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Centre for Education and International Development (CEID), UCL Institute of Education

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A forum for staff, students, alumni and guests to write about and around CEID's five thematic areas of engagement.

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Education in the Time of COVID-19 #047 – Khanapurkar et al.

By CEID Blogger, on 2 June 2021

Online Education in Covid-times India: Putting the Cart Before the Horse

by Rammohan Khanapurkar, Shalini Bhorkar, Ketan Dandare and Pralhad Kathole

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted set patterns of livelihoods and upset economic normalcy at a global scale. In a first of its kind, many countries including India witnessed nationwide school closures for the entire academic year. The situation offered preeminent position to online schooling in the lockdown period. This article discusses a key initiative by the Indian government to facilitate online transition of formal learning. The article argues how this ad hoc initiative was akin to putting the cart before the horse in a haste to prove online-worthiness of formal schooling.

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What do we mean by gender equality in education, and how can we measure it?

By CEID Blogger, on 18 May 2021

By Helen Longlands

Gender equality in education is a matter of social justice, concerned with rights, opportunities and freedoms. Gender equality in education is crucial for sustainable development, for peaceful societies and for individual wellbeing. At local, national and global levels, gender equality in education remains a priority area for governments, civil society and multilateral organisations. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and 2020-2030 Decade of Action commit the global community to achieving quality education (Goal 4) and gender equality (Goal 5) by 2030. The G7 Foreign and Development Ministers, meeting this summer in the UK, have made fresh commitments to supporting gender equality and girls’ education, which build on those they made in 2018 and 2019. Yet fulfilling these agendas and promises not only depends on galvanising sufficient support and resourcing but also on developing sufficient means of measuring and evaluating progress.

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #006 – Solaiman & Corbishley

By utnvmab, on 26 April 2021

Critical Thinking and Safe Spaces: A Dialogue  

by: Haya Solaiman and Rachael Corbishley

During the first session of the CEID Alternative Histories of Education and International Development Discussion Café, we shared some thoughts and reflections around ‘decolonising education.’ When it was suggested afterward that we write a blog to share some of these thoughts we had such mixed feelings.

On one hand, “I’m white, I grew up in the UK, only speak English, and am increasingly aware of my privilege. I’m not sure I felt comfortable writing about decolonising the curriculum as a white student. I am still not sure whether I feel comfortable about this” (Rachael).

On the other hand, “I come from Syria, a country in conflict, yet I consider myself ‘privileged’ as I can continue my education, and even pursue my studies abroad when many of my compatriots are enduring hardships back home and in the diaspora as refugees. However, when asked about decolonising education I also felt uncomfortable as the idea of censorship haunts me whenever I want to express my thoughts” (Haya).

Our contrasting backgrounds made our perspectives on decolonising education rather different. However, we both felt the need for space where we can share our critical thoughts freely and safely. Previously, our peers, Shola and Albina, talked about “creating a safe space”. They reflect that the safe space of the Discussion Café was enabled through “placing everyone at the same level … where everyone’s voices can be heard…” Here we decided to share some of our dialogue; some of our reflections, positionalities, and definitions of safe spaces in academic settings. The following text captures our conversation. We hope that these reflections will enable us to contribute to a wider discussion on safe spaces in academic settings and the hierarchies of knowledge production.

Reflecting on our own backgrounds and positions on safe spaces:

he Art of Conversation by René Magritte 1963

The Art of Conversation by René Magritte 1963

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Education in the Time of COVID-19 #046 – Duraiappah

By CEID Blogger, on 4 March 2021

COVID-19: Will it be a game changer for Education?

By Dr. Anantha K. Duraiappah, Director, UNESCO MGIEP 

The first pandemic of the 21st century practically crippled the world, bringing it to a complete standstill. It is not the disease itself that caused the shutdown but the policies implemented to curb the spread of the disease. Travel, trade, manufacturing and service sectors were all shutdown. Lockdowns, confinements and social distancing practically made our present economic and social systems inoperable. The education sector was not spared either. UNESCO estimates that about 1.2 billion students from over 140 countries as of March 2020 were out of school. The situation has not really improved since then about 12 months later.

