William C. SmithThe Pennsylvania State University
The mechanism through which power is applied has evolved in the last twenty years, with current implementation often done through soft power socialization. Containing a collective of impressionable students at the mercy of the state, the “top-down” model of power is perhaps seen best in the world of education. This study investigates the effectiveness of soft power in molding cultural assumptions, values, and behaviors. Focusing on two socialization methods – curriculum bias in the United States and decentralization in Argentina – it is apparent that those with the privileged status in society are doing what they need to maintain their position. The EDUCO program in El Salvador is provided as an example of how enriching social capital can diminish, although not eliminate, the hierarchical power present and help “marginalized” groups maintain their “cultural sovereignty”.
: Soft Power, Socialization, Gender, Decentralization
Education as the tool of the state to manage and influence cultural values and accepted behavior has the ability to shield efforts to legitimize the use of power by one group over another. Socialization processes such as grading, tracking, curriculum design, and decentralization provided a means through which “culturally appropriate” values and behavior are presented by the dominant class in society. This paper hopes to hit at the heart of power in education, specifically how the soft power of cultural assumptions are used to make marginalized groups want what they [dominant group] wants. Most effective power is structured in a “top-down” model. This is due to the ability of the authority to control the objective environment, through structural hierarchy, and the subjective environment, through perceived legitimacy. I argue that when social capital is present, local communities can maintain a sense of “cultural sovereignty,” thus limiting the effects of imposed soft power.
The first section of this study will describe and define power. In it, I identify what power is, how it is measured, and the changing nature of power, evolving from hard power to soft power. I then look at the work of Zhu Majie, as he correlates soft power with cultural power. In section two, soft power is connected to education. In this segment, characteristics of soft power are applied to education and clarification is made between the process of socialization and the message of soft power. In addition, I define culture to provide some visible measure to the assumptions of soft power and describe why education is a justifiable realm for this study. Examples of soft power through education can be found in section three. Brief examples of soft power through language, tracking, grading, and testing are provided along with detailed looks at textbook bias in the United States and the process of decentralization with particular emphasis paid to Argentina. EDUCO, a program to improve the schooling in poor, rural areas in El Salvador, is introduced in section four as an example of the impact social capital can have on maintaining local cultural integrity. Social capital is defined with implications for combating “top-down” soft power. A conclusion section highlights significant findings. Section 1 What is Power?
A general dictionary definition of power tells us that power is the ability of an actor to control others and get them to do things that they otherwise would not. The idea of power can be seen at any level, whether we compare the interaction of states, the interaction people, or some other type of hierarchical order. Power has further been divided in varying ways. Distinctions have been made between “power over” and “power to”, between behavioral power and resource power, and between hard power and soft power. “Power over” is a controlling power that limits the behaviors and opportunities available of the one in which power is being reigned over. “Power to” is an enabling power that is often seen as more optimistic or empowering, providing the resources and opening opportunities to allow someone to attempt an activity that would otherwise be off limits (Tanabe, 1998). According to Keohane and Nye (1998), behavioral power is the ability to obtain outcomes you want while resource power is the possession of resources that are needed to reach the desired outcome. Finally, hard power is understood as a traditional form of coercive power, getting others to do what you want, often times through force. Soft power, on the other hand, involves a more subtle approach. According to Joseph Nye, who coined the term in 1990, soft power is the ability of an actor to convince others to “want what it wants” (1990, pg. 166). It is soft power that will be the focus of this analysis. How is power measured?
To measure the effectiveness of power, regardless of the type, one needs to ask how the intent of the action correlates with the resulting outcome. Strong or effective power is found when the intent of an actor to create a desired behavior or belief leads to animation of the intent in the outcome. Weak or ineffective power involves a disjuncture between the intent and the actual outcome. If we apply this to domestic law we can see that there are both strong and weak laws. For example, if a developing country has a law that states all children ages seven to fourteen need to attend school (intent) but in actual practice only 60% of such students attend school (outcome) then it can be concluded that the law is weak because it lacks effective power. One can therefore ask whether this situation includes ineffective power or a lack of power all together. Due to the uncertainty involving weak power, I will be investigating strong power that has a significant positive correlation between intent and outcomes. These examples are most easily illustrated in hierarchical cases where the superordinate actor already holds some level of legitimacy. The changing nature of power
Within a society or country, the dominant group in power acts to maintain its privileged position. In the United States and throughout the world, we have seen a shift in the use of power by those that control the resources of society from one that used hard coercive power to the use of subtle, soft power. The use of hard power, through open discrimination and threat, is no longer a politically viable option in maintaining the status quo. Identified reasons for this shift include an increase in information available, and the information revolution, led by the increase in access to the internet in the 1990s; all of which have made the use of soft power more important (Nye 2004). As those individuals on whom power was being applied were able to see the intent and to prepare for the impending action those in control have transformed the application of power, convincing others that they want to behave in the prescribed manner. This information revolution also led to interdependence between actors; understanding they depend on one another, actors are more delicate with their application of power (Keohane and Nye, 1998 and Nye 1990). The conversion in the use of power, nevertheless, has not diminished the desire of the dominant class to maintain the status quo. The use of power itself has not diminished; the proportion in which it is applied has simply altered, unveiling soft power as the prevailing central form today. Soft Power as Cultural Power
Soft power, upon its conception in 1990, was first applied to international relations. As the Cold War was winding down, the power of information became apparent. As the only remaining superpower, in order to expand its influence, the United States must achieve its goals through attraction rather than coercion (Keohane and Nye, 1998). Nye (1990) recognized that intangible forms of power would be more important in the 21st century and saw power moving from “’capital rich’ to ‘information rich’” (pg. 164) countries. America as an “information rich” country was in prime position to take advantage of this shift. Today the spread of American culture is perhaps the best example of the use of American soft power. As a relatively inexpensive source of power, American culture structure a situation so that the appeal of the culture, perhaps through music, movies, clothing, makes others want to comply with the behavioral expectations in order to be included. Although this seems more banal by nature, and is definitely not as overtly conflictual as the use of hard power, Josef Joffe (2006) reminds us that soft power is still power, and therefore its application can be seen in both a positive and negative light by those affected.
Zhu Majie identifies soft power as cultural power because the attraction of a country is epitomized by its ideas, values, and ideologies. It is important to recognize that culture is dynamic; it can change as the ideas and values of a community change. As a dynamic phenomenon, the use of culture as a means to apply soft power can have a debilitating effect on whom it is applied. A legitimate dominant group can reconstitute the culture of the other, resulting in the destruction and possible eradication of previously held cultures. Majie distinguishes five characteristics of soft power: traditional, timely, persuasive, changeable, and interdependent. First, it is impossible to remove soft power from the context of cultural tradition. Cultural movement is less problematic if completed under the umbrella of previous cultural ideas and values. Secondly, soft power is timely, in that its implication has appropriate temporal aspects to ensure effective outcomes. Third, soft power is persuasive and not geographically bound; with the information revolution soft power can spread across geographic, national, and ethnic divides. Soft power is also changeable; it is a dynamic phenomenon. The organization and application of ideas and values are uniquely influenced by human actors and therefore are able to be transformed and transmitted in a short period of time, although with uncertainty due to human error. The last characteristic of soft power is that it is inter-dependent with hard power. To be effective, soft power must be delivered through an apparatus that has the strength to deliver the message at an effective level. For example, the spread of American culture would be less effective without the material power of technological advancements like the internet or the economic power to span the globe through media. Section 2 Connecting Soft Power with Education
Soft power is not limited to the international field. The relation of domestic participants attempting to assert their dominant status through cultural assimilation is also an example of soft power. The importance of legitimacy in the enforcement of effective power can be seen in the premise of Tanabe (1998). He states that “in order for an agent to control another agent’s social situation, the first agent must control some aspect(s) of the second agent’s objective situation and/or subjective assessment of his situation” (pg. 145). This understanding explains why desired outcomes are best attained when the first agent is already situated in a structural hierarchy, controlling the objective situation, or is seen as a legitimate authority on the situation, controlling the second agent’s subjective assessment of the situation. The most effective power is seen when both are ascertained. Applied to the world of education, we can see multiple hierarchical relationships – such as state-local, administrator-teacher, teacher-student – that impact the objective situation as well as legitimate authorities – for instance educators seen as “experts”, the state and national department of education – that may mold the subjective situation.
In relating soft power to education it must be reemphasized that the intent of the dominant group in any hierarchal relationship is to bring about an outcome that will maintain the group’s position. Proper awareness and use of each of the five characteristics of soft power designated by Majie, therefore, will lead to a stronger correlation between intent and outcome. First, as a dominant actor recognizes the umbrella of tradition, all cultural shifts will be gradual and veiled as long-held or even “standards of universal principals” (Majie, pg. 7) Those agents that attempt radical transformations are more likely to be met with resistance by those affected. The importance of education as a means to mold the values and beliefs of the next generation makes the use of soft power timely and urgent. The consistent need to inculcate through education is due, in part, to the pervasive nature of society. The multiple messages that reach beyond geographic and ethnic lines compete with the world of education for influence and make the legitimacy of “experts” in the field more important. An example of this interaction can be seen in Kottak’s (2000) recognition that with the increased use of television teachers have to compete harder for the attention of their “teleconditioned” students. The fourth characteristic, the changeable nature of soft power, varies depending on the hierarchical context you are examining. While power relations between individuals are generally seen as malleable, larger institutional structures are less likely to change. In education, those that dominate the structure and curriculum creation have evolved little in the past century; this fact makes changing the system of education difficult. Although individual teachers may be able to make some small impact within their classroom, the driving force behind education still attempt to maintain the current cultural status quo. The interdependency between hard power and soft power in education has a great impact on the desired outcome. Groups that want to expand their cultural prowess through education cannot do so without significant material power. By increasing the number of teachers and books, as well as building and renovating school dwellings, groups can significantly amplify their soft power. In most countries, education is publically, controlled leaving the ability to increase hard power in the hands of bureaucrats. With minimal material power, groups subjected to the power of those in charge have difficulty maintaining their cultural distinction and are marginalized. Clarifying Terms: Soft Power vs. Socialization
In education it is important to distinguish between the use of soft power and socialization. Socialization according to sociologist James Henslin is the “process by which people learn the characteristics of their group – the attitudes, values, and actions thought appropriate for them” (pg 61). Socialization, therefore, is a process that can be applied the same way, regardless of the message. Too often it is assumed in a domestic situation that socialization and the cultural message are one in the same. This may be due to the replication of the message or the lack of recognition of other cultural options. In reality the socialization process can carry a myriad of messages and is therefore objective in nature.
Soft power, like any power, includes both intent and desired outcome. Soft power is employed through the socialization process by the dominant group. It has a value component and is therefore subjective in nature. The cultural message that will bring about the desired outcome of a marginalized group may change as the dominant group adjusts, but the socialization process will stay relatively static. In analyzing the use of soft power in education we are actually evaluating the effectiveness of a given socialization process to meet the desired outcomes of the dominant group. One such example could include deciphering the outcome of ability level tracking (a socialization process) in relation to its initial cultural intent. In this analysis I will focus on the socialization processes on curriculum design and decentralization. Why education should be the focus
Education should be a focal point when exploring the use of soft power in a domestic situation to reach a desired “cultural appropriate” outcome. Schools are the “instruments of the state…and the major managers of social values” (Stromquist, 1995). They are designed to prepare the next generation for their citizenship in the “real world”. Education provides a bastion of influence for the state, labeling what is “culturally appropriate” for each sector of society. By extension, by constituting the prescribed culture, those in charge of education maintain their position in society and marginalize less powerful cultural groups. In her book on U.S-Mexican youth and the politics of caring in American schools Angela Valenzuela, identifies a process of “subtractive schooling”. Through the structural and cultural institutions at play in American education “subtractive schooling…divests youth of important social and cultural resources” (pg. 3). Schools have the ability to confirm cultural values and beliefs as well as deculturize individuals and groups.
Schools also provide a gateway to additional opportunities including: employment, further education, and social mobility (Tanabe, 1998). The power relationships present in education decide who gets to pass through the gateway doors and when the advancement is appropriate. As disparities in access to education between genders and ethnic groups became apparent, states, with pressure from outside organizations, started to establish gender parity in enrollment, especially at the primary school level. The acknowledgement of “equal” access to schooling is often used by the state to claim they are a progressive, unbiased institution; however, the structure and curriculum being practiced within the walls of education remains slanted (Stromquist, 1995). Individual teachers may battle against this injustice by challenging students to “search for the common elements of humanity” (Spencer, 1993, pg. 474), but success will be limited in support, and participation is not incorporated throughout the whole community.
The idea that education is an important socialization process through which the dominant group exerts its soft power is not new. Samuel Bowles, in his analysis of the evolution of mass education in the United States argued that schools have evolved to “meet the needs of capitalist employers for a disciplined and skilled labor force, and to provide a mechanism for social control in the interests of stability
” (pg. 1, emphasis added). Additionally school systems defined what was “culturally appropriate” for different groups in society, supporting the reproduction of unequal class structures. Furthermore, this trend had to have deep structural roots laid down by the dominant groups of society. Magnifying this formation is the increasing role education plays in the socialization of society. Teachers and schools are no longer expected to simply educate youth; they must increasingly take on the roles and responsibilities of parent, counselor, role-model, baby-sitter, and parole officer. Defining culture
Before we look at examples of soft power in education, it is important that we understand what outcomes are expected, allowing us to accordingly analyze the strength of soft power through the given socialization process. As expected outcomes are linked to the culture of the dominant group in their attempt to maintain the status quo and thereby retain their privileged position, culture must be defined. Although an academic consensus on culture has yet to be reached, it is generally agreed that culture a) can be constituted, b) is collective in nature (i.e. one individual does not make a culture), and c) is a template for shaping human society from generation to generation (Hoppers, 2009). In their work entitled, Conceptualizing Culture
, Stefan Groeschel and Liz Doherty (2000) investigated the meaning of culture across discipline fields and came up with common elements of culture which they illustrated through the metaphor of an onion (See Chart 1).
