age of the teachers is 38 years, with the oldest being 51 and the youngest 27. Eight teachers are under 40 years, with five between 44 and 51 years. More than half of the teachers are under 35 years. This relative youth is linked on the one hand, to the recent development of the middle schools, and on the other hand, to the fact that at the completion of their secondary studies some students are recruited as teachers in middle school after a 2 year training at the University Teacher Training School.

Academic Level The general level of the teacher training and preparedness is not uniform. It extends from the four teachers with GCE-A Level qualifications, to the two teachers who hold Masters degrees. Most of the teachers were trained at the University Teacher Training

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


School (ENS) for 2 years to be qualified with the middle school Teaching Certificate, and most teacher recruitment happens at this training school. There are two teachers without any training. They are substitute teachers recruited by the State because of the lack of teachers.

The Physical State of the School According to the school Principal the middle school is up-to-date and well located at the crossroad of many villages. Its physical state is good for it is a new unit. This opinion is shared by the female under-teacher who says that the school is up-to-date but is poorly equipped. “There is just the minimal equipment to allow its functioning, the comfort is really poor. We would like to have offices at the level of our status of teacher trainers. Truly it would be a shame for me to receive my female friends in such an office (and what an office!). Have a glance at the Principal’s office, it is a true attic.” (Verbatim) Some teachers think that the middle school looks like a rural school. Recalling his first impression on his arrival at the middle school a teacher says: On my arrival here for the first time, I asked the taxi driver if he was not mistaken so much the middle school in front of which I was had the profile of an elementary school. It is the reason why people say that it is a bush middle school. (Verbatim) The art education teacher talks in the same way: I was discouraged to work in the open air; the pupils do not like this school which is deprived of all and they would prefer to attend other middle schools with a better standing. (Verbatim) In the unanimous opinion of the teachers what is embarrassing about the physical state of the middle school is not the lack of comfort in classrooms, but the lack of a wall. One teacher says: The lack of fence round the middle school allows animals very often to go into the classrooms and disturb the courses. Such conditions present major risks as well for the teachers as for the students. (Verbatim) Although the physical state of the middle school is unsatisfactory it must be noted that its presence in the peri-urban zone is very much appreciated by the populations. Indeed the Greater Diourbel Middle School had been built to meet the real needs of education of the basic community. Most of the pupils of that community had difficulty attending secondary schools because of the long distances to such schools, and also because of the high cost of education in private-owned schools. It remains, however, that the middle school has no fence or surrounding wall3 and is under-equipped.



The General State of School Premises The general opinion of the teaching staff is that the premises of the middle school are in an unhealthy and uncomfortable state. This unhealthy state is due to two main reasons. First, the lack of general health and sanitation awareness among students. Second, the lack of a surrounding wall, which lack puts the school in the situation where it is impossible to control its academic space which is then used as a passageway by cars, taxis, pedestrians, and even cattle. A quick visit to the classrooms indicates the low level of awareness of sanitary behaviour and environmental hygiene among students. As a rule the classrooms are not regularly cleaned, despite the presence of a cleaning group composed primarily of girl students. These rooms are compared to rubbish heaps (scattered waste paper pieces, fruit skins, tissues, and pieces of stuff … etc.). The schoolyard is also flooded with plastic bags and rubbish of all kinds. The Principal explains this unhealthy situation of the yard by the fact that before the opening of the school the site was reserved and used as a public rubbish-place. In spite of the students’ mobilisation, the buried waste still poses problems especially in the schoolyard where the plastic bags and rubbish are scattered. As for the lack of a surrounding wall, the Principal says, in an unquiet whisper: This Middle school is transformed into a live stock park at times for herds of goats, sheep and cattle. In the morning, the cattle cross the schoolyard to the pastures and in the evening they cross back. This lack of wall … sets a non-security situation as well for the pupils as for the teachers.4 (Verbatim) Critically the teaching body is unanimous on the nakedness of the Middle School of Greater Diourbel. Some teachers do not like it and see in it disrespect for teachers. As explains one of them: They do not respect the State’s agents for we work [in] classrooms with untiled floors and a lot of dust. No one minister or engineer would like to work in our conditions. The State should have more consideration for teachers and pupils. (Verbatim) In addition, the lack of ceiling fans in a town where the temperatures between April and July may reach 45C (approximately 113F) hinders efforts at teaching, especially in the afternoon: “The perspiration is too intense and it is sometimes impossible for the teachers and pupils to give or follow courses,” says a teacher. (Verbatim)

Classrooms The middle school started with two forms (1st and 2nd) at the school reopening of 1996–1997. It was in the course of the 1998–1999 school year that the Ministry of Education (ME) built two other classrooms. These classrooms have untiled floors, and

The Middle School Climate in Senegal Table 2.


Evolution of the students’ numbers 1996–2001

Numbers Classe 1st Form Total Number (B–G) Number of girls Girls’ rates %






50 20 40

75 20 26.7

83 20 24.1

148 59 38.9

145 48 33.1

Classe 2nd Form Total Number Number of girls Girls’ rates %

100 23 23

74 25 33.8

119 38 31.9

123 36 29.3

151 63 41.7

Classe 3rd Form Total Number Number of girls Girls’ rates %

– – –

81 22 27.2

92 29 31.5

119 41 34.5

110 32 29.09

Classe 4th Form Total Number Number of girls Girls’ rates %

– – –

– – –

61 23 37.7

87 31 35.6

92 38 41.3

Source: Archives ME, Dakar, 2000.

lack sufficient pupils’ desks, built-in-blackboards, teachers’ desks, and book shelves. The floors, combined with the lack of a good cleaning program contribute to make the classrooms unhealthy. Each classroom, on average, holds 28 desks, with enrolment of between 92 and 145 at 2000–2001, even as the official ratio is 55 pupils for a teacher (Table 2). Thus, students do not have enough places to sit in the classrooms. In addition, the middle school suffers from a lack of classrooms. To make up for this deficit teachers are compelled to borrow rooms in the elementary school, Ngor Sene, 15 minutes away from the middle school. The middle school has got eight classes, all of which would occupy the four rooms in the same building. Instead, by making profitable use of the vacancy in the nearby elementary school, which is empty of its own students in the afternoon, the middle school has adopted a double-tide system, in which the middle school holds courses at the elementary school on Monday and Friday afternoons as well as Saturday mornings, so as to meet the regular hours of teaching stated in the middle school curriculum and syllabi. However, these movements to and from the elementary school and middle school are tiring for the pupils and teachers and at times impact the duration of the courses.

Educational Materials The Greater Diourbel Middle School is remarkable for the lack of course books and teaching material. Taking into account the financial situation of the relevant provincial governing bodies overseeing education, the middle school is sometimes confronted with reductions in the funds for distribution of course books and other materials. Most of the teachers say that they make use of all means at their disposal to help in their courses. In maths classes, for example, one teacher says that each year he is compelled



to write a synthesis of the application exercises at the end of each chapter for his students to master his courses. He also writes for them a collection of paper topics for the GCE-O Level (B.F.E.M) school leaving exam to help them in their studies. The other teachers are in the same situation, with each making best efforts to find the books selected for the year’s syllabus, along with any pertinent teaching supports (photocopies, mimeos, etc.) to aid students in acquiring the necessary knowledge. One teacher says this by way of illustrating the situation: It is impossible for me to correctly teach my art education activities because we can’t either mix colours or stock the pupils’ works. (Verbatim) This point of view is reinforced by his colleague, the German teacher: For the German courses only three students have books they bought. The Middle School has seven reading books only for the 3rd Form, which compels me to have photocopies or to write out all application drills on the blackboard. (Verbatim) Even the gym teacher is not spared by that shortage because he has to find his own supports for physical education (buying weights to throw, or accept using worn-out equipment). As for the appropriateness of the available course books, the teachers agree that those they have are in small quantities and are out-dated. One teacher says: Available books are out-dated; the syllabus has changed but the course books have not followed. (Verbatim) To avoid this difficulty, the teachers use tricks. One of them says: We are compelled to make a medley of books to teach the lessons on the syllabus. (Verbatim) In short, it must be said that the teachers suffer from the lack of books on methodology, as well as concerns supplemental audio and video material. In language courses the audio material remains indispensable for the improvement of pronunciation and listening skills. It is the same in natural sciences or life and health sciences courses, in which experiments constitute important parts of the course. In the end, it can be said that the middle school is pedagogically poorly-equipped. The available equipment, including library services, is very limited.

Study Syllabus and Teaching Methods Most of the interviewed teachers have declared that the syllabus is too long and even ambitious. Says one, The syllabus is ambitious though rich.

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


Another joins in: The syllabus is not difficult but long if compared with the number of hours. The content is good in the whole but the time devoted to teaching is short. Hardly do we teach half of the syllabus. (Verbatim) Some teachers insist that the syllabus does not often take into account local realities. Here there is a real discrepancy between the official syllabi of the ministry and those used on the ground. As explains one of the teachers: The selected themes on the syllabi are very interesting but sometimes there is misadaptation of the content to the study milieu. In fact a standard syllabus which is schemed by the ministry of education does not allow to take into account the realities specific to the milieu in which the school is and where the syllabuses are in use. (Verbatim) The words of the teachers reflect a set of strategies used to complete the courses and adapt them to reality. The most common strategies consists of site visits, lectures, class debates, language club facilitation, thematic research groups, school twinning, etc. These practices are pertinent because they allow the students to acquire new knowledge in many fields mostly related to their preoccupations. As one teacher puts it: Such activities allow facilitating exchanges with other students and can rouse vocations. (Verbatim) In addition to methodological matters, the teachers state that they use other themes to take into account local realities. Among these topics are the rural exodus, the “Moodu Moodu” phenomenon, family ceremonies, civic education, sexually transmitted diseases5 (STDs)/AIDS, youth reproduction health, etc. These various strategies allow the teachers to deal with the interests of their students who live in a fast-changing society, especially regarding globalisation, with ever more acute informal constraints on various topics.

Grading and School Performance The teachers universally recognize the major difficulty in respect to the practice of seeking student papers worked on over two-semesters. Instead, they resort to quick evaluations with oral questions before starting their courses to be sure the lessons are regularly comprehended. In addition, they schedule a semester class exam and often a semester paper. Still, given the heavy enrolments, it remains difficult to efficiently check student performances and to bring in the best timely pedagogical and appropriate changes. Yet despite the non-continuous nature of student assessment and the conditions of the middle school, the academic performances are good. As the Principal proudly says: We won the Olympics of 1998, and for the GCE-O Level (BFEM) we always are among the best middle schools. We are regularly quoted as a reference at the level of the town of Diourbel, which we deserve. (Verbatim)



The analysis of the school quitting and class repeating rates we were given by the school’s administrators shows that indeed the middle school has a fairly good retention record. In 2000, class repetition rates were between 15 and 26%, higher in the 3rd and 4th Forms, those working on the GCE-O level exams. School quitting rates are between 0.8 and 8.1%. Answering a question on the pupils’ performances, the Principal underlines that: The girls do not do less for the good results of the school. They have good academic results and make people requestion the sex stereotypes on their aptitudes to understand sciences and maths and technics (SMT). In the Middle School itself the pupils with the best performances are the girls. Even for the G.C.E-.O’ Level our girls are among the best of the middle schools. (Verbatim) The Principal’s opinion was confirmed by all the teachers, according to whom the best students of the Middle School are girls, who are more motivated in their studies. But this motivation is not equal. According to one teacher: Village pupils are more motivated than town ones who often neglect their studies for other activities such as TV/video watching, rap music, games, entertainment in dancing rooms, tea round. (Verbatim) The motivation of the rural students is seen in the fact that they still believe in the utility of the school. Studying is their main entertainment. A teacher explains: Some pupils are motivated even though there is no longer a reference model because they still believe in school. In other words they believe that studying is necessary for success. (Verbatim) Indeed despite the difficult conditions they live within and the distance they walk daily (an average of 7 km per day), the village pupils are the most punctual and regular in their performances. A teacher witnesses: You should see the abnegation with which these pupils work at school. Measured with their life condition the commitment of these pupils can be understood only through their motivation and resolution and all the hope they invest in their studies. (Verbatim) We can, on the one hand, think that the interest the pupils have in their studies, especially the rural world girls, comes from the new strategies of education which have other motivations. As Pilon and Yaro (2000) express it: It is less for these disfavoured fringes to climb the social scale through education than to reach social integration, which more and more necessitates the minimal mastering of the basic elements of education. In this perspective school is no longer perceived with the only view of getting a promised work, it has other basic functions (to read and write French, to know how to make one’s way through the

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


public services) which from now on are included in the education request expressed by parents. In fact the acquisition of these basic functions can be a factor of individual or group emancipation, an instrument of appropriation of different capitals (symbolic, social, politic, economic) and various knowledge (practical, technical, of communication). (Quoted by Gerard, 1989) On the other hand, we can recall the changing rationales for education, that is, give account of the fact that for some, the valorisation of the social capital gained from school performance has new meanings and motivations because it accesses other socioeconomic areas. Alternatively, it may prepare girls for marriage in a marketplace in which the main clients are the well-to-do migrants (Moodu Moodu) seeking educated wives. Essential then is the debate relative to the ends of education in their concrete modalities of implementation. In this view, we can wonder about impact of the “Moodu Moodu” phenomenon on the degree of motivation of the pupils regarding their studies. Indeed, one of the aims of education is to get a job and a salary. The potential advantages that can be drawn from education may be motivating factors or discouraging factors at the time one registers for school. If children must, at the end of their schooling, join in the long queues of those who look for a job, parents might be more inclined toward disillusionment, and so encourage their children to explore other possibilities of a more immediate reward type. The choice brings into question the postulate according to which socio-economic success is a consequence of conventional schooling. Sometimes the real discrepancy between the hopes of society and what school offers is what gets uncovered. Again, the “Moodu Moodu” example is pertinent enough in this aspect. As says one teacher: With the Moodu Moodu phenomenon the pupils study to become traders. (Verbatim) He goes with his analysis to explain: Trade is an investment with immediate yielding and a Baol-Baol gives more importance to yielding than to academic knowledge acquisition. So they do not hesitate to choose between school and trade. (Verbatim)

Student Discipline The teachers are unanimous regarding the pupils’discipline. All say that the middle school students are quite disciplined. Some cases of indiscipline may occur. For example, to refuse to obey or to take a class admission ticket after missing class. It is noticed that such cases are often those of “resheltered” pupils from other schools who rely on their parents’ protection sometimes having great influence in the town of Diourbel. A teacher states: But except the cases that may be handled, and that happen about the end of the school year when the students are tired, the pupils are disciplined and even shy. (Verbatim)



The Quality of the School Relations It is important to observe that nearly all the teachers affirm that the relations between the pupils are good on the one side, owing perhaps to the fact that most of them are from the district, and on the other side because they live in a space of communication and meeting which allows them to strengthen their relations (home, English club, German club … ). Elsewhere the relations between students and teachers are good generally because many of the teachers have their sons and daughters in the middle school, or their nieces, nephews, etc. This special aspect of the school may explain the quality of the relations between the teachers and their students. We can notice the good relations between the Principal and his students. Many teachers think the Principal is a very gentle and available man. One of them gives this opinion: He is a school Head who is not authoritative. He is very soft. He has good fathersons relations with his students, for he is before all a family father. (Verbatim) Nevertheless, there are sometimes unhappy conflicts between students and teachers. They may be so strong that the pupils refuse to attend their courses. That happened with one pupil who since school began has not attended the maths class of a teacher. The problem is still on and the student’s training in maths may be damaged considerably. Living in such a conflictual situation the pupils use the class walls as a framework for the expression of their soul. Indicates one teacher: So most of the teachers and under teachers are taunted and jeered on the walls of the classrooms. An example of this: “Mrs. X is a she-monkey” (Mrs. X is as ugly as a monkey) or “Mr. Y has no guts.” Even the Principal is not spared. He says: I happen to read on the walls words about myself that are not polite at all. I simply ask to erase them. Let us notice that this practice is not specific to our middle school. In most of the secondary schools and middle schools and even at the university kids are used to expressing themselves on the walls of the classrooms. (Verbatim) These disagreements do not seem limited to the relations between students and teachers. Through some four interviews we recognized a conflictual situation between the Principal and some members of the teaching staff. On this point the Principal is blamed for not calling a meeting of the Management Committee to report on the pupils’ annual registrations and the amount of the school year budget. And a teacher says: In spite of all the initiatives taken to have information on the registration of the pupils and on the budget the Principal refuses to communicate with us. He even dared to forbid a teachers’ meeting and sent us an explanation mail. We talked to the Academic Inspector (I.A) and to the Departmental Inspector of the Ministry of National Education (IDEN) to settle this problem but with no results. (Verbatim)

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


The point of view of those teachers is interesting because it fairly well illustrates the difference felt by the teachers between the constraints of a concerted effort to represent the school in a positive light and the personal way the Principal manages the school. We can wonder whether this lack of communication by the Principal is not the source of the accusation against himself by one of the teachers. This charge is: There is money misuse because for five years the management committee has not met and we have no pedagogical and logistic material and no chalk nor any support. (Verbatim) Another teacher mentions a conflict that opposes him and the Principal about the printing of course papers and other supports. He says: This school is badly run; sometimes I have great difficulties to have printed material. At the end of his interview with us, the Principal in responding to his conflicts with some teachers didn’t deny them. Rather, he sought to emphasize the concerted effort to present the school positively and to lower the conflict around differences of opinion on school matters. For him, the conflictual situation with some of the teachers arose from misunderstanding. So, in his mind, and in the general interest of the school, it would be good to organize a session to call the management committee in order to establish a good atmosphere. One underteacher agreed, saying: In all human communities there are conflicts and disagreements that sometimes put fire in the atmosphere, but people should overcome them. (Verbatim) A second teacher concurred: These divergences should be hidden for the interest of the school. We all have to do things in the interest of the school and the pupils. (Verbatim) About the relation between the administration and the pupils some misunderstanding is noticed. A teacher said: The underteacher is very authoritative and hard with the pupils. Maybe because he is from the secondary school where the students are more troublesome. He wants to impose himself on!! (Verbatim) The underteacher-in-chief indicated that he sees his work as being to have students respect school by-laws in the most acceptable way. Regarding the relation between the teachers and school girls, the interviews reveal that they are simply pedagogical. If in general student-teacher relations are good there will be, nevertheless, a tense climate between some students and some teachers. It seems that the middle school exemplifies the phenomenon described by Barry, the



Principal of the Middle School Mamadou Diaw, Thiès, Senegal, in his article “Crise d’autorité et violence dans nos lycées.” He wrote: If we scrutinize things we quickly see that the phenomenon in fact (not new in our education system) is the revelation of two bad things which have been developing for a long time slowly in our education system: the lack of authority and violence … . These bad things of course can be explained by an objective situation due to the multifold-crisis context that stirs our society and also to the serious and material and human carelessness that often causes great difficulty in the running of our secondary and middle schools. (Wal Fadjri, number 2781 of June 23–24, 2000, p. 10)

Security Climate On the whole, the teachers affirm that the lack of a wall around the middle school leads to some insecurity for teachers as well as students. In illustration, one female underteacher tells us: One day I was alone in the office and I was aggressed by a madman. I shouted out breathlessly. I locked up myself in. It was the same on another day when a bull attacked a group of students. One of them with the bull running after her escaped thanks to her great experience with animals. She laid down flatly breathless and motionless. Her friends kept on telling her not to move or breathe. A while later the bull went away. (Verbatim) Additional cases of insecurity were mentioned by teachers. Before the digging of the foundations of the surrounding wall, carts, and cabs would sometimes go through the school grounds at high speed, which endangered the lives of both students and teachers. Other comments mentioned cases of theft of books and documents in the school secretary’s office, stone throwing by the kids of the district and naked madmen strolling in the vicinity of the Middle School. And yet no cases of physical violence, sexual harassment, or sexual abuse have ever been brought in the middle school. The interviewed teachers did refer to pupils who smoke cigarettes and, very rarely, “yamba,” or marijuana. For these teachers, most of the pupils smoke for mimetic reasons, doing so in the communication space or in their tea-rounds. But inasmuch as the teachers fear it, and inasmuch as marijuana consumption is more an urban phenomenon, it is obvious that as Diourbel itself grows in population, the youth of Diourbel will not be able always to escape from it, particularly on the occasion of dancing parties and “fourals,” music concerts, or tea-rounds. Those meeting spaces of the youth also constitute places of sexual contacts between the pupils and occasions of STD and AIDS contamination. Recent inquiries on the AIDS prevalence at the level of the secondary and middle schools reveal rates that are higher than the national average rate (2%). This is a worrisome situation if we know that most sexual intercourse at that age is unprotected and can lead to undesired pregnancies, illegal abortions, and/or other potentially serious consequences for the girls’ reproductive health. For all those reasons the teachers are happy to note that pregnancies are very rare at the level of the middle school. For example, in the school year 2000/2001,

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


there was only one pregnancy, that of a 3rd Form girl. That seems not to have surprised the female under-teacher who affirms: As soon as I saw that girl with her manners I asked the teachers to be very cautious with her boyish behaviour. She was a resheltered pupil in our Middle School; she was from elsewhere with manners unknown in this school … (Verbatim) Another teacher confirms that opinion: I once met that girl at a late time at night and when I asked her why she was in that place at that time, she told me she was there to watch films. So I am not surprised to see that pregnancy. (Verbatim) Answering the question, what attitude should one have in case of pregnancy in the school, the teachers answer carefully. If the teachers expressed unanimity in respect of the by-laws in force requiring pregnant girls to be excluded from school, so, too, would the partner in the pregnancy be excluded (if a pupil) and the sentence should be extended to him if it is a teacher. A teacher underlines this point: It’s really shocking to see a schoolgirl with pregnancy excluded while the guilty boy is not punished. More than that pregnancy is a true loss for parents and a big risk for the girl who is not in good conditions to carry her pregnancy to the end and to have an undesired child. (Verbatim)

Conclusion This inquiry allowed us to investigate the general climate of the Greater Diourbel Middle School as perceived by the school’s teachers. Results show that the school climate plays a determining role in the good running of the middle school. Thus, where you feel secure, where you can rely on others, and where stress is placed on quality teaching, a school’s teachers become very involved in their work, and students show strong academic performances. Concretely, this research sheds light on the teachers’ conditions which are, if not poor, then certainly difficult, materially and pedagogically speaking. The buildings are relatively new but they are not taken care of as well as they could be. There is not a true staff room, and there is insufficient school equipment. Most teachers think that the syllabi should be reduced and adapted to local realities, especially concerning gender issues. They find it difficult to innovate at the level of the teaching methods, and are confronted both by routine and the constraints of the teaching/learning situation. About paper grading and correction, generally, the teachers recognize that it will be difficult to respect the norms of requiring two papers per semester. Despite these adverse factors the performances of the students remain good because the teachers pay a great deal of attention to those who are motivated in their studies and disciplined in their behaviour. Regarding security issues, the teachers acknowledge that, despite occasional cases of deviance here and there, juvenile delinquency has not reached an alarming threshold.



The relative tranquillity of the milieu creates a feeling of security which favours education processes and practices. This current research sustains the conclusion of Klitgaard and Hall (1974), Brunet et al. (1991) and Janosz and Le Blanc (1996) according to which ecological variables have weak relation with the academic performances. It also brings to light the importance of the variables of the social system. Because the school context offers social support, the teachers and also the students are motivated by what they do. Similar results were gathered by Short and Rinehart (1992), Cropanzano and Kacmar (1995), Sagor (1996), Ryan and Deci (2000). So like those of Grisay (1993) and Bowen and Desbiens (2004), our present conclusions are that this middle school is characterized by a good relation between students and teachers and has little difficulty with drugs, sexuality, or violence. In the light of those results it seems correct to generalize this study and to conduct it with a representative sample of all the Senegalese middle schools. In addition to the analysis of the climate of the middle schools at the national level, such research will allow the identification of more organisational and individual features (relational climate, educational climate, security climate, justice climate, and belonging climate). In bringing to light the role of school and organisational factors in the explanation of school performance, it would provide precise data to school heads wanting to build a school environment which will be materially and psychosocially favourable to learning.

Notes 1. With a total land area of 196.722 km2, Senegal is a semi-arid country occupying the westernmost position in West Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean coast. Senegal’s population was estimated at the end of the year 2003 at slightly more than ten million, and like most other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is characterized by its rapid growth (estimated at 2.5% per annum between 1988 and 2003). The impact of this rapid growth can be seen in the increasing population density. The data also reveal an imbalance in the spatial distribution of that population. The Province of Dakar which occupies 0.3% of the national territory holds 22% of the total population of Senegal (PNUD, 1998). 2. The choice to undertake research at the Greater Diourbel Middle School results from a practical circumstance. We were already there doing a study at the request of a Dakar-based NGO. We then opted to study, simultaneously, work conditions of the teachers. The school is located in Diourbel, a town approximately 80 miles from Dakar, and is a strong presence for students from villages in its vicinity. Its student population includes numerous students from lower socio-economic status families. Opened in 1996 it had 481 students in 2002–2003. 3. Beside the administration building the Provincial Council funds the creation of a fencing wall and in September 2001 they completed the building of another block of two classrooms. 4. This reflects the situation in June 2001. According to latest information the closing wall has since been built. 5. “Moodu Moodu”: It history goes back to the Islamic religion and its the specificity of its local practice. This noun is structured by reduplicating the Senegalese proper name Mòòdu; which is the diminutive of Muhammad or Mamadou. Its most common meaning refers to Senegalese emigrants living in rich countries of the North. The French and the Italians used, at first, used it to refer to Senegalese peddlers living in their countries. Nowadays it tends to describe a socio-professional group, namely those you encounter in the informal economic (Thiam, 2000); the sense is currently evolving to social behaviour, who, on the field of economy is tough at trade, saving every cent, rather fundamentalist, of a rustic in their everyday life, great capacity of adaptation to circumstances, and abstemious (Ndiaye, 1997).

The Middle School Climate in Senegal


However, in Senegal it is: a people who did not go to school and who became rich, after emigrating from Senegal (Sène, 2003). The term Mòòdu Mòòdu meaning is evolving to a group of individuals, trying to achieve professional integration without any support from the State. They manage to by-pass the institutional structures by using informal and intra-personal relationships. The kernel location of the networking process is Touba, capital city of the Mourides: 49 km from Diourbel, and central market places all over Senegalese cities; from where they shape their commercial strategies to spread in such a span that they are to be met in African countries such Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Congo, South Africa, etc. or in the Us, in Asia (Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc.) or in the Pacific (Australia, etc.).”

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Introduction In this chapter, I will discuss an array of issues; the most pertinent being the disillusionment of many of Kenya’s urban poor who, like the majority of rural-urban migrants, moved to the city with the hope of finding jobs and improving their economic wellbeing as well as achieving new optimized opportunities. I will also look at how this hope for improved lives has been elusive for the parents and now for the children through a process of unrealized education objectives, massive drop-outs or push-outs, un-conducive learning environment due to area violence, dirt and filth, and lack of family support. This will provide some understanding of the plight of the many poor in urban areas and particularly in the informal settlements (slums) of Nairobi, Kenya. Other questions to be dealt with here include how the informal settlements themselves came about in a city that was originally planned for Europeans; how has the presence of these informal settlements perpetuated socio-economic inequalities in Kenya’s urban areas, and particularly in Nairobi, Kenya’s largest city; and what is being done and what should be done to bring about some form of social justice in the goals of “education for all” especially the youth from poor families – most of them in the large informal settlements of Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho, Mukuru? I will argue that a holistic approach to the problem of the youth in poor areas need to be addressed going beyond the recently celebrated “free education for all” introduced by President Kibaki and his National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) government in 2003. Whereas this introduction of free primary education is a welcome partial solution to the issue of differentials and marginalization of city youth in the informal settlement as pertains to their search for modern education, there are still many socialhistorical problems that need to be addressed. I will discuss how, for example, one non-governmental organization, the Undugu Society of Kenya, has been dealing with this problem, well before the government gave it as much serious thought. There are some lessons to learn from the example of the Undugu Society, particularly because 205 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 205–218. © 2007 Springer.



this organization specifically deals with the poor youth, street children and indeed focuses on the major informal settlements of Nairobi.