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Education in the Time of COVID-19 #045 – Unterhalter

By CEID Blogger, on 10 February 2021

Covid-19’s impact on girls’ access to education

By Elaine Unterhalter

Over the past decades, girls’ education has been claimed as a universal solution to every problem: population growth, climate crisis, ending conflict or economic growth. It is said If you educate a girl, you educate the nation or the planet. Then Covid-19 happened.

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #005 – Hajir, Kurian & McInerney

By ztnvcnu, on 8 February 2021

Decolonial work: Moving Beyond Simplistic Approaches to ‘alternative knowledges’

by Basma Hajir, Nomisha Kurian and William McInerney, University of Cambridge

The pervasive, systemic, and fortified configurations of coloniality within contemporary education contexts necessitates that decolonial resistance remains a deeply challenging practice. As a result, we believe it is important to acknowledge and unpack the many ways engaging in decolonization work can be complex, nuanced, and possibly even counterproductive if done uncritically. Specifically, we are concerned about the ways some decolonial work engages in overly-simplistic approaches to ‘alternative knowledges’ in resistance to colonized curricula and pedagogy. We fear uncritical work here, even that which is well-intentioned, can produce a dangerous context for binary thinking and cultural essentialism that might ultimately reinforce colonialism in education rather than deconstruct it. To unpack this challenge, we discuss three problematic aspects that we see emanating from uncritical glorification of alternative knowledges. 

Uncritical Glorification: Erasure, Relativism, and Difference  

First, uncritical glorification of alternative knowledges can unintentionally contribute to erasing history. For example, prompted by a desire to unpack western domination in education, to remain attentive to the limitations of grand narratives, and to point out what has been silenced, some postcolonial and decolonial scholars engage in critiquing the pre-eminence of what they refer to as ‘western metaphysics’, ‘western modernity’ or ‘western rationality’. We applaud their efforts and we wholeheartedly agree with the premise of their pursuit. Ultimately, interrogating western domination as a symptom of the alliance between power and knowledge is the core of decolonial work. 

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #004 – Unterhalter

By utnvmab, on 11 January 2021

Sol Plaatje and UCL

by Elaine Unterhalter 

Sol Plaatje’s name is probably unknown to all but a handful of people at UCL. Yet his scholarship in his lifetime,  was partly linked with UCL,  and his scholarly legacy is highly significant for thinking about education and international development as a field  of inquiry.

Solomon Tshekisho  Plaatje (1876-1932) was a South African whose whole life was an engagement with different aspects of education and  a negotiation with what we call today international development, but what was, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, framed by Empire and colonial relationships . Sol Plaatje was born in 1876 in what is today the Free State province of South Africa. Educated by German missionaries he was fluent in Setswana, English,  Dutch, and four other languages. He worked as a teacher, a telegraph messenger, a clerk, a court interpreter, a journalist, newspaper owner, editor,  a translator,  a  researcher, a political organiser and  lobbyist, a negotiator, an actor, a singer, a novelist and an academic researcher. His life story brims with so many  incidents, and highlights so many different kinds of educational relationships in South Africa, England and the USA, that it is a clear education and international development can never be only about one kind of formation of human capital, a single kind of accumulation of social capital or a one-dimensional form of subordination to colonial rule.

Plaatje was  immersed in, but always critically engaged with,  colonial cultures. His dialogues, disputes, and demands came through his religion, his education, his  nuanced responses, for example with translating and performing Shakespeare, or writing political commentaries to be read by colonial rulers and their critics. But, for all his dress and bearing in the style of a Victorian and Edwardian gentleman,  he was also, keenly aware of the dispossessions colonial relations brought – the denial of the vote to the majority of people in South Africa,  the dispossession of land rights that had been established under Colonial law, and the ways in which the experience of colonial subjects, viewed primarily in terms of their  race,  were overlooked in what was documented and published about South Africa. He wrote about much of this in his widely circulated book Native Life in South Africa , published in 1916, which generated much discussion when it first came out and continues to excite debate. He was a founding member of the SANNC (South African Native National Congress), which became  the ANC. His contribution to literature, art and politics has now been acknowledged in South Africa and beyond.