Chart 1: Commons Elements of Culture
At the core of culture are basic assumptions. These assumptions can include a general understanding of good and evil, the design and role of men and women, the inherent ability of humankind, amongst others. Historically, these assumptions have been based on religion; however, they are becoming increasingly cosmopolitan. Values manifest from the core and based on these identified values norms are established. Values and norms – the expectations or rules of behavior that develop out of those values (Henslin, 1998, pg. 44) – share a level in the onion metaphor. The most visible element of culture is behavior which is generally driven by the individual values held.
The visual of concentric rings allows any affect on assumptions to have a snowballing effect on values and behaviors. Since culture is learned, the education system can play a major part in shaping the basic assumption of citizens, hence molding their behavior. Education is therefore an important and common socialization process in which cultural soft power is communicated.
Examples of soft power through education
In the understanding that soft power includes both intent and outcome; the first characteristic becomes troublesome. Intent is rarely vocalized in subtle power relations and only occasionally revealed fully after the attempt at socialization. It can be assumed, however, that those in control of society wish to maintain their privileged position. The dominant group is not worried about absolute but relative gains. Those affected by power may make menial advances, as long as it does not threaten the structural hierarchy of those in control. In education, access is a negligible advance, as long as the structure, curriculum, and implementation of the system can be cast to support those in charge. In short, it does not matter how many “marginalized” individuals you include in the school. When the process of education reinforces the inequities of society “equal access” is simply political fabrication.
Any socialization process used in the education system is a possible haven for the use of soft power; in addition to curriculum bias and decentralization (which are investigated in more detail below) studies have found cultural biases and “deculturalization” in school tracking, testing, grading, and their use of language. Tracking is the practice of placing students in classes based on their “ability group”. This socialization process often leads to self-fulfilling prophecies, as students that are told they have no ability eventually give in to these assumptions. Those tracked in a “lower” group are often minorities. Even when they score high, minorities often find themseselves in lower tracks without access to a lot of the “gate-keeper” courses needed for success past high school. The research of Patricia Kean (2000) provides strong illustration of the use of soft power in tracking. In the mid 1990s, Selma, Alabama hired its first black school superintendent, Dr. Norward Roussell. Dr. Roussell recognized that although 70% of the district was black, a disproportionate amount of black students were in the low tracks. Upon reviewing student files he found that many low track minority students had actually scored higher then their white top track peers. As he attempted to remedy the situation, the white dominant class revolted and through four days of public hearings threatened to withdraw their students. At the end of the year, the white majority school board decided to not renew Dr. Roussell’s contract.
Testing biases have been found at the local, state, and national level. Terminology used on exams often reflect the dominant culture, at times making it difficult for “marginalized” groups to understand what the question is, let alone answer it. Even after the SAT exam was screened by the Educational Testing Services for racial bias statements such as “dividend is to stockholder” and “oarsman is to regatta” remain. The latter question was answered successfully by 53% of whites but only 22% of blacks (Chideya, 1995).
The teacher-student relationship in grading provides authoritative control of the objective environment. The recognition of the teacher as the “expert” in the field and his or her ability to mold the self-images of students provides some control of the students’ subjective assessment of the situation (Tanabe, 1998). Grading can then limit future opportunities and shape the assumption students have about themselves and their place in society. Language, as a means to identify, label, and include people is also an avenue of power in education. Schools have historically not reinforced students’ native language skills, challenging the core of their identity. James Baldwin (1993) stated that language is a “political instrument, means, and proof of power” (pg. 373). By removing their ability to communicate effectively, Hispanic students struggle through a process of “de-ethnicization” which designates their language and culture as second rate in society (Valenzuela, 1999). The ability of the marginalized group to maintain their cultural identity is largely one of definition. In order to be self-determining, a group must first be self-defining (Bosmajian, 1993). As long as the dominant culture has the ability to define through language, “marginalized” cultures will always be labeled as subordinate, unable, or ignorant.
Soft power through curriculum
School curriculum is designed by “experts” in the field with an impact on education that cannot be ignored. Curriculum and textbooks are increasingly hard to separate. Currently, in addition to textbook manufacturers distributing textbooks, they supply all the necessary “support” material. “Support” material may include: a) additional readings, b) premade tests, c) aligned lesson plans, d) differentiation for various abilities, and e) other goods the teacher previously had to collect independently. Therefore it is not a surprise that in Rae Blumberg’s (2007) meta-analysis on textbook bias, she found that teachers use textbooks for 70 to 90 percent of class time, and students are engaged in the textbook 80 to 95 percent of the time. A majority of teacher’s decisions are also based on the textbook. Textbook bias, then, will have a substantial impact on the growth of students. Those controlling the textbook companies in the United States, generally upper-class, English speaking Anglo-Saxons, have at their disposal a powerful socializing agent through which to use soft power.
Gender bias in education
A focus on the gender dimension of education, specifically that of females, gained considerable ground in the 1990s for good reason. A 1994 UNESCO report estimated that at the beginning of that decade approximately 300 school age children did not have access to primary or secondary schooling, of which 2/3rds were female (Stromquist, 1995). The United Nations acknowledged this problem, and incorporated it into their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). MDG goal three involves promoting gender equality and empowering women. Target four under this goal is specific to education: “Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education, preferably by 2005, and in all levels of education no later than 2015.” (Blumberg, 2007) Unfortunately, as the universal goals on gender in education related solely to access once gender parity was achieved, countries considered the opportunities available in education equal between the sexes and dismissed the “gender question”. Examples of the secondary nature of education in gender equity once gender parity was established can be found in the regional meeting on discrimination held prior to the 1995 Beijing Conference. Upon ranking their gender priorities, the regions of Europe, North America, and Latin America do not mention gender as an issue (Stromquist, 1995).
In her work on gender and power in education Nelly Stromquist (1995) identifies five generalizations about educational policy as it pertains to women. First, states recognize the need for women’s equal access to education. Second, states engage in sexual conditioning and “the educational system serves as a primary channel to perform this function” (pg. 452) Third, states will more easily give into providing access, however, more engrained and transformational movement that may shift the values of a society will be met with resistance. Fourth, states that do respond to the demands of equal rights provide legislation that is then poorly implemented. Lastly, educators assume that access equals equality and often ignore “the state’s subtle but pervasive manipulation of gender identities through schooling and mass media” (pg. 454). These general statements about how policy impacts the outcomes of education can be applied more specifically to gender bias in textbooks.
Identifying bias in textbooks includes more than simply reading the words; four characteristics of a textbook must be investigated to unveil the “hidden curriculum”. First, the importance of language must be acknowledged as it plays a defining role on self worth and identity. Second, stereotyping must be identified and actively opposed so it does not continue to permeate civil society. Third, imagery is important. The pictures present expectations in how to act, dress, eat, walk, when to talk, appropriate eye contact, amongst other things. Lastly, occupational roles need to be dissected to see if they play a limiting factor on future endeavors. Education is designed to prepare students for their future as productive citizens; the occupational roles represented in textbooks may open access or close doors to career opportunities (Blumberg, 2007). These four characteristics can be used to search for discrimination of any group, from gender to ethnicity.
With the passage of Title IX in the United States in 1972, the feminist movement was in full swing. By the mid 1970s activists had recognized a pattern of bias in educational curriculum and successfully lobbied the Texas State Board of Education to adopt a proclamation of equal presentation in textbooks. Unfortunately, as one of the pioneers in recognizing the socializing ability of textbooks, the United States has seen very meager gains in the past thirty years. In looking at American history textbooks, Clark and Mahoney (2004) found only moderate improvement for women: in the 1960s women had been only 4.9% of the names found in the index; thirty years later that number had climbed to 16.3%. A follow up study (Clark et al., 2005) showed a similar trend in World History textbooks with female representation climbing from 3.2% in the 1960s to 10.6% in the 1990s.
Comparing gender bias in children’s illustrated books, Davis and McDaniel (1999) found no growth towards equality from the mid twentieth century to the present and actually identified an eight percent increase in male “characters portrayed through pictures”. Teachers are also subjected to the soft power pressed through textbooks. Of a study of 23 teacher training textbooks published from 1998 to 2001 “women-related coverage” was a mere 3.3%. When broken down further into methods books (reading, science, math, and social studies) the percentage actually decreased to 1.3% (compared to 7.3% for introductory books) with reading texts only amassing 0.3% (Zittleman and Sadker, 2002).
The consequences of gender bias in textbooks are recapped in Blumberg’s (2007) meta-analysis, and any advances towards equality are moving at glacial speed. Regardless of the country, income level, level of instruction, subject matter, or date of publication, there were significant findings related to universal content. Women continue to be underrepresented in textbooks. The use of male dominant language still permeates curriculum and designates all of humanity (i.e. mankind instead of humankind). Traditionally stereotypes are also evident throughout textbooks identifying appropriate occupation, activities, and interaction for males and females. The reality of all these studies point to a change in intensity of bias. No longer is gender discrimination filled with overt messages such as “the women’s place is at the home”; instead covert, more subtle messages are shaping the “culturally appropriate” behavior of women. The power imposed by the dominant party has not disappeared; it has simply transformed. Coercive hard power has evolved into more politically viable soft power implemented through the socialization process of education.
ESL bias in education
As alluded to earlier, minority cultures in America often have soft power imposed on them through the socialization processes of language and tracking; additionally studies on ESL (English as a Second Language) textbooks show imbedded biases designed to “Americanize” the minority population. Hispanic students are the fastest growing minority group in the United States and therefore most likely to be impacted by this process. Once again the dominant class has enacted textbook bias as a means to maintain the current power structure.
Influence through curriculum is even more essential to newcomers that are trying to acculturate themselves to their new surroundings. Elavie Ndura (2004) points out that for immigrant students, instructional materials play the “role of cultural mediators as they transmit overt and covert societal values, assumptions, and images” (pg. 143). In her study of six ESL textbooks currently used in the western United States, Ndura discovered three major forms of bias that not only stereotype the Hispanic culture, but teach students larger lessons on American values and expected behaviors. An example of stereotyping is illustrated through the story of two white explorers with a black and an Indian helper. This story typifies ethnic relations as minorities in service of white leaders.
In addition to stereotyping, ESL texts demonstrated bias through invisibility and unreality. The most obvious omission found in the study was the consistent exclusion of religion in the curriculum. There seems to be a resolute effort to hide the role of religion and the impact it has had on people’s attitudes and behaviors. Although Hanukkah and Christmas are mentioned in one book, there is no recognition of their religious meanings. Unreality, avoiding or masking controversial topics with idealistic or utopian overtones, is also seen in this study, as none of the six textbooks discuss anything unsettling about the status quo, including: intolerance, discrimination, racism, divorce, or war. Not only will the cultural soft power applied through this socialization process further remove these students from their traditional culture, but they will create skewed perceptions of the world around them, reinforcing the present social stratification.
Decentralization, as a type of educational structure, has become increasingly popular with the global push of neo-liberalism and democracy. It is important to understand, however, that there are cultural assumptions behind the presentation of structure, and these assumptions, as well as the resulting structure, are designed to legitimize the current global and local power relations. Decentralization is defined as the transfer of decision-making authority from the central government to the regional or local level (Cuellar-Marchelli, 2003). Aligning with neo-liberalism, decentralization is a move to reduce the control of the central authority and improve technical and social efficiency through localized specialization. Moreover, decentralization is supposed to provide a voice for the local people, allowing them to actively take part in the shaping of the institution. Overall, decentralization has been met with mixed reviews. Regional disparity in a country can make for different results within the same society, at time strengthening the effective response of government, while others see an expansion in the inequality within and between regions (Fox, 1995).
Three types of decentralization are generally found in education: decentration, delegation, and devolution (Cueller-Marchelli, 2003). Decentration occurs when responsibilities are transferred to the lower levels with only limited decision making authority. Delegation is a horizontal move that shifts responsibilities from one government entity to another. Devolution is the complete reallocation of responsibility and authority to the lower level. Decisions that may be granted to local authorities comprise of the organization of instruction, including textbooks, curriculum, and teaching methods; personnel management, including the hiring and firing of teachers and administrators; planning and structures, consisting of the selection of programs offered and the creation or closure of a school; and resources as well as budgets and improvement plans. Winkler and Gershberg (1999) make use of these four areas of decision making authority to describe the structure of decentralized education in various Latin American countries (see Table 1)
Table 1: Decentralized Education Decisions in Latin America
Of the countries included in the study, Chile and the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais have the most comprehensive decentralization program, devoluting both responsibility and the authority to make decisions. In Chile more control is given to teachers, providing bonuses for those excelling in the position, and allowing them to take an active role in school improvement projects. Minas Gerais also focused on achievement by granting clout to school officials, namely school directors. School councils are also active in the state, ensuring some accountability at the local level. In the next section I will investigate in more detail two countries that have seen mixed results from the socialization process of education decentralization: Argentina and El Salvador.