Social Historical Development of Urban Education Differentials (Inequality) Historical materialism (Marx, 1894, 1972), which refers to understanding the history of power and accumulation of property in a historical perspective, could assist us in understanding the current situation in Kenya’s urban areas and specifically the city of Nairobi. The social history of Nairobi is one that has bred inequality in various areas of people’s lives, and the matters of education and schooling have not been spared. If anything, these glaring inequalities that were formerly in evidence between racial groups (Europeans, Asians, and Africans) in Nairobi and are currently in evidence between social classes (the rich and poor observed in the distinct residential areas of the city) continue to shape the prospects for many urbanites. The history of who has had power and control both materially and ideologically dates back to the colonial establishment of the city of Nairobi in the late nineteenth century by the British imperialists, initially as a railway workshop in 1899. Before the coming of these imperialists, who were interested primarily in maximizing their wealth through collection and accumulation of raw materials (hence the need for the railway), Nairobi was simply a forested savannah where the Maasai used to graze their cattle. The word “Nairobi,” which the British colonialists adopted, was a Maasai word for the “cool waters” where they would bring their cattle to drink, especially in the hot tropical afternoons. From the open grasslands, cottages emerged to house those who worked in the railway workshops. Eventually, the first British administrators began to settle in Nairobi. The city’s climatic conditions (cool and temperate) were environmentally acceptable to the British, hence the original workers’ cottages grew to become a small village of White settlers, and eventually this would grow to become a sizable urban center that would be home to African servants working for European officers, farmers, and industrialists who gradually called Nairobi their home. The city grew with European interests at heart, and with no true concern for the African population that over time would become the majority. Indeed, the history of unequal development of Nairobi, as well as other urban centers that emerged in Kenya, explains the continuing differentials in the residential circumstances of the current population, the emergence of informal settlements, the poor education standards of certain groups, and the helplessness in which a majority of city dwellers, especially the poor, continue to dwell. The national and local public policy that has guided the growth of what is today the city of Nairobi has been one that served the colonial interests up to 1963, when Kenya achieved independence. This was an innately biased policy, one without the interests of the majority Africans at heart. The policy that has existed since the onset of independence to the present has advanced those biases, with the focus this time not against the African population per se, but against the majority poor urbanites. The impact of this policy that serves the interests of the rich and the politically well-connected has been

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a neglect of the poor leading to ever more overcrowding in the poor neighborhoods (referred to as the Eastlands during the colonial times and to date), a dearth of basic resources, high unemployment, and more specifically to the purposes of this chapter, poor overcrowded schools. It is important to understand the core of the urban policy that guided the colonial development of cities like Nairobi. I argue that while there were some modifications in favor of the city’s African population after independence, that policy is to a large extent, and certainly in the eyes of the many poor, almost as it was in the past. The “city” and the “town” were not the place for the African. The “rural” was the home of the African. This meant that no residential areas were originally designed for the Africans because they were not expected to settle there. No schools were put up for African children in the city of Nairobi, and the infrastructure one would expect in a “city” was only to be found in the European residential areas of Lavington, Westlands, Muthaiga, and Kileleshwa, the latter specifically built to house senior government officers. It was not until the 1940s that the colonial government was faced with the reality of an increasing number of Africans who were working in the city as servants, menial job holders, low ranking security men, etc., that the “so – called Eastlands,” with such estates as Bahati and Shauri Moyo, were built. A specific example: a number of these housing estates, Muthurwa, Land Mawe, etc., were constructed to house those who worked for the Kenya Railways. Colonial urban policy largely assumed that only men would be coming to Nairobi, as they were the only ones who might have a legitimate reason (work) to be in the city while their families (wife and children) would continue to live in the rural areas. Further, if the children of these working men were lucky enough to be able to go to school, it would be out in their home, rural areas. It should be clear by now that the African residential area, Eastlands, was conceived to start off from a position of disadvantage, with non-existent or very limited general amenities, poor schools, if any were built at all, and a general lack of resources. But a strict policy will not always succeed in keeping people away, especially from places where they think they might get opportunities to improve their lives. This was the case in Nairobi during colonial times, and despite colonial restrictions on Africans coming to the city, they still did albeit initially in relatively small numbers, though enough to overcrowd the few legitimate houses, or rooms, as the houses were only ten feet by ten feet and expected to house only one man. This kind of one room residence would eventually become the “home” of families, as the working men brought their wives and children to the city. The resulting overflow would lead to the creation of some of Nairobi’s oldest and largest informal settlements, including Mathare Valley and Kibera. This would be the beginning of the seemingly never-ending process of overurbanization in Kenya. Similar processes are observable in other African countries. This process refers to the situation where a nation is urbanizing too fast to give adequate amenities and resources to the new urbanites. In Kenya for example, urbanization rose from 8% in 1962, just prior to independence, to 15% in 1978, and 21% in 1995 (World Bank, 1998). This increase in population suggests a large, concomitant, ongoing increase of urban labor unmatched to available jobs. The new rural-urban migrants who settle in Kenya’s cities and towns cannot easily find



employment. Housing is similarly problematic, and they face great difficulty in educating their children, as the available schools are either already overcrowded or are too expensive for these new urban migrants who want to make the city/town their new home. Unlike the European and American cities that arose during the period of mass industrialization, African cities have not encountered industrialization at this level, which helps to explain why the city, for most Africans, has come to signify gross socioeconomic inequalities and real poverty for the majority.

Post-Independence Urbanization: Hopes and Aspirations Kenya’s independence in 1963 brought hopes and aspirations for the African majority, who sincerely believed that once the government was focused on Africans, poverty would be dealt with, and the Africans would be able to live in abundant resources. Needless to say this was not to be. The main reason for this is that the country was already fully implicated in the global capitalistic economic system wherein world markets would impact the quality of the lives being led by most Kenyans. This was particularly the case with the economy’s overreliance on introduced cash crops like coffee, tea, sisal, pyrethrum, etc. as well as tourism, still a major source of income for Kenya’s economy. The country’s reliance on these resources and markets leaves much outside the control of Kenyans. The leaders of newly independent African countries largely perpetuated the same economic policies as the former colonial powers, and in the long run, benefited the few Africans in positions of power, while the majority were left to learn how to adapt with harsh poverty-stricken circumstances, then and now. After independence, the urban policy that had earlier restricted the free movement of Africans to the urban areas was relaxed in the name of freedom of movement for all. This was a symbolic way for the new African government to show that independence had brought about civic freedom. The rural areas, especially those in Central Province to the north of Nairobi, which had been ravaged by the war for independence, the Mau Mau war of 1952–1960 (Macharia, 2006) could no longer hold their growing population. Soils had been overcultivated in the preceding decades of cash cropping. The previously fertile soils had been shifted to become coffee and tea plantations for large companies, wealthy Europeans, and eventually, wealthy Africans after independence. The Kenyan government’s modification of the former colonial urban policy, to allow unfettered rural-urban migration saw large numbers of Africans from all parts of the country moving to Nairobi. As I have argued elsewhere (Macharia, 1997) most rural–urban migrants follow certain social networks. This was no different during the great urbanization period in Kenya immediately after independence. The urban areas were seen as the place to go in search of employment and all manner of economic opportunities, hence the unstoppable flow to the cities. Nairobi, being Kenya’s biggest city then and now, received the lion’s share of urban migrants, all hopeful about improving their life chances. Many of the new urban migrants were not well-educated and could not get jobs in the formal economy. Most of these migrants also could not find housing in the few established residential areas. As a result, many of these new migrants ended up in the already

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mushrooming informal settlements of Mathare and Kibera, eventually swelling their populations immensely. Previous restrictions on the movement of non-workers also ended, thus easing the way for families, husbands with wives and children, to migrate to the city. This posed new challenges to the newly independent local and national governments. It meant that there was the need to improve infrastructure in the new areas where populations were settling. For many migrants who did not find the kind of work they had hoped for, this meant living rural-like, amenities-free lifestyles despite the fact that they were within the city boundaries. This remains the reality for many in Nairobi, including the estimated two million residents of Nairobi’s informal settlement, the two largest of which are Mathare Valley and Kibera. As each of these has become incredibly densely packed, other informal settlements have developed, such as Mukuru, Kwa Njenga, and Kayaba, each of these on land in or adjacent to the city’s industrial area. Yet more settlements exist in the peri-urban space. Kangemi, Kawangware, Korogocho, and Kasarani have all expanded as the population of Nairobi has continued to grow from the migration into the city as well as from births within the city (Mburugu & Adam, 2001). One of the missed opportunities and most disappointing for many young parents who moved to the city was the reality that their children were not getting the education they had anticipated. The “blight-light hypothesis,” that is, the idea that in moving to the city people are moving toward more hopeful circumstances, has not been realized for large numbers of these new migrants! Many of those who have found themselves living in the informal settlements have had to deal with the fact that there were no schools there. Their children have been made to go to nearby areas, thus necessitating, for example, crossing some of Nairobi’s dangerous roads. Schools have also been found to be a major expense, with often scarce family income having to pay for school uniform, tuition and other fees, money for lunch when available, as well as public transport for some. One common alternative to this last point is that many students have to take walk long distances to the get to their schools. For example, the children in Mathare must make their way to neighboring Huruma or Eastleigh to get to City Council-operated elementary schools. In combination with the economics of these issues comes social pressures. Children from the informal settlements who attend neighboring City Council elementary schools in the formal residential areas are often looked down upon and even despised for being, for example, untidy. Often, they are bullied by other children usually bullied them for simply coming from the slum areas. This made learning difficult for the children from informal settlements, as I have observed in one of the largest slums, Kiandutu, located in the neighboring town of Thika (Macharia, 1980). The experience of the Kiandutu children in schools located in the formal residential area can not be seen as unique to them. Much the same has been noted for those from Nairobi’s informal settlements. This almost inevitably leads to primary and high school drop-outs or push-outs of school children in their elementary classes. In most developing nations like Kenya, education is seen as the gateway to a better life. It is also a gateway to upward social mobility through getting a formal job and building a professional career. The lack of formal education, in turn, is a more-or-less a guarantee of living the remainder of one’s life in or near poverty, something that



many parents with children living in the informal settlements take as fact. It therefore becomes their goal to educate their children against all odds. These odds, however, take their own toll, and too many of the children from these areas end up being unable to complete school, and thus remain largely uneducated, drop-outs before they finish even primary school. Only a relative handful may make it to and through high school, despite the parent’s strong will and best efforts to educate their children. There are hopes this may change with the introduction of free primary education in 2003 as more children are brought into the system of possibility from an early age. While the jury is still out on how much free primary education will improve children’s ability to finish primary school and hopefully go on to and through high school, I argue that the problems in the informal settlement go beyond mere lack of fees. The poverty that reigns in these settlements overwhelms both parents and children to the extent that school attendance, which requires stability in the family, good health and proper nutrition, self confidence so as to withstand any challenges from teachers or fellow pupils, etc., is affected. In contrast to this, those in the higher income residential areas get better education and the life chances of their children are improved. They are indeed the ones who achieve the dream of high hopes and improved opportunities for having migrated to the city.

Poverty as a Contributor to Urban Differential in Education I have already argued that urban policy in post-independent Kenya did not change much in terms of improving life for all the city dwellers and the many new migrants who moved into the cities with the free unrestricted movement after 1963. The policies that favored the Europeans and the Asians now favored the small numbers of the new African political elite, the rich businessmen and those others who may have gotten opportunities to achieve higher education leading them to high paid positions in the white collar sector. The bulk of the country’s population, the uneducated, the jobless and the poor, have come to characterize Nairobi as a typical “Third World” city. A report on Poverty Assessment in Kenya (World Bank, 1995) estimated the poor; those living under the poverty line, were 9 million in the rural areas and approximately 1.25 million living in the urban areas, most of them in Nairobi. According to that report, poverty has been the result of a lack of sustained per capita income growth. The inability to sustain income means access to good health care and educational opportunities does not come to all, a fact that is bound to exacerbate the situation for those at or below poverty. Indeed, the urban poor with whom I am more concerned in this chapter are largely unemployed or work in the informal sector. I should qualify this point based on prior work on Nairobi’s informal sector (Macharia, 1997) by pointing out that it depends on which informal sector activity one is engaged in. There are a few, such as drum sellers and metal artisans, for whom informal work can be lucrative, and who can earn incomes comparable to those in the formal sector. But the vast majority struggle on a daily basis to find the economic means to continue living and supporting families.

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In addition to this economic differential, there exists gender discrimination. A recent UN report (UN, 2005) has shown that informal settlements, home to large numbers of people struggling to maintain life in dire poverty, very often provides only low quality educational opportunities to young girls. Indeed, by the time high school is reached, girls constitute a much lower percentage of attendees than boys when comparing within the informal settlement population. Girls are as likely to be enrolled in primary schools as boys, but drop out or are pushed out sooner than are these boys. The girls end up becoming care givers for their siblings or accompany their mothers into informal sector work. It has been noted that this seems to be especially common among food sellers who need their daughters to help them carry cooked food to the places at which they are sold – that is, primarily outside of the factories in Nairobi’s Industrial Area. The girls may also help in preparing the food, as well as washing the dishes while their mothers are serving the customers. Unemployment is seen as a major contributing factor in poverty in urban areas. One World Bank report, produced in 1995, showed that unemployment in Kenya was 11% in 1977, growing to 16% by 1986, and increasing to 22% by 1992. Current estimates as to unemployment among able bodied Kenyans now run as high as 40%. While these figures represent the whole country, the great majority, at least 30% are in urban areas, with Nairobi taking the bulk share. Poor agricultural yields, poor land yields and poor production related infrastructure all contribute to causes of poverty in Kenya, and each in turn drives pieces of the growth in urban population. All of the above listed conditions impact urban schooling. To this list should be added poor governance, mismanagement of public revenue, and widespread corruption at all levels of government, high, middle, and low, local, regional, and national. Inequality in government expenditure on social programs also differentially impacts schooling .The government and parents spend heavily on education. Two-thirds of spending on primary school education in 1992, came from government, with the poor received a greater share of public subsidies than did the non-poor. The remaining one-third of costs were expected to be covered by parents, which amounted to too high a burden for poor parents. As a result, primary schools in poor areas continue to be among the worst-off, while those in middle class and upper middle class areas remain in fine condition as parents with children at these schools have little problem raising their share of the costs. This is the reality of schools in the poor neighborhoods, and not just at the primary level. Most government funded high schools tend to be inaccessible to the majority poor, which may explain why many poor pupils drop out in primary school, since even that level is burdensome, and the vast majority or urban poor cannot afford the more expensive education offered in Kenya’s high schools. This is one reality the new primary education policy will have to address in the next few years, for what good will a primary education be if one cannot pursue it in high school and beyond? Urban poverty has led to a unique phenomenon in Nairobi and many other towns in Kenya, namely the presence of street children, most of whom are products of the informal settlements as discussed above. They pose a problem especially in how to deal with their schooling needs. In the next section, I examine how one NGO has tried to address this issue even as the government continues to examine ways to address the



education differentials and inequalities in these poverty stricken areas. As the case of Undugu Society of Kenya will indicate, the situation calls for innovative ways to deal with these poorest of urban dwellers, some of whom are orphans, have no homes, and live lives that are far from the societal normal.

Non-Formal Education: The Case of Undugu Society of Kenya (USK) The street children phenomenon is a manifestation of extreme poverty bringing about glaring inequalities that needs special programs and action from the key actors. With an ever-increasing population in the city of Nairobi, it is the poor and unemployed especially who ended up barely eking out their lives in the informal settlements. Many of the offspring of these poor have ended up spending great parts of their day on the streets, and for some, these streets are their actual domicile – the place they sleep and call home. How does one educate such children? Will they fit in the regular school? Will they obey authority and can they be shaped into productive members of the broader society? While pondering such questions in the early 1970s, Arnold Grol, a Catholic priest working in Nairobi, formed a non-governmental organization that he called Undugu Society of Kenya. Undugu is a Swahili word that translates as “Brotherhood.” In founding and naming the organization, Father Grol almost certainly was thinking initially that the issue of the day was about boys, but eventually the Undugu Society would come to work with and care for girls living on Nairobi’s streets as well. Seeing the informal settlements most of the street youth are coming from, the Undugu Society determined that an informal education system might be what would be needed to address the plight of these young people. Their thinking seems to be that conventional education programs and curriculum may not best benefit not only the street children, but those attending conventional schools, for whom, for example, the attention level shown by street children might be less than that shown by children who regularly attend conventional schools. It can be shown to be a condition of street life such that many street children face daily or hourly survival tests, and may not have the resources necessary to wait for the kind of future returns embedded in the notions of education and schooling. For the street children, it is the present and immediate that are of concern. If they know they can wash cars at a certain time, collect garbage, shine shoes, etc. at certain times, these activities will take precedence since they must generate the money that permits their survival. It will not matter that doing such might conflict with a mathematics class, for example. Most of Nairobi’s street children are on their own, hence the emphasis on survival now rather than later. Others may have families which themselves are reliant on the earnings of the street child. This adds pressure to the street child who is forced to mature early so as to become the bread winner for the family. The Undugu Society of Kenya focused on street children initially in the streets of downtown Nairobi. The USK would eventually determine that most of those children were from the informal settlements. Since the informal settlements could not support them, the children ended up going to the downtown streets in order to survive. The

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USK was formed in 1973, with its primary mission being to “cater for street children,” (Ouma, 2004), especially their schooling needs. To do this, the USK opened non-formal schools which would give educational as well as vocational courses to children between 8 and 20 years of age, with the majority of the children tending to be between 13 and 16 years of age (Ouma, 2004). The USK has had over 5,000 learners in their schools since inception, of whom nearly 2,300 (44%) have been girls, and nearly 2,900 (56%) have been boys. Most of these children had previously attended, but dropped or were pushed out of, school. Realizing that most of the street children were from the slum areas and informal settlements, USK decided to place their schools in these areas. USK operates four schools in Nairobi, in the following areas: Ngomongo (opened in 1978); Pumwani (opened in 1979); Mathare (opened in 1979); and, Kibera (opened in 1981). In the 1980s, USK also founded two schools outside Nairobi, one in Kisumu, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and the other in Machakos. Both schools specialize in technical training with the hope of creating an employable learner. One distinction between the USK schools and the regular city schools in Kenya is that USK non-formal schools do not require the students to wear a uniform. Father Grol had argued that the uniform, with its clear identity of one as a pupil, would be in contradiction to the lifestyle of a street child. He argued the uniform was not an important part of the learning process and “that two times two with uniform is equal to four just as two times two without uniform is equal to four!” (Ouma, 2004). This serves as an example of how USK had a way of acknowledging the situations and interests of the street children in their schools. Other ways included providing lunches, and offering free tuition, that is, no school fees. The number of children enrolled in the four USK schools in Nairobi remains small relative to the number of street children in the city (in 1997, it was estimated that Nairobi had 60,000 street children). The work is nevertheless impressive. USK has been motivated by their belief that lack of education is a violation of basic human right. Other NGOs doing work similar to that of the USK include: Tunza Dada; Kwetu Home; etc. (Ngau, 1996). USK remains the pioneering effort, however, and have remained focused on their mission for over 30 years. This is not to say there are no problems in these schools. Drop out rates are still high, and the curriculum needs to be better synchronized with the regular schools, especially for those in USK schools who may want to go beyond primary schools. The magnitude of school drop-outs and school push-outs in Kenyan schools was notable, especially after 1986, which was when the Kenyan government, through pressure from donor countries, accepted the structural adjustment programs (SAP) of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. One aspect of SAP for Kenya was the introduction of cost-sharing in schools. This had the direct impact of making education more expensive, indeed, unaffordably so, especially for the poor. This is the timeframe during which the USK really played a big role in reducing the differential in urban education between poor parents and rich parents. Just like the children of the well-to-do, street children would also like to go to school and learn in spite of the many problems they encounter that make regular schooling hard for them. Efforts by such NGOs as the USK are to be commended and one would hope the government would adopt similar strategies to cater for the urban poor children’s



quest for education, and to level the playing field for these future leaders and labor providers. These children are eager to learn as the case of the Undugu Society of Kenya has shown. In a study carried out by UNICEF/IDC (1989) the great majority of the street children interviewed stressed the importance of the educational opportunities and appreciated the fact that they were now able to go to school. In his study of the street children and USK, Ouma (2004) found that 85.5% of the students in the Undugu schools reported a desire to receive education. This clearly shows that the majority of the street children have aspirations similar to those of children from so-called “normal homes.” If given the right opportunities, they will strive to achieve just as would any other learner. In order for the USK to achieve its goals, the Father Grol realized the need to partner with local communities. It is important to re-emphasize the fact that all the four major Undugu schools are located in the worst slum area conditions in Nairobi. Yet USK could and did form partnerships, not just in these areas, but with the Nairobi City Council as well. This last partnership was important inasmuch as it provided for land and buildings in which to physically locate the schools. An additional partnership with the government focused on the Teacher’s Service Commission, the government agency that employs teachers in the country. Out of the 30 teachers that USK schools employ, ten of them were employed directly to USK by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), which meant they recruited and also paid them their salaries, thus reducing expense for USK. USK also has a partnership with foreign organizations such as DFID, the British Department for International Development, as well as some community based organizations based in Germany and Holland, all of which contribute money that is used to run USK schools. To make the students feel special and accepted in a warm learning environment that is different from the hostile street and slum environments to which the students are accustomed, the students are provided with food, an elemental need. Each student is provided with exercise books, a geometry set, a ruler and a bag. These may sound like basic materials, but they are not so easily available to these students given their economic circumstances, which is why USK supplies them. As mentioned above, the USK schools are situated within the slums so that the children can be easily reached before they become entrapped in street life. Attending a school in a neighborhood with which you are familiar, no matter how rough it is, will be much more accommodating and less intimidating than attending a school in a new environment. This addresses the issue briefly described earlier, which shows that children from Nairobi’s slum areas and informal settlements are often looked down upon when they attend schools in more established city residential estates. This is, perhaps, akin to the problems that school busing exposed in many US cities. In Boston, for example, Blacks bused from inner cities to suburban schools had a hard time adjusting and learning. Irish neighborhoods were particularly very hostile to Black students bused there (Logan, Oakley, & Stowell, 2003). USK feels its decisions to locate in slum areas remains sound. However, there is an acknowledgement that the approach has some drawbacks, one being that it limits children’s exposure to the outside world, and it could be a disadvantage when one is trying to look for a job or to make it beyond the slum.

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Beyond this, and like any sound organization, USK could improve their schools in other ways, while continuing to close the urban education differential for street children. For example, USK does not follow up with students once they leave the USK schools. Given their special investment in these students, it could well be worthwhile to institute a follow-up program to ensure their students do well after they leave the USK schools. USK also does not help in looking for employment for their students, and while one might reasonably argue that this is not a service offered even in some wellto-do schools, USK’s mission should include following through on the fuller education mission, and having a strong career services advisory staff as part of its schools. Without such follow-up, the USK students risk relapsing to what they were prior to school, and some of the good work of Undugu might be lost. More research, especially on pedagogy and street children, along with a clearer, systematized curriculum for nonformal education would be an additional contribution to improving urban education differentials. Special training for teachers ensuring they are well-versed in the backgrounds of street children would also go a long way in improving such non-formal education. Despite the free primary education introduced in Kenya by the new government in 2003, Ouma (2004) found that students were still flooding the USK schools.

A Unique School in the Informal Settlement of Kibera: The Case of Olympic Primary School Before bringing this chapter to a close, I will make some comments on a different kind of school found in the informal settlement areas of Kibera, Nairobi’s most populous slum. Olympic Primary School has been surprising many observers of Kenya education because despite the fact that it is in a slum area, surrounded by poverty, and despite that one might intuitively think it thus has a high drop out rate and poor performance. In fact, Olympic Primary School has been consistently among the nation’s best performing primary schools for the last 10 years. The school refuses to fit the stereotypes of a school in a slum area. There are a number of reasons that could explain the high performance which indeed challenge the assumption that the poor are not as interested in education as the rich. The dedication of the school’s parents and the cooperation of the teaching staff, along with the students, especially those who came after the good performance had been rooted there, indicate how each group experiences the challenge of maintaining longstanding high performance and hard work from all involved. The school’s strong performance has resulted in much positive publicity, as well as generating attention from many international donor and visitors of high repute. For example, in February 2005 the British Secretary of Finance visited the school. The lesson to take from the case of Olympic Primary School in Kibera is that it stands out as an example of how some of the differentials and inequalities in urban schools can be addressed. Olympic is one of five government schools in the heavily populated slum (informal settlement) of Kibera. With its population estimated to be close to one million, Kibera is often cited as the being the largest slum dwelling in Sub-Saharan Africa. The five government schools are only able to admit 8,500 students,



leaving many others without schools. Privately run schools have emerged and cater for many other pupils who would otherwise be out of school (Tooley, 2005). Kibera’s private schools tend to be substandard but some parents prefer them especially if they are near the section of the slum, where the live. It is often not safe for children to walk long distances in search of government-run schools in dangerous slum environment. Olympic Primary School has become a top public school in Nairobi and its reputation of high performance in national examinations has gone beyond the city boundaries. The school boasts of a computer, a copy machine and a perimeter wall around its backyard which separates it from the slum beyond. Computers may be a basic work tool in many schools around the world, but not so in many African schools. Olympic Primary School’s ability to purchase and maintain a computer is indicative of its serious efforts. Prior to 2003, and government changes free primary education, parents of students at Olympic Primary School would pay a one-time entrance fee of Ksh. 10,000 (about $126) and an additional 300 shillings ($4) per term for ongoing costs as buying chalk and providing fresh drinking water. Many Kenyan parents, especially those in the Kibera slum, could not afford even these amounts, as most survive on less than one dollar a day. School for many was thus a luxury they could not afford. In the midst of this, Olympic Primary School has been called an oasis of hope, located where some of Fanon’s wretched of the earth dwell, yet showing itself of regularly graduating hopeful students, many of whom have gone onwards to acquire secondary and even university education, and gaining professional work afterwards (Aduda, 2002). The school boasts a very committed staff, with a strong Headmistress, and the parents of children attending this school have shown themselves to be committed to pursuing their upward social mobility. In 2005, the school had 2,200 pupils enrolled, or almost double what they had enrolled before the free education policy came into effect in 2003. It appears the dedication of the students, the staff, the teachers and the donations from such groups like DFID have boosted the morale of Olympic to continue to pursue high performance. The school has also become a vehicle through which unequal differentials in education especially in informal settlements can be leveled out, and spurred attempts to capture the “magic of Olympic” for use in other school throughout the city.

Conclusion Urban inequality in Kenya as experienced in the city of Nairobi comes in many forms. The common theme is that of mass urban poverty. This chapter discusses the socialhistorical process through which biased policies have continued to disadvantage certain sections of the city, particularly the informal settlements. The focus on differentials in education and its manifestation in the connections street children have to schooling shows how the “city of hope” that Nairobi represented to Kenya’s rural citizens, has become the city of disappointment. There are lessons to be learned from the way the Undugu Society of Kenya has attempted to address this issue. Their admirable nonformal approach shows that the poor and those living in the informal settlements, if catered for well with adequate resources, can level the educational differentials between themselves and the more well-to-do children of Nairobi’s higher status communities.

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I also have briefly discussed the case of Olympic Primary School, a crown jewel of a slum-based school that continues to excel in educating its students. It appears that the models from both the Undugu Society schools and Olympic Primary School are working. Each focuses on the need for schools to have a strong bonds of partnership between parents, teachers, school staff, and local and national government, which fund the majority of school activity. Inasmuch as education remains a singular hope for generations of the poor to make it out of poverty and into sustainable levels of future income, efforts such as the two profiled in this chapter need greater attention from both scholars and policy makers. The future of Africa relies on good training of its youth. The kind of urban differentials addressed here must be addressed and rectified before more wastage of young lives in urban informal settlements becomes the irreversible order of the day. The Kenyan government’s commitment to basic education for all (1993) and the current free education policy ( 2003), should also aim at addressing, in programmatic ways, the urban differentials that would continue leaving many poor children behind.

References Aduda, D. (September 12, 2002). Timely move to boost studies. From the Archives of the Daily Nation. Nairobi: Nation Media Group. Government of Kenya. (1993). Basic education for all: Jomtien country profile. Nairobi: Government Printer. Government of Kenya. (2003). Free primary education policy. Nairobi: Government Printer. Logan, J., Oakley, D., & Stowell, J. (2003). Segregation in neighborhoods and schools: Impact on minority children in the Boston Region. Available at: http// Macharia, K. (1980). Poverty alleviation: The case of Kiandutu slum in Thika. B.A. dissertation: Sociology Department, Nairobi, University of Nairobi. Macharia, K. (1997). Social and political dynamics of the urban informal economy: The case of Nairobi and Harare. Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Macharia, K. (2006). Social context of the Mau Mau movement in Kenya (1952–1960). Lanham, MD: University Press of America. Marx, K. ([1894], 1972). Capital 3 Vols. London: Lawrence and Wishant. Mburugu, E. N., & Adam, B. N. (2001). Families in Kenya. A monograph in upm.dat/4948_chapter1. Report to the Office of the President. Nairobi, Kenya. Ngau, M. M. (1996). Monitoring and evaluation of the five street child rehabilitation projects in Nairobi. Final Report submitted to the German Agency for Technical Co-operation. Nairobi, Kenya. Ouma G. W. (2004). Education for street children in Kenya: The role of the Undugu society. Paris: International Institute for Educational Planning. Tooley, J. (June 26, 2005). “Give Africa a private schooling” in Times Online. tol/news/articles537377.ece, London, UK. United Nations. (2005). United nations Gender Report. New York, UN World Bank. (1995). Kenya poverty assessment. (Report No. 13152-KE) Washington, DC: World Bank. World Bank. (1998). World development indicators 1998 [CD-Rom] Washington, DC: World Bank.


Queensland University of Technology, Australia; Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

The field of urban education has its origins in the nexus of urbanization, industrialization and compulsory state education in North America and Europe over a century ago. Yet its key theme – educational equality and universal provision – is relevant in other places, spaces, political economies and cultures where the “urban” has quite different histories, shapes and locations. The city is a work in progress in the Asia Pacific. The modern city tended to be located along the supply lines of empire (Innis, 1951). In the Asia Pacific, the region’s major centers were established in relation to coastlines or rivers, with the lines of kinship, capital, migration and cultural exchange, language and information flowing along communication/transportation links. Issues of centre/periphery, urban/hinterland, mainstream/minority, indigeneity/diaspora have been framed by the forces of colonialism and empire, by ongoing population movement and cultural contact, and resultant linguistic, religious and cultural heterogeneity, and, of course, by distinctive constraints of geography, space and place. Cities in Southeast Asia, for example, historically arose as colonial administrative centres, rather than manufacturing and resource sites as in the West (Ooi, 2004). In China and India, what counts as the new economic hinterland may be regional centres larger than major North American cities. In the South Pacific context that Puamau and Teasdale (Chapter 14) document, larger island villages of tens of thousands have become sites for classical urban education issues. There schools face new youth identities, generational challenges to tradition, the supplanting of traditional and subsistence economies by systems dependent on tourism and overseas aid, and new conditions of risk for families’ and individuals’ health and welfare. Across the region, as Yang’s (Chapter 12) analysis of post-1949 Chinese education illustrates, the disparities in educational funding and provision between urban and rural hinterland are a persistent problem. In the contexts of cultural and economic globalization, Australia and New Zealand, the island states of the South Pacific and the countries of East and West Asia have become focal locations for change – constituting a newer and older “new world,” with some remarkable achievements to date and major, unprecedented educational 221 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 221–230. © 2007 Springer.


