Jan
01

Education, Politics and Social Change in Ethiopia

In looking for research that explores the challenges of ethnic federalism and language in Ethiopia, I came across the book "Education, Politics and Social Change in Ethiopia" (2010), edited by Paulos Milkias (Concordia University) and Messay Kebede (University of Dayton). All of the contributing authors are based outside of Ethiopia, which is not necessarily negative, but I think it would have been a useful addition to have people more actively engaged in the Ethiopian education and political systems contribute. The book covers a range of topics: English as a medium of instruction, traditional and modern education, influences of western education, history of education, an Ethiopian theory of education, education and the Pentecostal movement, language politics, women and education, and power of educating.

I support the linguistic arguments made by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and found Tekeste Negash's work (Chapter 1) an interesting read. While Ethiopia does not have a colonial legacy, it has adopted a colonial language for its primary medium of instruction: "The problem with English as a medium of instruction is even more complex. English is not only a language but it is a value system. Attending all classes in English is tantamount to the whole sale adaptation of the culture that the English language represents at the price of one's native language and the values such language contains." (p. 19) Recently, Ethiopia opted for dual language instruction (Afan Oromo and Amharic) in federal jurisdictions (Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa), which Tekeste suggested when this book was published in 2010: "I believe it is imperative that Ethiopia makes the transition from English into Amharic and Afan-Oromo by about 2025. To some readers of this paper, twenty years may sound a very long time; but 20 to 25 years is just enough to discuss the issue of the benefits of connecting to ones world view and of initiating the process of translation and reinterpretation of school materials as well the development of both languages." (p. 23).

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Oct
16

Funded MA: Education for Sustainable Development

Location: Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Start Date: September 2017

Salary: $12,000/year stipend (with possibility of further scholarship opportunities)


THE PROJECT

Sustainable Development cannot be achieved through one sector alone, yet education in particular is seen as a vehicle to move us towards this goal. While there is a plethora of literature that examines the role of formal education for sustainable development (ESD), to date there has been very little research that examines the potential role for non-formal and informal education. The Arts (i.e. visual arts, performance arts, and literature) may be one form of informal ESD that can have a significant influence on the development of cultural norms and therefore play a critical role in creating the cultural changes needed to achieve a sustainable future. However, preliminary investigations to date have found that there are very few scholarly works associated with the topic. This dearth of found materials may be a result of poor bibliographic indexing by scholarly databases, because the materials are located outside of conventional scholarly mediums (e.g. websites, playbills, exhibition catalogues, and other grey literature), or simply because there are few written materials on this subject. The purpose of this research is to identify scholars, artists and practitioners working in the area where the Arts, ESD and sustainability intersect in order to document their conceptualizations of the role the Arts could/should play in achieving a sustainable future; to thoroughly examining the extent to which both the scholarly and grey literature addresses sustainability and the Arts. Further, it has been recognized that scholars, social innovators and artists are often isolated from each other, because of limited opportunities for knowledge exchange and dialogue, and a lack of common methods for knowledge mobilization and translation. As such, this research aims to develop and encourage collaborative partnerships and intellectual exchange among artists and scholars engaged in the intersection of the Arts, ESD, and sustainability.

RESPONSIBILITIES

This position will help with Phase 1 of this research which aims to identify scholars, artists and practitioners working in areas where the Arts, ESD and sustainability intersect; better understand how those working in this area conceptualize the role the Arts could/should play in achieving a sustainable future. Responsibilities will include identifying potential participants for the study; conducting in-depth interviews with participants; data entry and management; contributing to data analyses; conducting background research and report writing; and other clerical organizational duties as required. It is expected that students will undertake this work as part of their Masters thesis at Dalhousie University (with the suggestion of enrolling in the Master of Environmental Studies program in the School for Resource and Environmental Studies).


Interested individuals are asked to submit their application including a cover letter, curriculum vitae and the names of two references, to Dr. Tarah Wright.

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497 Hits
Sep
01

PhD Studentships (11): Multilingualism in Education

A group of researchers of the Research Unit "Education, Culture, Cognition and Society" (ECCS) and of the Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing (LUCET) at the University of Luxembourg has obtained a large grant for the interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Unit CALIDIE (Capitalising on Linguistic Diversity in Education). The doctoral programme CALIDIE is funded in the frame of the PRIDE scheme of the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR) and offers 11 positions for Doctoral candidates (PhD students) in the field of Multilingualism in Education (m/f)

PhD Projects and Supervisors

• P1.1: Learners as cultural mediators: Exploring the role and value of children's multilingual practices for learning (Sociolinguistics, Ethnography, Educational studies)
• P1.2: From school to work: Multilingual practices of youth in vocational education and training (VET) (Sociolinguistics, Nexus Analysis, Ethnography, Multimodal approaches to discourse)
• P1.3: Translanguaging for learning: A study of multilingual practices in the primary school (Educational Studies)

• P1.4: Internationalisation and multilingualism in Higher Education: A focus on natural sciences (Educational Sciences, Applied / Sociolinguistics, Research in Multilingualism in Higher Education)
• P2.1: The development of orthographic practices of multilingual pupils throughout schooling (Linguistics, Written language acquisition)
• P2.2: Enhancing children's oral language skills in a multilingual educational setting: A preschool intervention study (Psychology, Educational Sciences, Developmental approach)
• P2.3: The use of value-added (VA) scores for the identification of highly effective pedagogical practices for diverse student populations (Psychology, Psychometrics & Educational Measurement)
• P2.4: Exploring innovative directions in the computer-based assessment (CBA) of language competency (Psychology, Assessment & Psychometrics, Educational Studies)
• P3.1: The influence of language profiles on early numerical and (pre-)mathematical learning (Psychology, Cognitive neuroscience approach)
• P3.2 The influence of the instruction language on mathematics in a multilingual educational setting (Cognitive psychology, Educational studies)
• P3.3 Interaction between language of instruction and language proficiency in science education (Psychology, Assessment & Psychometrics, Educational Studies)

More information.