Argentina decentralization and school councils
After years of dictatorship, the ‘90s brought democracy to Argentina; education decentralization followed with the 1993 Law for the Transfer of Educational Services, which transferred fiscal and administrative responsibility from the national to the provincial level. The new structure of school in Argentina made the local school and community the primary actors of education. Original intentions of the movement included both the transfer of authority and the transformation of financing to democratize local education while reducing the monetary burden at the federal level. Diana Rhoten (2000) in her study on the effects of decentralization in Argentina identified three variables that would impact the influence of decentralization on the local community. The interpretation of decentralization depends on the community’s integration into the larger economy, as well as their ability to financially support an education system. The degree to which policies of decentralization are adopted depends on the extent the local political identity matches the national intentions. Finally, the way in which decentralization is adapted is determined by the amount of social capital accumulated in the local community.
Jujuy, a remote province, has had difficulty adopting decentralization due to local political culture conflicting with national intentions. 20% of actors surveyed in the province agreed that education decentralization did not really exist in practice; these citizens did not see a distribution of responsibility or authority away from the state. One teacher summarized the situation stating that:
“The obstacles to decentralization in this province are not economic, as
one might think. The province is not of want of money. Clearly, our
problems are political problems; problems with power. Our politicians
are facades. There is no real commitment to decentralization or to
democratization in terms of sharing power and responsibility. There
never has been…it is not how we do things here.” (Rhoten, 2000, pg. 613
Decentration illustrates the type of decentralization present in Jujuy, a province that has added responsibility but lacks the decision making authority that would make it effective and seem more authentic.
Central to Argentina’s decentralization policy was the implementation of school site councils. Councils were intended to provide voice to the local community by including parents, teachers, and other citizens in the decision making process. In their study on the achievements of school site councils, Monica Pini and Sonia Cigliutti (1999) found only partial success in a limited number of provinces. Policy dictated that councils only be applied on an optional basis, leaving those with the power to effectively adapt decentralization to local needs to gain from the possible benefits and those without to struggle and feel subjected by the ruling authority. In Buenos Aires, school councils did not see a significant increase in participation as most school councils did not have local autonomy. Several factors contributed to the limited possibilities resulting from these councils. The most striking of these factors was a disfavorable sociopolitical context. Poor families are largely unable to take time to volunteer with school councils. Furthermore, underserved areas generally did not implement this optional policy, and those at the local level that pushed for change had little political power to make it happen. The veneer of participatory involvement in Argentina permits groups that dominate state policy to publicly declare they are creating a forum for equal opportunity at the same time as they retain their position in society.
El Salvador: EDUCO and Social Capital
In 1991 as an element of its decentralization efforts, El Salvador created the EDUCO program with the objectives to expand the access of basic education in the poorest rural areas. Through EDUCO, academic decisions are transferred to Community Education Associations (ACE), while the national department of education retains control of education funding. ACEs are created when communities with a school population of 28 students per grade and have no education services available apply to the state for the financing needed to generate the needed schooling. Once approved, monthly state funds are distributed based on the number of students in the community. Although the EDUCO program is seen by some as an effort to assure government control over an expanded area in the “popular education movement”, it has been honored by the international society, including the World Bank and the Inter-American Bank, as a successful experience of community management. Success of the program is often attributed to the creation of educational institutions from the “bottom up”, facilitating community building, superior social cohesion, and institutionalizing participation (Cuellar-Marchelli, 2003).
The level of success of EDUCO programs vary with the community’s accretion of social capital (Cuellar-Marchelli, 2003). Social capital is defined “by its function in group or network structures” (Valenzuela, 1999, pg. 27). It is not intrinsic but resides within the existing web of social relationships and norms that facilitate cooperation, accountability, and institution-building (Fox, 1995). The acquisition of social capital is not automatic nor is its accumulation over time guaranteed; however, when capitalized, social capital can “thicken” civil society and strengthen local culture. Social capital can therefore help dispel some of the “top-down” soft power purported by the dominant group by changing their subjective assessment of the situation and decreasing the “pull” of the dominant culture. Success is determined by the ability of the relationships and norms to generate mutually beneficial collective action amongst the agents involved (Uphoff and Wijayaratna, 2000). An example of the successful organization of social capital can be seen in Juan Seguin High School in Houston, Texas where immigrant children maintain their cultural links by working together in networks of two or more for the mutually beneficial outcome of academic accomplishments (Valenzuela, 1999).
Soft power is the ability of actors to control a situation by convincing others to “want what it wants”. It is subtle in nature and often consists of cultural shaping of assumptions, values, and behavior through the socialization process. The effectiveness of power is measured by the correlation of its intent and desired outcome in a given socialization process. Intent is rarely vocalized in subtle power relations and only occasionally revealed after the socialization process is complete. It can be assumed, however, that those in control of society wish to maintain their privileged position. Table 2 is used to conceptualize soft power through the socialization processes of textbook bias in the United States and decentralization in Argentina. When asking the question, why is soft power effective or ineffective in the world of education, we must identify how much control the first agent has over the objective situation; perhaps through a structural hierarchy and how much legitimate authority they have, controlling the second agents subjective assessment of the situation. The most effective power is seen when both are ascertained. We must also recognize the influence Majie’s five characteristics of soft power (traditional, timely, persuasive, changeable, and inter-dependent) have on determining the desired outcome for the dominant group. Schools are especially important because, as Stromquist noted, they are “instruments of the state…and the major managers of social values”. They are designed to mold the next generation to effectively operate in a “culturally appropriate” manner in society. By altering a “marginalized” culture’s basic assumptions, you can transform their values and behavior, convincing them that they desired that outcome and abandone past cultural practice.
Table 2: Conceptualizing Soft Power through Education
Soft power is seen in education through the socialization processes of language, tracking, testing, grading, curriculum design, and decentralization amongst others. Gender bias in the United States textbooks has made little headway since the 1970s, proving that regardless of the country, income level, or level of instruction, gender discrimination is an important feature in today’s curriculum. Bias can be seen through the investigation of language, stereotyping, imagery, and occupational roles present in textbooks. Students new to the country are particularly vulnerable to the effects of soft power as they try to acculturate themselves to their new surroundings. Soft power not only removes these students from their traditional culture, but presents a skewed perception of reality perpetuated by the dominant class to reinforce the existing social structure. An important conclusion to the analysis of bias in textbooks is that discrimination has not disappeared; it has simply altered its intensity. Coercive hard power has been replaced by more politically viable soft power.
Decentralization is a socialization process that provides an expanded sense of control for the national government. Although it is designed to increase economic efficiency and expand voice in education, the reality is often a shift in economic burden to the local level where the power of democracy goes unfulfilled. In Argentina, some local groups saw the attempt of the government to decentralize as merely a front for power politics. In addition, voluntary school site councils further separated economic classes as those with the education, time, and influence increased their stake in the control of society, while those already “marginalized” were left with deteriorating schools and an inflated bill.
The EDUCO program in El Salvador is often christened a success in community building and a model for the extension of educational opportunities to those without current access. A key to local achievement has been the capitalization of social capital. As groups network to create a mutually beneficial outcome, they strengthen the perceived pull of their culture. Social capital, once recognized and actualized, can reinforce the boundaries of “cultural sovereignty” (Majie, pg. 5) and limit the ability of the dominant group to use the socialization process of education to validate their cultural soft power.
Dan Tam Thi Nguyen
Soc Trang Teachers' Training College, Soc Trang, Vietnam
This research examined three issues: what Vietnamese students think about learning autonomy, the similarities and differences of learning autonomy in Vietnam and England, and how learning autonomy affects their learning progress. Three postgraduate students from different English background and previous training styles participated in this research. They were provided a time table to describe what they did for learning autonomy in two places: Vietnam and England. After that, the interviews were recorded for analysing and comparing. The finding shows that all of the participants have learning autonomy, but its level is strong affected by teachers’ roles and teaching method. Although they proved that they are autonomous learners, their learning autonomy strategy differ from each other.
Keywords: Belief, learning autonomy, learning progressINTRODUCTION
Learning autonomy (LA) is rather important as it can reflect the learners’ images partially. Both LA and communicative language teaching (CLT) have the same target which is the learner- centeredness (Benson, 2001: 17). Basing on autonomy learning strategy, the standards of ‘a good learner’ can be made (Hedge, 2000: 77). Benson (2001: 48) considers autonomy as the capacity to make decisions at successive stages of the learning process. The autonomous learner is able to direct the course of his own learning by making all the significant decisions concerning its management organization.
Therefore, I question if Vietnamese students at University of Birmingham are ‘good learners’ in term of LA. In addition, it seems that there are different beliefs about LA between teachers and students. From the teachers’ perspective, autonomy is primarily concerned with institutional and classroom learning arrangements within established curricula whereas from the learners’ perspective, autonomy is primarily concerned with learning, and its relationship to their lives beyond the classroom (Benson, 2008: 15). This encourages me to investigate the beliefs of Vietnamese students towards LA. Moreover, there is a stereotype that, in general, Asian students including the Vietnamese are relatively dependent on the teachers (Palfreyman, 2003: 24). Besides, it is widely believed that because Asian students are dependent, they find it hard to adapt with post education which requires much more LA. Hence, hopefully this research can provide a new look at Asian students by investigating the Vietnamese students in Birmingham; especially when they have just changed the learning environment from Vietnam to Birmingham for a while.
This paper is going to analyse their beliefs of LA, comparison of LA in the two countries and the influence of LA on their learning progress. 1. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.1 What are the beliefs about learning autonomy?
1.2 What are the similarities and differences of learning autonomy in VN and the UK?
1.3 How does learning autonomy affect the learning progress?2. PARTICIPANTS
There are three participants in this research. All of them are female students at the University of Birmingham. Their ages are from 25 to 30 years old. They are post graduate students, but their subjects are different. Participant A majors in Heritage Management, Master level. Participant B is doing a doctorate course in International Study. Participant C is following a Masters degree in Economic Rural Development. I chose female participants because I think female students may have more learning autonomy than males, and that would benefit my research. In addition, the English background of these participants is also different from each other. A has the lowest level of English as she is in the pre-sessional course. B’s English is the best among three because she finished the Masters programme last year whereas C has just finished two terms of the academic year.
Another point I expect from these participants’ reflections is that their hometowns are in different regions which may influence their learning autonomy styles due to different living conditions. A’s hometown is in Ben Tre, a rural and agricultural province while B was born and grew up in Ho Chi Minh city, the second largest and the most civilized in Vietnam. C lives in Tien Giang province, next to Ho Chi Minh City. From the background of these participants, hopefully I can understand and analyse the learning autonomy more reflectively.3. LITERATURE REVIEW
The concept of autonomy first entered the field of language teaching through the Council of Europe’s Modern Language Project, established in 1971 (Benson, 2001: 8). It was defined as ‘the capacity to take charge of one’s own learning’, being seen as natural product of the practice of self-directed learning, or learning in which the objectives, progress and evaluation are determined by the learner themselves. Later, CRAPEL (Centre de Recherches et d’Applications en Langues) developed to adult self-directed learning. The key innovations for self-directed language learning were the self-access resource centre and the idea of learner training or the idea of individualisation because it aims initially to provide adults with opportunities for lifelong learning. However, Benson (2001: 11) finds that individualisation and autonomy overlapped in as both were concerned with meeting the needs of individual learners. Self- directed learning was in a sense of individualisation, in which learners determined their own needs and acted upon them. Individualisation took the form of programmed learning- a mode of instruction in which learners were expected to work their way, at their own pace, through materials prepared by teachers.
Beside the four strategies including cognitive, meta-cognitive, communication and social-affective strategies that suggested by Hedge (2000: 77-79), Benson (2001: 111) also provides six approaches to the development of autonomy- foster:
+ Resource-based: independent interaction with learning materials
+ Technology-based: independent interaction with educational technologies.
+ Learner-based: direct production of behavioural and psychological changes in learner.
+ Classroom-based: learner control over the planning and evaluation of classroom learning.
+ Curriculum based: extended the idea of learner control to the curriculum as a whole.
+ Teacher-based: the role of the teacher and teacher education in the practice of fostering autonomy among learners.
In order to select the right choice for autonomy, it depends on how learners define the term ‘learning autonomy’. Benson (2008: 26) suggests that in learners’ perspectives, LA means to have the answer for what they can do to help themselves move toward the personal goal. In other words, learners are typically more concerned with learning what they need to learn for the achievement of these life goals, than they are with learning to be autonomous. He sees that learners’ perspectives on autonomy are always contextualized within particular experiences of learning and life. In his research, the Cantonese learners failed to complete the tasks, skipped homework, and did not take the advantage of the practice outside of the class. However, there was no relationship between LA and their behaviour. The author thinks that they were independent learners because they decided what was more important for them. They were adult learners who had current jobs, so they did not complete the task because of lacking time. They skipped homework to save time for investing on other tasks which were helpful to them. Similarly, Ariza (2008: 47- 73) claims that students conceived autonomy as an opportunity to find a key to learning beyond the classroom. They have independent action for decision making.
Therefore, Benson admits that autonomy manifestation will vary according to culture contexts (2000: 55). Regarding to LA of Asian students, Palfreyman and Smith (2003) finds the difference between LA styles among Asian students. In their research, the Korean student chose communication and social effective strategies for her LA in the USA because she had not had many chances to speak to native speakers, and she wanted to improve pronunciation. In contrast, the Hong Kong student who speaks English as a second language at home and school chose intellectual privacy to develop her study when she was in Texas. She needed privacy to access learning facilities. Both of the participants in that research were successful in their learning because they knew exactly what they needed and how they directed themselves to achieve their personal goals. Contributing to Asian students’ LA, Kubanyiova (2004: 13, 14) claims that Thai students were autonomous as ‘it is the students who search, adapt and create’.