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challenges. In the fastest growing economies of the world, the cities of East and West Asia are population magnets, attracting cosmopolitan professionals, migrant and guest workers, and ‘illegal’ workers in the invisible economies of black markets and trade (e.g., Cheah & Robbins, 1998; Ehrenreich & Hochschild, 2002). Even with economic growth and educational expansion, this situation has led to what Mak (Chapter 18) describes as “differential impacts upon different groups” and, to use Blackmore’s (Chapter 13) metaphor, “new lines of f light” for life trajectories, national identities, economic and sociopolitical futures. To frame and engage with the educational issues here require something far more than an acritical importation of categories, approaches and framings from Western educational systems and research. It underscores the need to view “urban” as something beyond just the physical space (site) of education, but as social constructions of space where educational practices and possibilities are generated by locally conceived “urban” features such as dimension, density, social heterogeneity, and information diffusion. Drawing from across the region, these ten chapters offer very different and distinctive takes on the “urban,” its new shapes and contours, and urban education. The very constructs of “Asia,” “Australasia,” and the “Asia Pacific” are imaginary collectivities – assembled and reassembled over the last century by colonizers East and West (Wilson & Dirlik, 1995), and now in the pull of the shift of economic gravity towards China and Japan, India and the Middle East. A key precursor to World War II was the search by the Japanese empire for resources to fuel its industrial, territorial, and militaristic ambitions. After World War II, with the cleaving up of the region by former colonial powers and their allies – the Asia Pacific was set out as a new sphere of economic and political influence, with contention for resources and space, fishing rights, strategic military bases, and, of course, workers. In some cases, it simply marked a shift in colonial rule, with French, American, Australian and New Zealand territories, colonies and protectorates remaining. The postwar settlement included the establishment of client states and defacto economic zones for major Western economies and regional powers, including Australia and New Zealand. These relationships are in transition with the economic growth of China, India and, of course, the longstanding influence of Japan. Educational development throughout the region was informed by historical processes of decolonization (cf. Lin & Martin, 2005). This led to various postcolonial curriculum and sociolinguistic settlements, with countries as diverse as Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji, and India reconnoitering which elements of colonial educational practices and institutional structures they would retain. In each of these countries as well, this settlement has involved the establishment of secular educational systems aiming to accommodate the complex demands of multi-ethnic, multilingual, and resilient religious communities. This has involved ongoing tensions over linguistic rights, religion in secular and non-secular states, and, in the case of Fiji, Malaysia, and New Zealand, affirmative action and compensatory programs for indigenous populations (e.g., Puamau, 2004). Events since 9/11, including successive Bali bombings, have heightened the tensions over the significance of Islam in Asia (Sa’eda & Masturah, 2007). With Muslim majority populations in states of West Asia and East Asia, and significant minorities in the western regions of China, Islamic education is a continuing focus of development and

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debate. In this volume, Sa’eda (Chapter 17) offers a current analysis of the ideological functions, educational and religious possibilities of Madrasah and Islamic education in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey. She shows how colonial-sponsored urbanization laid the ground for the marginalization of madrasah to the periphery of the states’ educational systems, a situation that persists to this day. Yet, at the same time, urban centers breathed “new life” to Muslim education by providing it the geographical and ideological space for the ongoing reform and articulation of religious education. The issue remains about the capacity of “traditional” institutions like the madrasah and religious education more generally to anchor communities and individuals in the face of urbanization and globalization. The rise of religious education further highlights the key role of education in nation building. The establishment of basic infrastructure continues apace, even and especially in the face of cultural and economic globalization. After the Vietnam war, the growth of the “Asian Tiger” economies of South East Asia was driven by American and European, Japanese and Korean multinational corporations who have looked to countries in the region both as production, financial and shipping hubs, as training sites, and as new markets. With the advent of the Chinese and Indian economic power in the region, the realignment of economies and alliances is proceeding. For example, the “internationalization” of higher education and elite secondary schools focuses increasingly on servicing and capitalizing on the Chinese market (Mok, Chapter 16). Following a century of cultural and political affiliation with the UK and North America, Australia and New Zealand have become active participants in North/South flows of tourism and migration, services and capital, resources and manufactured goods. In the last decade, an energy and resource-hungry Chinese economy has surpassed Japan and the Western states as these countries’ principal trading partner. This marks a shift in what Blackmore (Chapter 13) describes as the Australian preoccupation with “space, place, scale, and flows,” marking out new capital flows, social movement and change. At the same time, the Australian city – located on its coastlines – is the object of creative reformation. Like Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Vancouver – Australian cities are vying for larger shares of creative economies, with burgeoning educational focus on the production of expertise in creative arts, digital economies, and their affiliated cultural industries (Cunningham, 2006). These developments are not without contradiction and tension. As Blackmore (Chapter 13) demonstrates, Australia’s major focus on educational equity in the 1980s and 1990s has been supplanted by a narrow economism. This collusion of globalization, marketization, corporatization, and “political opportunism” has led to what she terms a “backsliding” on historical commitments to indigenous communities, women and migrants. To capitalize on the new global flows, not only Singapore, Hong Kong, and Shanghai, but also Auckland, Vancouver, Sydney, and Brisbane are defining themselves as cultural, educational and financial hubs – hoping to attract the “best and brightest” not just from Asia, but as well from the Americas, Middle East, and Europe (Olds, 2002). This has led to regional “brain drains” of intellectual talent, corporate sponsorship and venture capital in biomedical sciences, business, engineering, information technology and the new creative industries. It has also accelerated the shift in higher education


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governance and practice. The rapid and ongoing moves towards corporatized, international, entrepreneurial universities across China, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Australia, and New Zealand marks out a transition from what Mok (Chapter 16) terms “statecentered” to “society centered” focus. Yet it also opens possibilities, he argues, for a reassertion of the state’s efforts to “assert and enhance policy control.” The sites discussed here include newly urbanizing environments. For example, the cities of the South Pacific described by Puamau and Teasdale (Chapter 14) are in the process of resettling and absorbing rural and peasant, substance economies. At the same time, Asia is the site of the new global terminus of capital: Hong Kong, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Singapore exist as terminal points for the shipping of containerized goods, information and human cargo of all types. In the case of Hong Kong and Singapore, growth in private consumption has proceeded throughout the 1990s at the rate of 5–10% per annum (Brooks, 2006, p. 6). Yet as Stiglitz (2003) has pointed out, even those sites that weathered successfully the 1997 Asian economic crash have seen the growth in social class disparities of wealth. This again has placed issues of social access and economic justice on the table. Yet the responses of many countries – including Australia, New Zealand, and China have been to appropriate the Neoliberal policies emerging from the US, UK, and EU. These moves are continuing despite the impressive educational progress in areas of social equity over two decades of Australian educational reform documented by Blackmore (Chapter 13) and the improved participation of urban women in Asian education described by Mak (Chapter 18). Consider, for example, the policy-driven expansion of elite and private school provision across Asia and Australia, the proliferation of private schools in China, and the rapid expansion of the private tutoring and study sector across East Asia. Bray (2003) has documented the negative educational and socioeconomic effects of private tutoring. Many of the contributors here focus on the risk of increasing the gap between those still seeking basic education and new cosmopolitan professional elites across the region. In the face of these processes of cultural and economic globalization, there are four themes running across these chapters: 1. Educational responses to ethnic, cultural and religious, gender diversity; 2. New and persistent conditions of poverty and disenfranchisement; 3. Neoliberal policy and the role of the state in the production of new human capital; and 4. New technologies and youth cultures. To frame these issues, we offer four narrative illustrations. Narrative 1: In a forum with Singapore university students, Prime Minister Lee Hsieng Loong (2004), was asked about the future viability and prosperity of a city-state. The student pointed out that the city–states of antiquity, from Venice to Athens had been unable to sustain themselves as commercial, cultural and political centres beyond a century. Lee’s answer was that there were no guarantees, and that the viability of the city–state was continually on the line in the face of new and difficult economic and geopolitical conditions. Singapore is a postcolonial city/state with ongoing and unresolved issues about identity, affiliation, and a participatory civic sphere (Kong, 1999). It is also cited as the

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prototypical postmodern city, with a successful economy based on the capturing, mediating and directing of global flows of people, goods, information and capital. Its response to the conditions and contexts of postwar decolonialization, regional instability, and cultural and economic globalization has been distinctive: a strong “top down” state and a determination to define itself as a world city without resources and hinterland, as a conduit for the flows of cultural and economic globalization. In the context of major state and corporate investments in transportation infrastructure, civil engineering, bioscience, digital and creative industries, Singapore sees its future in terms of educationally produced human capital. This has led to funding in educational research, schools and higher education above that of most OECD countries (Luke, Freebody, Gopinathan, & Lau, 2005). The educational achievements of Singapore and East Asia more generally are remarkable: Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore have overtaken the OECD average of years of completed education, with high levels of educational investment leading to retention, tertiary participation and adult literacy levels exceeding that of many industrial and postindustrial regions in the West. These East Asian countries have consistently produced top tier results in Maths and Science on major international studies, such as TIMMS and PISA. Educational practices and outcomes are under careful empirical study (Luke & Hogan, 2006). There is further extensive work on the particular blends of pedagogic practice in East Asian classrooms, typified as “chalk and talk” and didactic pedagogy, and their ostensive cultural patterns and educational effects (e.g., Alexander, 2001; Mok, 2006; Watkins & Biggs, 2002). And finally, there is an extensive international debate on “how Chinese learn maths” in East Asian countries and China itself (Fan, 2004). A key issue facing these “successful” educational systems is the training and emergence of new citizen/worker identities, traced here by Hogan, Kang, and Chan (Chapter 19). Certainly, the new technologies and multimedia corporations have created a fertile environment for what Dooley, Kapitzke, and Luke (Chapter 20) refer to as the “world kids” of Asia and the West, whose epistemologies and communities traverse borders and cultures. Digitalization of everyday life is a driving force throughout Asia, with extremely high uptake levels of mobile phone, digital gaming and online communications by urban youth in Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Korea (Lam, 2006). Dooley and colleagues go on to argue that the expansion of multinational youth culture, spurred by ubiquitous access to digital technologies, poses both enabling conditions and challenges for schooling – as yet unresolved as teachers and curricula struggle to keep up with new competences, knowledges and identities. East Asian educational systems have focused on creating new elites and a service working class to engage with new flows of global capital and bodies, with the transnational media, tourism, financial and corporate order that is reshaping Asia. This has involved a new “edubusiness” (Luke, 2005) of international student flows, with Asia’s best students moving en masse for higher education in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand – returning as “global citizens” to build networks, cultural and economic capital in the cities of the Asia Pacific. At the same time, the new cosmopolitans include the large scale movement of emigrant guest workers (including construction labor, domestic workers, and agricultural laborers) who are actually building and supporting the growth of economies in both East and West (Cheah & Robbins, 1998).


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Funds remitted from Filipinos and Samoans working overseas are a major source of capital for the domestic economies of these countries (Connell & Conway, 2000). Narrative 2: In a Singapore social studies classroom, year 9 students were going over a worksheet in a traditional teacher-centered discussion. They raised their hands and called out answers to multiple choice questions. One worksheet question asked: “What word describes Singaporeans?” Students raised their hands but couldn’t resist calling out answers: “wealthy,” “successful,” “peaceful.” The correct answer was “cosmopolitan.” Across the region, educational systems strive to build these new classes of wired, educated transnational citizen/workers. Yet the nexus between poverty and educational disadvantage persists – for the urban poor, for women, for linguistic, cultural and religious minorities, for indigenous communities. Across the Asia Pacific, debates are underway about the building and sustenance of urban cultures in the face of population movement, economic disparity and impoverishment. Rampal (Chapter 15) documents the challenges of providing basic educational provision for children in the poorest areas of Delhi. She captures the stark and dehumanizing inequalities they and their parents have to contend with at home and in school, as well as in a public system that literally bulldozes them, either out of their makeshift homes or into their makeshift schools, in the name of urban “development.” The struggle for educational equality and quality for deprived urban children continues in the legal-constitutional arena, where non-governmental organizations can be complicit with government in support of market-driven policies resulting in minimalist provision. Yang (Chapter 12) reports on the issues around the migration westward of rural Chinese to the Pearl River Delta and the educational challenges of new urban concentrations. He points to the major discrepancies in educational funding across China, despite its longstanding stated focus on social equality. The educational issues facing the cities of the Asia Pacific turn on two moves: the attraction of capital flows to cities; and the amelioration of the unequal distribution of knowledge, power, language and material resources to growing populations. This puts governments in complex and contradictory positions. In discussions with education officials in Cambodia, they spoke of “moving up the value chain” from textile sweatshops to attracting Japanese, German and Korean manufacturing from Thailand and Taiwan (Luke, 2005). The response has been the spread of Neoliberal educational policies, whose mixed effects are well documented in the US and UK (e.g., Lee, 2006; Nichols, Glass, & Berliner, 2005). Narrative 3: A visit to Thai Rajabhat Institutes took us to the “golden quadrangle,” where Laos, China, Burma and Thailand meet at the Mekong River. Senior Thai educators explained the significant problems facing the system: A migrant population of guest workers and refugee children, indigenous tribal peoples whose communities were at risk from warfare, disease and drugs; and a new generation of Thai kids who preferred videogames to textbooks, and shopping malls to temples (Luke & Luke, 2000). Standing on the riverbank, we discussed the contents of an Australian degree program we were preparing for teacher educators and principals. They responded with a list of contents: school based management and accountability, outcomes based

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curriculum and testing systems. The implementation of these were policies affiliated with on post-1997 International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment policies. These policies have been sponsored and supported by transnational forms of governance and aid, including the World Bank and IMF, Asia Development Bank, European Union, and national aid agencies of the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. However intentionally, they are enhanced by postgraduate training and research in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, where many Asia Pacific educators receive “state of the (neo-liberal) art” training in school administration, testing and evaluation, curriculum and instruction. The parameters of these reforms would be familiar to those in the west, advocating educational governance on performance ranking, standardized testing, and the marketization of schools, development of private educational sectors, standardization of curriculum and school-based management. As Blackmore (Chapter 13) points out, in Australia these policies have marked a retreat from state-sponsored equity reforms. Further, as Mak’s (Chapter 18) analysis of the mixed improvements in the educational participation of women and girls suggests, the effects of such policies on gender equity will need to be carefully tracked. This presents a double challenge. On the one hand, many countries are building modern universal, secular state education. In Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and the South Pacific, for instance, the expansion of compulsory education into secondary schools is still a central policy goal. On the other, these same systems are moving towards corporate and market solutions from the West that have mixed track records and collateral effects (on higher education, see Marginson & Rhoades, 2004). In China, this had meant that while there is an attempt to modernize and expand the state educational systems, there has been major growth of a private school sector servicing urban elites and the new middle class. For the schools and universities of the Asia Pacific, residual and emergent educational cultures sit side by side, often in points of historical tension. Traditional religious and philosophic values sit alongside the didactic pedagogies of colonial tradition; traditional authority and pedagogic relations prevail in fully wired classrooms; traditional examinations, many of which predated European colonization, are mixed with westernstyle standardized achievement tests; and the provision of basic, village education sits within the same systems that aim to produce highly specialized expertise in the new biosciences, finance and business, and digital technologies. In sum, these systems must deal with questions of modernization and persistent matters of educational access and equity, the provision of old and new forms of cultural and social capital, against a dynamic backdrop of hypercapitalist economies, technologies and cultures. We began by highlighting the challenges for Singapore, arguably the most postmodern of Asian cities and states. There educational futures sit within a nexus of questions about new material flows, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, and the stability and sustainability of governance and civil society. We stopped along the way noting the classical sociological issues of educational equity facing China, India, Australia, and the island states of the South Pacific. Our final narrative offers an extreme shift of scale and space. Narrative 4: In the mid-1990s, we discussed planning with educators in Kiribati, one of the smaller and more geographically isolated of South Pacific countries. Consisting


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of 36 remote islands, its very existence is threatened by global warming and rising sea levels, and urban crowding and poverty in the main island of Tarawa. There educators face a curious dilemma: How does Kiribati continue to modernize its educational system, using aid money to build basic primary and secondary school infrastructure, train and credential teachers, and establish curriculum? The educational focus of its aid donors has been on enhanced school-based management, outcomes-based curriculum, and assessment. At the same time, it must deal with a burgeoning religious education sector, where the fiscal and infrastructure support of multinational religious organizations exceeds that available from the state. A principal concern of the Kiribati community is the maintenance of traditional forms of life and language in the face of “world kids,” linguistic shift to English, and population shift to urban centers (cf. Burnett, 2005). Captured in microcosm, these are the problems facing urban education systems of the Asia Pacific. With the shift of economic power to Asia, to cities and to multinational corporations, it would be tempting to look for a distinctive transnational educational solution. Yet the state remains our best recourse for combating the “new planetary vulgate” of corporate and market-driven policy and for addressing persistent inequality and exploitation (Bourdieu & Wacquant, 2001). Throughout the Asia Pacific, robust and better-funded state education systems remain the coin of the realm, with ample opportunities and prospects for poverty amelioration, improved health and quality of life, more equitable economic participation, political enfranchisement and expanded civic participation, and, ultimately, the bringing together of ethnically, religiously, and ideologically diverse populations. The story of urban education in these countries is unfinished. But no matter how self-same the problems may appear, there are no “off the shelf ” solutions or approaches forthcoming from the postindustrial school systems of the North and West. As these chapters show, the simple transportation of the Neoliberal educational agenda is proving at best a limiting, if not exacerbating response to the perceived limits and failures of existing systems. The authors’ preferred move is a range of locally tailored solutions driven by local, regional and national governments – each responding to the available resources and recourses within political economies, pedagogic institutions and traditions, cultures and systems in dynamic and rapid evolution and revolution. This will require rigorous empirical research, critical analysis, and a much stronger sense of what culturally, linguistically and pedagogically works in the interests of their diverse communities. The grounds are set for what Sa’eda (Chapter 17) terms a new “symbiosis of traditionalism and modernity” with postmodernity: A host of distinctively Asia Pacific educational inventions, blends and systems.

References Alexander, R. (2001). Culture and pedagogy. Oxford: Blackwells. Bourdieu, P., & Wacquant, L. (2001). Neoliberal newspeak: Notes on the new planetary vulgate. Radical Philosophy, 108, 1–6. Bray, M. (2003). Adverse effects of private supplementary tutoring. Paris: UNESCO. Brooks, A. (2006). Gendered work in Asian cities. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

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Burnett, D. G. (2005). Languages and schooling: The discourse of colonialism in Kiribati. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 25, 93–106. Cheah, P., & Robbins, B. (Eds.). (1998). Cosmopolitics: Thinking and feeling beyond the nation. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Connell, J., & Conway, D. (2000). Migration and remittances in island microstates: A comparative perspective on the South Pacific and the Caribbean. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 24, 52–78. Cunningham, S. (2006). What price a creative economy? Brisbane: Currency House. Ehrenreich, B., & Hochschild, A. R. (Eds.). (2002). Global women: Nannies, maids and sex workers in the new economy. New York: Holt. Fan, L. (Ed.). (2004). How Chinese learn mathematics. Singapore: World Scientific. Innis, H. A. (1951). Empire and communications. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Kong, L. (1999). Globalisation, transmigration and the negotiation of ethnic identity. In K. Olds, P. Dicken, P. F. Kelly, L. Kong, & H. Yeung (Eds.), Globalisation and the Asia Pacific (pp. 219–237). London: Routledge. Lam, E. (2006). Culture and learning in the context of globalisation: Research directions. In J. Green, & A. Luke (Eds.), Review of research in education 30. Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association. Lee, H. L. (2004, April 5). Hopes, fears and dreams. Speech at the Nanyang Technological University Student Union Ministerial Forum. Lee, J. (2006). Tracking achievement gaps and assessing the impact of NCLB on the gaps. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Civil Rights Project. Lin, A., & Martin, P. (Eds.). (2005). Globalisation, decolonisation. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters. Luke, A. (2005). Curriculum, Ethics, Metanarrative: Teaching and learning beyond the nation. In Y. Nozaki, R. Openshaw, & A. Luke (Eds.), Struggles over difference: Texts and pedagogies in the Asia Pacific (pp. 1–15). Albany: State University of New York Press. Luke, A., Freebody, P., Lau, S., & Gopinathan, S. (2005). Towards research-based educational policy: Singapore education in transition. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 14(1), 1–22. Luke, A., & Hogan, D. (2006). Redesigning what counts as evidence in educational policy: The Singapore model. In J. Ozga, T. Seddon, & T. S. Popkewitz (Eds.), Education policy and research (pp. 170–184). London: Routledge. Luke, A., & Luke, C. (2000). A situated perspective on cultural globalisation. In N. Burbules, & C. Torres (Eds.), Globalisation and education (pp. 275–299). London: Routledge. Luke, C. (2005). Capital and market flows: Global higher education management. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 25(2), 159–174. Marginson, S., & Rhoades, G. (2002). Beyond nation states, markets and systems of higher education: A glonacal agency heuristic. Higher Education, 43(3), 281–309. Mok, I. A. C. (2006). Shedding light on the East Asian learner paradox: Reconstructing student-centredness in a Shanghai classroom. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 26(2), 131–142. Nichols, S. L., Glass, G. V., & Berliner, D. C. (2005). High stakes testing and student achievement: Problems with the no child left behind act. Tempe, AZ: Educational Policy Studies Laboratory. Olds, K. (2002). Globalisation and urban change. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Ooi, G. L. (2004). Future of space: Planning, space, and the city. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press. Puamau, P. (2004). A postcolonial reading of affirmative action in Fiji. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 14, 109–123. Sa’eda, B., & Masturah, I. (Eds.). (2007). Special issue: Muslim education – challenges, opportunities and beyond. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 27(1), 1–113. Stiglitz, J. E. (2003). Globalisation and its discontents. New York: Norton. Watkins, D. A., & Biggs, J. B. (2002). Teaching the Chinese learner. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. Wilson, R., & Dirlik, A. (Eds.). (1995). Asia/Pacific as space of cultural production. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.


Introduction Equality has become a major goal of education around the world. The government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)1 also professes its commitment to equality, and has taken a variety of steps to provide at least basic education to its citizens. At the same time, China has its own interpretation of the notion of equality. This, together with its limited ability to fund measures to work towards the goal, has had great impact especially in rural areas. Globalization is affecting China’s policy priorities in education, and has transformed the discursive terrain within which educational policies are developed and enacted. Parallel to the international situation, the effects of globalization on educational and social equality on different groups and communities vary greatly within China, creating enormous disparities among people. Indeed, accompanying China’s robust economic growth is that China has become one of the countries with the largest urban–rural gap in the world.2 The income gap between rural and urban residents has kept growing. The average income per capita of urban residents increased from 2.8 times that of rural populations in 1995 to 3.1 in 2002 (Xinhua News Agency, 2005). Moreover, the income of the urban citizens concerned does not count the welfare they have access to, including medical care, unemployment insurance and minimum living relief. Considering these factors, urban residents’ income should be easily 4–6 times that of their rural counterparts. This, however, does not tell the actual disparity between urban and rural citizens. Rural residents have to pay their educational costs, while the central government covers most of such costs for their urban cousins. A closer examination shows more fundamental problems with China’s long-practiced biased policies against rural people, leading to a widening education gap between urban and rural areas. Rural Chinese children are thus handicapped in their pursuit of educational opportunities. In order to portray an overall picture of the urban–rural inequalities in Chinese education, this chapter begins by tracing the historical roots of the concerned policies. 231 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 231–248. © 2007 Springer.



Policy Legacies Since 1949 Policies of educational justice are a kind of social action that needs to be observed within certain social, historical environment (Dessler, 1989). China’s current educational disparities resulted from its long-term policy options. Therefore, it is necessary to review the historical developments of education equity policy since the PRC was founded in 1949. According to the Common Principles (gongtong gangling) issued on the eve of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) assuming national power on September 29, 1949, the new democratic education policy should be for the masses (dazongde). This principle represented the fundamental values of education equity. The negation of the so-called “old education” stressed that education should be open to the broad masses of workers and peasants, helping them learn to read and write. However, as a country with poor financial conditions and a huge population, educational development was not only confined to the political system and ideologies, but also hindered by its socio-economic development level and limited resources. Under the guidance of the new political theories, with aims of fast industrialization, the new China was confronted with a number of dilemmas and had to make hard policy choices.

Different Educational Rights for Different Social Groups Education for the broad masses was the basis for policy-making in the newly established PRC in the early 1950s. Large-scale campaigns to eliminate illiteracy, the wide spread of the “quick method of achieving literacy,” and the popularization of exemplary successes of illiteracy elimination had unprecedented impacts. The length of schooling was changed from 6 to 5 years in order to universalize primary education, but changed back in just 1 year due to implementation difficulties. During the initial years of the PRC, many adults who did not have access to basic education before received a certain level of education in a variety of schools, including spare-time and evening schools, accelerated courses for workers and peasants, political schools and training classes for cadres. Since 1950, some new secondary schools were established with shortened length of schooling, that is, 3 years. These schools admitted cadres and workers with at least 3 years of working experience and prepared them for university studies. This became the access to higher education for workers, peasants, and cadres. However, as an institutional arrangement, such practice started to create issues of justice in educational opportunities in two aspects: firstly, some special privileges for a few highly selected social groups appeared. A typical example was the popularization of schools for children of high government officials only. These schools even caught Mao Ze-dong’s attention. He commented on July 14, 1952 that “children of cadres should be treated all the same without further differentiation among them; also, these schools for the aristocracy only should be abolished, they should merge with all those for children of the masses” (China National Institute for Educational Research, 1983, pp. 78, 144, author’s translation). Consequently, the Central Committee of the CCP approved a report by the Ministry of Education in October 1955 and decided to close all these

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schools, making them open to children of both cadres and the masses living nearby. Nevertheless, the privilege of the special social groups remained in other forms. Secondly, it is important to point out that within the process of expanding people’s educational rights, the definition of the people gradually changed, with clear distinction between laboring and non-laboring people, as well as the exploiting classes and “reactionary elements.” According to the then prevalent class-struggle theory, there was a need to foster proletariat intellectual force and exercise cultural dictatorship over the capitalist class. Within a context of “The Class Struggle is the Most Important Thing” ( jieji douzheng wei gang), family origin became a crucial benchmark to measure one’s political progressiveness. This evolved into a highly institutionalized policy, “class line” ( jieji luxian). Treatment would be different in enrolment, graduate job assignment and employment, selection for training overseas, and promotion, based on the class status of their families. Limits were set to stop those from the exploiting and non-laboring class family backgrounds from receiving higher education and upward social mobility. Therefore, although the written policy rhetoric was that everyone was equal before examination marks, “class line” must be implemented throughout the entire admission process. For example, the guidelines of university admission in 1965 clearly stated that “for those who are qualified in all the three political, academic and health aspects, selection should be first classified into different groups and then enrolment be based on their preferences and marks. Within each group, the first priority should be given to politically outstanding candidates. Among this year’s senior secondary school graduates with good political minds, the combination of recommendation and examination marks will no longer suit student leaders and the children of workers, peasants and martyrs. If these students score closely to others, preferences should go to them” (China National Institute for Educational Research, 1983, p. 380). There were two kinds of criteria, political (“Red”) and academic (“Expert”)3 in the assessment of both the qualification for and the capacity of higher learning. Their relationship then became a highly contested political and theoretical issue in the educational circle. While such policies have been officially terminated, their legacy – different educational rights for different people – has survived, even further rooted in the Chinese society despite the fact that winners and losers have changed dramatically, with those in power remaining at the top, working classes back to disadvantaged positions, and rural people at the bottom.

Mass Education vs. Elite Education In addition to the expansion of working people’s educational rights, another urgent task of the new PRC was, through formally institutionalized establishments, to train professionals badly needed by economic development and national defense. The dilemma faced by education which was supposed to be open to workers and peasants was, and for a long time, vacillation between equity and efficiency. In the then official language, this was the relationship between “popularization” ( puji) and “the raising of standards” (tigao). This, in fact, was a matter of mass or elite education. The choice was to decide which was more important for the nation: the improvement of citizens’



general quality, or providing selected people with full education in order to train some with outstanding abilities. In daily practice, this meant a choice between an elite or mass education oriented to the some selected groups and the majority respectively. This also had implications for educational policy making in deciding the priority between basic and higher education. During the developments in the 1950s and 1960s which centered on implementing the 5-year plans of national economic building and the Soviet-model industrialization, China’s actual policy opted for elite education. National investment concentrated in higher education, whose recipients enjoyed tuition fee waivers, living stipends and free medical care. Accordingly, the distribution of higher education institutions and disciplinary structure were heavily imbalanced with particular emphases on major capital (industrial) cities and science and technology subjects, linking directly to heavy industry and national defense. A number of institutions were selected by the government to invest focally. They were designated as key-point institutions, under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education or other ministries. There was strict selection at every level within the system, in order to secure the best quality of students. Looking back on such a policy choice, its pros and cons become evident. The most obvious advantage was to provide strong intellectual and personnel support for industrialization and national defense building. Its major problem was the extremely imbalanced distribution of educational resources, leading to longstanding ignorance of basic education, damage to the majority people’s educational rights and a huge education gap between urban and rural areas. With its focus on higher education, China prioritized efficiency (although whether or not Chinese higher education was efficient remains questionable). The instrumental value of education became dominant. Within a planned system, education resources were distributed based entirely on the national development goals, with little consideration of local needs, causing regional disparities. A telling example was the shortage of national key-point higher education institutions in the central and western regions. The monopoly of educational resources by and the limited financial capacity of the central government determined the unfortunate combination of stress on higher education and weak rural education. The legacies of this policy option are serious damage to equality in education and limitations on contemporary nation building imposed by the low level and poor quality of the education that most Chinese citizens have received. The option has by no means proven effective.

Various Paths to Educational Development During the initial days of the PRC, the broad masses of workers and peasants were granted educational rights directly by political revolution. The way to eliminate illiteracy and to universalize education was also in a form of revolution-strong political campaigns plus large-scale mass movements. There was an idealistic expectation that popularization of education would rapidly change the educational outlook of Chinese workers and peasants.4 These emphases on basic education for the majority immediately contradicted the goal to train specialists to develop heavy industry. As the comprehensive learning from the Soviet Union went further, the Soviet model of planned economy and a highly

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centralized higher education system were established. China’s higher education entered into a new stage of institutionalization. The quest for quality and higher standards led to cancellation of speeded-up secondary schools for workers and peasants. In July 1955, the then Ministries of Education and Higher Education documented that the quick methods of learning had not worked in practice (Gao, 1996, p. 22). Meanwhile, the practice of selecting cadres from workplaces to be sent directly to universities was also terminated. The stresses on higher standards stopped children of workers and peasants from going to universities and even schools. Kairov’s pedagogical theories and the Soviet school system dominated primary to higher education. A strict, highly complicated teaching administration system resulted from the indiscriminate imitation of the Soviet experience and “proletarian dogmatism” (China National Institute for Educational Research, 1983, p. 221). Mao Ze-dong strongly opposed such formal, highly institutionalized Soviet-style education, and never tried to hide his criticism. He initiated “educational revolutions” in the 1960s based on his educational ideals and values. Maoist educational revolutions had multiple dimensions, one of which was to stick to equity. In contrast to the prevalent policy with foci on senior secondary and higher education, Mao’s main attention was to basic education for the majority Chinese, especially in rural areas. He stressed the educational rights of working people’s children, and tried to achieve these goals by doing away with examinations and shortening the length of schooling. The first approach was epitomized in the 1958 educational revolution, which relaxed the limits for university entry and set a precedent for recommended enrolments. The second approach was to devolve administrative power to lower levels of government and to utilize multiple sources and methods to develop education. Mao’s thoughts and efforts to reform education continued well into the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). Many phenomena that were popular during the period in fact emerged much earlier. For instance, when the Ministry of Education organized technical secondary school admission and job assignment in 1963, selection was required to be based on a combination of examination scores and recommendations from “people’s communes.” Meanwhile, various regions implemented a new policy in secondary schools of agriculture, forestry, medicine, and teacher training to send graduates back to where they came from. In 1964, an experimental class of on-service workers was set up at Beijing Institute of Iron and Steel. The entry criteria required students to be politically progressive, with an equivalent of qualification for senior secondary graduation, in good health, under the age of 27, and with at least 3 years of working experience. Admission was based on both examination results and recommendations. Students were required to go back to their previous work units upon graduation, a more developed form of the widely practiced university admission policy during the Cultural Revolution to enroll students directly from workers, peasants and soldiers on the basis of political recommendations only. In retrospect, despite Mao’s great concern for educational justice, especially the rights of average workers and peasants, his revolutionary way to break and even surmount the accumulation of cultural capital in order for the disadvantaged to achieve dramatic changes was far from successful. Mao rejected the relatively reasonable examination approach entirely but did not propose anything that was more effective. During



the Cultural Revolution, the recommendation approach evolved into political deals, and justice was completely suppressed and wiped out. Its actual effect was great damage to the majority people’s educational rights. Moreover, Mao’s personal obsession with family origin led to wide-ranging deprivation of non-working class people’s educational rights, and thus created injustice of other sorts. The detriment of Mao’s approach to educational revolution by attacking established social institutions has been well documented. One lesson we learn from such history is the possibility of using the institutionalized power of the state to promote justice in education. One way is through compulsory education. For the Chinese people, after striving for an education that is open to the masses, the belated Law of Compulsory Education5 in 1986 was more a fortune for its final birth than a pity for its lateness. From a historical point of view, the dilemmas faced in the 1950s and 1960s linger on. Chinese education is still confronted with difficult choices between education for the elite or masses, with focus on basic or higher education. One particular issue that has never been settled is the balance between education in urban and rural areas.