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #003 – Ejegi & Torbayeva

By utnvmab, on 3 December 2020

‘Can the subaltern speak?’

Decolonising Education and International Development Event launched by staff and students at UCL’s Centre for Education and International Development (CEID) 

by Shola Ejegi & Albina Tortbayeva

Dr Laila Kadiwal from CEID opened the event with this famous postcolonial question ‘Can the subaltern speak?’. In answer, she shared the words of her Dalit academic-activist friend, Mahitosh, who is the first Dalit lecturer/professor of English literature in India, who responded: ‘They can, but their voice remains under represented even in the Subaltern Studies literature’. Laila also told us that she grew up in a rural conflict-affected periphery of postcolonial India. Albina remembers her words that were powerful for her in both their openness and boldness: “I’m here because the East India Company and the Queen Victoria were there.  Of course, my class privileges also made it possible for me to be here”. In this very statement, she highlighted the continuing colonial legacies in the present through the university setting, and its intersections with issues of class.  Coloniality continues to echo in our society, and particularly in the education field which needs to work to transform and not to reproduce social inequalities.

Stories both personal and impressive came from other participants too –  professors, students and activists interested in researching the colonial entanglements underpinning the field of education and development joined this online event from a range of global locations. Professors Elaine Unterhalter and Moses Oketch – co-directors of the Centre for Education and International Development at UCL – shared their perspectives on the significance of decolonising the field of education and even the centre itself, inviting us on a brave journey to start questioning and naming colonial logics and uneven power dynamics in the field. We particularly felt brave being a part of the discussion cafe as it is a direct rejection of the ‘status quo.’ It felt eye opening to intentionally explore the meanings and history of discourses and practices that have been deemed universal, which are in fact are a reflection of Eurocentric norms at the expense of the voice and cultures of former colonised populations.

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Alternative Histories of Education and International Development #001- Unterhalter & Oketch

By utnvmab, on 12 November 2020

Alternative Histories of Education and International Development: An Invitation 

by Elaine Unterhalter and Moses Oketch 

Like many who work in international development, we are acutely aware of the ways in which this field of policy, research and practice links with a colonial past which continues to resonate in the present. In CEID (Centre for Education and International Development) this is a history we feel we need to understand and critique, in order to support thinking better about education and a future which overturns colonial relationships of hierarchy, dispossession, exclusion and subordination.

The early links with colonialism at the Institution of Education (IoE) are clear and this is a history we need to acknowledge in order to think how to change our current forms of practice. IoE was initially founded in 1902 as the London Day Training College for teachers. In 1927 the Director accepted appointment to a body with clear links with a number of colonial projects, the British Advisory Committee on Native Education in Tropical Africa. As part of the work for this committee, he was invited by the Colonial Office to establish a course at IoE to prepare students for work as education officers in Africa, and to support missionaries preparing to work in teacher training colleges in what was then Tanganyika (now Tanzania). A Colonial Department was established at IoE in 1934, with a lecturer appointed to specialize in the comparative education of ‘primitive peoples’. Thus institutionally the teaching and research of IoE were clearly bound in with colonial education projects. In the 1950s there was a change of name, when the Colonial Department at IoE became the Department of Education in Tropical Areas (ETA). Only in 1973 was some distance from colonialism signaled in a new name, the Department of Education in Developing Countries (EDC). In 1995 this became the Department of Education and International Development (EID).

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Constructing a Decolonial Space #002- Kadiwal, et al.

By utnvmab, on 12 November 2020

Constructing a Decolonial Space

by Laila Kadiwal, Mai Abu Moghli, Colleen Howell, Charlotte Nussey and Lynsey Robinson

In this post, we lay out our emerging thoughts on how a decolonial space looks, sounds or feels to us. The aim of the initiative, ‘Alternative Histories of Education and International Development’, is, as our co-directors explain, ‘to support thinking better about education and a future which overturns colonial relationships of hierarchy, dispossession, exclusion and subordination’ (Unterhalter & Oketch). Doing so requires asking ourselves challenging questions about our work and position within the academy, as well as about how to ensure this initiative contributes to deepening decolonial thinking and practices that reflect it. Read the rest of this entry »