With the purpose to compare the autonomy between Asian and European learners, Gieve and Clark (2005: 261- 276) researched a group of Chinese students studying at some British universities. They find that ‘the Chinese students expressed at least as much appreciation of the benefits of autonomous study as did the European students, and claimed to make equally good use of the opportunity’. In an agreement with him, Littlewood (2000) learns that Asian students are willing to question teachers when necessary to help their understanding. They are not obedient students as they have been assumed.
From all of the researches above, I would like to investigate Vietnamese students’ perspectives towards LA, what are their LA strategies and how LA links to their learning progress.4. METHODOLOGY
In order to collect the data for this research, I designed the time table (see appendix 1) to understand their learning autonomy activity and sent to them by email. In that time table, the participants were asked to fill in what activities they had done or were doing for learning autonomy including what time, how long, how often and with whom for each activity during one week. They would answer the same questions in two learning environment: Vietnam and England. In addition, in that time table they would explain the reasons why there were any differences of learning autonomy between the two learning environment.
After receiving their time tables, I read them carefully, and started to interview. Every interview lasted around 40 minutes. The interview based on the prepared questions (see appendix 2), and a variety of other follow up questions focusing on the time table so that I could understand their beliefs about learning autonomy and its role in the learning progress. Two interviews were face-to-face, but the other one was conducted on the phone because her house was off campus. One among three interviews was done in Vietnamese for participant A to be comfortable, self-confident and to express herself accurately. The other two wished to speak in English. After that, three interviews were listened several times and compared with each other in terms of learning autonomy styles, beliefs and activities. Finally, the interview in Vietnamese was translated into English and the transcripts for all were made. During the process of analysing data, I compared what I found from the participant with my experience where relevant because I am also a Vietnamese learner.
There were some advantages in this method of collecting data. Firstly, filling in the time table was like writing a type of diary, so the participants felt familiar and relaxed because they had time to recall what they had done in Vietnam. Secondly, the topic was about the participants’ learning, so they could express themselves more easily. However, at the beginning, two were participants found it shy to share about their learning autonomy as they were afraid that they could be judged as not very studious. After trying to convince them that the aim of this research was wishing to understand more about Vietnamese students’ learning autonomy, they were willing to help me. Moreover, during the collecting data process, some technical problems happened such as the voice recording mp3 ran out of battery without any signal, so we had to do it again or the quality of the phone network was not strong enough to start the interview which resulted in delaying it into the following day.5. RESULTS5.1 Beliefs about learning autonomy
Participant A and B agreed that LA was independence and self- directed learning, but A also confirmed that interest and willingness contributed to LA: ‘It means learning independently. No one forces to learn and almost for my interests and willing’.
Participant C understood that LA was a process, the responsibility and making choices and decisions: ‘Learning autonomy is the process in which students are the key figures responsible for the decisions concerning with ones’ learning and all the implementations of these decisions
’. Also, she said LA reflected learners’ motivation and learning effectiveness. From their definitions, they had different LA styles and different beliefs about teacher’s role.
According to A, a teacher is a controller and a facilitator. For her, a teacher must control the class to remain the order and discipline, but he should let students have some freedom to discuss and develop critical thinking: ‘The teacher can control the class, but can’t force the students to obey everything. Although he needs to control in some situations to control and remain order, he must let time for students to discuss freely to develop creativity’
. In contrast, B thinks that a teacher is a counsellor to provide students materials, guidance and instructions: ‘Explain what I don’t understand. Let me know good books. Tell me her/his experiences in doing things more effectively
’. C seems to combine those two ideas together: ‘I prefer that the teacher is the organizer, co-operator, and supporter to the student’s learning process. As being so, the teacher can enhance the efficiency of the student’s learning remarkably. In the class, the teacher organizes the learning content and activities, working with students in these activities and helping students when they need. That’s the way learning process becomes interesting and effective
Although all of the participants agreed that learning autonomy refer to the activities to enhance study skills and they did those activities both inside and outside the classroom, their LA strategies were different. Participants A and B shared the same view as they were doing four strategies at the same time such as cognitive, meta-cognitive, communication and socio-affective strategies. Discussing with teachers, friends, asking questions, contributing to the lessons, using self- directed facilities such as books, internet, attending social event with native speakers were what they chose for their LA. However, C only focused on the first two strategies, especially critical thinking. She planned her learning; self- evaluated her learning and worked with the lecture by herself. In this point, she and B were alike because they preferred to be silent in classes, only listened and took notes. Depending on teachers’ personalities, she would email her questions to teachers whereas A felt interested in raising hand to talk directly in the classroom. While A and B would like to participate in local events to meet more native speakers, C wanted to do private activities.
Although they had a slight difference in LA styles, they were identical in dealing with teachers’ feedback. A said: ‘If teachers give me the answers, it seems so simple, not impressive, and easy to forget. But if I do it by myself, I can memorise it
’. All of them wanted to work with feedback by themselves as long as it had enough clues or guidance for them to improve their work. The appropriate feedback would not only guide them to the right direction, but also would encourage them to investigate something new while revising the same work.
Referring to self-learning facilities, they liked books and internet the best, but they preferred books rather than internet, which was opposite to my assumption. They explained: ‘Though it’s very convenient for me to access the internet sources, books are more helpful and effective than the others. I could read it again, understand thoroughly what are being discussed and what can be useful to me
’.5.2 The differences of learning autonomy in Vietnam and England
The result shows that the level of LA in England is higher than that in Vietnam. In England, the participants do a wider range of activities. In other words, in Vietnam, if they use all of LA strategies in England, they had two, cognitive and metacognitive strategies, which were more about repetition, memorization and doing homework for the next class: ‘After school, I usually stayed at home to study by myself. I often had a break for 1 or 2 hours having meals or watching televisions with my family. Then I went to my studying corner to do all my homework, preparing for tomorrow class, and do some extra exercises on maths or English
’. Besides, they thought they were more active than that in Vietnam because it was them who managed the time and chose what they wanted to do: ‘I seem to have more free time now compared to me in the past. However, the activeness I have now is much greater than that in the past. I can organize my time and my work properly and flexibly while in the past my time and work depended greatly on my school timetable. I also have to set up my work (what to do, what to read, how to do it, etc.) myself as well. That’s why I think I am more active now than I was in the past’.5.3 The influence of learning autonomy on learning progress
The finding shows the important roles of LA. A and B said that LA increased study results while C admitted that it reflected learning motivation:A: ‘The more you have learning autonomy, the higher result you can get. If you ignore learning autonomy just a little bit, the result will decrease at once. For example, first I spent time equally on practising 4 skills, but later I reduced the time for reading a bit, then the final score for reading also reduced’.
B: ‘Good learning autonomy will increase the learning result’
C: ‘To my opinion, learning autonomy plays a crucial part in the learning process. It reflects the intrinsic motivation and the learning effectiveness of a student. It also helps a student assess one’s learning outcomes and improve one’s knowledge and skills according to one’s needs. As a result, it might be justifiable to say that learning autonomy affects greatly learning progress’.DISCUSSION
From the result, it is likely to say that it is the teacher who determines students’ autonomy. The more appropriate beliefs of Vietnamese students towards LA have just been built since the time they came to England where CLT, learner- centeredness teaching method, is being applied to teach them. They said LA meant independence, self-learning, responsibility, willingness to learn and the choice of what they learn. It seems that their teachers who use CLT have changed their learning attitudes and strategies because they are aware of two among the most important concepts in CLT: setting goals and objectives and self- monitoring (Hedge, 2000: 19). In opposition, when they were in VN, their LA was limited in having few chances to speak in the class, and doing homework. In my experience as a learner and a teacher, I think it was due to the teaching method and how students were educated to interpret the teacher’s image. I am totally in agreement with the participants that when we were in VN, the cognitive strategy we used was only memorization and repetition due to the grammar translation method and considering the teacher as the controller. Yet, when we are taught with CLT and the role of the teacher has changed, we start to be familiar with another angle of cognitive strategy: working on tasks and materials in different ways (Hedge, 2000: 77).
Learning autonomy should be built at the early age
In the past, we were very dependent on the teachers, so I may wonder about the conclusion of Littlewood (2005) which says that Asian are willing to question their teachers and are very independent. In his research, the Vietnamese students were studying in the UK and the USA where the teaching method and the teachers’ role were completely from those in Vietnam. Therefore, if he conducted a research with Vietnamese students who are learning in Vietnam now, the result would differ. Even now, when the participants are in England, only two of them choose to question the teachers directly in the class. They prefer to listen, take notes and email the questions to teachers. I can find my image in them as I would do the same. To us, keeping silent to listen while taking notes is a way to think, compare with what we have known before and respect the teachers. We prefer writing questions to teachers instead of asking directing in the class to prevent the misunderstanding that we negatively challenge teachers with unexpected questions. In my experience, the more mature we are, the less we question. Silence does not mean our autonomy is not high; it is because of our way to respect teachers. That can explain the reason why the youngest participant likes to raise hand to talk in class.
It is relatively interesting because how the participants looked at the teachers rather matches what CLT expects. Among the 9 roles that Hedge (2000, 28) listed from Kavanras’s work (1995), the roles as a facilitator of learning and source of expertise were the most recommended, and that was what the participants expected from their teachers. Because of the change in teachers’ roles, their LA was changes as well, which resulted in they wished to work on the feedback independently, instead of giving them the right answers. Therefore, in her article, Kubanyiova (2004) argued that teachers should ‘leave the students alone’ for them to create, design and learn, and teachers should not do what the students can do.
Not only CLT changes the teachers’ roles, it also affects learners’ roles and responsibilities as well. Their improved LA in England makes them indentify learning needs, contributing to the syllabus and encouraging them to learn more effectively (Hedge, 2000: 34). Those important factors are what CLT aims at, and we can see that through task based approach. The task based approach does help students to develop learning autonomy as every task has a target and it is the students who find the solution to achieve that goal by contributing, cooperating and encouraging each other whereas in Vietnam everything was done by the teachers due to the structure- based approach, the grammar translation method and the traditional role of a teacher.
Another fantastic point that CLT brings for LA is motivation because students have the freedom to respond, reflect, self evaluate their learning process, decide and choose what they want to learn or what they are interested in. All of the participants admitted that LA affected strongly their learning result. Their scores would fluctuate with level of LA, so LA must be remained by motivation or the willingness to study. Motivation inspires learners with more effective self learning because it is connected to the discipline. Therefore, if a learner lacks motivation, he may lack discipline for LA, but with the application of CLT, which targets at considering students in context learning, he can develop his LA, resulting in better study skills (Hedge, 2000: 343). With the help of CLT, I am in agreement that Vietnamese students as autonomous as European students as the previous research suggested.
In conclusion, learning autonomy plays an important role in the teaching and learning process. It creates the mutual relationship between teaching and learning. The appropriate teaching method can train students to have learning autonomy. Then, after students have learning autonomy, they can share some burdens with teachers as Kubanyinova (2004) writes: ‘I no longer spend nights searching for suitable texts for class debates. Neither do I worry if the questionnaires are exactly relevant to their students’ lives. It’s the students who search, adapt and create. Not to just my time though, but to make the most of theirs ’. With that belief, although there is a debate about whether CLT has dead, I prefer to adapt and use CLT in my classrooms. Personally, learning autonomy is very important from primary to higher education. Therefore, it should be trained from the early age so that its skills can be developed through time, so I think the beginning point should be teaching students to discover as Holec (1980: 35) says: ‘The basic methodology for learner training should be that of discovery. The learner should discover, with or without the help of learners or teachers, the knowledge and the techniques which he needs as he tries to find the answers to the problems with which he is faced. By proceeding largely by trial and error he trains himself progressively.’
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a Path to Learning Beyond the EFL Classroom. Profile, (10) 47-73.
Benson, P. 2001. Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning. Longman.
Benson, P. et al. 2008. Learner and Teacher Autonomy: Concepts, Realities, and Responses. John Benjamins Publishing Company. Philadelphia.
Gieve, S., Clark, R. 2005. ‘The Chinese Approach to Learning’: Cultural Trait or Situated Response? The Case of a Self-directed Learning Programme. System, (33) 261–276.
Holec, H. 1980. Learner training: meeting needs in self- directed learning’. In H.B Altman and C.V James (ed) Foreign Language Learning: Meeting Individual Needs. Oxford.
Kubanyiova, M. (2004). Leave them alone. English Teaching professional, Issue 33, 13-14.
Littlewood, W. (2000). Do Asian Students Really Want to Listen and Obey? ELT Journal, 54(1), 31-36.
Palfreyman, D., Smith, R. C. 2003. Learner Autonomy across Cultures. Palgrave.
James MoranUniversity of Nottingham, UK
In the current climate of education reform in the US and UK it is often assumed by policy makers that the teaching and learning of arts subjects is a ‘soft’ option. For example, David Willetts, the universities minister in Britain, claimed in August 2011 that ‘classic’ A level subjects should be valued at a higher place on the university points tally than subjects such as dance and media studies. Yet if Willetts had looked at his television screen during that month he may have noticed the riots engulfing London and other urban centres in England, and may have found that the language of some of those non-classic subjects may have helped him to understand what was happening.