Urban–Rural Disparities in Primary and Secondary Education Urban–rural disparity in education is manifested in almost all aspects of basic and secondary education. It is especially pronounced in educational opportunities and resources.

Disparities in Educational Opportunities Inequalities in educational opportunities are epitomized in the gap between enrolment and admission rates at various stages of schooling. The gap widens as the level of education is higher, taking a shape of an inverted pyramid. By 1986 when the Law of Compulsory Education was passed, primary and junior secondary education had already been universalized in urban areas. However, in rural areas, the enrolment rate of schoolage children was below 95%. On average, only 65% of primary school graduates continued to receive secondary education, and 13 provinces had a percentage lower than this. Among them, Guizhou, Guangxi, and Tibet were below 50%. In 1999, the rural secondary education enrolment rate increased to 91%, with 15 provinces below 90%, and Guizhou, Guangxi, and Tibet were respectively at 72.4, 75.7, and 38.1%. Nationwide, 1.3 million primary school graduates entered society. In the late 1980s, more than 4 million left primary school, and by 1999, the number was still high at 1.12 million. From 1980 to 2000, 3.8 million primary school students failed to complete their primary education. By 2000, senior secondary education had already been universalized in most urban areas, while the nine years of compulsory education still had not been universalized in 10% of rural areas by 2004. Among them, some had not even universalized primary education. China now maintains an enrolment rate of 99.1% of its school-aged children, but due to the size of the population, the remaining 0.9% means that at least 1 million school-aged children are not enrolled. National statistics show that 121.6 million

Urban–Rural Disparities in Educational Equality


children were enrolled at primary schools in 2002, which was 98.52% of the national age cohort. This means 1.75 million school-aged children were not enrolled. Compared to the disparities in primary education, those in junior secondary education are even more evident. By 1995, the 9 years of compulsory education had been universalized in China’s large and medium-sized cities, but only 78.4% rural areas had achieved this. Since then, there has been a 10% gap in the popularization of compulsory education between urban and rural areas. According to Zhang Yu-lin (2004), about 150 million rural children lost their opportunities to receive junior secondary education from 1986 to 2000. Among them, 32 million were deprived of primary education, 50 million stopped schooling after primary education, and 30 million dropped out during their junior secondary education. A survey of six representative counties in late 2002 showed that the dropout rate of rural children in junior secondary education was serious. All the six counties crossed the bottom-line of 3% dropout rate in junior secondary education set by the Ministry of Education, four of them were higher than 20%, two were even higher than 30%, and one was more than 50%. In 2001–2002, only 75–76.6% of the 15–17 age cohorts actually completed nine years of compulsory education. Seven provinces were below 60%. Although primary school enrolment rate reached 99%, only 89% graduated. In junior schools, the enrolment and graduation rates were 90 and 76% respectively. Every year, there were 5 million schoolaged children who did not complete their junior secondary education. From 1987 to 2002, 30.6 million students discontinued their junior secondary education. The overwhelming majority of them were in the countryside. In some regions in the far northwest, the percentage was as high as 50%. Educational disparities in senior secondary education are even more obvious. The urban–rural disparity widens further in senior secondary education. By now, senior secondary education has been universalized in China’s developed urban areas, while many rural areas are still struggling with implementing the 9 years’ compulsory education. The admission rate to senior secondary schools increased from 40% in 1985 to 55.4% in 1999 in urban areas, but decreased from 22.3 to 18.6% during the same period in rural areas. Among China’s 31 provinces, 15 had an urban–rural gap of more than 300%, with five higher than 400%. Shandong and Henan, two provinces with large population sizes, were 440 and 450% respectively. Inequalities in senior secondary education are closely related to the increase in education costs, the scarcity of educational opportunities caused by the shortage of senior schools in rural areas, and the poor quality of primary and junior secondary education. However, the longstanding urban-biased enrolment policy should not be ignored. This was related to the key-point school system that copied the practice in higher education. For example, there was only one key-point senior high school, Jiayu Number One Middle School, at Jiayu County in Hubei province by the 1990s. The minimum entry score set by the local education authorities for rural applicants was 50–80 marks higher than that for those living within the county town. The result of such arrangements was that 70% of those enrolled at the school were from the county town, whereas the population of the town was only 20% of the county.



Similarly, the score for entry into technical secondary schools/polytechnics at Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, was always set higher for rural applicants – 532 and 376 for rural and urban students respectively in 1998. Such policies have long been practiced, on the basis that they aim at “relaxing employment pressure in cities” and “reducing factors causing instability.”

Disparities in Educational Resources Disparities in educational resources demonstrate well the urban–rural gap. They are clearly shown in the announced educational expenditures reported by the Ministry of Education, and are particularly reflected in primary and junior secondary education, as illustrated by Table 1 below. When only a handful of people benefit from unequal distribution of educational resources, the majority are necessarily subject to the damage they cause. In primary and secondary education, an example of such damage is the fact that local governments have been prevented from meeting salary obligations to teachers, depriving many children of their education rights. This resulted from recent reforms of fiscal decentralization, leading to the devolution of responsibilities over both revenue collection and public expenditures to lower levels of government – the province, county, township, and village. Such a decentralized system hampers efforts to meet goals of distributional equity. Given overall budget scarcity, it is not surprising that this led to increasing inequity in the provision of public goods and services across regions through much of the reform period. In many poor areas, in particular, the lack of local government revenues or subsidies from upper levels of government has led to a fiscal crisis. Local governments are therefore not able to finance high quality public services such as education (Park, Rozelle, Wong, & Ren, 1996). Beginning in 1988, the Chinese government promoted the diversification of educational financing, with the state budget as the main source, supplemented by a variety of avenues for channeling financial resources towards education. Formalized into

Table 1. Year

1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

Educational expenditures per student, 1997–2003 Primary education (Chinese yuan)

Junior secondary education (Chinese yuan)







333.8 370.79 414.78 497.58 645.28 813.13 931.54

275.06 305.62 345.77 418.97 550.96 708.39 810.07

58.75 65.17 69.01 78.61 94.32 104.74 121.47

591.38 610.65 639.63 79.81 817.02 960.51 1052.00

468.06 478.25 508.58 533.54 656.18 795.84 871.79

123.32 132.40 131.05 146.27 160.84 164.67 180.21

Source: China Education and Research Network (2005).

Urban–Rural Disparities in Educational Equality


Article 53 of Education Law in 1995, this reform in part was a response to the growing scarcity of fiscal resources, which made diversification attractive as a way to stabilize educational financing. These changes have had a pronounced effect on the equity of educational expenditures. The highest provisional primary educational expenditure per student in Shanghai is now ten times greater than the lowest, and this ratio has roughly doubled in the past decade. Studies have found very large differences in educational expenditures within provinces, and even within counties (Tsang, 2002). There is an urgent need to recognize the policy importance of reversing these trends, allocate targeted funds to reduce growing inequities, and pay teachers’ wages. Rural teachers began to be in arrears with their salary since the late 1980s, soon after the Law of Compulsory Education was issued, when education was decentralized. By April 2000, the default reached 13.56 billion yuan covering 27 of its then 30 provinces including Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Tibet. According to the Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People’s Congress, 12.7 billion yuan teacher payment was to be materialized by July 2002. This was the part that was supposed to be guaranteed by the central government. Another part which occupied 30–50% of teacher payment classified as local government allowances became legitimately defaulted because its distribution was set to be dependent on the local budget situation. In addition to the failure to materialize the guarantee and allowances respectively promised by national and local governments, two other groups that warrant the attention of researchers are minban (those hired to teach in rural schools but do not receive regular salary from government) and daike (substitute or temporary) teachers (Andreas, 2004; Sargent & Hannum, 2005). The central government was once required to “solve minban teachers’ problems completely” by the end of the last century. Yet, China now still has a few hundred thousand of them, and their salary can hardly keep their families alive. The total number of daike teachers is even larger, and their treatment has been worse. For example, at Xuzhou, a reasonably developed city in Jiangshu province, the monthly salary for daike teachers was 150 yuan in 2004, an amount with absolutely no consideration for basic survival, which could not vindicate the least the dignity of any rural school teacher.

Urban–Rural Disparities in Higher Education As an even more scarce resource and watershed for social mobility, competition for higher education in China is far tougher. Those who are politically, economically and culturally advantaged are endowed with much more power to win such a competition. The urban-rural inequalities in higher education are thus more pronounced.

Opportunities for Receiving Higher Education The unequal opportunities in higher education are firstly an accumulative result of those in primary and secondary schools. The disparate urban–rural compulsory education system positions rural children very unfavorably from their first day of school in the race for academic success. In the context of education funds shortage, rural



residents cannot rely on their own resources to shoulder the burden of compulsory education, and their children are often eliminated in junior secondary or even primary schools. This leads to the fact that 80% of rural school-aged children cannot have the opportunities to compete for university entrance examination. Thus, few rural students win the opportunity to receive higher education. Moreover, opportunity for higher education remains highly controlled by the central education authorities and their distribution has been extremely imbalanced. These, together with the corrupt redistribution by the advantaged social groups, determine and further widen the gap in higher education opportunities between urban–rural populations. For decades, as a result of the planned economy and the policy-makers’ immediate interests, the planned enrolment figures of higher education institutions are distributed according to regions, with privileges to Beijing and Shanghai nationally, while within provinces, privileges go to the capital cities. Tsinghua University, the most prestigious Chinese university in Beijing, serves as a good example here. Within the past 20 years, the number of local Beijing students it has admitted was four times more than the sum of those from Jiangshu, Anhui, Hubei and Sichuan. In 2001, 18% of students enrolled at Tsinghua were from Beijing, while Beijing’s population was only 0.9% of the national. The enrolment rates in various regions differed dramatically. A score that could safeguard a place at Tsinghua or Peking universities for local Beijing students would not be high enough for students from outside Beijing to enter other national key-point universities, while a score for local Beijing residents to enter other national key-point universities was usually far below the required for students in other regions to enter average universities including local ones. In 1999, a local Beijing student could be admitted to universities if she/he scored an average of 43.6% in all subjects. University enrolment rate in Beijing was 72.6% in that year, even reaching 78.9% in sciences, in marked contrast to 30% in most other provinces. Within provinces, the contrast has been equally sharp. Taking Shandong as an example, the entry score to non-key-point universities in 2000 was substantially lower for students from Jinan, the capital of the province. Compared to the highest entry score, the difference was 63 marks. Consequently, children from disadvantaged agricultural areas were left far behind. If we see higher learning institutions enrolment as a preliminary distribution which clearly favors children in the national and provincial capitals, the redistribution in the admission process further privileges those who are in power and can exert their influence on the process. The fact is, applicants reaching the entry score always outnumber the actual enrolment. This creates much “flexibility” for those with a variety of special backgrounds, ranging from parents working in higher education [university staff are usually protected by the so-called “professional welfare” (hangye fuli) and enjoy the priority to select institutions and majors first], to clearly specified “flexible quota” ( jidong zhibiao), “recommended students” (baosongsheng), and those admitted on the basis of their specialties (tezhaosheng). None of these special considerations have much to do with rural children. As a matter of fact, the special considerations pave the way for corrupt behaviors that have been witnessed for decades, but particularly intensified within recent years,

Urban–Rural Disparities in Educational Equality


as shown by some widely reported instances including the fraudulent practices of recommended students in Hunan, the shady enrolment deal at Shanghai Jiaotong University, and the wide-scale malpractices of students admitted with specialty in sports in Xi’an. These examples are truly dire, as corruption in Chinese higher education is also rife. Corruption contributes much to furthering the urban–rural divide. Inequalities in higher education have been repeatedly confirmed by surveys especially since the 1990s. A large-scale study undertaken jointly by the World Bank and the Chinese Ministry of Education in April 1998 surveyed 70,000 students enrolled respectively in 1994 and 1997 at 37 universities at various levels (Zhang & Liu, 2005). It helped us build an overall picture: on average, the difference of educational opportunities between urban and rural areas was 5.8 times nationwide, with 8.8 and 3.4 times respectively in national key-point and provincial universities. This was bigger than the income disparity of 2.8 times. It also showed the disparity became more striking from 1994 to 1997. As early as June 1982, some scholars found that 22.7% of students enrolled at Nanjing and Nanjing Normal Universities were from rural family background, while the proportion of rural population in the province was 80.3% at that time. That is to say an urban child’s chance to receive higher education was 14 times bigger than her/his rural peers. In the 1990s, some scholars conducted surveys of students from different family backgrounds at a variety of universities including Harbin Institute of Shipping Engineering in the far northeast, Wuhan and Zhengzhou Universities right in central China and Xiamen University in the costal southeast. They found that the proportion of rural students in these institutions was slightly higher than 25%. Another survey conducted in Chongqing when it was still the capital of the southeast Sichuan province found the proportion was 39.2%. The 13.8% difference was mainly due to the lower status of the institutions in Chongqing. Only two of the eight universities were in the national key-point category. These findings demonstrate that the gap in higher education opportunities between urban and rural students is much more dramatic in the relatively more prestigious universities, and tends to reduce a bit in provincial higher education institutions (Zhang & Liu, 2005). Zhang and Liu (2005) reveal the inverted pyramid shape of the disparities among different social strata in Chinese higher education. They collected data at the two most prestigious Peking and Tsinghua Universities. Table 2 below shows the sources of the undergraduate students at the two universities in the 1990s. The percentages of students from rural backgrounds were lower than those at the institutions in Chongqing, and those at Wuhan and Xiamen Universities too. This further confirms the trend: the more prestigious the institution, the lower the percentage of rural students. To illustrate, in the most prestigious Peking and Tsinghua Universities which pull together the best national higher education resources and produce “the elite of the elite,” the urban–rural disparity is even more striking. The two institutions together recruited 5,080 undergraduate students. Among these, 17.8% (902) were from rural areas, while the proportion of urban population was 70%. Zhang and Liu (2005) also point out that children from family backgrounds of factory workers, civil servants and professionals were respectively 5, 25, and 37 times more likely to receive higher education at eight institutions in Beijing in 1980 than their



Table 2.

Student sources at Peking and Tsinghua Universities


1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999

Peking University

Tsinghua University

Total enrolments

Rural students


Total enrolment

Rural student


– – 1810 910 – 2089 2164 2211 2240 2425

– – 403 168 – 436 425 420 415 396

– 18.8 22.3 18.5 20.1 20.9 19.6 19.0 18.5 16.3

1994 2031 2080 2210 2203 2241 2298 2320 2462 2663

433 385 381 352 407 451 431 452 510 506

21.7 19.0 18.3 15.9 18.5 20.1 18.8 19.5 20.7 19.0

Source: Zhang and Liu (2005).

peers from the countryside. By the same approach and related to the aforementioned studies of institutions at Harbin, Wuhan, and Zhengzhou, they conclude that compared to workers, civil servants and professionals, the ratios for a peasant to be able to send her/his children to go to Harbin Institute of Shipping Engineering in 1990 were 1:3:26.8:22:5 respectively, to enter Wuhan University in 1995 were 1:3.7:32.7:21.1, Xiamen and Zhengzhou Universities were 1:2.9:30.3:14.4, and the eight institutions in Chongqing were 1:2.3:13.9:6.4.4 respectively. Based on the data from the 37 institutions, they found that on average the opportunity ratios for peasants to send their children to ordinary Chinese universities in comparison to workers, civil servants, businesspeople and professionals were 1:2.5:17.8:12.8:9.4. The ratios turn into 1:4:31.7:22.6:17.4 for the first tier national key-point higher education institutions. Generally, rural children are 5.6 times less likely to be able to receive higher education than their urban counterparts. A further scrutiny shows that even if rural students are admitted to universities, they are more likely to study the least popular subjects. A study of Wuhan University first-year undergraduate students in 1995 found students from the countryside concentrated in majors that received little attention while students from family backgrounds of civil servants and professionals occupied 59.4% of majors in computer science and 80% in international trade and banking. This finding was confirmed by the survey of the eight institutions in Choingqing, which found 24.8% of those enrolled in the most popular subjects were rural students whose presence in the more traditional subjects was 54.8%. Their findings have been confirmed by a number of more recent studies.

Enrolled Students from Poor Rural Families The issue of university students from impoverished rural areas began to catch people’s attention since 1997 when Chinese universities began to charge students tuition and

Urban–Rural Disparities in Educational Equality


accommodation fees. University fee policy does not favor those living in rural areas with little money. Rising tuition fees have substantially increased the difficulties of poor rural families in sending their children to universities. Even for the already enrolled, it is extremely difficult to finish their university education. According to the statistics collected by Jiangxi provincial education commission, 10.5% of the total student population within 32 higher education institutions in the province was from poor families, of which 5% of these totally lost their capacity to support their children. Similarly, statistics from Helongjiang province show that 11.8% of the students on 27 campuses in the province were from poor families in the countryside, and 4.9% of the student population was from families in absolute poverty. Such students occupied 10% of the total national university student population. By the late 1990s, when student fees were considered relatively low, a student needed at least 10,000–10,500 yuan annually for a 10-month academic year. Such an amount was already astronomical to many rural families. According to a survey in Shandong province, only 8.01% of students’ families could cope with the whole amount on their own, 22.43% could only manage half of the amount, 43.68% could afford less than one third, and 10.2% of students felt absolutely helpless with the amount. Without sufficient financial support, these students’ academic careers are under threat. According to a survey in Hubei Province in 1995, 40% of students had to limit their expense below 150 yuan monthly, and 10% less than 100 yuan, while a university student would normally spend nearly 200 yuan monthly at that time (Yang, 2003). The straitened circumstances exert strong impact on students’ spiritual and social life. Some are often under mental pressure. The Chinese governments at various levels and higher education institutions have worked together to have some policies on stage. Yet, within a globalized context of competitive culture, corporate managerialism, efficiency and accountability in higher education worldwide, “efficiency” has been given the highest priority in China (Yang, 2004). Such a policy orientation seems to be justified in a context where central governments devolve authority to lower levels in the hierarchy, a response to calls for flexibility that was absent in the old system, but is also a mechanism for “passing the buck.” The central authority finds itself acutely short of resources and decides to hand responsibility to other tiers and new actors, especially individual institutions and local governments. University students from poor rural families will thus continue to be a knotty issue into the coming years.

Concluding Remarks: Calling for Institutional Reforms Educational gap is only part of the overall picture of urban–rural disparity in China. Many of these disparities resulted from China’s institutional arrangements. The longstanding dual structure of economy and social system featuring a great divide between cities and the countryside is the social and institutional reason for urban–rural educational disparities. The city-countryside duality was an institutional arrangement in the planned system. It might have worked to some extent under specific times and places. It set clearly defined boundaries between cities and countryside and their residents. For more



than half a century, China’s policies have followed the mantra “agriculture feeds industry and countryside supports cities.” Heavy industry has been high on the government agenda. Cities and their residents have thus benefited from such a policy choice, at the expense of the countryside and rural population. The very strict permanent residence registration policy practiced in the planned economy effectively prevented rural residents from moving into cities. The gap between urban and rural populations was institutionally legitimized and further enhanced as time went on. The urban–rural duality has had huge impact on education. First, the imbalanced and differentiated economic structure prioritizing urban economy over the countryside has led to different economic development levels and differences of affluence between urban and rural people, which in turn determined the disparities in educational opportunities and resources. As noted above, the 9 years of compulsory education have not been universalized in some of China’s remote rural areas. Research has repeatedly demonstrated that financial shortage is the major reason for rural children to drop out. Moreover, due to the dualistic structure, current education system is oriented to cities. Educational resources from governments favor urban education. While the best resources are always in capital cities, the best resources from rural areas have gravitated towards cities too. Furthermore, the dualistic society has helped to shape different educational values among urban and rural people, which further enhance the existing disparities. Urban parents have much higher expectations and more concern with their children’s education success. There are multiple reasons within the education system as well. While the 9 years of compulsory education is a historical event in Chinese history of educational development, a close scrutiny reveals a clear tendency to prioritize urban education. In fact, many local education policy documents state explicitly “cities first, countryside second.” In other words, these policy arrangements acknowledge that urban compulsory education is more important than that in the countryside, although compulsory education by nature represents an ideal of equal rights and responsibilities. They also recognize that urban children have the priority to obtain their rights to receive compulsory education before their peers in rural regions. Other factors with the education system also deserve special attention. Key-point schools, for example, are China-specific. Seen especially from its effect, it is a typical urban-biased policy. Geographically, at least 90% such schools are located in cities. This contrasts sharply to the fact that major work of China’s basic education should be in rural areas. Key-point school system ranging from basic to higher education strengthens the imbalanced distribution of educational resources, creates a handful of winners and many losers, and facilitates the existing urban–rural set up. Another factor is that China has been practicing a discriminating university student admissions policy, which gives preferences to students from major cities. This was originally designed to ensure that the best students in underdeveloped areas could have a chance to attend key institutions and enjoy the same quality of education. However, in practice it widened the urban–rural gap in higher educational opportunities (Yuan, 2003). Meanwhile, there has not been much difference in tuition fees charged by national key-point and average provincial universities. Rural residents thus have been doubly discriminated: pay higher fees to receive education of lower quality.

Urban–Rural Disparities in Educational Equality


It goes without saying that in the past 56 years, China has made great progress in educational development, expanded its educational system rapidly, and reached out to more people of all ages than in any previous period in history. It has attempted to mobilize the entire population to achieve universal literacy over a relatively short period and has devised new ways to expand and deliver all levels of schooling to its citizenry. This has been achieved in a context of financial stringency, huge population base, strong central state and frequent political twists and turns. The primary goal of compulsory education has, however, yet to be accomplished in rural and remote areas. China’s recent spectacular economic growth provides sound basis for further educational development. However, most rural residents in China have not shared the prosperity enjoyed by the urban population in coastal regions. The educational gap among urban and rural segments reflects both the widespread disparity in the level of economic development and the longstanding historical and socio-cultural differences between cities and countryside. The inequality of education in China is even more serious for certain rural populations such as women, the handicapped and members of ethnic minority groups. The combination of these could further aggravate educational problems. For example, a very high percentage of rural disabled children who need special education programs have never been able to go to elementary school. Most regular schools are not equipped or prepared, pedagogically or emotionally, to teach them. The existing institutional arrangement for budget formulation enables the budgeting process to involve few participants. The separation of demands of citizens from the spending priorities of county government has resulted to some extent in the lack of social equity in the provision of public services, and the most serious problem is that the needs of the poorest and the most needy citizens are overlooked. Because of this separation, citizens have to be self-reliant in solving the problems outside the purview of government budgeting. The spending priorities of county governments have to be changed and the political configuration behind such priorities has to be challenged. As economic reform has exacerbated the unequal distribution of educational investment and further increased inequality in educational opportunity and attainment, social policy becomes more important. There is an urgent need for changes to established institutions. Researchers are duty-bound to alert policy makers to the existence of widespread educational discrimination against rural people and the pervasive residencebased inequality. This becomes an even more arduous and pressing task in the context of globalization, a discourse always used by the Chinese leadership to legitimize its emphasis on economic growth over the development of new social relations, including more equal distribution of goods and services and educational opportunities. Internationally, literature on the politics of globalization has brought to light how the discursive terrain within which educational policy is developed and enacted has been reconfigured, and how this reconfiguration has undermined the goal of equality and social inclusion in education. The hegemonic neo-liberal conception of globalization has become dominant in China, where social efficiency goals of education rule over traditional social and cultural concerns regarding the development of the individual and needs of the community. Current policy shift towards privatization has compromised the goals of access and equality and has widened inequalities.



All hope, however, is not lost. Globalization need not necessarily be interpreted entirely in neo-liberal terms. Responses to globalization require imaginative actions locally and globally. In order to tame the excesses of the market and work with globalization, China’s education policymakers need to be both creative in the way they think and committed to the potential that education has for building democratic communities. Effective actions are badly needed to narrow the urban-rural disparity in education. This requires some fundamental institutional changes in many aspects of education policy in particular, and more generally in some core parts of China’s social and economic policies.

Notes 1. I use “People’s Republic of China” and “China” interchangeably throughout this chapter for ease of expression. The situations of educational equalities in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are not included in this chapter. I recognize that, in constitutional terms, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan are all parts of China. 2. According to the Xinhua News Agency survey, in 2002, the top 1% of people with the highest income owned 6.1% of the total income of the society, 0.5% points higher than 1995. The top 5% of people with the highest income have nearly 20% of the total income of the society, 1.1% points higher than 1995. The top 10% of people with highest income have 32% of the total income of the society, 1.2% points higher than 1995. While striking disparities also exist within urban residents, nationwide, the imbalanced wealth distribution is particularly reflected by an ever-increasing urban–rural disparity. 3. “Red” and “Expert” were the terms coined in the Mao era to refer respectively to strong political conscience and professional and academic excellence. 4. In 1955, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China issued its decision to eliminate illiteracy nationwide among young people within seven years. In 1956, the National Labor Union passed its decision to achieve this among workers within three years. Also in 1956, the CCP Central Committee required in its outline for agricultural development during 1956–1967 that “illiteracy should be eliminated within five to seven years based on local conditions,” and “primary compulsory education should be universalized within seven to twelve years.” In 1958, the CCP Central Committee required that illiteracy be eliminated nationwide and primary education universalized within 3 to 5 years, and within about 15 years, young people and adults who were willing and qualified were able to receive higher education. 5. In China, compulsory education consists of 6 years primary and 3 years junior secondary education.

References Andreas, J. (2004). Leveling the little pagoda: The impact of college examinations, and their elimination, on rural education in China. Comparative Education Review, 48(1), 1–47. China Education and Research Network. (2005). National educational expenditure announcements. Retrieved on October 6, 2005, from jiao_ yu_jing_fei/index.shtml (in Chinese.) China National Institute for Educational Research. (1983). Chronicle of educational events in the People’s Republic of China. Beijing: Educational Sciences Publishing House (in Chinese). Dessler, D. (1989). What’s at state in the agent-structure debate? International Organization, 43(3), 431–473. Gao, Q. (1996). Educational Journal of the New China. Wuhan: Hubei Education Press (in Chinese). Park, A., Rozelle, S., Wong, C., & Ren, C. Q. (1996). Distributional consequences of reforming local public finance in China. The China Quarterly, 147(September), 751–778. Sargent, T., & Hannum, E. (2005). Keeping teachers happy: Job satisfaction among primary school teachers in rural northwest China. Comparative Education Review, 49(2), 173–204.

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Tsang, M. S. (2002). Financing compulsory education in China: Establishing and strengthening a substantial and regularized system of intergovernmental grants. Harvard China Review, 3(2), 15–20. Xinhua News Agency. (2005). Urban–rural income gap larger: Survey. Retrieved on September 26, 2005, from (in Chinese). Yang, R. (2003). Progresses and paradoxes: New developments in China’s higher education. In K. H. Mok (Ed.), Centralisation versus decentralisation: Educational reforms and changing governance in Chinese societies (pp. 173–200). Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre, University of Hong Kong. Yang, R. (2004). Toward massification: Higher education development in the People’s Republic of China since 1949. In J. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (pp. 311–374). Dordrecht: Kluwer. Yuan, Z. G. (2003). China’s educational policies in the phase of overall construction of a well-off society. Educational Research, 24(6), 15–21 (in Chinese). Zhang, Y. L. (2004). Blue book of China’s educational inequalities. Retrieved on February 12, 2005, from (in Chinese). Zhang, Y. L., & Liu, B. J. (2005). Professional strata and higher education opportunities in China. Journal of Beijing Normal University, 3, 71–75 (in Chinese).


Space, place, scale and flows are central in the formation of Australian national identity; marked by iconic landmarks and landscape. Australia’s positioning in relation to global West/East and North/South binaries is constantly re-defined with shifting alliances. Australia, despite its outback image, has been a highly urbanized nation state since settlement. In 2005, over 50% of its 20 million population are concentrated in five cities clinging to the coastline. Mythologies circulate around egalitarian traditions of mateship originating in convict anti-authoritarianism and war, but also the success of multiculturalism marked by the lack of overt racial conflict as in the USA and UK. But national identity has been forged on masculinist and racialized traditions including women as the complimentary to the masculine norm, and excluding the “racialized other” – both the indigenous population and Asian immigrants. White Australia in 1945–1975 underwent a period of relative prosperity under the paternalistic welfare state, with a reducing gap in income between men and women, and between rich and poor, creating a “surplus of hope” (Hage, 2003). But in 2005, there is widening gap in incomes between rich and poor, between men and women, non-indigenous and indigenous. Under the post welfare state produced by neo liberal reforms, there is a “scarcity of hope.” Feelings of intensified risk produce a form of “paranoid nationalism” (Hage, 2003) and a flight to “individualism.”

A Surplus of Hope People flows in have been more through migration due to imperialism, wars and famine than travel out due to work. Australian national identity has been shaped by waves of immigration after the initial invasion by English colonizers and successive flows of English, Irish, Scots and other Europeans. This homogeneous whiteness was intensified by waves of post-war refugees from Central Europe (Jews, Catholic Italians and orthodox Greeks) disrupted only after 1972 with the influx of Laotian, Vietnamese, 249 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 249–264. © 2007 Springer.