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581 Hits
Aug
16

Encountering Poverty

The 2016 book "Encountering Poverty: Thinking and Acting in an Unequal World" brings together some of the insights draw from teaching in a critical undergraduate program. Roy, Negron-Gonzales, Opoku-Agyemang and Talwalker offer something between an edited volume and an undergraduate textbook, while also offering critical reflexivity of their own roles and positionality. The target audience of the book was broad, potentially too broad. At times it seems best suited for undergraduate students, and at others educators. Nonetheless, for either of those two audiences, it is a book I recommend. What this book does very well, and I believe uniquely so, is offer critical engagement with international and community development studies, that moves beyond criticism. Far too often I've come across recent graduates of development studies programs who feel hopeless about the sector and disinterested in further engagement with it. About the book, Matthew Sparke wrote: "far from leading us to a place of paralysis and moralistic self-flagellation, the authors advance a more reflective and constructive approach, arguing that we can still take modest steps against massive global inequality even as we navigate its contradictions and complexities."

The point of engagement is elaborated by contrasting the position of anthropologist Li (author of The Will to Improve and Land's End) and their own: "we depart from Li on one significant matter of expertise and politics. Li (2007, 2) argues that the "positions of critic and programmer are properly distinct." She notes that programmers, those who are tasked with implementing development, "under pressure to program better… are not in a position to make programming itself an object of analysis" (p. 46)." To this, they state: "… we are reluctant to conclude such a firm separation between the trustees and recipients of development. Instead, we interpret the mediators and functionaries of development – from star economists to young volunteers – to be engaged in the battle of ideas. Instead of positioning critics as those situated outside of development, we seek to explore how those within the system can participate in such struggles. However, we do not want to overlook the fact that, often, the poor themselves are programmers of development, especially at the interface between bureaucracies of poverty and poor people's movements" (p. 46).

As someone who has written about the problematic nature of short-term, small-scale, donor-determined handouts, this book offers useful insight into whose voices drive the direction of community and international development activities. The authors write: "Dominant frames of global poverty and dominant models of global citizenship do not address the poverty of power. However, the long history of poor people's movements must be read as the insistence for dignity, voice, and power. After all, the impoverished of the world are not mobilizing in mass action to demand malarial bed nets or TOMS shoes" (p. 31).

Much of the book seeks to re-position, re-frame and re-orient the study and practice of international development, first by diagnosing its challenges in clear and concise ways, and then offering alternative paths: "The pull to eliminate poverty is not only insufficient but also misguided unless the attempts to do so are rooted in analysis that acknowledges that poverty is an integral part of the growth of capitalism, that it is mapped onto colonial histories, and that it is connected to global social movements" (p. 10). "What if, instead of the ladder of development, we were to recognize that the prosperity of wealthy places often depends on the impoverishment of other places and peoples? And, what if, following Polanyi, we were to realize that this is not the natural order of things but rather a system of extreme artificiality?" (p. 61-62)

"What we are striving to achieve is not just a disruption of the master narrative but a disruption of a kind of poverty action that is about feeling good and keeping everything exactly the same. We must disrupt the politics of benevolence that position the poverty actor as the savior and the impoverished as the lucky recipients of their charitable deeds. We must train young, enthusiastic people to be hopeful but realistic, self-reflective but not self-absorbed, and imbued with a sense of responsibility but no an inflated ego. The challenge for us, then, is to think about how we can prepare a team of poverty actors who will disrupt the old, problematic dynamics of poverty interventions, privilege, and power and who will envision and execute a new kind of poverty politics that focuses on the development of solidarities, not aid, and promotes an honest engagement with the dynamics of power, privilege, and responsibility that come along with this work." (p. 175-176)

Supported by the diversity of disciplines the authors bring to this book, there are discussions that are not common to works of this nature, but add important dimensions to the discourse, such as in philosophy and education:

  • "We could argue that this overwhelming tendency to focus on educating poor people and to ignore poor people's own views of their own problems is a symptom of middle-class paternalism. We could also argue that it is neoliberal, in that it focuses on individuals and personal responsibility and seemingly neglects the larger more long-term causes of inequity and inequality. These are valid and important cautionary points to make. But I want to suggest a related third point (a point bound up in these other two, as they are perhaps all ultimately determined by the current historical moment): that this tendency to focus on educating poor people is (also) a symptom of the widespread utilitarian approach to people and society. For utilitarianism focuses on individuals, and it does so instrumentally." (p. 133)
  • "Praxis posits that learning is not simply about individual fulfillment or deepening knowledge but rather about transformation, not only of the self but also of the world around us. Freire argued that learning without action is empty, and that we learn in order to act in the world around us, and that learning (and therefore also teaching) must be explicitly oriented toward this aim." (p. 163)

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