In particular, the language of theatre and performance anticipated the very rhetoric that Britain’s MPs and opinion formers used when debating the causes of the riots. Those right-wing MPs and journalists who have queued up to condemn the ‘feral’ instincts of the looters needed to look no further than Euripides. In 405BCE the theatre of Dionysus in Athens premiered his play The Bacchae
. In this drama a group of people rage into a riotous and bloody frenzy, which culminates in one man being brutally decapitated by a gang that includes his own, unknowing, mother. They rip him apart and kick parts of him around like a football.
Only once the slaughter and frenzy is over do the rioters realise what they have done. At the time, they engaged in these activities for very little reason. Why does the murder happen? Don’t ask the murderer: she is simply caught up in the moment. There is no rationality behind the rioters’ thinking, only an animal thrill of rampage and disorder.
In the riots that England witnessed in summer 2011, a surprising assortment of schoolteachers, university students and others from well-heeled places have been arrested and charged. These people – it has been argued – have no reason to protest, and are simply obeying an innate instinct for disorder and theft. In any case, what kind of rational protest involves looting trainers from JD Sports? Only shocking such people into the realisation of what they have done – with water cannon, baton charges, the withdrawal of benefits, and imprisonment – will make them see sense.
However, those on the political left reiterated some of the arguments outlined not by Euripides, but by G.B. Shaw, who in 1933 wrote a play called On The Rocks
. In Shaw’s play a coalition government in Britain faces the problem of public unrest, massive unemployment, and the rise of right-wing sentiment spreading across continental Europe. A British prime minister tries to work out what to do about a lawless mob of protestors in the streets of London, but lacks the philosophical resources to deal with the problem adequately: the only question that the leader asks is how to disperse the protesting crowds. As he hides in Downing Street, attempting to avoid any confrontation with the general public, the prime minister singularly fails to enquire about what has caused the crowds to be there in the first place. There are always troublemakers in any society – but why has this happened here and now? What has disturbed the delicate ecosystem of societal rewards and benefits to result in this outcome? As G.B. Shaw pointed out in the 1930s, any politician who is unwilling to deal with the underlying political issues ought to move out of the way and let someone else come along.
The problem with that idea is, who exactly would come along? For Shaw – who shared friendships with both Oswald Mosley and Stalin – democratic governments inevitably looked inadequate and shambling when faced by crowds in the streets. So what was Shaw’s solution in at the start of that dark decade? Insanely, he thought that the only way out was a strong dictator.
We may think that surely we could not repeat the disasters of that era again. And yet, as I write this at the end of August 2011, white vigilant groups have marched through parts of London, and the third most popular comment piece on the Daily Telegraph
’s website is Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech, with its noxious warning that ‘the black man will have the whip hand over the white man’.
I think I’m generally closer to Shaw than Euripides, but I hope I’m not too close.
Braden Rico National Chi Nan University, Taiwan
Transnational gay identities exist in a variety of contacts and exchanges crossing national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. This is the “gay global village,” or the homosexual subculture that has emerged over the past forty decades as a transnational, political, cultural, and social phenomenon. The asymmetry of this identity reveals that gay subjectivity is not a byproduct of western hegemony since gay identities exist in diverse settings alongside the scaffolding of identity politics that may or may not operate under the aegis of western liberalism. The animus of this research is to illustrate the continuum that gays and lesbians have traversed in their quest for recognition, tolerance and rights, and to show that they are now on the cusp of a future ‘state of becoming’ as theorized by Michel Foucault. A secondary goal of this research is to provide an overview of gay studies and to explore the relationship of globalization to gay empowerment, revisiting certain milestones in the history of the gay and lesbian movement. It is understood that the recognition of a “gay global village” does not indicate an end to homophobia, but it is hoped that this work will assist in the further valorization of a joyful global gay identity. Keywords:
transnational; queer, cultural imperialism, hegemony, nexus, post-modern, sexual dualism, gay empowerment, gay rhetoric, sexual colonialism, sexual identity formation, homosexual subjectivity Introduction “To be gay is to be in a state of becoming.”
Gay culture is basking in the sunlight of modernity. If modernity is all about change then the post-modern context has, in pertinent ways, largely benefited gay identity. Tradition is giving way to change everywhere people gather today. There can be no better example of this than the growing acceptance of gay marriage. As societies experience this tremendous change and traditions fade, people are beginning to show increased tolerance of alternative lifestyles. Cultures that once looked with opprobrium upon same-sex attraction are now granting, even if only begrudgingly, inclusion within the general polity. Although the terrain of sexual politics at the dawn of the new millennium is just as complex and contested a domain as it has ever been, change has furthered understanding and acceptance of gay identities (Porter, Hall, 1995).
The transnational nexus of gay culture, dubbed the “gay global village” represents a long and twisting trajectory of advancement away from viewing homosexuality as a “diagnosis” and towards viewing it as a “community” (White, 1988 p. 183). The struggle for inclusion with the dominant culture is culminating in a time of extraordinary possibility for gays and lesbians. The state of dislocation
How can we begin to understand modern culture if, as Ernest Lacau (1990) states, modern societies have no center and no great articulating principle at their core? If post-modernity has brought us to what he calls a “dislocation” which causes us to experience life without a single unifying cause, could this condition be interpreted as useful or positive for gays and lesbians?
The nexus of transnational gay identities and the existence of the global gay culture suggest that gays, lesbians and trans-gendered people have first-hand experience with dislocation. They have deeply personal experiences with dislocating identities because they have had to survive in a world that has, until only very recently, decried their sexual orientation as abnormal. Gays and lesbians have had to develop their identity and culture surreptitiously in the shadows of the dominant heterosexual culture; in less enlightened times, gays lived their lives hiding ‘in the closet’ and often passed for heterosexuals, although throughout the centuries gays and lesbians have played the game of ‘in and out’ according to the prevailing mood of the dominant culture they reside in.
Louis Crompton, writing in Homosexuality and Civilization,
makes the case that the concept of same-sex orientation or identity is not uniquely modern. He writes that Aristophanes expressed it frankly in the Symposium
, and the Romans used it in a limited sense in their concepts of the “sinaedus”
(faggot), who was a distinct kind of person. He argues that the history of civilization reveals how differently homosexuals have been perceived and judged at different times in different cultures (Compton, 2003).
Yet behind these varied and conflicting views was a commonality. Whatever the vocabulary, two elements are present – the sexual fact and the possibility of human love and devotion. For many centuries in Europe, homosexuality was conceived principally as certain kinds of sexual acts. This was because it was viewed theologically and in the light of the legal system this theology spawned – that is, as a sin and a capital crime. But we must not be complicit in this dehumanization. These “sodomites” were human beings with whom the modern gay man may claim brotherhood and the modern lesbian recognize as sisters (Compton, p. xiv).
Contemporary gay culture has a strong link to the struggles in its past, but it owes much to the post-modern conditions of flux and flow that globalization has wrought. The borders of all nation states, save a very few, are permeated by what Zygman Bauman calls “liquid modernity” (Bauman, 2001). Most cultures of the world are now feeling the repeated pounding of the waves of global capital, media and electronic information upon their shores. This brings change to all cultures wherever they are situated. The cresting of the waves of change have altered history; and although history has not yet met its ‘end’ a la
Francis Fukuyama’s famous postulation, some things are indeed seeing their final days (Fukuyama, 1986).
Mary McIntosh in her 1961 article, “The Homosexual Role
” further explored the point that historical and anthropological evidence reveals that homosexual acts and orientations are understood in different ways across time and place. McIntosh suggested that the homosexual should be seen as playing a social role rather than as having a condition. She stated that ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ were not polarized categories.
…..given the immense diversity in people who experience same-sex desire (and in the practices they enjoy) ….. the important thing to study is not some biological dysfunction which they all shared but how the social creation of “homosexuality”, as a stigmatized identity, maintains heterosexual norms and institutions – keeping the bulk of society pure (Woodward, 1997; McIntosh, 1981/1968, p. 32).
Could globalization be altering homophobia? Might this be a change in attitudes that gays and lesbians could never have imagined in former eras? This remains to be seen, but one can certainly see that change has allowed gays and lesbians greater visibility than ever before and one ‘ending’ that few in the gay and lesbian community will lament is the demise of hetero-normative and patriarchal traditions demanding that gays be invisible
. The state of expansion
As information and finance circle the globe and as the influence of the nation state fades, the awareness of gay identities is expanding exponentially. As the cultural and political connections of gay and lesbians expand worldwide, the need for academic scrutiny also expands. Grewal and Kaplan, writing in Global Identities: Theorizing Transnational Studies of Sexuality,
agree that modernity has caused a shift from the local to the global and they equate this shift to the rise of capitalism.
Just as goods and people come to circulate in new ways, so too identities emerge and come into specific relations of circulation and expansion (Gewal, Kaplan, 2001, p. 663).
They posit that within the contemporary framework of globalization sexual identities are no different from other identities in that they are “imbued with power relations.” They suggest that the politically progressive study of sexuality that emerged in the twentieth century as a result of identity politics and social movements has ‘gone global’ but they caution us to carefully scrutinize the correlation between culture and globalization.
In many works on globalization, the “global” is seen either as a homogenizing influence or as a neo-colonial movement of ideas and capital from West to non-West. Debates on the nature of global identities have suggested the inadequacy of understanding globalization simply through political economy or through theories of “Western” cultural imperialism and have pushed us to probe further the relationship between globalization and culture (Grewal, Kaplan; 2001; p. 663).
The scholarship of queer theory, which has emerged as a variant in studies of sexual identity, is also now international. Making their case for the need of a more careful critique of sexual identities alongside modernity Grewal and Kaplan suggest that the “globalization of sexual identities” and identity politics in the twentieth century advanced alongside the rise of ethnic and postcolonial studies and the growing emphasis on diaspora in American studies. They see the term ‘transnational’ as “getting to the specifics of sexualities in post-modernity” (Grewal, Kaplan, 2001).
They suggest that in order to explore the nature of sexual identity in the current phase of globalization we ought to clarify what we mean by ‘transnational’ since the term is now ubiquitous in academic circles. They identify primary ways in which the term does a particular kind of work in the U.S. academy. The first use that they identify is that it circulates widely as a description of migration in the present time.
This point is echoed in research by Carl Stychin whose analysis of gay migration in ‘A Stranger to its Laws: Sovereign Bodies, Global Sexualities, and Transnational Citizens’
shows that mobility has been a powerful dimension in the construction of the lesbian and gay subject. He writes that while movement across national borders has historically produced anxieties within the nation state, these “have been articulated to highly sexualized discourses deployed in part in order to control and curtail mobility, not only of sexual dissidents, but of a wide range of people” (Stychin, 2000).
The second use of the word transnational identified by Grewal and Kaplan is to signal the “demise or irrelevance” of the nation-state in the current phase of globalization. The suggestion is that cultures
, in a world grown increasingly borderless, are more relevant than nations
and that “identities are linked to cultures more than to nations or to the institutions of the nation-state” (Grewal and Kaplan, p. 665). They write that the predominance of the “borderless world” argument might allow the concept of transnational to disconnect from the postcolonial state because it “erases political economy as well as new forms of governmentality.”
The writers question if the rise of identity studies coincides with the phenomenon of globalization and whether or not the interest in identity studies can be attributed in part to the shifts in culture that appear to be a-historical. They aver that ‘transnational’ signals what has been called the “NGOization of social movements” (p. 666).
Our point is that sexual subjects are produced not just by the politics of identity or social movements but by the links between various institutions that accompany these social movements. Furthermore, we need to probe these connections and circuits to see how identities are upheld or made possible by institutions linked to the state (Grewal, Kaplan, p. 672). Academy’s Three Disciplinary Divides
They suggest that it is problematic that in much work on sexual identities the state seldom has a hand in “enabling” these identities. In their view, most discussions of the state seldom focus on gay resistance to state-sanctioned heterosexism. They also argue for connecting questions of trans-nationalism to the feminist study of sexuality. They call for a closer scrutiny of the way in which sexuality has been studied and cite that many scholars working on sexuality have begun to identity how separate spheres of study have arisen as a result of the disciplinary divides in the U.S. academy. They identify three divides in academy:
The first divide is the separation of sexuality from the study of race, class, nation, religion, and so on.
We have to turn to the rise of biomedicine and the emergence of eugenics, gynecology, endocrinology, genetics, and psychology to understand fully the social and political stakes in viewing sexuality as distance from race, class, nation, and other factors in modernity. Gender and sexual difference have become understood as attributes of bodies unmarked in any other way, despite copious evidence that all of these modern identities are interconnected. The binary gender model is so pervasive and universalized that it has become naturalized. In most queer studies in the United States, destabilization of gender binarism seems to remain in the zone of gender permutation or diversity rather than including considerations of histories of political economies and forms of governmentality (p. 667).
Grewal and Kaplan state that they are not arguing that cultural specificity leads to complete difference. They say that their purpose is to “add to this model of cultural difference as a consideration of power, history, and analyses of contact and change” (p. 667). For example, they suggest that if we can argue that historical analysis shows us that concepts of gender difference in medieval China were quite different from those in medieval Islamic cultures, then we can “begin to understand that the legacies of these traditions with attendant identities and practices produce new kinds of subjects in the present moment” (p. 667).
They also suggest that in the study of sexuality in a transnational framework, we need “a mapping of different medical traditions, concepts of the body, scientific discourses, and last but not least, political economies of the family” (p. 667).
The second instance of separated spheres of study examined by the writers is the demarcation of international area studies from American studies. They cite Tani E. Barlow’s argument that the study of international areas was “implicated in the production of Cold War cultural and political knowledge about other cultures and nations” (Barlow, 1993). They believe that the consequence of these divisions has been that “comparative work in international area studies and American studies remains bound by the nation state” (p. 668). They say that the “changing nature of migrations, global flows of media, and capital demand a different notion of transdiciplinary scholarship” (p. 669).