Cambodian, Chinese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Christian and Muslim Lebanese, Africans, and more recently, Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq. Immigrant populations constitute 98% of the population, overwhelming the indigenous traditional owners. Each successive wave of newcomers after settlement met with discrimination from established immigrant groups based on cultural, linguistic, religious and “racialized” differences. By 1985, nearly a quarter of Australians were born overseas and only 70% of Anglo Celtic origin compared to 90% in 1947, with most immigrants settling into inner city Melbourne or Sydney. In 2005, 41% of the population now have at least one parent born overseas. Whereas issues of race have dominated the USA and UK for a long time, “with its history of migration, the White Australian Policy and more recent policy of multiculturalism, ethnicity has (only now) received much more attention in Australia” (Tsolidis, 2001, p. 4). Place and space dominate Australian mindsets. Viewed by eighteenth century imperialist planners as an outpost of Western culture and trade, located in, but marginal to, the Asia Pacific, Australians know “themselves” relative to “the other.” Australia has been both colonized (economically, politically and culturally by the UK and then USA post-1945) and colonizer (e.g., of New Guinea), complicit in maintaining the British Empire. This produces multiple, often conflicting, legacies and loyalties shaping Australian identity, further confused by the increasing pressures of the latest phase of “globalization.” Old loyalties dissipate due to both collapse of time/space and new ones emerge due to changing relativities of place. While England and the USA are geographically distant, past bonds are now confused by new regional loyalties with NAFTA and the EU. Meanwhile, Australia’s presence in Asia-Pacific alliances is tenuous, and politically and culturally ambiguous. Yet Australia is now more economically dependent on Asia and South East Asia than the USA or UK, an interdependency recently strengthened, paradoxically, by international terrorism, which also has, ironically, reinforced old racialized alliances and prejudices (Rizvi, 1996). Australian relations in/towards the Asia-Pacific region are clouded by both colonial legacies of empire and post-colonial legacies of nationhood. Prior to 1900, white settlers had, through treaties, force of arms and settlement, possessed much of the land of the 500 or more indigenous tribes. Federation in 1900 removed Aboriginal constitutional rights through the doctrine of terra nullius, that is, Australia was “empty” at the time of occupation. The rightful ownership of the indigenous was returned with the 1992 Mabo High Court decision, only to be challenged and modified. Australian Federation in 1900 was also motivated by the need to move outside England’s protection, and to unify the colonies into a democratic nation due its distance from the “mother country” and proximity to “the other,” the “Yellow Peril,” to the North. This racialized fear was internalized through the White Australia Policy in 1902, entrenched with Japanese imperialist desires in World War II, then readily converted into fear of the “red peril” with rise of communism in Asia and South East Asia during the 1950s. Finally, the residual welfare state after Federation of the colonies in 1900 built on the state colonial government bureaucracies to protect white male jobs and local industries through centralized industrial and administrative regulation. A sense of security, solidarity and unity was gained through state protection reinforced by the integral role of the trade union movement to formal politics (and the Labor party) with Federation.

Equity and Social Justice in Australian Education Systems


This social liberal consensus was driven through adherence to particular norms around family, nationhood and community. Australia’s social experimentation, just like New Zealand’s, meant women led the world in gaining the vote in the 1890s. But women (as children) were defined by the modern state as dependent on the male wage earner, perpetuating the colonial white patriarchy. The doctrine of equality was never “intended to equate the Englishmen to the Chinaman” (Prime Minister, quoted in Cope & Kalantzis, 2000, p. 36). While New Zealand institutionalized biculturalism through the Treaty of Waitangi, Australia assumed a “natural process of extinction” would occur via assimilation of its Aboriginal peoples, already largely decimated through white settler expansion and border wars (Reynolds, 1999). These narratives were embedded in schooling. Centralized, free, secular and compulsory public state-run schools for students to 14 years formed the infrastructure of the Australian welfare state. In the 1870s, colonial education systems were developed by the petit bourgeoisie to educate the new male citizens of the propertyless classes. After 1900, education was linked for the first time to the national economy. The secular public systems (over 70% of students), obligated to take all students, provided one teacher for rural, technical, domestic and agricultural as well as academic high schools, reproducing a differentiated class and gender-based educated workforce. A white male working class blue collar elite was reproduced through technical education, while church-run elite high fee private schools, the legacy of the colonial period with about 8% of students, reproduced middle class business leaders, many of whom constituted the 3% of students who attended university until the 1960s. Over 20% of students attended Catholic low fee systemic schools. Sectarian politics between Catholics and Protestants divided school systems, society and politics well into the 1960s. New immigrants attended mainstream public schools, with no specific language or transition programs until the 1970s. Aboriginal students received basic literacy and numeracy on mission schools on the reserves where they were “protected” by the state. This “protection” extended to the state “removing” mixed blood children to be educated in white homes and public schools, most destined to work in towns and on farms as cheap labor, a “stolen generation” who lost contact with parents and kin. But educational certification was not always necessary for employment in a prosperous economy of primary industries with a small manufacturing sector. Unskilled male workers could comfortably support “the nuclear family” of wife and children until the crash of 1974, and women teachers were a source of cheaper part time and full time workforce to foster expansion, given there was no equal pay until 1970. Schooling therefore promoted individual social mobility, but reproduced inequalities based on class, gender, race and ethnic difference, a sorting function at odds with equity. Equity prior to 1970 was understood as access to differentiated forms of schooling to geographically dispersed student populations. Women, children and indigenous were constructed as dependents on the male wage earner. Women’s political rights were based on an implicit sexual contract, their role, interests and needs being as mothers and wives. White Australia therefore enjoyed “relative equality” until the 1970s, due to natural wealth and social mobility, but also “the product of a particular set of public policies developed over time,” including strong and centralized state education systems, industrial relation systems and unions (Thomson, 2001, p. 27). Australia’s cultural



isolationism and separatism dissipated during the 1930s. Immigration for economic growth was promoted during the 1950s and 1960s based on the assimilationist assumption that, with time, shared experiences through trade and travel would make cultural differences disappear within a unified culture. “Assimilation” assumed that immigrant groups and indigenous could “live with us” so that in time they would “become like us” (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000, p. 37).

Lines of Flight: Educational Progressivism During the 1970s–1980s Lines of flight are indicative of “movements of transmutation and change” in societies created out of historical conditions but creating new possibilities (Patton, 1995, p. 154). Lines of flight that disrupted the social order of the 1950s were the rise of a professionalized educated middle class, “new” social movements (peace, women’s and environmental) in the 1960s and 1970s, the multicultural movement of the 1980s, and the post-Mabo reconciliation movement (Patton, 1995). These “becoming” events, together with increased cultural diversity and labor market instability arising from increased rapidity of global flows of money, goods, people, ideas and images of globalization, produced conditions for radical change after 1974 (Cope & Kalantzis, 1997; Pusey, 2003; Yeatman, 1990, 1998). The social movements of the 1970s disrupted dominant political and epistemological assumptions, challenging not only the elites (largely white middle class males), but also ways of knowing and explaining in universities and schools. This was a period of political and policy activism in the fields of education, health and welfare as different interest groups made their specific claims upon the state (Yeatman, 1998). Education was, during the 1970s, also a site of student activism, feminist challenges epistemologically and politically, as well as an emergent multicultural movement. Educational inequality based on class and redistribution became a focus in Australia in 1972, whereas issues of class and race were interlocked in the UK and USA, for example, with the Great Reforms. While schools were a state domain, the federal Labor government 1972–1975 sought to develop more equitable systems, given the decline in Catholic parish schools with high staff-student ratios and poor quality buildings. The Schools Commission established in 1973 recommended the historic decision for the state to fund church schools based on a formula that meant most funding went to the poorest schools, and little funding to the elite. This decision was based on a government’s responsibility to provide a minimum standard of education for all. Educational progressivists during the 1970s also opposed the selectivity and streaming of students by schools, and pushed for comprehensivization of secondary schools to promote greater choice and equity, operationalized through zoning policies allocating students to local public schools. The Schools Commission also created the Disadvantaged Schools Program that focused on the school, not the neighborhood as in the UK or the family as in the USA, an ambitious and relatively successful approach that focused on comprehensive curriculum, positive school-community relations, parent participation, participative decision making, and sensitive student-teacher relations.

Equity and Social Justice in Australian Education Systems


Education was seen to be a force for social change and participation was an educative process. Most federally-funded innovative educational programs of the late 1970s and early 1980s emphasized localized policy formation, for example, the Participation and Equity Program 1983–1989 (Connell, Johnston, & White, 1991). This Labor federal government was progressive and reforming, working within a social democratic frame. With pressure from Women’s Electoral Lobby, representatives of “interest” groups were incorporated into/by the state, installed in specialist units and onto advisory policy bodies. Feminist bureaucrats (femocrats) were positioned within the state, to work both for the state and in the interests of gender equity broadly. The femocrats were accommodated, despite their loyalty to feminist principles, and not without internal resistance from a masculinist culture, by bureaucracies themselves under reform to improve their service orientation. Education femocrats sought to improve the position of women in teaching, as signaled by their increased representation in leadership positions and equal pay, and the education of girls to be more equitable (Kaplan, 1996). The femocrats developed anti-discriminatory and affirmative action legislation (Sawer, 1999). In 1974, a women’s budget was developed to monitor the outcomes of budget decisions in cabinet, a process now utilized in many developing nations and by UNESCO. Gender equity reform was institutionalized through consultative processes for policy production. This model permeated down into state bureaucracies and schools. The New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act (1977) required all state governments to prepare an EO management plan to be sent to the Director of EEO in Public Employment, including universities and Technical and Further Education Colleges in 1983. These included a statistical analysis of the workforce, a review of personnel practices and a set of strategies to eliminate discriminatory practices. Targets were set without positive discrimination. Gender equity units in education bureaucracies and education policies increasingly included anti-racism and multiculturalism, working with social justice units on Multicultural and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders Education. At the same time, this process of incorporation also “domesticated” opposition. Policymakers and femocrats were also informed by grassroots activists through formal consultations, lobby groups, local and state union, and feminist academic networks. The unions, bastions of masculinity, also under pressure from education feminists within, formed women’s branches and established women’s officers. Australian feminist academics therefore theorized the state as a site of contestation and not entirely masculinist and oppressive, whereas English and American feminists had a more oppositional view. Policy was a product of contestation that in turn produced new discourses that could be adopted, adapted or rejected by practitioners. Gender equity reform exemplified a dialogical process of articulation and re-articulation within/ between the bureaucracy, feminist and academic networks and schools. Each iteration of national policies for girls and action plans for women teachers, for example, reflected the theoretical shifts and practical politics of gender equity reform. Thus in 1975, the National Policy for the Education of Girls, framed by liberal feminism and informed by theories of socialization and sex roles, focused on individual girls, treated girls from NESB and Aboriginal backgrounds as “special needs” groups suffering



multiple disadvantages because of “traditional cultures” in a cultural deficit model (Yates, 1995, p. 44–45). The strategies focused on changing women and girls to enter non-traditional areas of work, to gain self-esteem and confidence, and to acquire leadership skills (Kenway, Willis, Blackmore, & Rennie, 1998). By 1983 there was a shift, informed by cultural feminism, from notions of girls and women being passive victims of their socialization to celebrating their femininity as a positive force for change. The policy focus moved towards women- and girl-friendly cultures and inclusive curriculum. The dual strategies were to remove sexist and racist assumptions in curriculum and leadership, and acknowledge the life experiences and contributions of males and females. Women and girls were seen to bring different knowledge and talents to leadership and learning, for example, interpersonal and communication skills, and caring and collaborative approaches (Blackmore, 1999a). But this celebration of difference treated recognition superficially through the inclusion of stories about women scientists, female role models in business and engineering, while accommodating or appropriating women’s styles of leadership as being caring and sharing, The association of different knowledge/power relations went unchallenged. This add but do not stir strategy did not require the mainstream to reflect on its dominance, but did provide powerful discourses for individual women and girls. The 1987 National Policy on the Education of Girls, passed after long community consultation, was significant in its recognition of difference amongst boys and girls. Informed by feminist poststructuralist notions of gender and subjectivity, its focus was on gender identity in terms of the production of female and masculine identities in relation to each other, on migration and systemic racism rather than NESB backgrounds. ATSI girls’ education was separately located within broader discussions of land rights and self determination (Yates, 1995). Mature aged women were also the major beneficiaries of the abolition of university fees in 1972, whereas working class students favored the newly created Technical and Further Education (TAFE) sector. But it was ultimately middle class white women and girls who benefited most from these discourses, as they competed with white middle class males in traditional masculine areas of leadership and science (Tsolidis, 1993). With the Whitlam government in 1972, the notion of multiculturalism was first mobilized. Again, lobby groups (Australian Ethnic Affairs Council) worked to pressure government for representation in the policy process on the basis of social cohesion, cultural diversity and equal opportunity. Multiculturalism became official government policy in 1978, but cultural diversity was to be recognized only to the extent that it did not alter existing social, political and economic arrangements, although it was accepted that multiculturalism meant that commitment to the public good did not “impose a sameness” on the outlook of everybody. Government reports during the 1980s emphasized the need to celebrate ethnic diversity and identify the special needs of ethnic minorities in education, thus recognizing difference rather than focusing on assimilation, exemplified in Ministerial portfolios and a separate television station. Multicultural discourses expressed a tolerance of others, celebration, of respect, equal access and social justice. Multicultural education was framed not only with discourses about recognizing diversity, but also creating social cohesion through inculcating a multicultural attitude,

Equity and Social Justice in Australian Education Systems


for example, interethnic tolerance. McCarthy (1998) identifies three discourses of multiculturalism in education – those emphasizing cultural understanding and sensitivity, those institutionalizing curriculum recognition of cultural competence so students can live comfortably in a culturally pluralistic society, and those which are emancipatory, radically altering the life chances of minority students. Australian policy focused on cultural understanding foremost, less so cultural competence, but without any emancipatory intent. Teachers and principals were expected to be aware of ethnic minorities, develop policies, take into account different religious requirements, review curriculum of ethnocentricity, and provide courses in ethnic cultures and community languages to promote a “multicultural attitude” (Rizvi, 1996, p. 3). English as a second language developed as a major area in community education, and neighborhood houses, learning centres and TAFE provided an educative and participatory approach to literacy for NESB women. But multicultural education, in recognizing Australia’s cultural heterogeneity, did position migrants as active subjects. Immigration became the focus of educational research, and ethnicity was included in relation to other “categories” of disadvantage (Rizvi, 1996). But in school practices, multiculturalism assumed a preservationist view, highlighting traditional cultures, customs, and associations with particular religions. And as Tsolidis (2001) argues, in education, this positioned NESB girls as being disadvantaged by their ethnicity (equated to traditional and patriarchal). “Mosaic multiculturalism” assumed that each cultural group should contribute equally and fully in Australian society and that cultural difference would not disappear but “fit” together, while rejecting the possibility of homogenous cultural unity. But mosaic multiculturalism also assumes culture is homogeneous, fixed and static, with clear boundaries that are as much about inclusion/exclusion as they are about recognition. Furthermore, the assumption was that each culture has a moral right to be recognized and that the state (or education systems) should not be judgmental, that is, cultural relativism. The unproblematic utilization of the notion of ethnicity in this value-free and apolitical sense (that ignored ethnicities cultural distinctiveness and historical origins, and indeed why there was a need to maintain ethnic identity) also allowed class and gender to be ignored (Rizvi, 1996; Tsolidis, 2001). Migrants saw themselves, and were perceived, as distinctive, but within class relations of inequality where most acted as a reserve army of labor generating post-war economic growth. And the most ardent advocates of cultural relativism, and indeed multiculturalism, were often those who benefited most because of their already advantageous class and gender position, that is, an emergent male ethnic middle class. Australian critical theorists have argued that with the absorption of race within the frame of multiculturalism, the concepts of race through which Australians understand themselves as a nation have been rendered invisible. The languages of multiculturalism and race have become confused. This movement for social justice in education developed a logic that enabled it to expand to encompass more and more equity groups (ATSI, cultural and language diversity, disability, educational risk, geographic isolation, gifts and talents, learning impairment and low socio-economic background). State bureaucracies reflected this. Queensland had an Equity Directorate and Language and Cultures Unit working with



a Social Justice Strategy plus state-wide support centers and personnel. Victoria institutionalized Equal Opportunity positions through industrial agreements in all schools. Action Plans for women teachers existed in most states, with targets set, monitoring and reporting requirements. Approaches to social justice meant that we think through economic issues from the standpoint of the poor and not the rich. We think through gender arrangements from the standpoint of women. We think through race relations and land questions from the standpoint of indigenous peoples. We think though questions of sexuality from the standpoint of gay people. (Connell, 1993, p. 43) This was a needs based approach, underpinned by the view that everyone had the right to an equal education. While equity policies provided legitimacy to act in schools, critical feminist and post colonial theorists critiqued the notion of gender, race and ethnicity as “fixed” categories, arguing that ethnic and gender formation were interconnected and contradictory, cultures worked on the basis of inclusion/exclusion, and there were significant power and material inequalities (Yates, 1995). Certainly, many white middle class girls benefited, but dominant white masculinities in schools remained the norm (Blackmore, 1999a). Yet, most equity strategies focused on recognition superficially without changing social and economic power relations, that is, greater representation of women in leadership and “fashion and food festivals.” These policies of inclusion were readily contained within social liberalism. Recognition of group interests took over in Australia as in other Western democracies from redistribution (Fraser, 1997).

Shifting Trajectories: Equity and/or Efficiency and Effectiveness Labor was back in power federally from 1983 to 1995. Public sector reform in Australia during the 1980s was informed by two major ideological pushes: to develop more responsive, transparent and accountable bureaucracies with employment reform based on affirmative action and EEO, recruitment based on merit not seniority, lateral recruitment of senior executive service on contract, corporate planning and program based budgeting, plus audit reviews and performance monitoring. The second impetus came from the emerging force of economic rationalism in the federal bureaucracy informed by public choice theory that argued that individuals sought to self maximize and that bureaucrats and professionals sought merely to protect their own interests, not govern for national interests, that is, producer capture. Therefore bureaucrat policy and regulation were separated from program delivery, now undertaken through contractual arrangements with public and private agencies on a competitive basis for increased efficiencies. This was fertile ground for neo-liberal reforms. Federal Labor, after the global financial crash of 1987, was also under significant pressure by international monetary markets and economic orthodoxies to restructure its industrial relations and workplace arrangements. Structural adjustment meant small government, reduced

Equity and Social Justice in Australian Education Systems


public expenditure on health, education and welfare, deregulation of financial and labor markets, and devolution in governance. Labor’s corporate managerial approach was now premised upon an alliance between government, big business and big unions, sidelining educational unionists and other lobby groups. State Labor governments adopted similar strategies. Under pressure, Labor sought to balance efficiency and effectiveness with equity by linking social justice policies in education with goals of international competitiveness and economic development. Higher education reform after 1987 exemplified new public administrative trends. Access was increased through massification of Higher Education (HE) by creating a unified system amalgamating colleges of advanced education and technical institutes with universities. Efficiency was achieved through the higher education contribution scheme (HECs), a deferred tax on students. But as economic rationalism came to dominate, equity discourses were marginalized. Education policies were increasingly informed by neo-liberal versions of human capital theory promoting user pays, the premise being that higher education produced individual as well as national benefits. As with NPA in the UK and New Zealand, there was a shift from government (controlling the daily administration) to governance (steering from a distance). Education was politicized with increased ministerialisation of policy making (at federal and state levels) with externally recruited policy advisors and contracted senior executive managers replacing public servants. Loyalty shifted away from citizen and up to political “master.” This new contractualism shifted relations between citizen and state to one of client and provider. Meanwhile, the new managerialism meant responsibility (and risk) for decisions were devolved to local semi-autonomous units that competed with each other for resources, governments steered from a distance through a cycle of policy, financial contracts, and accountability feedback mechanisms focusing only on outcomes. This centralized decentralization was the model for state government, education systems (with a move to self-managing schools funded on enrolments), and educational organizations (where local budget centers competed for a decreasing global budget). The new managerialism was exemplified in the notion of a generic multi-skilled manager who managed regardless of expertise, as knowledge and commitment implied self interest. The focus was on the performative, that is, what could be measured, such as performance management and indicators. In this context, equity was mainstreamed within human resource (HR) management and devolved as a responsibility to individual managers who lacked the commitment, knowledge or resources. While this weakened its strength, EEO practices had become embedded within management and HR discourses. But as efficiency dominated, equity was increasingly perceived to be a luxury and a cost. Thus EEO policy was often treated symbolically, existing in policy but and not bedded down in practices of selection, promotion or curriculum, neither advocated nor resourced, and often undermined. Equal opportunity … came to be reframed in terms of what it can do for management improvement, not in terms of what it can do to develop the conditions of social justice and democratic citizenship in Australian society. (Yeatman, 1998, p. 15)



Capitalizing on Choice and Diversity During the 1990s: Reconciliation, Republicanism, Resistance and the Right Whereas the 1970s and 1980s would appear to be the logical culmination of particular progressive tendencies of social liberalism within Australian society, the 1990s stand out as a moment of disjuncture or rupture with the past, due to the fundamental restructuring of the relations between the individual, “interest” groups, social movements and the state with the rise of neo liberalism (Blackmore & Sachs, 2006). The 1990s was a period of radical restructuring of political systems worldwide with the fall of communism, increased rapidity of globalizing flows of capital, people, images, ideas and goods, changing work orders and familial structures. Under Keating’s Labor leadership until 1996, Australia was looking to new alliances and orientations towards South East Asia and Asia economically, culturally and politically. Such a re-orientation supported notions of productive diversity, a discourse mobilized widely by progressive employers “to work effectively with an immigrant workforce and putting a positive economic spin on multiculturalism … as a pragmatic response” and “a distinctively optimistic and ingenious Australian idea, born of an irreducible diverse society of immigrants and indigenous people and an economy that must be export oriented” (Cope & Kalantzis, 1997, pp. iv, ix). This notion was rearticulated in education and government as a discourse of managing diversity. At the same time, the Mabo (1992) and Wik (1994) legal decisions that recognized indigenous land rights were indicative of wider moves towards reconciliation, matched by a renewed interest in republicanism. The Enlightenment’s universal citizen and abstract subject was under review as women, indigenous and ethnic minorities made new claims upon the state, and the state itself was under review. It was also an era of radical restructuring, linking education more tightly to national economies in most Western nation states due to an increasing reliance on international competitiveness and innovation. Schools were similarly linked more tightly to the economy with increased influence of business and blue collar unions through three key national reports in the early 1990s, pushing for the vocationalization of education through competency based education that aligned well with outcomes based education. Educational work in universities, schools and TAFEs was intensified, commodified, and corporatized, achieved through the twin neo-liberal strategies of new managerialism and marketization, the policy orthodoxies of global policy communities during the 1990s (e.g., OECD, World Bank, and IMF) (Henry, Lingard, Rizvi, & Taylor, 2001). In education and the public sector generally, reduced expenditure accompanying devolution meant downsizing, outsourcing and casualization of educational labor. The move to enterprise bargaining – Labor’s labor/industry compromise after 1989 – had already effected a decline in union membership (women’s membership decreased from 50% in the 1960s to 31% in 1997). Women’s weaker bargaining capacity led to trade offs of pay for family flexibility, although teacher unions have the majority of teachers as members, and compared to other public sector unions, were more woman-friendly. Thus the material conditions and the nature of educational work were being re-structured. After 1996, John Howard extended Labor’s reforms, but within neo-conservative social policy and radical market policy frames. Policies promoted the privatization of public education by mobilizing discourses of choice, without mention of equity.

Equity and Social Justice in Australian Education Systems


Equity programs (e.g., DSP) and the Office of Multicultural Affairs were abolished, the Affirmative Action Agency was reviewed and downgraded and reporting was “voluntary.” Childcare support was reduced. ATSIC was created to manage indigenous services. Government expenditure on public education (universities and schools), already decreasing since 1989, now rapidly declined (from 4.3 to 3.8% of GDP). Universities in particular, but increasingly TAFE, sought fee-paying international students to replace reducing government funds. During the 1990s, most school education systems (under state government control) increased parental choice by abolishing zoning, and increased competition between schools by funding regimes based on enrolments with targeted equity funds while federal funding policies support a flow of those who could afford to private schools. Parents, it was argued, would choose the most effective schools, and failing schools would close. Ironically, in Victoria where the move to self-managing schools was most radical, and where parental involvement had historically been politically strongest and parent and teacher representation on policy committees greatest, the neo liberal government excluded parent and teacher union organization’s representation from school councils. Parents were re-positioned not as citizens with a constituency of parents, but as individual active choosers/consumers without responsibility to others, while teachers were positioned as providers. Markets are now the means by which to distribute educational provision. Any inequitable effects are blamed on individual schools and/or students. This rights oriented approach pays little regard to needs and ignores how individual choices impact on the collective, or how the few have more choices than the majority. It also denies responsibility of both government and individual citizens to “the other” or indeed “the public.” Meanwhile, government now controls “self managing” universities, TAFEs and schools, teachers and academics educators more than ever before. National qualifications frameworks promote seamlessness between sectors and professional standards seek comparability between institutions on the one hand, yet produce competition and conformity towards the norm of market images of success and managerial outcomes rather than increased differentiation to address client diversity or creativity. This occurred in the context of a discursive backlash against feminism, multiculturalism and reconciliation, generated by conservative discourses that condemned “black armband history” for producing guilt, feminism for putting masculinity at risk, multiculturalism as divisive and a failure, and the recognition of difference as against the national interest (McLeod, 1998). These assimilationist discourses appealed to marginalized electors, many blue collar worker males, disaffected by increased economic insecurity, and radical changes in the nature of work and gender relation in the family. Indeed, in education and health, discourses of masculinity in crisis have been mobilized by government, small but vocal groups of men, and some male academics. In Victoria after 1993, gender inclusive curriculum and other strategies focusing on girls were seen to be unfair to boys, and “strategies for the education of boys” were recommended to restore goodwill. The subtext was that teaching and schools had become too feminized. But addressing equity (for girls and boys) was left to voluntary choice by individual self managing schools and not centrally prescribed. The government’s national discourse of “recuperative masculinity” has focused narrowly on boys’ underachievement in literacy in an essentialist way. It has ignored feminist advances in gender



equity that now consider which boys and which girls (due to the intersections of class, indigeneity, location, and language) are disadvantaged (Lingard, 2003). Howard’s populist politics after 2000 fed off two discourses of protection: protection against refugees (defined by government as “illegals” and “queue jumpers”) and terrorists (equated to Muslims) after 9/11 and subsequent bombings. The “success” of multiculturalism is now contested by the conservative press. Suggestions are that the extension of post-war immigration policies to non-Anglo immigrants after 1970 did not consider the impact of diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. Post-welfarism criticizes dependency cultures and promotes self-help and voluntarism, not state assistance. This is now central to debates amongst indigenous leaders as to whether mutual obligation embedded in welfare (e.g., where welfare funds are removed if children are not sent to school) is revived paternalism or restoring community. The Howard government has pushed through legislation to replace the industrial relations system of the past 100 years with minimalist awards that favor employers. The connection between wages and social justice has been severed. The gap between rich and poor, male and female wages, indigenous and non-indigenous, dual- and single- income families, urban and rural has increased. High level concentrations of poverty, poor health, unemployment and low educational achievement are geographically concentrated in a few postcodes (Teese & Polesel, 2003). In education, conservative media challenges to educational progressivism (e.g., critical literacy) are underway. Federally-funded elite and selective, as well as fundamentalist, religious educational institutions are not held accountable for equity in terms of who and what they teach, or how. Yet, public schools with a greater social mix (linguistic, ability, racial) operate under strict accountabilities to improve the outcomes of equity groups. They are disadvantaged in the market where parents seek to choose schools (and social networks) where students are “more like us.” The role of schools, TAFE colleges and universities with regard to the equity outcomes is being restructured. A number of shifts during the 1990s have changed the nature of the conceptualization of equity: (1) Policies are now based on individual rights, not group interests (recognition) or need (redistribution). Any claims upon the state are now judged against “the national interest” and must benefit everyone. This ignores the conditions that can impact on opportunities. (2) The discourse of equal opportunity that implied a form of group entitlement has been supplanted by an individualizing discourse of managing diversity that equates all forms of difference (e.g., learning preferences the same as race, class and gender). Diversity is a problem to be managed. The individualization of disadvantage means individuals bear the brunt of both the risk and responsibility, yet has to show agency to change, thus localizing victimization and individualizing the solution. The individualizing nature of rights discourses are readily mobilized to the advantage of the privileged (e.g., equal rights mean that everyone has the same treatment). (3) Governments have devolved equity down to the local where various equity demands compete for reduced resources without systemic support, and where equity is not mandated, that is, devolution of responsibility.