How does the institutional divide between international area studies and American studies affect contemporary studies of sexuality? The academic study of sexuality that can be linked to the emergence of gay and lesbian politics of identity and new queer formations has focused on U.S. and European examples, with the primary emphasis on white, middle-class life (p. 669).
Thus, they affirm that a divide exists between a sexuality-based queer culture or identity and one that is based on race or class or ethnicity. They characterized the third divide as the “tradition-modernity” split. They note that nationalistic bias is geopolitics that contributes to this binary formation in the United States and Europe where these cultures are “figured as modern and thus as the sites of progressive social movements, while other parts of the world are presumed to be traditional, especially in regard to sexuality” (p. 669).
If any countries or nations depart from this model, it is because they are interpellated by “primitivism.” In general, the United States and Europe come to be seen as unified sites of “freedom” and “democratic choice” over and against locations characterized by oppression” (p. 669).
The writers believe that we should not think of sexual subjects as “purely oppositional” or always resistant to the dominant hetero-normative institutions. They affirm that universalized models of resistance with “idealized tropes” or the politics of identity “obscure rather than elucidate the terrain of subjectivity in post-modernity” (p. 670).
They conclude by making a call for more interdisciplinary work within the U.S. academy in the fields of global and transnational studies and within the fields of sexuality, gender, women’s, ethnic, and cultural studies. This interdisciplinary work will enable us to understand global identities at the present time and to examine “complicities as well as resistances in order to create the possibility of critique and change” (p. 675).
Achieving a greater awareness of these complicities and resistances to global identities will certainly require astute critique. This change is already upon us. Change and critique, flux and flow, this is a mantra for our times; it appears as a recurring theme in the study of transnational gay identity. The most salient point about post-modern reality can’t be denied -- everything is in a state of flux and flow; life’s only constant is change. Modernity has brought change to the far-flung corners of the globe once secluded by space and time but now, if lucky, connecting them to the network of global capital. There are few spaces left today in the world that have not been altered by the sped- up-pace of change that is connecting and transforming all societies.
Indeed, if we are ever going to unravel the power relations of sexual identities or if scholarship and academic dialogue is going to effectively contribute to the construction of a bridge from academic theory to the recognition of cultural history, we need what Foucault called a “correlation between fields of knowledge, types of normativity, and forms of subjectivity in a particular culture” (Foucault, 1986).
This has, of course, been a slow social process of assimilation and integration occurring over many decades. The writer Michel Bronski suggests in his analysis of the interactions of gay subculture with the patriarchal heterosexuality of America, that the interaction of a sub or counter culture with the rest of society is a complex, political process. He states that the overriding presumptions of the dominant culture affect the alternative culture by limiting it, restricting it, and restraining it, but the subculture always finds ways to respond to this repression.
It hides, recreates itself, takes secret or coded forms, and regroups to survive. The existence of an alternative homosexual culture also affects prevailing cultural norms (Bronski, 1984, p. 3).
Gone is that repressive American way of life for gays and lesbians that Bronski describes as being portrayed by the mass media in the 1950s and 1960s as “white, middle class, and decidedly heterosexual.
In America, there were no people of color, no poor, and most certainly no gay people. This lie of American social life was accepted and reinforced by books, movies, magazines, and television. The real social framework of America had roots in diverse racial, ethnic, socio-economic, gender, and class identified groups, but who is accepted or excluded from the prevailing ideology – and why – is subject of many variables (Bronski, 1984, p. 3).
Bronski, explains that the integration of the gay counter culture with the dominant culture in the U.S.A. was an ongoing, secret, process dating back 100 years but that one signal event, the Stonewall riots of June 28, 1969, established a homosexual militancy and identity in the public imagination that was “startling and deeply threatening.”
The Stonewall riots produced not only a movement which demanded complete civil rights for gay people, but also a social network which spread the once clandestine world of gay culture. No longer dependent upon a secretive underground of the assimilation of gay sensibility into mainstream culture, gay people built their own cultural resources. Publishing houses, record companies, theatre groups, community-based newspapers, and magazines. All this meant the distribution of gay culture was in the hands of gay people. For the first time, the gay community gained control over its portrayal and self-image. This power was an important element in the coalescing of a political and cultural community which functioned autonomously, without interference from the outside (Bronski, 1984, pg. 202).
Bronski looks at the gay liberation movement and concludes that its presence in the culture has demanded not only that the left broaden its definition of “political” but also that the very structure of sexual desire itself be examined. He adds that this has not been without a struggle (p. 203).
Because homosexuality cuts across lines of class and race, the gay community has had to approach these divisions non-traditionally and creatively. Gay liberation, by politicizing sexuality, cut through many obstacles which often presented themselves to a political critique, such as “ranking of oppressions” among race, gender, and class. While some members of the gay community are not oppressed by their gender, race, or class, all are oppressed by the orientation of their sexual desire (p. 203).
Bronski affirms that gay liberation goes to the heart of all that separates us. He believes that North American culture puts a lot of energy into separating people’s feelings from their ideas and their lives.
We have denied the connections between our minds and our bodies in the realms of work, politics, culture, and sometimes even in the realm of sexual activity itself. When the denial has ceased, when those connections are made, people’s politics, feelings, experiences, and lives will be whole and their capacity for expanding their lives will be increased (p. 213). The state of transformation
Whether or not globalization is truly melding the mind and the heart is open to debate but few could deny that it has brought on an explosion in gay and lesbian commercial visibility. What seems clear is that there is a complex relationship of contemporary homosexual subjectivity to capitalism and commodification (Champagne, 2008).
Champagne ponders the veracity of a gay global rhetoric placing it alongside the scrutiny of current theorization, but also cautions us not to think of ‘transnational’ a synonym for Anglo-American but briefly reiterates a familiar narrative – that of the white, middleclass Western homosexual male straying from the repressive conditions of his homeland in search of “both self and other” citing the examples of Christopher Isherwood in Berlin, Paul Monette in Greece, Andre Gide in Algeria, and E.M. Forster in Alexandria. Champaign says that this list of privileged Western gay men dabbling in the overseas gay tourist trade “reminds us of the role imperialism and tourism have played in the articulation of a so-called global gay rhetoric” (Champagne, 2008).
Champagne avers that if there indeed is a transnational gay rhetoric that it must be theorized alongside global capitalism. He suggests that this line of exploration raises a “complex relationship of modern gay culture to capitalism,” further theorizing that gay subjects have a vexing relationship to capitalism.
…while capitalism is one of the preconditions of a modern gay identity, it also works to “manage” that identity in its own interests, and often in opposition to those of real human beings” (Champagne, 2008).
Champagne cites John D’Emilo’s watershed “Capitalism and Gay Identity”
which also associates the emergence of gay and lesbian subjects with the historical development of capitalism and the free-labor system, stating that this has allowed large numbers of men and women in the late twentieth century to call themselves gay (D’Emilio, 1992).
D’Emilo postulates that capitalism’s continuing expansion has been accompanied by an expansion of free labor system and a diminishing of the importance of the family as an economic unit. He also suggests that as the institution of wage-labor has spread, some subjects have been capable of freeing themselves from economic dependency on the family, and have been able to set up alternative kinds of households. He concludes that over time the family has gradually lost its status as a unit of production.
In divesting the (family) household of its economic independence and fostering separation of sexuality from procreation, capitalism has created conditions that allow some men and women to organize a personal life around their erotic/emotional attraction to their own sex. It has made possible the formation of urban communities of lesbians and gay men and, more recently, of a politics based on sexual identity (D’Emilio, p.7).
Theorist Nicola Field, writing about the polarization of gay politics in Over the Rainbow, Money, Class and Homophobia
, says that gay commercial viability exploded in the 1990s. The pink pound and dollar gained increasing credibility and influence in the marketplace in urban centers in the U.S.A., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia with a new generation of magazines, books, bars, cafes, shops, and clubs coming onto the scene to cater to an up-market clientele (Field, 1995).
She writes that a “designer gay lifestyle and an off-the-peg social identity” was on sale. London had outstripped Amsterdam and Berlin to become the gay capital of Europe, offering a “dazzling array of nightlife venues as well as clutches of sophisticated cafes to while away the hours between bouts of shopping and personal beautification” (Field, p. 1).
For liberal journalists and program makers, ‘gay’ is a fashion item, bringing with it a touch of sophistication and street credibility. It seems anyone – from police officers to Shakespearean actors – is coming out of the closet and into the public eye (Field, p. 1).
Field questions if the investment by the greater society into the pink economy really means gay oppression is falling away.
Meanwhile, however, ‘family values’ are on the rise and morality is gaining ascendancy. The rise of the ultra-right fascist organizations, unchecked by states or governments, is precipitating an atmosphere of terror amongst gays and black people. Violent homophobic attacks are on the increase. Lesbians and gays are still losing custody of their children because their sexuality is regarded as making them ‘unfit’ parents. (Field, p. 1).
Field laments the increasing commercialization of gay life believing that it leads to the promotion of the idea of ‘us and them’ and fosters the notion of a gay community held together by a shared sexuality regardless of differing class interests and varying social relationships. She believes that this shared sexuality has “developed into a cultural code for shared consumer taste” as well as a “predilection for certain forms of art, décor, clothing, food, and drink” (Field, p. 37).
This concept of separateness has a two-fold political repercussion. First, it means that here is a clear-cut gay market demarcation, ever-ready for penetration by a business class (made up of gay or straight individuals) wishing to capture the pink market. Second, it has led to a straightening and reduction of the vision of gay liberation into a lukewarm set of meager sing-issue demands which reflect the every few common interests of a fictional cross-class ‘community’. (Field, p. 37).
Field suggests that what often passes for a gay lifestyle “is in fact a distilled replica of traditional middle-class lifestyle” (Field, p. 37).
The penetration of the gay lifestyle by the business class and the punch of the pink pound is further represented by the emergence of Sydney as the gay capital of the South Pacific and its importance to lesbian and gay tourism due to the growth and development of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras has grown into a three-week international cultural festival that is estimated to have generated some AU $99 million (U.S. $55 million) in 1998 (Markwell, 2002).
Markwell suggests that while Mardi Gras may be a uniquely Australian version of what elsewhere are ‘gay pride parades’ it is now “inextricably framed within a global gay and lesbian tourism industry that demands spectacle, consumption of experience, and that requires considerable corporate sponsorship” (Altmen, 1997; Markwell, p. 85). Anyone doubting the heavy duty impact of gay commerce could be characterized as having a serious case of denial, considering the stir that was caused on Wall Street in 2004 when the San-Francisco-based Internet company, PlanetOut, marked a “cultural milestone” by becoming the first gay directed business to trade its stock on a public exchange (Leff, 2004). PlanetOut, a business operating several gay and lesbian-themed Web sites, made an initial public stock offering of 4.65 million shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares gained 16% on the first day of trading.
Walter Schubert, a stockbroker who founded Gay Financial Network, says that while businesses catering to gay clientele have appeared on the Australian Stock Exchange and smaller markets, PlanetOut “broke new ground by meeting the requirements for longevity and stability to get listed on Nasdaq” (Leff, 2004). It was reported that PlanetOut stated in its prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it hoped to raise $39 million through the Initial Public Offering (IPO) and use this money to bolster traffic at its Web portals, raise the number of its subscribers using its fee-based service for personal ads, and expanding into more countries.
PlanetOut made its debut on the Microsoft Network in 1995 and since then has sought to become the flagship of the gay global village (Lewis, 1995). The business was launched when Out magazine did a survey indicating that lesbians and gay men are more likely than the general public to use personal computers, modems and on-line services at home. PlanetOut was envisioned as both a potentially powerful global marketing force and as a gathering point for millions of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transvestites and others who may be reluctant to associate openly in public. (Lewis, 1995)
In an interview with the New York Times, Hugh Dubberly, creative director at Netscape Communications Corporation, said that meeting and chatting electronically with gay men and lesbians on American Online gave him the courage to discuss his homosexuality publicly. Mr. Dubberly, a former head of Apple Computer Inc. said that it was something that would have previously been unthinkable for him.
If I had relied on more traditional ways of meeting people, like going to bars, or going to meetings of various organizations, or picking up gay publications, it never would have happened (Lewis, 1995).
Lewis reports that there are no undisputed measures of the gay market however, according to Russel Siegelman, general manager of Microsoft Network, “the gay community has always been one of the most active groups on line.” He writes that in an average month in 1995 40,000 individuals spent a total of more than 100,000 connected to the Gay and Lesbian Community Forum on America Online Inc., which was the first major service to create a forum for gays and lesbians. A state of integration
It is nothing less than remarkable that the gay movement has managed to transform itself over the past two decades from an environment of death and shame in the era of AIDS to the global marketing force that it is today. Prowess with global capital is one aspect of gay identity in the global economy but some scholars question whether sexual and gender identity are the solid platforms that they are thought to be. In an examination of queer theory and a review of identity categories employing academic “constructionist” thinking, Joshua Gamson, calls for a closer look at identity boundaries in Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct? A Queer Dilemma.
He arguesthat queerness in its most distinctive forms “shakes the ground on which gay and lesbian politics has been built.” He states that the fixed identity categories of “gay” and “lesbian” and “sexual minority” or even “gay community” are both the basis of political power and of oppression. (p. 390)
It builds on central difficulties of identity-based organizing: the instability of identities both individual and collective, their made-up yet necessary character. It exaggerates and explodes these troubles, haphazardly attempting to build a politics from the rubble of deconstructed collective categories (Gramson, p. 390).