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Making Hope Practical This retrospective analysis helps us consider the prospects for the future of equity reform in different times. During the 1970s and 1980s, there was a particular momentary convergence between a reforming state and emergent social movements that gave rise to intelligent opportunism in terms of promoting social justice. Structural reform did not in itself change practices. Centralized decentralization, with the dispersion and individualization of responsibility, risk and results on the one hand, and expectations to be a self-managing performative entrepreneurial educator on the other, has contributed to an intensification of labor, another form of managerial control. But policy shifted values and priorities within education systems away from comprehensiveness, equity, collegiality, cooperation, and towards competition, individualism, and compliance. Competition, contractualism and performance management altered relations between workers, workers and managers, students and teachers, between institutions and between individuals and the state, generally increasing government control over teachers and academics. Organizational processes, symbols and cultures are also racialized and gendered, porous to wider societal discourses. Providing role models and celebrating difference are often only symbolic, and focus on a traditional false view of culture or gender that reinforces categories and stereotypes. To only recognize difference, and encourage the self-esteem of ethnic children or girls do not alter those structures, cultures and processes that are biased towards white middle class males. Racism, like sexism, are not rational ideologies, but “constructed around certain structures of feeling and with a socio-emotional dimension” that do not alter with knowledge of inequality or an experiential encounter with “other” cultures (Rizvi, 1993, p. 209). Changing race and gender relations/attitudes is not just about informing people about patterns of discrimination, encouraging them to empathize with those who are discriminated against, or even experiencing discrimination. Equity reform is about identity work for teachers and students. Individuals have considerable investment in their gendered and “racialized” identities, some more than others because of unequal power relations, where privileges accompany class, whiteliness and masculinity (Moreton-Robinson, 2000). Racism is equally the problem of all groups. While dominant racist ideologies are white, whites can be victims of racist violence, and racist discourses are also mobilized between non-Anglo immigrant groups, and linked to sexism, that is, “gendered racisms” (Castles, 1996, p. 23). Anti-racism (like anti-sexism) is a “vital developing and changing combination of activism and opposition that must continually involve diverse groups and be sensitive to its own limitations in visions and action” (Gillborn, 2004, p. 43). Studies of both anti-racism and gender equity reform indicate that gender equity and anti-racism reforms are most successful when there is a dialogue between bottom-up activism and top-down policy that legitimates and provides a language of reform, as well as resources and infrastructure (Taylor, 2001). An institutional approach in both policy and practice is critical. Often, reform begins small, with a few advocates, or by working in partnership with supportive communities (Gillborn, 2004; Kenway et al., 1998). But schools themselves must seek to encourage meaningful participation by all students in this process. Moreover, equity reform is uneven, not chronologically



progressive; it works at multiple levels, and often in contradictory ways in different contexts (e.g., responsive or corporate bureaucracy). Past successes do not disappear with the next reforms. State government education policies continue to use Action Plans as a strategic tool. Equity has to some extent been discursively accommodated, and equity practices partially integrated, but often without the same commitment or political will. Successes are equally quickly eradicated through restructuring, value shifts informed by policy, and changed conditions of work. Thus marketization and managerialism meant old bureaucratic masculinities were supplanted by managerial and entrepreneurial transnational masculinities. So what are the prospects for equity work with the shift in the socio-cultural and economic context, the rise of economic globalization and neoliberalism? One is to utilize the tools of performativity. The state now mediates globalized education markets (students and teachers) and education has become integrated with the development of an innovation economy. Within market-oriented education systems, the discourses of equal opportunity, equity and diversity are being mobilized differently. Currently, with internationalization and labor shortages, equity has niche market appeal – for international students, and for attracting and retaining quality academics and teachers. But now equity is increasingly reliant on market conditions and employer goodwill, not mandated through policy. In response to the lack of political will on behalf of government, grassroots oppositional social movements, community organizations and coalitions have emerged to support reconciliation, refugees and public education. Women’s and other non-government organizations continue to lobby government, usually unsuccessfully. They also strategically name and shame the federal government for the inequitable outcomes of neo-liberal policies, and poor record on human rights, by appealing to international bodies (e.g., International Labor Organization, UNESCO Women’s Committee). These global policy communities struggle with the tension between postmodernist cultural pluralism and modernist universal human rights through developing more equity-driven performance indicators to monitor any nation state’s level of stability, economic growth and social development (and therefore a good investment opportunity) (Blackmore, 1999b). Australian indigenous educational, health and employment outcomes stand out starkly on such global measures. But the tension between modernist and postmodernist consideration about equity, that is, to reconcile individual agency and cultural relativism with universal human rights, are not readily resolved. As indicated in this narrative, the politics of recognition dominated the 1980s and 1990s, readily captured by neo-liberal discourses of choice that facilitated individual mobility and a sense of group collectivity in the face of social fragmentation. Fraser (1997) argues that social justice has to address recognition and redistribution together. Focusing on recognition of cultural, racial or gender difference alone ignores equally significant issues of class and unequal distribution of resources. This means governments have to address both recognition (e.g., representation and voice or interests) and also redistribution (i.e., address needs). But past equity categories (gender, race, class, ethnicity, disability) when treated as discrete, do not necessarily work effectively as policy categories. Racial, ethnic and class differences overlap, but do not necessarily coincide. And gender confuses all this. Girls and women overachieve educationally,

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but are under-rewarded in workplaces because of their responsibility as primary carers of the young, aged and sick, their location in traditional women’s work, and their concentration lower down or on the margins of organizations. Then there are cultural and religious traditions with their various hybrid forms positioning women, a multiplicity of gendered racisms. Policy has to ask the question: which girls and which boys, which women and which men, are currently disadvantaged? “Educationally … difference is both an opportunity and a problem” (Burbules, 1997, p. 97). An opportunity to understand ourselves better through dialogue, view alternative visions, and learning to live in a democratic civic culture. But difference is a problem because “some differences are not neutral, but imbued with power differentials that divide us.” Educators always struggle in their daily practices between sameness (make us all alike, impose a national curriculum and standardized tests) and difference (different learning styles and needs). Educational discourses have been dominated by “the common.” The challenge presented by feminist, critical race, multicultural and post colonial theorists is how to recognize difference than is not merely defined in relation to that norm, that is, compliance to conform with a dominant set of standards. Sameness and difference are not necessarily antithetical. Tsolidis (2001, pp. 114–116) argues that as educators, we are working with first, diasporic identities that are also gendered, identities that are the product of interlocking histories and cultures that need to trouble each other and second, diasporic communities arising from an interrelationship between the economic and the cultural, sites of cultural (and economic) production. Education provides the site for counter-hegemonic work that troubles the binaries.

References Blackmore, J. (1999a). Troubling Women: Feminism, leadership and educational change. Buckingham: Open University Press. Blackmore, J. (1999b). Globalization/localization: Strategic dilemmas for state feminism and gender equity policy. Journal of Education Policy, 14(1), 33–54. Blackmore, J., & Sachs, J. (2006). Performing and reforming leaders: Gender, educational restructuring and organizational change. New York: SUNY Press. Burbules, N. (1997). A grammar of difference: Some ways of rethinking difference and diversity as educational topics. Australian Educational Researcher, 24(10), 97–116. Castles, S. (1996). The racisms of globalization. In E. Vasta, & S. Castles (Eds.), The teeth are smiling: The persistence of racism in multicultural Australia (pp. 17–45). Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Connell, B. (1993). Schools and social justice. Sydney: Pluto Press. Connell, R., Johnston, K., & White, V. (1991). Running twice as hard: The disadvantaged schools program. Geelong: Deakin University Press. Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (1997). Productive diversity: A new, Australian model for work and management. Sydney: Pluto Press. Cope, B., & Kalantzis, M. (2000). Multiliteracies: Literacy learning and the design of social futures. London: Routledge. Fraser, N. (1997). Justice interruptus: Critical reflections on the “Postsocialist” condition. New York: Routledge. Gillborn, D. (2004). Anti-racism: From policy to praxis. In G. Ladson-Billings, & D. Gillborn (Eds.), The RoutledgeFalmer reader in multicultural education (pp. 35–67). London: RoutledgeFalmer.



Hage, G. (2003). Against paranoid nationalism. UK: Merlin Press. Henry, M., Lingard, B., Rizvi, F., & Taylor, S. (2001). The OECD, globalization and education policy. Amsterdam, London, New York: Pergamon Press. Kaplan, G. (1996). The meagre harvest: The Australian women’s movement 1960s to 1990s. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Kenway, J., Willis, S., Blackmore, J., & Rennie, L. (1998). Answering back: Girls, boys and feminism in schools. London: Routledge. Lingard, B. (2003). Where to in gender policy in education after recuperative masculinity politics? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 7(1), 33–56. McCarthy, C. (1998). The users of culture: Education and the limits of ethnic affiliation. New York: Routledge. McLeod, J. (1998). Out of the comfort zone; feminism after the backlash. Discourse, 19(3), 371–378. Moreton-Robinson, A. S. (2000). Talkin’ up to the white woman: Indigenous women and feminism. St Lucia: University of Queensland Press. Patton, P. ( 1995). Post structuralism and the Mabo debate: Difference, society and social justice. In M. Wilson, & A. Yeatman (Eds.), Justice and identity, antipodean practices (pp. 153–171). Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Pusey, M. (2003). The experience of middle Australia: The dark side of economic reform. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reynolds, H. (1999). Why weren’t we told? A personal search for truth about our history. Ringwood: Viking Press. Rizvi, F. (1993). Race, gender and the cultural assumptions of schooling. In C. Marshall (Ed.), The new politics of race and gender. London: Falmer Press. Rizvi, F. (1996). Racism, reorientation and the cultural politics of Asia-Australia relations. In E. Vasta, & S. Castles (Eds.), The teeth are smiling: The persistence of racism in multicultural Australia. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Sawer, M. (1999). The watchers within: Women and the Australian State. In L. Hancock (Ed.), Women, public policy and the state. South Yarra: Macmillan. Taylor, S. (2001). Teachers’ union activism for gender equity: Social movements and policy processes. Australian Educational Researcher, 28(1), 47–79. Teese, R., & Polesel, J. (2003). Undemocratic schooling: Equity and quality in mass secondary education in Australia. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Thomson, P. (2001). Schooling the rustbelt kids: Making the difference in changing times. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Tsolidis, G. (1993). Difference and Identity – a feminist debate indicating directions for the development of Transformative curriculum. In L. Yates (Ed.), Feminism and education: Melbourne studies in education (pp. 70–83). Latrobe University Press. Tsolidis. G. (2001). Schooling, diaspora and gender: Being feminist, and being different. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Yates, L. (1995). Gender ethnicity and the inclusive curriculum: An episode in the policy framing of Australian education. In C. Marshall (Ed.), Feminist critical policy analysis: Perspectives on primary and secondary schooling (pp. 43–53). London: Falmer Press. Yeatman, A. (1990). Technocrats, bureaucrats and femocrats. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. Yeatman, A. (1998). Activism in the policy process. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

14 THE URBAN AND THE PERIPHERAL: NEW CHALLENGES FOR EDUCATION IN THE PACIFIC Priscilla Qolisaya Puamau and G. Robert Teasdale University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji

Introduction The historical development of towns and cities and what constitutes the urban in Pacific countries is different from the way this is defined and understood in the developed nations of the West. Historical evidence (e.g., Jones, 1966; Mumford, 1961) suggests that cities in medieval Europe evolved around the commercial, cultural, artistic and sacred aspects of people’s lives. The movement and settlement of people into towns and cities revolved around trade and commerce, high culture and the church. The values, beliefs and creative expression of the people were evident in the cities of Europe where high culture exhibited in the work of artisans, in museums and other institutions such as church cathedrals dominated the urban spaces. While there was a rapid increase in urbanization due to the industrial revolution in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe and North America, this has slowed down since the 1950s. Because urbanization of countries in Europe took place relatively slowly compared to the developing nations, western governments have had time to plan and provide for the needs of increasing populations in the cities. Urban centers in Pacific countries, on the other hand, have arisen in response to European colonial enterprise. They are a consequence of foreign influences and came into existence as commercial, administrative, and missionary centers of the colonizing powers (Spoehr, 1960). Unlike the growth of urban centers in Europe, towns and cities in the Pacific have not grown in response to the art, religion or high culture of the indigenous peoples. Western artifacts like museums and art galleries, where they exist, are not particularly popular with the local indigenous population, although a major attraction for tourists. Historically, as colonial settlements grew into small towns that fulfilled the functions and goals of colonial influence, these new urban centers began to do two things. First, they overtook adjacent villages, thus expanding the urban area. And second, many people were attracted to the towns where the seats of government and commerce were 265 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 265–284. © 2007 Springer.


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centered. As urban centers grew, whether town or city, particularly after independence, which is a relatively recent phenomenon in the Pacific, many undesirable consequences arose. Rapid increases in urban populations meant there were more people in need of land, shelter, utilities such as water and electricity, waste disposal, health care, and schooling. This chapter is an exploratory one. It begins with a geographical and historical description of the Pacific region. It then attempts to reconceptualize the urban in the Pacific context. Each country’s population and land area is pertinent, there being highly significant variations in both. The chapter also outlines the reasons peripheral/ rural dwellers move into the urban centers since the rural-urban drift has been severe. It then touches on the outward diaspora of Pacific peoples to rim country cities, and examines the serious cultural, social and economic challenges to education that “townization” or urbanization brings to Pacific nations. The threat to indigenous traditional village systems and concomitant identity issues and the national language challenge arising out of a culturally, linguistically, and religiously heterogeneous urban population are also specifically addressed. As well, we discuss the potential impact of a regional project called Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of basic Education (PRIDE) that is attempting to address some of these issues through its focus on national educational planning and policy.

Geographical and Historical Context What is the Pacific? The Pacific region has been both romanticized and problematized in colonial and postcolonial discourses. In relation to education, the old colonial ways of developing and managing school systems and their curricula have had a pervasive impact in the Pacific, and are deeply resistant to change. Colonial assumptions about the nature of the Pacific and the education of its people continue to need careful, critical and constructive questioning. For example, those who occupy continents on the rim usually view the Pacific Ocean as a vast expanse of water dotted with tiny, isolated islands, their inhabitants disadvantaged by smallness and remoteness. Pacific Islanders are now rejecting this colonial assumption, arguing that they do not occupy “islands in a far sea,” but “a sea of islands” (Hau’ofa, 1993, p. 7). Their ancestors clearly did not view the sea as a barrier, but as their livelihood. They were seafarers who were equally at home on sea as on land. They lived and played and worked upon it. They developed great skills for navigating its waters, traversing it in their sailing canoes, and forming a “large exchange community in which wealth and people with their skills and arts circulated endlessly” (Hau’ofa, 1993, p. 9). In this way, the sea bound them together rather than separating them. This idea of “a sea of islands” captures a holistic sense of people sharing a common environment and living together for their mutual benefit. Many people in the Pacific are attempting to reactivate this ethos, seeking ways to help and support each other,

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rather than constantly turning to the nations on their rim for aid and advice. It is a slow and uneven process, however, much hindered by regional politics, by the insistent pressures of globalization, and by the continuing impact of colonialism. The latter has divided the Pacific linguistically, creating a gulf between groups of English-speaking and French-speaking islands. It also has divided the Pacific politically, with France and the USA still ruling their colonial empires in the Pacific in ways that isolate their people from many regional forums and networks. As a consequence of the above divisions, this chapter focuses only on those countries that are politically independent and therefore able to participate in the dominant political and economic policy grouping in the Pacific, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS): Cook Islands; Federated States of Micronesia (FSM); Fiji; Kiribati; Nauru; Niue; Palau; Papua New Guinea (PNG); Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI); Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tonga; Tuvalu and Vanuatu. To this list should be added Tokelau, which is in the process of achieving self-government in free association with New Zealand, a status similar to that enjoyed by Cook Islands and Niue.

The Pacific Region The Pacific region can be conveniently grouped into three arbitrary categories based on social, linguistic, cultural and physical characteristics. The Melanesian countries, comprising most of the larger islands to the west have ample physical resources. They include Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Vanuatu, and the Solomon Islands. The Polynesian countries comprise Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands, Niue, Tuvalu, and Tokelau. The Micronesian countries occupy small, resource-poor atolls and include the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, and Palau. These 15 Pacific countries occupy a small land area but are sprawled over a vast area of ocean. In total, they cover a little over half a million square kilometers of land, but 19.9 million square kilometers of ocean (i.e., in terms of exclusive economic zones). To illustrate the diversity in land size and smallness of population, Tokelau, the smallest nation, has a land area of 12 square kilometers and a population of 1,500; Nauru occupies 21 square kilometers with a population of 12,000; Marshall Islands has 181 square kilometers of land and a population of 54,000. Tonga occupies a landmass equivalent to Singapore, but has a population of 101,000. In contrast, PNG occupies a large landmass of 462,000 square kilometers and has over 5 million people. The countries range from atolls where fresh water and vegetation are scarce and natural resources severely limited, to the better-endowed volcanic islands of the bigger Melanesian countries. In terms of population size, the Pacific is one of the least populated areas in the world, covering a vast area of the world’s water. There are a little over two million people living in 14 of the countries. Add PNG’s 5.6 million and the total population of the Pacific region is close to 8 million. By and large, the majority of people in each country are indigenous.1 The Pacific is the most linguistically complex region in the world, speaking one-fifth of the world’s languages. More than 1,000 distinct languages are spoken by less than 8 million people with multilingualism and bilingualism the norm. The dominant religion in the Pacific is Christianity.


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Agriculture, fisheries and/or tourism are the mainstays of most Pacific economies. In a cut-throat, globalizing and capitalist world where economic concerns are paramount, the Pacific islands are extremely vulnerable as a consequence of their smallness. They are also vulnerable to the vagaries of nature where cyclones and hurricanes continue to cause untold damage to their social and economic well-being. For instance, the Cook Islands suffered five destructive cyclones that attacked within three weeks of one another in early 2005. Small island states face many challenges including development and overconcentration, open economies and overdependence, high public expenditure, distance costs, dominance of public employment, problems of finance, aid dependency, and patronage and nepotism (Bacchus & Brock, 1987, pp. 2–4). Small island states are at the mercy of “developed” nations in terms of economic aid, exploitation by multinational corporations and the vagaries of the global economic system. These countries, because of their colonial legacy, also face the deeper challenge of decolonizing colonial mindsets inherited from centuries of colonial subjugation, oppression and power play. Stepping out of the colonial box into postcolonial2 conditions must start where it counts most – in the mind. A psychological/mental deconstruction must take place – an interrogation of the colonial past and postcolonial present in order to renegotiate the way to a more effective syncretism of local and global worlds. Pacific Islanders need to find a constructive and practical way to “deconstruct the concept, the authority and assumed primacy of the West” (Young, 1990). They must analyze the insidious effects of their colonial past not with the purpose of criticizing or blaming the colonizers, but with the goal of transforming their mindsets in order to reclaim or restore the best of what was lost, subverted or ignored in the colonial era and its aftermath.

The Colonial Legacy With the exception of Tonga, the Pacific region has been colonized by various “western” countries over the last two to three centuries. Some countries were colonized by more than one external power, particularly the Micronesian states. For example, Marshall Islands became a German protectorate in 1886 until Japan took over during the two world wars. From 1947, it was administered by the United States under the trusteeship of the United Nations. While it became independent in 1986, it has a current compact with the United States which keeps it dependent on the US for financial assistance. Political independence is a relatively recent phenomenon with Samoa, the first Pacific country to achieve independence in 1962. Most countries, particularly British colonies, gained independence in the 1970s. The Micronesian countries were the last to gain independence, Palau only in 1994. The primary instruments of control of colonized subjects were (and still are) written history (texts), education and language. Colonial practices – including the historical, imaginative, material, institutional and discursive – have significantly transformed Pacific ways of knowing, being and doing. The ideological, political, economic and social structures currently in place today are manifestations and hybrid versions of the colonial project. Colonial ways of knowing and doing, together with “western” values,

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attitudes and cultural practices, permeate the lived experiences of the colonized to such an extent that they have become part of the postcolonial landscape. At the point of decolonization, if there is no deliberate effort to resist, overthrow, or even transform these colonial legacies, then inherited structures and systems will become normative and hegemonic fixtures of national life. Because every education system is shaped by its national history and socio-cultural, political and economic contexts, the education systems in the Pacific region are manifestations of their colonial histories. For instance, the educational structures in Fiji are modeled on the British system. Similarly, Palau, Marshall Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, continue to maintain strong ties with the United States of America; the Cook Islands, Tokelau and Niue have close ties with New Zealand, while Vanuatu faces the challenge of dual Anglophone and Francophone systems. The curricula, teaching methods, assessment and evaluation methods, languages of instruction, management models, and organizational cultures of schooling in the Pacific continue in hegemonic forms, usually closely resembling those in place during the former colonial days. It is not hard to understand why colonial practices, processes and structures continued in hegemonic ways after decolonization. Even when countries attained political nationhood as independent states, the colonizing impact continued in two ways: first, through the processes associated with neocolonialism, and second through the influence of local middle-class elites, described by Fanon (1967) as vigilant sentinels who are ever ready to defend “the essential qualities of the West.” These guards of things western are usually the educated locals, who, after independence, continue to protect and maintain systems and structures inherited from their colonial “masters.” An example of this is the continuing practice of valuing and elevating English in school, and in the home, above the mother tongue. Neocolonialism has been defined as “the highest stage of colonialism” where a politically independent nation that was under colonial rule continues to be bound, whether voluntarily or through necessity, to a European or American society, or to a western derivative society such as New Zealand or Australia. It can range from the open distribution of foreign textbooks to the more subtle use of foreign advisers on matters of policy as well as the continuation of foreign administrative models and curricular patterns for schools with very little alteration to the curriculum that was in place before independence (Altbach, 1995). This process has continued unabated through the influence of foreign educational aid, which largely determines the pathways many Pacific curricula, pedagogy, assessment, and resource materials have taken – largely through the developmental assistance provided by Australia and New Zealand. The most insidious element of neocolonialism is that relatively little change occurs to the education system after former colonies attain political independence (Puamau, 1999). As Ashcroft, Griffiths, and Tiffin (1995) put it, “Education is perhaps the most insidious and in some ways the most cryptic of colonialist survivals, older systems now passing, sometimes imperceptibly, into neo-colonial configurations” (p. 424). In the case of the Pacific, educational apparatuses can be described as hegemonic because once structures such as curriculum, assessment and school organization become entrenched and institutionalized, they have a totalizing effect on society. Education


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deeply saturates “the consciousness of a society” (Williams, 1976, p. 204) and becomes unquestionably what parents want for their children. In the Pacific, there is a deeprooted desire for children to succeed at a Western type education irrespective of its cultural relevance and appropriateness. In fact, many households in countries like Tonga and Fiji have trophies of success such as educational certificates taking prime place on walls of living rooms. It has taken three or four decades since political independence for some shift to take place to make Pacific curricula more culturally relevant, but this change has been significantly mediated by foreign aid.

Reconceptualizing the Urban in the Pacific Growth of Towns and Cities Towns in the Pacific arose as a result of colonial enterprise. They were colonial creations, occupied largely by migrants from the metropolitan powers (Connell & Lea, 1998) and were mainly colonial outposts of empire. They were established as colonial administration, trade and missionary centers (Spoehr, 1960), resulting out of two centuries of contact of island peoples with Europeans, Americans, and Asians. Spoehr, writing in 1960, contended that the Pacific Islands, as a whole, are divided into a number of subregions, with each consisting of one or more towns or small urban centers, surrounded by a hinterland, the latter usually an assemblage of islands with the town generally a port. There is a series of port towns, varying in size from less than a thousand to some 30,000 people. Over 40 years later, Spoehr’s observation is no longer valid. While the scale of some Pacific towns is still small, some urban centers have grown rapidly. For example, the cities of Port Moresby in PNG and Suva in Fiji have over 300,000 and 180,000 people respectively. The cities and towns of the Pacific are no longer backwater communities that they may have been in the colonial era, but are vibrant social, economic and cultural entities where people work, play and live out their lives. It is interesting to take note of the population sizes of the smaller Pacific countries because it gives an idea of the challenges that they face not only in individual and national sustenance, but also in meeting the challenges of a global economy. Polynesian and Micronesian nations have relatively small populations. Tokelau and Niue have less than 2,000 people; countries between 10,000 and 20,000 people include the Cook Islands, Tuvalu, Nauru, and Palau. The Marshall Islands and Kiribati have population sizes of 54,000 and 88,000 respectively. Tonga, Federated States of Micronesia and Samoa have between 100,000 and 180,000 people. On the other hand, the four Melanesian countries have the following population sizes: Vanuatu – 204,000 Solomon Islands – 450,000 and Fiji close to 800,000 people. In contrast, Papua New Guinea, the largest country, has over 5 million people. Unlike European and American cities which took a long period of time to grow, urban centers in Pacific countries mushroomed rapidly after attaining political independence. For example, in the 1960s, rapid rural-urban migration of indigenous peoples produced unusually high urban population concentrations, such as in the four Micronesian island states of the Pacific (Connell & Lea, 1998). As elsewhere in the

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Pacific and other parts of the world, this has created many challenges for city and town planners as they grapple with increasing population numbers and a huge strain on social provisions such as land, employment, housing, education, health, transport and other essential urban services.

Redefining the Urban in the Pacific Different countries define a town or city in different ways. What may constitute a city in the Pacific may be a village in the big nations of Asia, or a mere suburb in a megalopolis of Europe or North America. None of the urban centers of the Pacific resemble those of the developed world. The largest city in the Pacific, Port Moresby, with 300,000 people, is huge by Pacific standards but miniscule on the world stage. Urban centers in many small island states of the Pacific may not even be classified as towns, let alone cities, if we assume conventional western definitions. Nevertheless, this chapter is an attempt to begin the process of reconceptualizing the urban in the Pacific given the small land area these countries occupy, their relatively small population sizes, their colonial heritage and the peculiar social, educational, cultural, spiritual, political, and economic challenges these pose in a competitive, highly globalized economy. It is important to note that the size of the urban population, population density, city dynamics and the complexity of functions that work for the cities of Asia and the West may not be significant in the determination of what constitutes the urban in Pacific nations. What matters are the perceptions of the local people and the basic functions that the urban center serve. If they call it a town because it serves various administrative, municipal, commercial and religious purposes, then it is their town. For example, Funafuti, the main atoll and “capital” of Tuvalu, is the hub of the nation and is, for all intents and purposes, its capital city. It contains the seat of government, a town council, an all-purpose maneaba (meeting house) which houses the parliament and courts at different times, and also has a post office, a hospital, schools, several banks, some supermarkets, three night clubs and a hotel. It is an urban hub, yet is home to only 4,000 people, a mere village from an Asian perspective. The two cities of the Pacific that may arguably fit conventional Western definitions are Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, with over 300,000 people and Suva, the capital of Fiji, with over 180,000 people. The capitals of Palau and Marshall Islands are heavily urbanized with 71 and 60% respectively of their populations living in the main centers. Nauru has a 100% urban population while Tokelau has no urban center since each of its three atolls have decentralized local government and educational systems.

Rural-Urban Drift An interesting feature of contemporary Pacific towns is the changing composition of the people in the urban centers. Unlike colonial times when indigenous people were few in number and life revolved around the colonialists, after independence, increasing numbers of indigenous populations moved into urban centers to live because of the perceived opportunities for paid employment, education, medical, and other benefits.


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While the urban population during colonial days was made up almost exclusively of Europeans, it is the indigenous people who now make up a significant proportion of people living in towns and cities of the Pacific. Many villagers migrate to urban centers because of the lack of resources and opportunities for their families in the rural areas. In Kiribati, for example, the principal reason for moving “is the severe limitation of wage and salary earning opportunities in the outer islands or even the prospect of any in the future” (Connell & Lea, 1998, p. 54). In the Marshall Islands, the bright lights of the city is significant in drawing people to Majuro, the capital, and villagers move because there is a lack of entertainment and recreational activities in the small coral atolls (of which there are 34), and where life in the small coral islands can be somewhat monotonous (Connell & Lea, 1998). A common feature in all Pacific Islands is that the movement from the periphery to the urban is made easier when relatives already live in the town. When rural dwellers come to visit, they generally find life in the towns attractive and many choose not to return to the village. If they are fortunate, they find jobs. If not, they continue to rely on urban relatives for sustenance, thus becoming an additional burden. In many cases, particularly with young people, those who stay are not prepared to go back to the seeming struggle of everyday life in the village, preferring to eke out an urban existence until a means of livelihood comes their way. Many workers with low paid jobs find themselves cheap accommodation in the urban centers or their suburbs. It is not uncommon to find such families packed into small one or two bedroom apartments, or in tiny, crowded houses. This urban crowding readily gives rise to antisocial and criminal behaviors. The issues faced by the urban poor are serious. The increase in shanty or squatter settlements in and around towns and cities is a common sight in the Pacific. The main reason for the move from periphery to center is the perceived advantages an urban life offers. The hinterland is seen as too disadvantaged, especially in the context of economic, educational and other social benefits. The urban centers offer modern amenities that are not readily available or affordable within a subsistence village economy. The internal migration from the village to the town therefore is seen by many as a golden opportunity to get jobs, find good schools for their children, obtain better housing, and generally to be accessible to the “good life” associated with urban living. After all, most of the action take place in the towns: entertainment, shopping, education, politics, banking and commerce. The reality, however, is that many islanders migrating to urban centers find their rosy picture of what life would be like in the towns and cities shattered. Coming into town without necessary work skills or any ready money, many find themselves doing menial jobs or joining the ranks of the unemployed and the growing pool of the urban poor. This vicious cycle is continued with their children and if education does not break this cycle, intergenerational urban poverty and struggle continues.

Impact of Urbanization The rise of towns and cities is associated with the growth of economic centers, the building of infrastructures to provide transport, municipal services and communication

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links, and the growth of the entertainment and information industries. However, when the provision of essential infrastructures and services cannot keep pace with the rapid increase in urban populations, many challenges are created and problems arise. The high cost of living associated with urban spaces can be prohibitive to low-income workers. Additionally, a high unemployment rate, increasing crime, high poverty levels, pollution, an increase in squatter settlements and the increasing demand for schools in the urban areas all contribute to the challenges that urban dwellers face. Urbanization has a number of serious impacts in the Pacific, particularly on indigenous ways of life. First, the process of urbanization has swallowed up villages in its wake. Some villages at the periphery of urban centers have been caught in the middle of infrastructural and transport development and have had to contend with many cultural changes. In some instances, the city has been brought right to their door. For example, 2 kilometers from the capital city of Fiji, the main highway cuts right through the middle of Suvavou village, the landowning unit of much of the city. The same occurs with some villages in Papua New Guinea. As Port Moresby has grown to accommodate increasing business and population pressures, it has built itself around villages in its path such that a strange situation prevails – there are some rural villages that are contained within the urban boundary, but are not counted in that category. Similarly, in Fiji, the indigenous Fijian “urban villages” are systematically excluded from the legal city and town boundaries (Bureau of Statistics, 1997). This poses a continuing enigma because they lie in municipal territory, enjoy all the privileges this entails, but do not contribute to the cost of the services, “nor are they subject to the health and amenity controls of the local municipal council” (United Nations Center for Human Settlement, 1991, p. 3). Second, the development of urban centers has resulted in disruptions to traditional land tenure arrangements. Those villages in and around the town or city have had to lease part of their land to those groups of people or individuals who come to the city to stay. Usually, a traditional approach is made to the landowning unit for a token sum of rent per year. Later, this system may or may not be formalized with the relevant institutions. Native leases are given out for the use of traditional land to accommodate land needs of immigrants to urban centers. This is particularly true in the case of Fiji in the suburbs of Lami, Delainavesi, Samabula and Nasinu, which all fall in the Suva city boundary, for example. In the town of Nadi, 90% of the town is located on native land (Bureau of Statistics, 1997). Cultural identity issues have also become serious matters for many indigenous groups who have become part of the urban landscape. When they lived in their villages, they shared a common dialect or language and had a common culture and value system. However, in the city, there is no knowing who one’s neighbor might be. Papua New Guinea has over 800 distinct languages and the probability of finding another native speaker in the vicinity is remote indeed. Urban dwellers face the challenge of maintaining their language and culture amidst the significant diversity in language and cultural practices prevalent in towns and cities. If one or two generations of city dwellers do not maintain their cultural and linguistic links with their traditional villages, there is the real danger that there will be significant language loss in their children and grandchildren. This situation is not peculiar to PNG. Other Pacific countries, especially


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those with many languages like Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, also face this challenge, but perhaps to a lesser degree. Related to this is the rise of the “hybrid generation,” particularly of second and third generation urban dwellers. From the relative security of the rural village, many Pacific Island children, born and bred in a town or city, grow up and either become kaivalagi (foreign or white) in their outlook, especially if they are relatively rich and well educated, or “fringe dwellers,” neither well versed in their own indigenous cultures and languages nor well adapted to urban living. These are the growing number of misfits, youths without an identity, rootless and searching for a meaning in life. This could explain why the main jails of Pacific Island countries are full of indigenous peoples, mainly under the age of thirty. Associated with the development of the hybrid generation of youths is the continued dominance of English (or Pidgin English in PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu) as the language of schooling, communication, administration, politics and commerce. There is also an increasing tendency for many educated indigenous parents to encourage the speaking of English in the home, to the detriment of their own local languages. The trend is especially common in Melanesian countries where there is increasing marriage between people from different language groups. For them, English or Pidgin is their only means of communication with each other. This adds to the difficulty of maintaining indigenous languages, and is becoming a serious problem in the Pacific. Implied in identity issues and the upbringing of urban Pacific youth is a breakdown in culture and traditions of indigenous societies. For example, whereas there were sanctions and norms that were strictly adhered to in the village situation, the relative freedom that comes with urbanization causes many a person to fall by the wayside in the city, particularly if family and church institutions are weak. The impact of Western popular culture (e.g., TV shows, magazines, music, movies, hip hop dressing), the increase in substance abuse, the promotion of materialism through advertisements and the media, and the power of advertising generally is weakening traditional cultural values and seriously undermining the integrity of indigenous ways of knowing and doing. Moreover, a serious concern for city dwellers is the increase in unemployment, crime rate, pollution, over-crowdedness, traffic congestion and other social, health and environmental problems that accompany increasing urban population densities. The increase in lifestyle diseases like diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart attacks and so forth has been unprecedented, with many cases of people dying from these diseases before they are 50. The change in diet from fresh foods to processed and fast foods of the urban landscape, coupled with a more sedentary and stressful lifestyle, have contributed significantly to this deterioration in health standards. The deterioration in moral standards is reflected in the increase in HIV-AIDS cases, with HIV-AIDS now a serious killer disease in the Pacific. It has reached epidemic proportion in PNG and no Pacific country can remain complacent about this. A positive impact of urbanization is the rise of the educated indigenous elite in the Pacific. There is no doubt that education has been a great leveler; it has taken people out of poverty and broadened the opportunities available to people. Over the last two or three decades, there has been a definite shift in the fortunes of some former rural

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dwellers who moved to the centers. While it is true that there are also segments of the population who are poor, those who have managed to get themselves educated to a high level have benefited from medium to high salaries and have nice houses, car and other material benefits. An offshoot of improvement in the lifestyle of city dwellers, particularly for Pacific Islanders, is the spiral impact this has on their relatives in the rural areas. Many rural families have significantly benefited from their richer urban cousins who have not only contributed to helping in the education of rural children at secondary school in urban centers, but also have significantly lifted the standard of living of their families in the villages. Remittances sent to the periphery have helped improve the lot of many rural dwellers. It is not uncommon if Fiji, for example, for an indigenous person to own two houses, one in the village and one in the urban center.

Challenges to Urban Education The preceding discussion has a direct bearing on the education of children, not only in the urban but also in rural areas. There are many educational challenges faced by governments and communities in the Pacific: access, equity, quality, relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, and student achievement, to name a few. Interestingly, these terms are now fashionable because they are included in the international discourse imposed from outside the Pacific, and have worked themselves into national strategic educational plans through the influence of international agencies such as UNESCO with its “Education for All” and the UN with its “Millennium Development Goals.” A significant issue in the education of urban children is that of identity formation. There is a paucity of research on the identity of Pacific children in urban centers. It is obvious, however, that intergenerational children born and bred in urban centers, particularly of indigenous parents, will have a “hybrid identity” that is different from that of their counterparts in the periphery. Their social and cultural identity is shaped and mediated by the urban milieu in which they live. This is vastly different from the typical home in the rural landscape. For example, urban children are exposed to a constant barrage of Western popular culture through TV and the print media. They are conditioned from an early age to the schooling culture where success in examinations is highly valued and where failure in school is equated to failure in life. Urban children have to contend with things such as family break-ups, violence in the home and neighborhood, violence in movies and TV programs, increasing peer influence, and dilution of moral standards in society. They therefore need a strong cultural and spiritual foundation in order to successfully negotiate the pitfalls associated with life in the urban centers. Since there is a tendency for individualistic lifestyles to prevail in urban settings, in contrast to the communal concerns of the village, the opportunities that children have of learning their language, cultural norms and traditional values are significantly reduced as more and more people adopt a more Western lifestyle. For example, a growing trend in many Pacific households is for the language of the home to be English, not the vernacular. The danger that this poses for the death of the vernacular language for those children is significantly high.


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If parents do not deliberately choose to let their children learn their language and indigenous culture in the home, if parents isolate their children from cultural obligations and meeting with relatives, if they choose not to maintain strong kinship links to their cultural roots in the villages, then these children will suffer cultural loss and will become part of a rootless society. What are the implications for education? How can schools value the cultural knowledges, languages and ways of knowing and doing of Pacific peoples? This is a challenge that the PRIDE Project, discussed in the following section, is trying to address. A key focus of the Project, for example, is that each country is encouraged to build its education planning on a strong foundation of local cultures and languages, thus enabling students to develop a deep pride in their own values, traditions and wisdoms, and a clear sense of their local cultural identity, as well as their identity as citizens of the nation. A major challenge for quality education in urban schools is that excessive competition for educational space has led to significantly larger class sizes. For example, there are class sizes of 40–60 in some Suva schools. This obviously places a strain on teachers, and on the provision of adequate textbooks and learning resources. On the other hand, a major challenge faced in rural and isolated schools are small school rolls which impact on the amount of money the school can raise and the challenges associated with teaching composite classes. A significant factor in indigenous children performing poorly at school lies in the fact that secondary schools in the Pacific are generally an urban phenomenon. The few rural secondary schools are usually perceived by parents to be inferior to those in urban centers. Parents by necessity are compelled to send their children either to boarding schools or to live with urban relatives. While more research needs to be conducted in this area, there is much anecdotal evidence to suggest that these students are usually treated like servants, their educational needs are not prioritized, and they may be psychologically traumatized (for a Fijian example, see Puamau, 1999). In small Pacific islands like Tokelau and Nauru, high school students are usually sent away to be educated in Samoa and Fiji respectively. This would be the norm where provision of secondary school facilities is problematic in rural areas. Poverty, high unemployment and the relatively high cost of living in urban areas also impact hugely on schooling. While financial poverty is also a way of life in many indigenous rural subsistence households, it is more pronounced in the urban centers where kinship networks may be absent. The numbers of people living below the poverty line in urban centers is increasing. In Fiji, for example, a recent survey identified 29.3% of urban households as living in poverty (see Ministry of Local Government, 2004, p. 9). This has significant implications for the education of children from poor families, with concomitant problems of absenteeism, malnutrition, school dropout and low retention rates. In Nauru, which has a 100% urban population with all 12,000 people living on one small island, an economic crash and subsequent national bankruptcy in the late 1990s resulted in mass poverty, malnutrition and social problems. As unemployment has increased, there has been a rise in the crime rate, particularly amongst young people who are basically stealing for food. With a wage freeze, and later, a significant reduction in take home pay, hunger has been the norm with many Nauruans eating only one meal a day. There has been a slight

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turnaround in the economy, but the effects of this economic drought will take a long time to alleviate.

The Diaspora on the Rim In very similar ways that push and pull people from rural to urban centers, there is an increasing exodus of Pacific peoples from their countries of birth to cities on the Pacific Rim. They perceive the advantages of these “greener pastures” as improved education and employment opportunities for their children, and the promise of better jobs and incomes for themselves. Permanent residency or citizenship status in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia is highly sought after. Polynesian countries have especially strong outmigration, and there are now more Samoans, Niueans, Cook Islanders, Tokelauans and Tongans living overseas than at home (Connell, 2000). Political instability also has been a stimulus to push people out to metropolitan cities. In Fiji, for example, the coups of 1987 and 2000 have caused significant numbers of citizens of Indian heritage to emigrate. Moving from the perceived disadvantages of Pacific peripheries to cities on the rim has created a dichotomy that resembles the rural-urban drift within national borders. The impact of this transition is outside the scope of this chapter. However, while much research is yet to be carried out on alternative ways of responding to the challenges this poses for migrant Pacific Islanders in their new urban spaces, remittances sent back to relatives at home have been of significant benefit both to the recipients and to the local economy. In Fiji, for example, remittances earn almost as much foreign income for the nation as tourism. In the preceding sections, we have laid the framework of the urban nature of education in the Pacific. In particular, we have noted that the development of towns and cities has been an outcome of the colonial enterprise. We have also demonstrated that the definition of the urban in the Pacific context is very different from the way it is conceived in Western or Asian contexts. We have discussed the impact urbanization has had on indigenous cultural systems. In redefining the urban in the Pacific, we have specifically addressed issues to do with land tenure, changing social relations, identity reformations and the concomitant problems that are associated with the process of urbanization. Now we turn our attention to an important project that involves all fifteen countries covered in this chapter, a project we believe will make a significant difference to educational development in the Pacific region, both in urban and rural settings.

The PRIDE Project: Making a Difference Any current analysis of education in the Pacific must include the PRIDE Project. An acronym for “Pacific Regional Initiatives for the Delivery of basic Education,” this major regional project has the potential to impact significantly on Pacific education in its totality, including both the remote and the urban. Funded by the European Union and NZAID, its main focus is to support strategic planning in the 15 participating Pacific countries, and implementation of key priority areas.


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In the following section we describe unique features of the Project and show how it is reconceptualizing the delivery of education in the Pacific. In particular, urban as much as rural schools could benefit from the holistic approach it advocates, with an emphasis on the spiritual development of students, as well as values education, and indigenous education, including the teaching of vernacular languages. This is particularly important in the urban landscape, given the fragmentation and disintegration of family units and their isolation from the security that indigenous peoples have in the tight kinship relationships still evident in more remote settings.

The PRIDE Project The overall objective of the Project is: To expand opportunities for children and youth to acquire the values, knowledge and skills that will enable them to actively participate in the social, spiritual, economic and cultural development of their communities and to contribute positively to creating sustainable futures. ( To achieve this objective, the Project is seeking to strengthen the capacity of each of the fifteen countries to deliver quality education to children and youth across all sectors except higher education [i.e., pre-school, elementary, primary, secondary and Technical & Vocational Education & Training (TVET)], and through formal and non-formal means (Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, 2001). The key outcome will be the development of strategic plans for education in each country, plans that blend the best global approaches with local values and ways of thinking. Ideally these plans will be developed following wide consultation with all stakeholders and beneficiaries, including parents, teachers, students, NGOs, private providers, employers and other civil society groups. The Project is also assisting countries to implement their plans and to monitor and evaluate the outcomes. Capacity building activities are provided for educators at national, sub-regional and regional levels. To further support these activities, the Project is developing an on-line resource center to encourage the sharing of best practice and experience amongst countries. In discussing the PRIDE Project with educators throughout the Pacific and beyond, a frequently asked question is: “How is it different? We have seen many donor-driven education projects and initiatives come and go. Why is this one unique?” Their cynicism is justified. The history of educational aid in the Pacific, as elsewhere, is an ambiguous one, with at least as many negatives as positives. The present Project, however, does have a number of unique features, and there is considerable optimism that it can achieve its goals in ways that others have not. These features include: (1) The fact that the Project was designed and approved by the Ministers of Education: the process started with them, not with the donors. It has been very clear at recent meetings that they see this as their Project, and are determined to guide and direct it according to their countries’ needs and priorities. Discussions with individual Ministers have reinforced this view. The donors, in turn, have shown quite remarkable preparedness to allow this to happen.

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(2) The significance of the acronym: its choice clearly was deliberate, and reflects the wishes of the Ministers. Each country is being encouraged to build its education plans and curricula on a stronger foundation of local cultures, languages and epistemologies, thus enabling students to develop deep pride in their own values, traditions and wisdoms, and a clear sense of their own local cultural identity. This element has been prioritized by heads of Education Ministries as number one in the list of ten benchmarks used by the PRIDE Project to review strategic plans in each country. This very strong focus on the local is of particular significance in urban settings where Pacific languages and cultures are under the greatest threat. (3) The strong emphasis on mutual collaboration and support: the aim of the Project is to help countries to help one another. Earlier projects brought consultants from outside the region, and therefore became donor-driven as they responded to donors’ priorities and preferences. The PRIDE Project is sourcing most of its consultants from within the region, and already has built up an impressive database of qualified people from Pacific nations. It is also funding local educators to go on study and training visits to one another’s countries, not to those on the rim and beyond. (4) The encouragement of consultative and participatory approaches to educational planning, policy-making and curriculum development within each country: there is a clear wish to avoid top-down models, and a strong commitment to bottom-up processes involving parents, teachers, students, private providers, NGOs, employers and other civil society groups. (5) The fact that Ministers want the Project to promote a more holistic and lifelong approach to education, with effective articulation between sectors, and between school, TVET and the world of work. (6) The commitment of the PRIDE team to building strong conceptual foundations for the Project. Earlier projects brought outsiders to the Pacific with western “recipes” for the reform of curricula. The PRIDE team is committed to helping countries develop their own theoretical foundations, doing so via the creative fusion of their own epistemologies, values and wisdoms with the most useful ideas and approaches of the global world beyond their shores (Teasdale, 2005).

Conceptual Framework As mentioned above, a unique feature of the PRIDE Project is a commitment to building a strong conceptual framework for the reform of education in the region. This conceptual framework3 draws initially from the Report to UNESCO of its International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century (Delors, 1996). The first two pillars of learning highlighted in the report – “learning to know” and “learning to do” – are adequately covered in Pacific schools, in fact so much so that there is a serious imbalance, with the other two pillars – “learning to be” and “learning to live together” – receiving relatively little attention. A serious imbalance also exists in the current Pacific curriculum which places an emphasis on academic learning – “learning to know” – and treats TVET, life skills and lifelong learning – part of the “learning to do” pillar – as second class. The PRIDE


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Project seeks to rectify this imbalance by having as a benchmark the principle that national education plans should contain strategies for the systematic teaching of literacy, numeracy, ICT and English together with life and work preparation skills, thereby equipping all students to take their place in a global world with ease and confidence. This benchmark seeks a better balance between the so-called academic subjects (literacy, numeracy and English) with life and work preparation skills that include ICT, TVET, the visual and performing arts, together with skills for self-sufficiency and self-reliance. The suggested shift in focus from the teacher to the learner as exemplified in the Delors Report is highly significant for the Pacific as it is elsewhere in the world. Ministries of Education will need to grapple with this global shift. The knowledge explosion brought about by improved ICT has meant that teachers and other education professionals, including teacher educators, will need to devise new ways of delivering education to students. With the advent of the independent, lifelong learner, the role of teacher as facilitator of learning, rather than the old role of dispenser of knowledge, is becoming increasingly important. In particular, teachers have: responsibility to help students make effective and appropriate use of this knowledge which requires a capacity to critically appraise all of the material available to them and to make value judgments of it, often from moral and ethical perspectives. School curricula therefore need to focus on developing the critical capacities of students, enabling them to know themselves, to think for themselves, and thus become active and confident learners. (Teasdale, Tokai, & Puamau, 2004, p. 5) In this conception, teachers have to lead by example. They need to be role models if they are to facilitate moral and ethical decision-making on the part of their students. They need to be culturally and spiritually grounded to make a positive impact. If they are unable to provide moral and ethical leadership in the classroom, their role as “teacher,” facilitator and guide will not be effectively fulfilled. Teacher training institutions must develop appropriate programs to help foster the development of teachers of integrity and sound character, who in turn will be able to guide their students into making moral and ethical choices in their learning and living. The teaching of values, and the strengthening of students’ moral and ethical decision-making, are particularly urgent in the new urban landscapes of the Pacific. Yet it is here, in these increasingly multilingual and multicultural settings, that the teaching of indigenous values and wisdoms is becoming increasingly neglected. Urban schools are no longer grounded in communities, but are part of an urban conglomerate. The wisdom and educational leadership of the older generation are often lacking.

A Holistic Approach Is it possible to have education systems that are owned by the people of the Pacific? In light of over a century of colonization, and the current colonial substitutes of globalization and educational aid, can Pacific educators develop their own distinctively local systems, firmly founded on their local cultures and traditions, and strongly underpinned by indigenous value systems, philosophies and epistemologies? Is it possible,

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even desirable, to do so, especially in light of increasing urbanization and the steady outmigration of Pacific peoples to urban cities in countries on the rim and beyond? How can education reform in the Pacific be reconceptualized? A holistic approach needs to be taken not only in discussions on education in the Pacific, but more importantly in its practices and processes. Currently, learning and what happens in schools are disparate and disconnected from the daily lives of students, especially in urban areas. It is mainly abstract, too academic and fragmented. From a traditional perspective, the two pillars of “learning to be” and “learning to live together,” until the colonial era, were a fundamental part of a holistic process of lifelong learning throughout the Pacific. In order to regain wholeness and a seamless connection in education, a shift must now occur in the following areas: (1) Balanced and holistic ways of “knowing,” “doing,” “being,” and “living together” need to be reflected in curricula. The current perception that livelihoods and life skills knowledges are of second-class status should be discarded. A more holistic approach to learning would necessitate a better balance in academic, technical, vocational, life skills and lifelong learning. As well, a holistic approach needs to be taken also to the old demarcations between the various levels of education – pre-school, kindergarten, primary/elementary, secondary, technical/vocational – with more effective articulation between each level. (2) Because formal schooling is largely derived from foreign value systems, there is a serious cultural gap between the lived experiences of most Pacific Island students and what is offered in schools, including the way schooling is organized and structured, the culture and ethos of schooling, its pedagogical practices and the assessment of learning. And because the outcomes of schooling continue to be measured in terms of examination passes, many Pacific Islanders fail to succeed in school. A holistic approach to education will also mean a rethinking of all these factors. (3) A holistic approach to education will particularly necessitate a culturally inclusive curriculum where cultural and linguistic literacy is part of what is offered in schools (Thaman, 1992). It is critical that every child learns the language, culture and traditions of the particular human society into which s/he is born. This is particularly so for indigenous cultures. It is important that the curriculum is grounded in the local cultural systems of knowledge and wisdom. The cultural identity of indigenous peoples must be reaffirmed at school, beginning with a culturally inclusive and democratic curriculum which halts the “cultural and environmental bankruptcy” that is “an affliction which has been an obstacle to sustainable development in much of the modern world” (Thaman, 1995, p. 732). It is envisaged that curriculum development for schools (Thaman, 1992) and teacher-training institutions (Thaman, 1996) will focus on making the curriculum more culturally democratic at these sites. (4) The spiritual development of the child is currently missing from most educational discourse in the Pacific. This is a serious gap that needs to be rectified. An emphasis on spiritual development or moral education needs to occur in Pacific schools. The region has successfully internalized Christianity as the dominant religion. Because the bulk of a child’s waking hours are spent at school, and because of changing economic and social conditions which weaken the role of the church and families,


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we believe schools and their teachers now have a crucial role in building morally strong citizens for the future. The teaching of Christian values and principles should therefore be incorporated into the curricula of Pacific schools. At the same time, however, an inclusive environment strongly suggests that the spiritual needs of non-Christian students also be taken into account. Countries that are developing or reviewing their curricula should ask the following questions: ● ●

● ● ● ● ●

What are the current curriculum goals? What should the goals be? What and whose values, philosophy, ideology does the curriculum profess? What and whose values or ideals should it promote? What knowledge, skills and attitudes should the curriculum emphasize? Who decides on content? What language should the curriculum be taught in? Whose interests will the curriculum serve? What are the social, educational, economic and political implications of such a curriculum?

In order to have a holistic approach4 to curriculum reconceptualization and educational reform, these questions should be answered in light of the quest to be culturally inclusive, to be cognizant of indigenous concerns, and to blend both local and global ways of knowing and doing. Values education or spiritual development should also be included in this holistic approach to education in urban settings. The latter is of crucial importance given the increasing stress and challenges that urban people face, particularly relating to changing social relations, identity and the negative realities associated with living in urban landscapes.

Conclusion There is no doubt that the colonial encounter with indigenous peoples of the Pacific region, as elsewhere, brought untold psychological, social and cultural damage. After decolonization, Pacific peoples, living in small island countries, continue to grapple with challenges brought about by the impact and influence of neocolonialism, westernization, urbanization, globalization, foreign aid and market capitalism. Education systems in Pacific countries have been significantly affected by these onslaughts. Noting the paucity of research and theorizing on anything urban in the Pacific region and the fact that different countries have defined the urban differently, we have attempted to explore the meaning of the urban in the contemporary Pacific, emphasizing that towns and cities are colonial inventions. In redefining the urban, we have particularly examined the impact the growth of towns and cities has had on indigenous cultures and languages since it is the indigenous peoples who predominate in contemporary Pacific urban areas. We have specifically addressed issues to do with land tenure, changing social relations, identity reformations and the challenges associated with the process of urbanization, particularly on the education of children in urban areas.

The Urban and the Peripheral


In reconceptualizing educational reform in the Pacific, and the work of the PRIDE Project, the need for a holistic approach to education, including grounding formal schooling in the spiritual and cultural realities of indigenous communities, has been emphasized. This holistic approach should also include working towards a balance in other areas: curriculum coverage; levels of schooling; school structures and lived experiences of Pacific peoples; and local and global intersections. Research that concerns Pacific education and its relationship to development and urbanization, amongst other things, needs to be undertaken on a more intense scale in order to build up a body of knowledge that is unique to the Pacific.

Notes 1. The exception is Fiji where a little less than half of the population is Indo-Fijian. 2. The term “postcolonial” is a hotly contested one and much theorizing revolves around it. A useful definition for the purposes of this chapter is given by Leela Gandhi (1998) who defines postcolonialism as “a theoretical resistance to the mystifying amnesia of the colonial aftermath. It is a disciplinary project devoted to the academic task of revisiting, remembering and, crucially, interrogating the colonial past” (p. 4). 3. See Teasdale, Tokai, and Puamau, 2004, a paper presented at a Commonwealth of Learning Consultative Meeting, Vancouver, November 15–17, 2004, available on 4. See Puamau (2005) for a detailed presentation on a holistic approach to rethinking Pacific education, a paper presented at the international conference on Redesigning Pedagogy: Research, Policy & Practice at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 30th May – 1st June, 2005, available on

References ABC. (2000). Statistics. Retrieved October 26, 2005, from statistics.htm Altbach, P. G. (1995). Education and neocolonialism. In B. Ashcroft, G. Griffiths, & H. Tifin (Eds.), The post-colonial studies reader (pp. 452–456). London: Routledge. Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (Eds.). (1995). The post-colonial studies reader. London: Routledge. Bacchus, K., & Brock, C. (Eds.). (1987). The challenge of scale. London: Commonwealth Secretariat. Bureau of Statistics. (1997). The rural-urban continuum in Fiji, Vol. 1. A report on the geographic subdivisions of Fiji for the 1996 census. Suva, Fiji. Connell, J. (2000). Urbanization and migration. Retrieved October 26, 2005, from carvingout/issues/urbanisation.htm Connell, J., & Lea, J. P. (1998). Island towns. Managing urbanization in Micronesia (Occasional paper 40). Honolulu: Center for Pacific Islands Studies and Research Institute for Asia & the Pacific. Delors, J. (1996). Learning: The treasure within [Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century (Delors Report)]. Paris: UNESCO Publishing. Fanon, F. (1967). The wretched of the earth. Translated by C. Farrington. Middlesex: Penguin. (Fiji) Ministry of Local Government. (2004). Urban policy action plan. Suva: Government of Fiji/Asian Development Bank initiative. Gandhi, L. (1998). Postcolonial theory: A critical introduction. Sydney: Allen & Unwin. Hau’ofa, E. (1993). Our sea of islands. In E. Waddell, V. Naidu, & E. Hau’ofa (Eds.), A new Oceania: Rediscovering our sea of islands (pp. 2–16). Suva: School of Social and Economic Development, University of the South Pacific, in association with BEAKE House. Jones, E. (1966). Towns and cities. London: Oxford University Press.


Puamau and Teasdale

Mumford, L. (1961). The city in history: Its origins, its transformations, and its prospects.New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. (2001). Forum Basic Education Action Plan (FBEAP). Outcomes paper of the meeting of the Ministers of Education of the Pacific Islands Forum held in Auckland, New Zealand, 14–15 May 2001. Suva: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS). Puamau, P. Q. (1999). Affirmative Action and Racial Inequalities in Education: The Case of Fiji. Doctoral dissertation, University of Queensland, 1999. Puamau, P. Q. (2005). Rethinking educational reform: A Pacific perspective. Paper presented at the international conference on Redesigning Pedagogy: Research, Policy & Practice, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 30th May–1st June, 2005. Available on: Spoehr, A. (1960). Port town and hinterlands in the Pacific Islands. American Anthropologist, 62, 586–592. Teasdale, G. R. (2005). The big picture: International perspectives on education for planners. In P. Puamau, & G. R. Teasdale (Eds.), Educational planning in the pacific: Principles and guidelines (pp. 1–14). Suva: PRIDE. Available on: Teasdale, G. R., Tokai, E., & Puamau, P. (2004). Culture, literacy and livelihoods: reconceptualizing the reform of education in Oceania. Paper delivered at a Commonwealth of Learning Consultative Meeting, Vancouver, November 15–17, 2004. Available on: Thaman, K. H. (1992). Cultural learning and development through cultural literacy. In B. Teasdale, & J. Teasdale (Eds.), Voices in a seashell: Education, culture and identity (pp. 24–36). Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, USP. Thaman, K. H. (1995). Concepts of learning, knowledge and wisdom in Tonga, and their relevance to modern education. Prospects: Quarterly Review of Comparative Education, 96, XXV(4), 723–733. Thaman, K. H. (1996). Towards a cultural democracy in teacher education. Keynote Address, New Zealand Teacher Education Conference, Dunedin, June 25–28, 1996. United Nations Center for Human Settlements. (1991). Policy recommendations for housing and urban development. Suva, Fiji: United Nations Development Program and Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. Williams, R. (1976). Base and superstructure in Marxist cultural theory. In R. Date, G. Esland, & M. MacDonald (Eds.), Schooling and capitalism: A sociological reader (pp. 202–210). London: RKP. Young, R. (1990). White mythologies: Writing history and the west. London: Routledge.


When Time Stands Still Time: Time stands still when water runs out and the tap is dry. When electricity goes … Time stands still when we sit in class in school. Time also stands still when we cannot go out and have to stay at home (Ayesha, age 14 years; translated from Hindi). These words were penned by Ayesha, a withdrawn and shy girl studying in Class VIII, who died from an undiagnosed disease in the summer of 2001. She wrote for the collective diary “By Lanes” (jointly published by the two groups, Sarai & Ankur, 2002), as part of a project for urban slum children of Delhi. The “Cybermohalla” project draws on the Hindi word “mohalla” – denoting a dense urban neighborhood, its lived sense of alleys and corners, “its relatedness and concreteness” – to interrogate a child’s place in the city, through articulation in cyberspace. The diary provides space for reflection and creativity, to serve as an “act of everyday intransigence” in a cruel urban environment, to young people from two working class settlements. One is an “illegal” squatter colony facing constant police harassment and threat of eviction, and the other a legal re-settlement colony. Yet, both are home to the increasingly contentious metropolitan reality of unemployment and violence. The young people who meet regularly in the self-regulated spaces called “Compughars” have acquired technical skills in handling computers and digital cameras, and have created booklets, wall magazines, e-postings and short animation films to narrate their memories and testimonies of the city through diary entries. The import of Ayesha’s transient life’s intractable struggle for water, electricity, or mobility outside her home are placed, almost symbolically, in stark contrast to the “timelessness” of her experience of schooling. Curiously, time stands still for her when the tap runs dry, when the feverish and densely purposeful hustle and bustle of life is summarily silenced. In her innocent and perhaps unintended metaphorical comparison, the aimlessness and “lightness of being” in school is equated with that moment when life loses its momentum and meaning. The majority of our children who somehow 285 W. T. Pink and G. W. Noblit (Eds.), International Handbook of Urban Education, 285–304. © 2007 Springer.



manage to stay on in school face similar alienation, which is not always benign, and can often be humiliating, even violently oppressive. Other young authors of the above diary also use “water” as a marker to punctuate the flow of their lives, as the “time for water to start flowing from the tap.” In describing the dramatic fights at the public outlet, the frenetic screaming, the single-mindedly rushed activity of filling utensils, rudely brought to a halt as the flow stops, they document their fears and concerns, their reading of the changes and the growing tensions in their locality. Flows: A fight began between them. But the tap was running. And water was flowing into the drain nearby. Something in the drain was already obstructing its flow and causing water to fill up. The drain was filling up but their fight was not coming to an end. It went on, and finally it was time and the tap ran out of water. Meanwhile the water overflowed from the drain onto the lane … . For two or three days, walking in the lane proved to be a major problem (Sarai & Ankur, 2002; diary entry “Flows –13.10.2001”). Fights and Fear: The basti (settlement) has changed over time. Something new appeared; something suppressed erupted. The population here has grown. And space for the people living here is constrained … . For some reason, due to unemployment and the conditions of helplessness at home, boys tried to drown their sorrow in alcohol. Bad habits, teasing girls, fights among neighbors, thus began the animosities. … We fear most the fights here! We fear someone going around drunk. We fear the police! We fear the dogs here! The innocent are trampled upon while the cunning go scot-free. … One only fools one’s heart by saying that all is well when one’s own environment is fine. After all, the surroundings do affect a human being (Sarai & Ankur, 2002; diary entry “People – August 30, 2001”). Indeed, this reflection is poignantly mirrored in The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society where Bourdieu et al. (2002) document the “vicious circle of rejection” of urban working class students in France. Their rejection by school and then of school, gradually traps them into the defiant role of the “tough,” in coping with the humiliation of academic failure. His interviews with young men at urban housing sites highlight the “inert violence in the order of things” – and the links between the school market, the job market, and their “everyday experience of racism” (also present in the “police forces” actually meant to repress it). Their collective bad luck only enhances their self-despair, “and attaches itself, like a fate, to all those that have been put together in those sites of social relegation, where the personal suffering of each is augmented by all the suffering that comes from co-existing and living with so many suffering people together – and perhaps, from the destiny effect of belonging to a stigmatized group” (p. 64). In complacent contrast the school textbook maintains an inert distance and refuses to acknowledge their lives, its turbulent flows and fears, its sense of time or timelessness. It deals with the issue of water or housing in a sterile manner, assuming that everyone lives in a brick and mortar bungalow provided with tapped water, and preaches “water conservation” so that taps are not kept running while brushing one’s

Ducked or Bulldozed? Education of Deprived Urban Children in India


teeth. It also deliberately evades any conflicting issues seen as “uncomfortable” by its middle-class urban authors, and unabashedly pontificates on what “they” – the poor and the unclean – must do to keep themselves and the city clean. There is an implicit understanding that while education must inform “those backward” children on how to conduct their lives “properly,” it should project only happy and “positive” situations to protect the “innocence” of the privileged. Textbooks for government schools, fast becoming sites of social relegation, therefore contain highly prescriptive and moralistic lessons (about hygiene, cleanliness, hard work, etc.) together with naive but insipid generalizations about the perceived needs of the poor.