Gramson points to the debate in the gay and lesbian politics over the use of the term “queer” and to the viability and political usefulness of sexual identity. He concedes that, on one hand, gay men and lesbians have made themselves an effective force in the U.S.A. by giving themselves what civil rights movements had: a public collective identity.
Gay and lesbian social movements have built a quasi-ethnicity, complete with its own political and cultural institutions, festivals, neighborhoods, even its own flag. Underlying that ethnicity is typically the notion that what gays and lesbians share – the anchor of minority status and the minority rights claims – is the same fixed, natural essence, a self with same-sex desires. The shared oppression, these movements have forcefully claimed, is the denial of the freedoms and opportunities to actualize this self. In this ethnic/essentialist politic, clear categories of collective identity are necessary for successful resistance and political gain (Gamson, p. 391).
The constructionist view does not see sexual identity as natural or “intrapsychic” but as a historical and social product.
It is socially produced binaries (gay/straight/, man/woman) that are the basis of oppression; fluid, unstable experiences of self become fixed primarily in the service of social control. Disrupting those categories, refusing rather than embracing ethnic minority status, is the key to liberation. In the deconstructionist politic, clear collective categories are an obstacle to resistance and change (Gamson, p. 391).
Gramson writes that the challenge for analysts is not to “determine which position is accurate, but to cope with the fact that both logics makes sense,” (p. 391) He states that queerness highlights the dilemma shared by other identity movements which is that fixed identity categories are “both the basis for oppression and the basis for political power” (Gramson, p. 391).
He wonders what happens to identity-based social movements if identities are more unstable, fluid and constructed than movements have tended to assume. He ponders the question if sociopolitical struggles articulated through identity eventually undermine themselves.
Gramson argues for a more developed theory of collective identity formation citing how social movement researchers have only recently begun treating collective identity construction as an important and problematic movement activity and a significant subject of study (Gramson, p. 392). He points to models of collective identity that conceptualize it as “a continual process of re-composition rather than a given,” or as a “dynamic, emergent aspect of collective action” (Schlesinger 1987:237; Gramson 392).
Gramson defines collective identity as a “status” or a “set of attitudes, commitments, and rules for behavior – that those who assume the identity can be expected to subscribe to,” (p. 392) and says that the ultimate challenge for the gay and lesbian community is “not just the questioning of the content of collective identities, but the questioning of the unity, stability, viability, and political utility of sexual identities – even as they are use and assumed” (p. 397).
At their most basic, queer controversies and battles over identity and naming (who I am, who we are). Which words capture us and when do words fail us? Words, and the “us” they name, seem to be in critical flux (Gramson, 397).
He sees the construction of gays and lesbians into a single community united by “fixed erotic fates” as the process of simplifying complex internal differences and complex sexual identities (p. 400) and he characterizes deconstructive strategies as “deaf and blind to the concrete and violent institutional forums to which the most logical answer is resistance in and through a particular collective identity” (p. 400).
Gramson calls for a novel way of understanding and evaluating social movements – one in which collective identity is both pillaged and deployed. He believes this implies the necessity to reconnect a critique of identity to the embodied political forces that make collective identity necessary and meaningful, and also to reconnect a critique of regulatory institutions to the less tangible categories of meaning that maintain and reproduce them. (p. 402) A state of becoming
In a deeply personal speech entitled Gay Identity After Foucault (L’identite gay pres Foucault)
delivered on the eve of Europride ’98 at the Georges Pompidou Center in Paris, David Halperin spoke of the trans-formative potential in gay and lesbian life and urged contemporary gays and lesbians to reflect on the meaning of their identity, but also cautioned that this reflection could take one to an impasse for gay identity has “long since become entirely and impossibly paradoxical.”
Halperin sees gay identity as both politically indispensable and politically catastrophic. He describes it as “absolutely necessary, essential and crucial” because it is perennially threatened by denial, refusal, suppression, and “invisibilization”.
And so it is always and everywhere important to insist on gay identity at all costs, to claim it and affirm it, over and over again, precisely because it is continually treated as something shameful, deviant, pathological, and out of place. But gay identity is also dangerous, even treacherous. It is an identity which must be ceaselessly resisted and rejected, precisely because it normalizes and polices sexuality, because it functions to contain sexual and social difference, both in heteronormative culture at large and in lesbian and gay culture in particular. It is a politically catastrophic identity insofar as it enables society serenely to manage sexual diversity and in fact to stabilize and consolidate heterosexual identity itself (which would be a much more fluid, unstable, and insecure entity without gay identity to shore it up (Halperin, D., 1997,no page number).
Halperin conjectures that one of the most distinctive dimensions of gay culture has been its constant self-criticism and reevaluation of what it means to be gay. In this sense, gay identity has always been a critical identity, never taken for granted for very long, always interrogated, and constantly contested by gay people themselves.
He states the France’s most distinguished example of this tradition of gay auto-critique is found in the work of Michel Foucault. It is evident in Foucault’s published work on the history of sexuality, but more evident, he suggests, in Foucault’s interviews with the gay press. Speaking to Jean Le Bitoux in 1978, Foucault suggested taking a step back:
…. a kind of step back which does not mean a retreat, but means rather a chance to address the situation in more general terms. We’ll need to ask ourselves, ‘What, really, is this notion of sexuality?” Because, even it is has enable us to fight, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t also carry with it a number of dangers. There is an entire psychologism of sexuality, an entire biologism of sexuality, and therefore an entire stranglehold that can be exerted on this sexuality by doctors, by psychologists, by various agencies of normalization. Shouldn’t we then champion against this medico-biologic-naturalist notion of sexuality some alternate possibility? The right to pleasure, for example (Halperin, D., 1997,no page number)?
Halperin points out that Foucault made it clear that the point of critiquing gay identity was not to disqualify it, or to do away with sexual labels altogether, or to advocate some avant-garde suspension of all sexual meaning and all sexual categories.
“Rather the point of critiquing gay identity was to open the way to the formation new multiplicities of gay identities which the insistence on a singular, already established and defined gay identity served to impede.”
Halperin writes that Foucault told the members of the Gai pied
in 1981 that “homosexuality is a historic opportunity to open up new relational and affective potentialities (virtualities).” He states that Foucault saw homosexuality as a strategically situated marginal position from which it might be possible to glimpse and to devise new ways of relating to oneself and to others. “To be gay is to be in a state of becoming,” Foucault explained in 1982.
“The point is not to be homosexual but to keep working persistently at being gay … to place oneself in a dimension where the sexual choices one makes are present and have their effects on the ensemble of our life. … These sexual choices ought to be at the same time creators of ways of life. To be gay signifies that these choices diffuse themselves across the entire life; it is also a certain manner of refusing the modes of life offered; it is to make a sexual choice into the impetus for a change of existence (Halperin, D., 1997,no page number).
Halperin interprets this as meaning that that homosexuality is not a psychological condition that we discover but a way of being that we practice in order to “redefine the meaning of who we are and what we do – and in order to make ourselves and our world more gay.” (Haperin, 1998)
Halperin states that Foucault’s stress on being instead of becoming helps us to recognize the purpose and the point of gay resistance to gay identity. He sees Foucault’s critique as prevention against gay identification as becoming an obstacle to the formation of new identities, new modes of existence, and new cultural forms. The ultimate effect of Foucault’s intervention, states Halperin, is to “warn us against accepting gay identity as a thing, already in existence, and to urge us to see it as something desirable that remains to be created and recreated, a placeholder for a future identity still to be constructed.”
Has everyone now experiencing the gay global village reached Foucault’s state of becoming, which we could say is the apex point in the continuum of gay subjectivity? A cross-cultural anthropology -- which this work does not purport to be -- would likely show that this is not true for everyone; all identities within the transnational gay nexus, are at different stages of development and at different levels of awareness, just as are all identities falling within the parameters of hetero-normative experience. Not everyone inhabiting the gay global village experiences the same level of tolerance and freedom. Economic status and class have a lot to do with one’s level of freedom and the freedom to “come out” and self-identify as gay is predicted on a number of material factors, including a certain amount of economic independence. (Champagne, 2008)
As queer theory continues to develop its scrutiny of the relationship between subjectivity, politics and capitalism, and as non-normative sexualities move further into progressive politics and within popular discourse in general, those inhabiting the gay global village will undoubtedly waver between utopian dreams and pragmatic realities, but the evidence of their sexual identity formation is unlikely to see a huge reversal. References
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Dan Tam Thi Nguyen
Vietnamese American Training College, Soc Trang, Vietnam
Dealing with large classes (around 45 students per class) and the increase of drop-out students are the most urgent issues in Vietnamese educational system. In order to decrease those issues gradually, Vietnamese students should be motivated and controlled. This paper is to share some experiences about this.
Keywords: TEFL, control, motivation, Vietnamese upper secondary school
Introduction Control and motivation of students are two of the major features in the process of teaching and learning English. Malcolm et al (1982) explains that teachers often find it vital to maintain their dominant power in the classrooms. He says they need to be determined what to do in the classrooms and how to deal with students’ behaviour in every context. In contrast, Bell (cited in Ford, Alber & Heward, 1998) indentifies the three important issues in education: ‘The first one is motivation, the second one is motivation and the third is motivation’. Victor (1964: 229) reports that motivation influences effective performance. In EFL classrooms, this performance is related to linguistic performance which is considered the target of teaching a foreign language. As a result, there is no doubt about the importance of control and motivation. However, the quality of teaching and learning English in Vietnam is limited because of the loss of control and motivation in language classrooms.
Most Vietnamese high school students seem to be disinterested in English for a large variety of reasons. Firstly, English is not a core subject in the curriculum. Secondly, English textbooks in Vietnam are considerably complicated and impractical because of the length of units and unfamiliar topics mentioned in lessons, such as discussing the ideal seat on a luxurious yacht, the life under the sea or gravity (see English 10: 1999). Moreover, they are interrupted by many events during the school year which is from September to May, for example, the Vietnamese Woman’s Day, the Vietnamese Teacher’s Day, Christmas Day, the Western New Year Day, and the Vietnamese Lunar New Year Week. Besides, students postpone their study for several events of other ethnic groups such as the holidays of the Khemer and the wooden sampan racing considered a holy ceremony to wish a new productive harvest and lasting for a few days. Finally, students are organized in large classes having from forty-five to fifty students per class whereas the classes in language centres often have about twelve students.
The aim of this paper is therefore to examine the control and motivation of students in Vietnamese Secondary Schools. In the first part, important definitions will be explained. Problems arising will be discussed in the next part. The following aspect is about possible solutions. Finally, evaluations are mentioned.
Motivation is related to several issues.According to Deborah (2001:310), motivation refers to self-confidence, enthusiasm, and the desire to understand and develop skills. In contrast, Wlodkowski (1997) confirms that motivation stimulates behaviour, gives purpose to behaviour, permits behaviour to persist and leads to the selection of a certain behaviour. For Hunter (1981), motivation can be learnt, taught and is the responsibility of educators. Because motivation can be divided into smaller concepts, it is known to be difficult to define.
Motivation is categorized into two types: extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation focuses on ‘satisfactory completion of the course’ and strongly affected ‘by external rewards and pressures’ (Brown et al, 1998:16). In other words, students learn because of external reward like grades or prizes from parents. In contrast, intrinsic motivation is dependent on personal goals and interests. In this case, students want to learn because of their natural interests and satisfaction. In general, extrinsic motivation is the-need-to-learn while intrinsic motivation is the-want-to-learn.
It is generally believed that control refers to the issues of disciplines and punishment. However, according to Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2003), a ‘control’ is an act ‘to instruct or rule something or someone’s actions and behaviour’. Jenifer et al (1982:25) states that to control means ‘to direct the activities of pupils away from behaviour that was not allowed and towards the required activity of work’. Moreover, Malcolm et al (1982) reports that teachers feel it important to be dominant in the classes to cope with any situations arising.In this paper, controlling is a technique in classroom management so that teachers can manage the classes effectively in the ways that they want, especially when they are responsible with large classes.
A typical class in Vietnam:
2. PROBLEMS ARISING FROM VIETNAM
2.1 The Preference of Core Subjects
Since English is not a core subject in secondary schools, Vietnamese students tend to neglect it. Students at Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Grammar Secondary School, in Soc Trang city is an illustration. Most of them study Maths, Physics, Biology or some other natural science subjects. This is shown by the number of Maths, Physics and Biology classes which are always the double or the triple of the English classes (Department of Education and Training: 2008).
In Vietnam, if students focus on English language, this means they can only take the entrance exam to universities with Maths, Literature and English which will lead them to careers in teaching or working in social sciences. In Vietnam, there are two types of entrance exam: one for social sciences which requires Maths, Literature and English; one for natural sciences including Maths, Physics and Chemistry. According to the data of Hung Vuong University for 2009, there were 3070 candidates registered to the entrance exam of natural sciences while there were 1264 candidates interested in social sciences. As a result, English is ignored.
2.2 The Failure of Language Achievement
The complicated English textbooks contribute to the factors discouraging students from learning English. Malcolm (1982) claims that teaching materials should not be too difficult or contains the use of complicated language.However, Vietnamese textbooks contain many complex grammar points and imaginary speaking and writing tasks. For example, changing sentences from direct into indirect speech (see English 10: 1999) or writing a letter to ask a friend to help on the birthday party (see English 10: 2008).