The Timeless “Civilizing” Agenda? The lesson on “Communicable Diseases” of the earlier version of a primary science textbook for Class V (for 10-11 year olds) produced by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT, 2003; the fourteenth edition, reprinted annually since 1989, but radically revised in 2006), is a classic example of middleclass callousness. It is also a telling illustration of the language of school, how texts pay little attention to the language and concepts appropriate for children that age. The lesson shows a shockingly crude (and crudely drawn) picture of a child defecating in the bushes outside a house, while another one holds a “lota” (metallic mug) and walks towards a tin-shed toilet. The textbook states: “Is this a healthy practice? Often germs spread in this manner.” It then goes on to ask, “Which is the proper place to defecate?” (implying that there is much choice!). With another picture depicting people washing and bathing near a well, it states: What would happen if you contaminate the source of water? Garbage thrown here and there also decays. Flies breed in such decaying matter. They also sit on exposed excreta or stool. Then they carry the germs. When they sit on the exposed food it gets contaminated … . Diarrhea can cause loss of water and salts from the body. You have learnt earlier how to prevent dehydration. If there is a case of dehydration in your family, remember you can prevent it by giving the child Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS). (Exploring Environment: A Textbook for Class V, NCERT, 2003, p. 59) The next paragraph feigns an interrogative stance – “How to prevent water and food borne diseases” – but only to spout a didactic list of do’s and don’ts, which include: – “Do not pass stool anywhere and everywhere. Use a sanitary latrine” (sounds almost like toilet training for a pet dog!) – “Wash your hands with soap or dry ash after defecation” (more choice!). Similarly, another picture shows a person sleeping on a rope-cot near an open window, half covered with a sheet and with mosquitoes hovering around. However, the “sensible” person sleeps fully covered, head and body completely wrapped in a sheet, and



miraculously, the mosquitoes are now nowhere to be seen! The didactic list to prevent malaria advises the use of a purportedly banned chemical: – “Spray insecticide such as DDT in your house regularly. Take care that it is not sprayed in excess” (yes, the story of how excessive DDT sprayed earlier by government agencies went all wrong for malaria is now well known). – “Do not keep stagnant water. Change the water in the storage tank or reservoir at least once a week” (as if there is always plenty to store!). A detailed table (probably meant for a medical worker) then gives the vaccination schedules for tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, typhoid and polio, using terms such as “triple antigen,” “DPT,” “polio booster,” “tetanus toxoid,” etc. The lesson triumphantly (though certainly not accurately, as most would know from their experience) declares, “So you see, you can protect yourself from these diseases if you take vaccination in time. … These vaccinations are given free in the Primary Health Centres” (p. 60). The message is loud and clear. If despite this “scientific” education you still continue to fall ill and prey to such diseases, surely you are to blame for not learning your lesson. The “civilizing” agenda of school has almost been timelessly and righteously imposed on poor children, who supposedly need to be “rescued from the abyss,” where the discipline of school is meant to be contrasted with the chaos and squalor in their homes. In fact, the disdain faced by the urban poor in our city schools is reminiscent of nineteenth century England, where the Compulsory Education Act of 1870 gave state sanction to the purported maintenance of “order” through often oppressive measures. Education was enforced with prosecutions and fines, with seizure of goods if parents could not pay, and even prison. Order and obedience came with cleanliness, vested with the same moral righteousness, the same sense of “shame,” and even greater priority than instruction. Clean clothes offered the most taxing demand, on children and their already vexed mothers. “It was not easy to look neat. … Water for all purposes had often to be fetched in from an outside tap or even a street standpipe, and in many poor districts it was turned on only for part of the day, at least before the 1890s” (Davin, 1996). The experience of “clean and compulsory” schooling for disadvantaged urban children somehow transcends its temporal and colonial legacy. It still seems to ring true for Ayesha, in twenty-first century Delhi, for whom, in any case, time stands still, when trying to be clean and in school. Curiously, the ubiquitous head-louse has symbolically offered a historic challenge to the civilizing crusade, right across the space-time of universal schooling. The following account of indignant poor urban mothers in England 200 years back could warm the hearts of their many Indian counterparts today, and perhaps inspire them for similar action: “Their outraged dignity led them to visit the school and even to assault the mistresses … . In one month four mothers were prosecuted for personally assaulting mistresses” … (from the 1937 unpublished memoirs of Thomas Gautrey, “School Board Memories,” quoted in Davin, 1996, p. 137) … . Gautrey here implies that the resentment was provoked by the mere demand for “clean” hair. One reason for it,

Ducked or Bulldozed? Education of Deprived Urban Children in India


however, was probably the equation by the authorities of headlice and dirt, and their euphemistic, but insulting, reference to “clean” or “dirty” heads rather than to infestation. … The schools did not confine themselves to stimulating a sense of shame and demanding “clean” heads: they also cut the children’s hair. Gautrey quotes a letter to the headmistress from a mother who saw this as one more in a series of official attacks: “I should like to know how much more spite you intend to put upon my child for it is nothing else. First you send the Sanitary Inspector and I have my home taken away, … and now you cut the few hairs my girl was just beginning to grow so nice … she had no need to have her hair cut off as it was washed with soft soap last night. The child is thoroughly heartbroken” … . In the 1900s systematic inspection for headlice began … (and) children … not certified “clean” were segregated (they “sat at benches together, shamed outcasts” and were referred to as “the dirty girls”) … .Cropped hair meant a loss of a central feminine attribute; it was also the mark of the children in orphanages … . It was also an attack on the mother, since her child’s shorn hair then declared her uncaring or incompetent. (Davin, 1996, pp. 138–139) The same “shame” and indignity, heaped with loud indiscreet labels of being “backward/slow learners,” continue to torment the majority of first generation learners in our city schools. Yet, time has moved on for the middle-classes, and a more realistic engagement with the ordinary louse is now considered too “filthy” for the textbook. Indeed, in the state capital of Bhopal (in Madhya Pradesh) it was found that poor mothers were liberally using DDT and other cheap insecticides on children’s heads to treat lice. During the textbook writing exercise, when we suggested the use of creative narratives, not didactic messages, to introduce safe practical ways to deal with lice or scabies, the official “expert” frowned disgustedly and, scratching her scalp, decisively dismissed such true-to-life topics that actually made her feel itchy and lousy! (PROBE Team, 1999). Moreover, even as we strive today to develop new national textbooks, despite the new syllabus we have framed for the primary school level, we contend with unrelenting pressure to impart didactic “messages” about cleanliness and orderliness. “We have to teach children to avoid putting their dirty hands into water, and to keep food covered!” is what traditional teachers and textbook writers tenaciously insist. In any case, we hope to redirect this fetish into an exercise for “critical reading of messages” – asking children to critically reflect and respond to such posters or advertisements routinely brought out by the municipal agencies during the monsoons, warning people about uncovered food and unsafe water which could cause water-borne diseases. However, the greatest challenge lies in transforming classrooms, to sensitize over six million teachers towards a dialogic constructivist pedagogy that can give voice to the majority of our children who continue to be alienated by school.

Transformative Curricula Shagufta, a primary school teacher in Lahore (Pakistan), focuses on her students’ lived struggles, framed by high urban poverty, through the political lens of her lessons. She begins with their homes and a walk down their streets, covered with garbage and sewer



water, encouraging questions such as “Are your streets clean?” or “We cannot live without water. If all the water is dirty, what will we do?”(Roth & Barton, 2004). The critical stance, according to her, is not meant to make them feel bad about where they live, but to empower them for responsible citizenship and community action, to help them analyze and change their surroundings. Ironically, she had faced daunting opposition from the men in her own family and her neighbors when she had aspired to study beyond school to become a teacher, and was taunted by comments such as “yay to pani bharaygee” (“she will only carry water” in Urdu). However, despite a constraining national curriculum, she has shown that school can play a transformative role, and she strives alone to give voice to her disadvantaged students as she continues to metaphorically “carry water” through environmental action, well beyond the expectations of her community. The role of transformative curricula has been stressed in India by some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), working largely in the context of rural schools or centers for out-of-school children. For instance, an innovative curricular intervention in the government system, initiated in the 70s through voluntary groups and activistscientists, was the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Program or HSTP (in the state of Madhya Pradesh), catering to a thousand predominantly rural schools (Rampal, 1991, 1992). We had designed lessons based on an enquiry oriented approach that encouraged democratic interactions between the children and teachers, in an attempt to demystify science and loosen its hegemonic control on school. The use of low-cost and locally available or indigenously designed equipment promoted self reliance and creativity among teachers and students; they confidently handled apparatus in elementary school, unlike what happens even today in the best of schools. Some girls from working class families had moved far beyond their texts to question traditional beliefs and potent superstitions. In one dramatic case, they outshone even college science students: after investigating all by themselves, they challenged their families about the cause of the white snake-like lines on the purportedly “cursed” leaves (infested by the leaf minor), which had caused thousands of people across the country to shun green vegetables over weeks and even go fasting (Rampal, 1994). However, despite having achieved wide acclaim, nationally and internationally, over the three decades that it ran, the program (along with two others supported by the NGO Eklavya) was summarily closed in 2003 by a state government aggressively pursuing neo-liberal reforms in education. As seen in other countries, neo-liberal reforms have devalued diversity in curricula and instead enhanced the power of the dominant models of “traditionalism” (Apple, 2001; Gillborn & Youdell, 2000). The Madhya Pradesh government tenaciously promoted its low-cost “alternate” schools and Education Guarantee Scheme centers, run by untrained contractual para-teachers, while it dismissed what it saw as an undesirable competitor in the critical pedagogy of HSTP. Having stopped all regular recruitment of teachers over the last decade, and having decimated and demoralized what it calls a “dying cadre” of teachers, the state contractually appointed almost 200,000 para-teachers, on a fraction of the salary of a regular teacher. It thus led the way in drastic cost-saving measures, often propelled by priorities proposed by funding agencies, later adopted nationally and by the other states. As a result, the public provision of education in the country has today been rendered most

Ducked or Bulldozed? Education of Deprived Urban Children in India


starkly differentiated and unequal, while the government grapples with its constitutional declaration of Education as a Fundamental Right and still shirks enacting the Free and Compulsory Education Act. There are serious repercussions and future ramifications, of the current trends towards globalization that buttress the notion of “uniformity” and “standardization” in the school curriculum. This is meant to facilitate a privileged section of students, who may need to move across state or country boundaries and be assessed comparatively through what are considered equivalent testing systems. In some countries this has led to a flourishing industry of “high-stakes” testing, such as in the “No Child Left Behind” regime of the US, where it is causing grave concern. However, despite the shrinking space for NGOs, and their changing relationship with the State in the neo-liberal era, there are still some that attempt to bring critical pedagogy within government schools. In the Municipal Schools of Mumbai, the mega-city with a population of about 18 million (including the area covering Greater Mumbai), of whom more than half are estimated to be living in slums and temporary settlements, a supplementary program aims to redress the alienating influence of the traditional curriculum. Through its own materials and volunteers, the Avehi-Abacus team enables children to sensitively view urban reality from their different perspectives. For instance, the chapter on Urban Life, in the Teachers’ Manual on “Parivartan Ki Parakh” (Reflections on Change) used in Class VII, presents detailed “frames” contrasting rural and urban life. While viewing the opportunities for employment, and freedom from the oppressive caste and gender relations that influence large migrations from villages, it also shows the degraded and dehumanizing living conditions of urban slums. In one frame on “Nandita,” a girl living with her relatives in a slum in Kolkata, the narrative states: Nandita is living here since one month to look after her mother hospitalized in Kolkata. Every morning she wakes up at 3:30 A.M. and goes to fill water at the nearby tap with her cousin and aunt. If you do not reach early you get no water for the day. Every day there are fights among the women at the tap. Nandita gets upset when her day begins with such shouting and screaming. Even her house in the village has no water, but the pond is only ten minutes away. If in summer the pond happens to dry up she needs to walk 45 minutes to the river. But at least there are no fights over water! … However the biggest problem is with latrines. There is a row of latrines ten minutes away, but so filthy that Nandita finds it nauseating. So it is better to go to the little space near the river. The women all go together while it is still dark; after 4.30 A.M. vehicles start plying and people stare from atop the bridge. The village too has no latrines; all go out in the open, but women have a separate area. … If only her village had a hospital where her mother could get treated! (Sangati Teachers’ Manual 5, Avehi-Abacus Programme, 2005) Leading questions help relate the above narrative to children’s own experiences, while the next frame provides information about their own city – Mumbai, where more than half the people live in slums, covering less than 6% of the total land. One million live on pavements; half the slums have no latrine, and a single tap can cater to between 200–8,000 people.



Contrived Divide: Urban vs. Rural, “Quality” vs. “Relevance”? The Declaration on Education For All (EFA) in 1990 had demanded an ambitious paradigm for reform, transcending the conventional understanding of education. It called for an “expanded vision of learning” by linking educational and social processes through school and life, education and work, curriculum and culture, theory and practice, etc. EFA programs had aimed for curricular reform to address issues of diversity, of different knowledge systems and linkages between life and learning. Yet the objectives soon narrowed down to “numbers enrolled” in primary schools, and the initial vision for all – to encompass youth and adults – is now almost forgotten in most international reviews. A study by UNESCO on South Asia, to see how issues of “quality of life” and “empowerment of learners” (a rare phrase indeed in the present policy discourse) had been addressed, candidly acknowledged that “lack of relevance” and “poor quality” continued to plague all countries of the region, greatly impacting children from poor families. It noted that attempts to give a life orientation to school is often consciously thwarted and that any attempt to change curricula faces stiff resistance from elitist groups which tend to use school only as a stepping stone for employment (UNESCO-APPEAL, 1998). Even in the countries of the North there has been a tension between criteria of “relevance and practical usefulness” on the one hand, and “quality” on the other, where “quality” is defined in a narrow way to suit the needs of privileged groups. Thus those whose children grow up in stimulus-rich environments may judge the “quality” of an education system by its ability to cultivate special or exclusive skills and talents, while parents of less privileged children will look for the system’s ability to foster more equitable learning opportunities for a larger number of people (Weiler, 1993). Some of our restructured state curricula were resisted on grounds of deliberately fractured notions of “relevance” and “quality” of schooling for rural and urban children. Conventional curricula are equally “irrelevant” for rural and urban children, and do not achieve much useful learning, but the urban/rural divide is used euphemistically to differentiate between the employment interests of the middle classes and the “basic needs” of the poor (Rampal, 2002). Ironically, “lack of relevance for urban children” and “dilution of academic standards” were cited as the reason for resisting curriculum renewal even in the state of Kerala, where there is today no sharp rural–urban divide, but where, despite near-universal enrolment (and consistently high social indicators), the quality of learning has remained dismal (KSSP, 1999). Through concerted newspaper campaigns, fuelled by political opponents and other vested interests, including publishers of commercial “guidebooks” and the network of coaching classes, the middle classes engaged in often rhetorical and uninformed protest. This resulted in the loss of momentum and even significant reversals in a program that, in a relatively short span of time, had indeed made a difference to the school performance of the poor, whether rural or urban (Rampal, 2001). The paradox of the rural/urban divide has reduced the “urban poor” in our cities to greater social and spatial relegation, to remain a relatively neglected and increasingly “peripheral” group in the discourse of education interventions. A large majority of the

Ducked or Bulldozed? Education of Deprived Urban Children in India


urban poor still continue to have shifting and multiple identities, owing to their organic links with their rural families, socially, culturally and economically. Moreover, there exist culturally diverse and ambiguous notions of “home” and “place,” which even after decades of urban living may still anchor them to their rural roots through a strong sense of belonging. The majority of rural migrants, who come to the city primarily to earn money to remit or periodically take back to their rural households, are absorbed into the urban economy in a highly differentiated manner, in sectors such as casual or unskilled labor, factory work, the informal and unorganized sector and domestic service (Rigg, 1997). However, with the increasing exploitation of the flow of cheap, captive and “compliant” rural labor, including large numbers of women and children employed for globalized production, cities are reconfiguring as “meccas for the formation of a transnational working class … living under conditions of poverty, violence, chronic environmental degradation, and fierce repression” (Harvey, 2000). Indeed, to engage with the stark “local reality of global inequality,” schools must reconfigure as sites that allow education “to re-root itself in the organic conditions of daily life” (p. 82). Moreover, since education can be “about learning to live across borders and within them, and in and through differences instead of against or in spite of them, … (in other countries too) struggles have arisen to develop a vocabulary and optics for seeing the heterogeneity of their student population” (Nozaki, Openshaw, & Luke, 2005, p. 3). A relational understanding of “urbanism” helps engage with the collapse of traditional dualisms, such as, the blurring distinction between production and distribution (Giroux, 1994; Harvey, 1973). The interplay of how different human practices in cities create and make use of specific spaces, as in the spatiality of life and work between the metropolitan hub and its increasingly peripheral “re-settlements,” continues to shape what it means to be children of the “urban poor.” In fact, the sharp segregation of the poor in Mumbai has led to the large and well-constructed government schools in its posh south being rendered vacant and “unviable,” while its north struggles despairingly with the displaced and dispossessed. A few educational programs have coined a category of the “Deprived Urban Children” (DUC; ironically pronounced “duck”) but these remain essentially nominal and peripheral, easily ducked during considerations of contending priorities. A household survey conducted by the Delhi government in collaboration with an NGO, shows that of almost 200,000 out-of-school children (aged 6–14 years), 80% are concentrated in about a third of the “difficult” geographical/administrative units (Pratham Resource Centre, 2005). Many of these “difficult” pockets have large migrant or resettled populations, no schools or, at best, a deplorably overcrowded school with very poor learning achievements. In addition, the proximity of industrial units or garbage dumps seriously affects children’s health. A case study documents the pressing fears of thousands of children threatened by relocation in Delhi, owing to the Yamuna river beautification plan, who took a delegation to the local police station to request delayed action until after their exams were over. Similarly, Rafiq Nagar is a “huge slum perched on the rim of Mumbai’s largest garbage dumping ground. The densely crowded lanes wind through the hutments … then the ocean of waste begins … Water is scarce and has to be bought and carried home. In the monsoon, and when water is released



upstream, the drains overflow and sewage enters the homes … the life and duration of the entire community is insecure … . Uncertainty and insecurity (of demolition) keep children from making use of the meager existing facilities” (p. 14). The segment of “hard core child labor,” living in the city alone, without parents, is found concentrated in specific urban locations, such as, railway stations, religious places, red-light areas, and particular industries of the unorganized sector. An estimated 70,000 children work for pitiably low wages, almost exclusively and “invisibly” in hazardous industries in Mumbai, doing up to 18 hours a day in cramped, dark, low-ceiling pits, often suffering acute physical abuse (Roy, June 2005). They remain “invisible” to most statistics; to policy makers and educationists who might conceal them as “helps” behind their own domestic doors, perhaps even to the above household survey, which shows but a total of 79,000 children (aged 5–15 years) out-of-school in Mumbai. Some NGOs, with police help, have been “raiding” factories to free children, and escorting them back to their villages, often in the poorest districts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or Orissa. State governments claim there is a need to set up alternative residential schools for the education of such children brought back to their rural homes. Yet, most of the initiatives are taken up by NGOs, such as M.V. Foundation, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Movement to Save Childhood), etc. Moreover, very little has been done to construct appropriate “bridging” curricula, acknowledging the children’s maturity, knowledge and skills, acquired especially during their urban sojourn in coping alone with the cruel city, while also helping them to soon enter the mainstream of rural schools. Despite the sharp spatiality of their existence, schools seldom engage critically with children’s “geographical imagination” in the spirit of Harvey’s proposition, to enable them to recognize the “role of space and place in their own autobiographies.” Spatial metaphors have played a role in the framing of emancipatory pedagogies to counter the domesticating tendencies of education, ranging from phenomena of “border crossing” to “legitimate peripheral participation” (Edwards & Usher, 2000). In countries of the South the urban poor today are witness to increasingly dehumanizing, even “savage inequalities,” as the city reconfigures and monstrously metamorphoses into a modern metropolis. In addition, the media relentlessly imprints surreal images on young fertile imaginations and blossoming aspirations; jazzy jacuzzis and fancy fittings seem to acquire a commonplace realism while modest taps and sanitary latrines remain remotely unimaginable. Yet schools make no attempt to scaffold the “spatial consciousness” of an urban child to interrogate “the relationship that exists between him and his neighborhood, his territory, or to use the language of the street gangs, his ‘turf ’ ” (Harvey, 1973, p. 24). On the contrary, urban schools meticulously try to stay clean of the child’s neighborhood, the language of his territory, and very certainly that of his “turf!” Moreover, rural accents or colloquial terms, different dialects and even children’s “rural” (especially tribal) names are frowned upon and arrogantly “corrected.”

Bulldozed: Without Homes and Schools Schools and urban administrations make no concessions for children who are forcefully evicted out of their houses through regular demolition or relocation. Often in the

Ducked or Bulldozed? Education of Deprived Urban Children in India


middle of a school term, thousands of urban squatters are brutally bulldozed and there is no attempt to get children readmitted; in fact, usually there is no school at the new “dumping” sites. In a spate of ruthless demolitions between November 2004 and February 2005 in Mumbai, over 300,000 people were rendered homeless for having encroached on what was called “illegal” land, even though government agencies had provided services such as electricity, and the police had made large sums in repeated extortions. During the prompt mobilization and depositions held by the Indian People’s Tribunal for Environment and Human Rights (IPTEHR), a victim, Anita Shukla, poignantly declared: “My husband is an ice-candy seller and we have two children. There is no count of the demolitions of our houses; it must be 17–18 times … Children cannot go to school; those who do manage to go find it difficult because … other children tease them. Children feel sad about it. They start avoiding school … (and) have lost their bags and books in demolition” (IPTEHR, June 2005). Over 180,000 children were estimated to have been rendered homeless in Mumbai within a couple of months of the demolitions, most of them left out in the cold – out of school, insecure and vulnerable. There were several cases of children succumbing to extreme climatic conditions. “A common thread running through the accounts (of the depositions) is not only the effect on people’s lives and livelihoods, but also the future of their children. Given the fact that February–March is the end of the school year, and a time when examinations are conducted, many children have lost a year … , many suffer post-demolition trauma due to which it is impossible to calculate how many will drop out from the school system completely” (IPTEHR, June 2005). This despite the Supreme Court rulings that, as part of Fundamental Rights, “the right to shelter includes adequate living spaces, decent structures, clean surroundings” and (in 1997) that “the state has the constitutional duty to provide shelter to make the right to life meaningful.” However, what worried 12 year old Savita most on losing her home was the forced loss of school for children who “will find it difficult, because their mothers won’t even be able to bathe and dress them” (Srinivasan, 2004).

Clean Cities and Citizens: “De-territorialized” Global Aspirations Clean and health-conscious citizens, in synergistic action between “environmental self-help” and a new “caring for the self ” aggressively marketed by the cartel of weight-loss clinics, yoga parlors, reiki gurus or gyms and gizmos, are buying in to the idea of active “citizenship” to clean their cities of all “pollution.” Indeed, the democratization of the environmental discourse – “it affects us all, belongs to all” – has obscured how conflicts of “the environment” of an abstract “public” may be justly resolved with the many “environments” of differentiated publics (Sharan, 2002). Several corporate NGOs, such as Bombay First, CitiSpace, and Merchants Chambers, are now on the forefront, in collaboration with the World Bank and other international agencies, to build public opinion and rebuild “public spaces.” This new environmentalism bids for a more “realistic” use of real estate, through the removal of encroachers and



“deviants” such as hawkers, slums, street children and beggars from public land, as also other pollutants from air and water. However, the global aspirations of Delhi have been found to be somewhat fatally flawed by its alarming gender ratio (868:1,000 female to male in the 0–6 age group), owing to high female feticide by expensive sex determination technologies. The Census 2001 ( shows figures as low as 762 female toddlers in its “clean,” affluent, and highly educated south Delhi colonies, with substantially higher ratios in the congested quarters or rural habitations of the less-literate “polluting” poor. Ironically, this is similar to the national pattern, where the more prosperous, educated urban districts show the least “tolerance” for the girl child. This raises critical questions, not only about gender justice or overarching notions of development and prosperity, but also, more pointedly, about the efficacy of the present education system, and its ability to shape such mindsets. In addition, Mumbai is tarnished by alarming levels of urban malnutrition which, according to the National Family Health Survey, is 29% in the 0–6 age group – much higher than in the rural or even tribal areas of the state of Maharashtra (17% malnutrition), owing to the extremely low purchasing power of its urban poor. The devastating demolitions in Mumbai have been seen as part of the city’s “Vision Shanghai,” attributed to its proposed multi-billion dollar development plan to transform the industrial capital of India into Asia’s leading financial capital. Indeed, the planned “makeover” of Asia’s biggest slum, Dharavi, located on prime land in Mumbai, and home to more than 600,000 people in ramshackle corrugated tin-sheds, has sent warning signals about the government’s intentions. Dharavi, with a thriving business worth $1 billion a year in local enterprise turning out everything from leather goods, pottery, and jewelry to fake “branded” watch straps, remains an enigmatic study in cosmopolitan contrast – between the enterprise, ambition and good humor of its heterogeneous habitants, and their soul-deadening surroundings (Ahmed, BBC News, 2004; D’Souza, 2002; Sharma, 2000; Verma, 2002). Meanwhile, large textile mills set up in 1854, to serve as the harbingers of industrial and economic growth of Mumbai, when the British allocated central land to house textile factories and workers’ quarters, have been closed. The owners threw out over 200,000 workers in the last three decades, and sold most of the land to builders of high-rise luxury houses, not “public housing,” as had been decreed in the sale permission granted by the government, which had also called for investment in modernization. “My heart breaks every time I see a mill being torn down,” says Narendra Kargaonkar, 42, a second-generation mill worker who lost his job at Phoenix Mills, now working as a door-to-door milk deliveryman, earning a fraction of his mill salary in 1982. The mill has been reconfigured into a mall – a bustling shopping complex, nightclub and bowling alley. “They say they want to turn this city into Shanghai,” says Mohammad Badruddin, “I don’t know what the word Shanghai means, but it is an excuse to kick poor people in the stomach.” He is “a mason who lived in a cramped, fly-infested slum with open drains, and was laying floor tiles in a gleaming residential high-rise recently when he heard that four bulldozers had flattened his neighborhood of tin-walled homes. To prevent their return, the government dumped heaps of putrid garbage on the slum land and posted

Ducked or Bulldozed? Education of Deprived Urban Children in India


security men to guard the area” (Rama Lakshmi, 2005). It is cruel irony that settlers, who had transformed marsh and muck into habitable land through investment of their own labor and funds, patiently filling it with soil and debris over several years, are brutally evicted by the untamed power and greed of the builder-politician-mafia nexus on grounds of their having “encroached on public land.” Delhi, where slums house more than one-fourth of its population, leads the way in “environmental activism,” with recent large-scale eviction of polluting industries and relocation of about 50,000 workers and families. However, there have been few questions asked about the health of the workers themselves and those living in the relocated polluted sites. Moreover, with increasing demands for Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and mushrooming “call centers” connected to their First world clients in clean cyberspace, Delhi aspires to be on-call globally through such “de-territorialization.” Indeed, the city has shed its democratic pretensions through a recent Supreme Court Order, which states that the health of some is more important than the livelihood of others. The contemporary civilizing agenda for “clean cities” has also influenced schools directly through a recent Supreme Court order directing that “Environmental Education” be taught in schools as a compulsory examinable subject in all classes. A separate national syllabus, in the traditional “information-transmission” format, was hurriedly drawn up to comply with the court orders. However, as part of the national Syllabus Revision in 2005 it has been decided to integrate these issues into the existing subjects, instead of inventing yet another one to subject children to.

The New Environmental Studies: Integrating Science and Social Sensibility I shall discuss here in some detail our recent attempts to reconfigure one subject, which according to the policy framework, has long been meant to be taught as integrated “Environmental Studies” (EVS) at the primary school, instead of separate general science and social studies. However, “integration” was only nominally and superficially achieved earlier; it is in the present exercise of syllabus revision in accordance with the National Curriculum Framework 2005 that this has been seriously attempted. Its objectives include: “to help children to locate and comprehend relationships between their natural, social and cultural environments, … based on observations and illustrations drawn from lived experiences, rather than abstractions; to be able to critically address gender concerns and issues of marginalization and oppression, with values of equality and justice, and respect for human dignity and rights” (NCERT, 2005). Transcending rigid disciplinary boundaries and resisting the pressure to include “key topics” from traditional “subjects,” the new syllabus format proposes themes that allow for a connected and inter-related approach, grounded in a social constructivist perspective of children’s learning. It begins with “key questions,” framed in a language that can stimulate and scaffold the thinking of children that age, and then indicates the key concepts that relate to the elaboration of the questions. It also lists suggested



resources and activities, such as, stories in oral and written literature, local games and puzzles, information from local resource persons including grandparents, medical workers, artists and books, experiments, excursions, observations, etc. Despite consistent pressure to specify “learning outcomes” for each sub-theme, a legacy of the atomized and absurdly behaviorist “Minimum Levels of Learning” that held sway in the last decade, the new EVS syllabus stays clear of such statements. The “outcomes” of competencies and skills tie in with the increasingly problematic managerial discourse of “inputs–outputs,” as also with the minimalist requirements for developing countries to produce sufficiently productive humans for the global market. The EVS Syllabus Preamble I had written has a section on this issue: What Learning Do We Expect? How can Environmental Studies help all our children, … those for whom the main purpose in life is going to school, as well as those who aspire for a school that can support life, with meaning and dignity? This syllabus format consciously does not spell out any outcomes for each theme. However, schools must ensure that these activities or discussions will be conducted because only then can it be ensured that learning will happen. … (for instance) EVS classrooms will need to provide opportunities to children to be able to progressively ask higher order questions that require different levels of reasoning and investigation, by planned activities and exercises to get them to phrase their questions, to answer, discuss and investigate them. These are basic to the learning process in EVS and yet, unfortunately, most classrooms are not designed to ensure this. How then can we expect all children to learn? What then does it mean to specify any outcomes at this point? (NCERT, 2005; also at With a focus on those who are most vulnerable to be pushed out of school and, unlike the prevalent “culture of silence” or evasion at school, some key questions openly address issues of inequality or difference, and encourage children to reflect on their lived experiences, however unpleasant. For instance, the syllabus departs from the traditional manner of treating “Our Body” in a purely scientific, socially distanced manner, through routine topics such as “our senses,” “parts/organs of the body” and their functions, etc. The new unit “our bodies – old and young” helps children place their own bodies in relation to those of their family members. The rubric of the “family” is me