In addition, because the lessons are designed to develop specific skills, they must be conducted in well-equipped classrooms. However, a large number of schools do not meet the basic standard in equipment. A survey from Department of Education and Training conducted last year shows that approximately 50% schools lack tape and CD recorders, English tapes and disks and electricity (2008). Therefore, in every part of the lessons, students usually listen to teachers’ reading aloud which results in noise from students. As a result, equipment and materials strongly influence the teaching and learning process (Stefan: 1982).
2.3 BAD LEARNING ATTITUDES
Because students are interrupted by so many events during the school year, their attitudes towards learning are even worse after having time to celebrate those events. An example of this is students from Le Loi secondary school, a school of athletic students. They have to participate in some marathon and jogging races, sports, processions and meetings. For instance, 3600 students attended 9 processions in the second semester, resulting in students missing the classes so often. As a result, the learning interest including English cannot be developed as social activities are usually preferred to attending classes every day.
2.4 Difficulties in Organizing Pair Work and Group Work
Large size classes tend to result in the failure of the implementation of pair work and group work. Stenfan et al (1982) emphasizes that the arrangement of single unit desks in the classrooms is the most suitable for most classes, but with Vietnamese students whose tables are long, and heavy find it difficult to collaborate effectively because they cannot change their seats to participate in the groups. Ke (2008) points out that large size classes challenge teachers in two main aspects: effective communication with students and successful organization in activities and exercises. Consequently, they are not eager in learning English because it is difficult for them to get correction from the teachers in the classrooms due to large size classes.
In general, students tend to be demotivated in learning English, so there is a need to find some possible solutions to deal with such problems.
3. POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS
One way to attempt to eliminate the difficulties in controlling and motivating students is the implementation of a new mark record. This can be designed for not only teachers to control and motivate students in learning English at the same time, but also for students to be aware of their marks and more responsible to their study (see Diagram 1, below).
3.1 What the Mark Record Is About and Its Importance
In this diagram, students’ marks will be recorded every week. They will be assessed on 8 criteria: taking oral tests, answering questions, summarizing lessons, taking good notes, making teaching aids, having good attendance, keeping notebooks clean and doing ‘running exercises’. This new assessment would work better on students because it is more comprehensive than the previous one which only has a mark for oral tests. Students have more chances to improve marks and teachers have more tasks for students to control their learning.
3.2 How It Works
The maximum mark for each criterion is 10 and the maximum bonus mark is 2. This example describes the marks of an imaginary student named Quoc.
3.2.1 Speaking Activities
It is generally believed that speaking activities are important in teaching and learning English. Jennifer et al (1982) suggests that concentrating in speaking activities is particularly useful to check students’ interests during the lessons. As a result, the first three criteria focus on speaking activities, including oral tests, answering questions and summarizing lessons.
An oral test is one of the everyday compulsory tests at the beginning of the class in Vietnam, since this is an effective way to find out whether students study or not (Malcolm et al: 1982).Each student has only one final score in the curriculum mark record. This means if Quoc gets low marks at the beginning of the term, he will have no other chances to improve his score which would most likely demotivate him during the rest of the term. Using this new form of mark record, he can have at least two more chances to improve the score because the teacher will make a total sum of all the marks he gets and records the final mark from the total sum. In the example, Quoc got two different marks in oral test on 09/9 and 15/09, 0 and 5.
Another speaking activity is giving marks for answering the questions, consideredone of the ways to get students involved in classroom activities. For Stefan et al (1982), taking answers from students is a common strategy to check students’ comprehension and attract their attention. Therefore, marking oral answers in classrooms is likely to make students more active. In the example, Quoc got 8 for this part.
The final issue is lesson summary conducted at the end of the lesson. Students can retell about any parts of the lessons such as the use of a grammatical point, the main idea of a reading text, some structures applied in a speaking lesson or the format of a formal letter in a writing lesson. In order to do such things, students are required to concentrate carefully on the lesson during the class. Therefore, giving marks for lesson summary may control and motivate students. In the example, Quoc got 9 for this part.
3.2.2 Writing Activities
It is widely agreed that writing is very important. Students should be aware of the value of writing (Bloomfield: 2004). Therefore, writing is emphasized in the next three criteria.
Taking notes is essential because Vietnamese tests are based on notes which are usually learnt by heart, and will help to memorize vital information (Mathew: 2009), so grading students’ notes can both arise their interests in study and train them the responsibility to have sufficient notes for the days they miss the lessons instead of skipping those notes. In the example, Quoc got 8 for this part.
Because of the importance of notes, marking notebooks should be applied for two reasons: the preparation for the inspection from supervisors of Education Department and the creation of the tidy habit. In the example, Quoc got 8 for this part.
Running exercise’, a fun activity, is of the last criterion. An exercise is given to students to finish in limited time and only few fast answers are graded. Anyone who completes the exercise on time has to run quickly to the teacher’s table to hand in the answers. Easy tasks are often organized into this to encourage students to take part in the lesson, providing them a chance to get great marks. Dornyei (2003:14) agrees that giving the right task is also a motivation in learning a target language. Therefore, this exercise would change students’ passive mood. In the example, Quoc got 10 for this part.
3.3 Other Criteria
Teaching aids make the abstract concepts become concrete, thus increasing students’ interests and motivation (Ali: 2007). Therefore, students can be asked to make teaching aids. For example, they can collect film posters, photos of actors for a unit about motion pictures (English 11, 2001:5) or draw a picture of farming to illustrate a unit about a typical day of a farmer (English 10, 2008:6). This can be used as a technique to guide students’ learning outside the classroom because when they begin to make teaching aids, they have to review what they have learnt before or prepare the lessons in advance. In the example, Quoc got 2 marks for bonus which would be added up to the total score.
The last criterion focuses on students’ low attendance and drop out from schools because it is a serious setback (France: 2009). According to the data collected in the school year 2008-2009 from Department of Education and Training in Soc Trang city, after term one, 963 students in Le Loi Secondary School left. Therefore, giving them some bonus marks for their attendance may contribute to not only the control in classrooms but also the limitation in the number of students dropping out of schools. This is of high concern because if any school has a highly considerable rate of dropout, it will miss the annual prize from the city government no matter what achievements it gains in other fields. In the example, Quoc got 1 bonus mark.
In the last step, the teacher will make a total sum of the marks Quoc received to give him the final score in the official mark record.
0+5+8+9+8+8+10= (48+2+1)/7=51/7=7.28 → 7
For instance, Quoc, in our example would get 7 in the official mark record instead of 0 which he would get from the current system.
Using the new form of this mark record has both positive and negative aspects for teachers and students.
The first advantage for teachers is its simple and easy application because nearly all of activities are targeted in it. Because of its comprehensiveness, teachers can benefit from it to vary their activities to avoid students’ boredom. In addition, a good relationship between teachers and students which, according to Malcolm (1982), can be mentioned as an encouragement, is possibly developed as well. As a result, an active learning atmosphere can be achieved which also motivates teachers themselves during the teaching process.
For students, using this form is a chance to improve scores. As a result, they can self-evaluate in learning progress. Furthermore, they are encouraged to practise English in the classrooms with obvious reasons. In addition, the more important point is that they are trained the habit to prepare lessons in advance gradually and naturally resulting in better learning attitudes. Besides, they are probably motivated by great marks since marks are important to them. Finally, the experience in finding the material to illustrate related lessons seems to be developed at the same time which is good for autonomous study. Convington et al (2001:46) confirms that ‘freedom of choice’ of exercise to ‘act autonomously’ is a great positive intrinsic motivation, so students can be interested in study.
However, the application of this new mark record has the potential to depower the image of the role of teachers because of the friendlier relationship between students and them. A stereotype in traditional teaching is that many teachers may be concerned about the tendency to lose part of their power if these traditional roles disappear. Many teachers (cited by Malcolm: 1982) believe that the main duty of a teacher is to control students. In addition, this application is likely to be time-consuming as teachers have to do many calculations when the term finishes. Finally, students may be more concerned about the marks than knowledge conveyed in the lessons.
In summary, the lack of students’ motivation and the challenge of controlling classes in TEFL are caused by the interest in natural sciences, the inappropriate content of English textbooks, the abundance of holidays in different time during the school year and the organization of large size classes. A possible solution is using the new form of mark record which comprehensively covers most of the teaching and learning activities happening in the classrooms. Students’ intrinsic motivation is awakened by the extrinsic one which gives them obvious objectives before doing some tasks instead of simply delivering several activities to force them to complete. Although this solution may break the image of a powerful teacher in Asian countries, consume a great deal of time, and concern about marks, it is simple to use, can vary teaching activities, improve teachers’ and students’ relationship, encourage speaking English, create active learning atmosphere, and develop the study autonomy.
Although some restrictions still occur, hopefully this form can work well with the paper administrative system applied in education in Vietnam. There is a belief that in the near future Vietnamese students can benefit from a qualified education system consisting of appropriate content textbooks and smaller class sizes to attract more students in learning English. This can only be done when designing textbooks does not involve business issues, but instead a student’s ability, age and characteristics (Malcolm: 1982), and more land is saved for schools to narrow the class sizes. Therefore, Vietnamese government should manage the budget for education more carefully to be certain that public finance is spent wisely.
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Namy Yu Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, UK
This article will explore how the future Comparative and International Education researchers and experienced present researchers could contribute more effectively to the development and implementation of educational policy and practice with cross-cultural perspectives. In order to examine how theories could put into practice more effectively, one international development project in education is presented: The Primary School Management Project (PRISM) in Kenya. The project will be explored with more special regards to the concept of capacity building, local ownership and partnership with cross-cultural perspectives. Keywords:
Cross-cultural perspective, uncritical transfer, educational policy, international development, context matters, partnership, local ownership Introduction
Education (one of our most contrived activities) depends more on cultural inheritance and the opportunities and needs of present circumstance than almost everything else that we do. That dependence on inheritance and circumstance is the justification for a new comparative investigation of education.
(King, E.J. 2000:267)Advantages of Comparative and International Education (CIE)
Comparative and International Education (CIE) could help not only its researchers but also politicians and practitioners to have more broad perspectives in this rapidly changing globalised world with its multidisciplinary foundations, its long-established concern with international agencies’ policies and its sensitivity towards culture and context (Crossley, 2000; Crossley & Watson, 2003). It is especially pertinent with the current international trends with knowledge based aid (King & Mcgrath, 2002; Mcgrath, 2002) that often intentionally or unintentionally lead to uncritical transfer of educational policy and practice (Crossley, 1984; Crossley, 2000; Crossley & Watson, 2003).
Thus, as a CIE researcher, it is necessary to be aware of what is going on globally and locally (Cowen, 2000) with cross-cultural perspectives. It is important to note that ‘common problems’may prevail in different countries, but ‘common model’ cannot be applied because every country has different culture/context (Crossley & Watson, 2003: 39). And the different ‘context matters’ (Crossley & Jarvis, 2001) when designing research and applying theory. Unfortunately, influential international agendas are often put into practice conflicting with local agendas (Crossley & Watson, 2003). That is the time when CIE researchers are needed the most as a medium to bridge theories, policies and practices (Crossley, 2000) with both global and local minds. In this article I will explore how the future CIE researchers and experienced present researchers could contribute more effectively to the development and implementation of educational policy and practice with cross-cultural perspectives.
In the light of cross-cultural perspectives, researchers should look more closely to examine perspectives of ‘others’ as well. The prominence of Western literature and perspective in the field has been frequently criticised (Cowen, 2000; Crossley, 2000; Crossley & Watson, 2003; Crossley & Tikly, 2004; Elliott & Gringorenko, 2007). And more equitable bridging between the North, South, East and West are required to build successful partnership and local ownership for more sustainable development and capacity building (Samnoff, 1998; Crossley, 2000; Crossley & Watson, 2003). In order to examine how theories could put into practice more effectively, one international development project in education is presented: The Primary School Management Project (PRISM) in Kenya, which was externally funded by United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID). The project will be explored with more special regards to the concept of capacity building, local ownership and partnership with cross-cultural perspectives. Primary School Management Project (PRISM)A Rationale for the Case Study
PRISM was started in 1996 and completed in 2000 with the purpose of mainly providing management and leadership training for primary school headteachers and deputy heads (Herriot et al, 2000; Crossley et al, 2005; Kamunde, 2010). It is regarded to be one of DFID’s successful sub-Saharan African projects (Crossley et al, 2005). PRISM was supported by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST), internally, and DFID, externally. The Centre for British Teachers (CfBT) managed the project jointly with the MOEST. And also the project was carefully planned and implemented through collaboration between Kenyatta University (Kenya) and the University of Bristol, Graduate School of Education (UK) (Crossley et al., 2005). The collaborative partnership facilitated local ownership by empowering local capacity, which will be discussed as an important policy.
Not long after the project has completed, Free Primary Education (FPE) policy has introduced to Kenya in 2003 with both local and global pressure. By studying PRISM’s research approach towards practice and policy and its strengths and weaknesses, we could learn how theory, practice and policy are closely related to the global and the local context. Moreover, studying the relationship between three concepts could give ideas to researchers how the field could contribute more effectively in international development in education. Especially, with the belief that we could learn more from the weaknesses than strengths, I would like to focus on the limitations of the project to gain valuable insights and lessons later on for future research.Global Context
Since the World Conference on Education for All was held in Jomtien in 1990, educational development as a way of capacity building has been globally prioritised (Crossely & Watson 2003; UNESCO, 2009). World Bank’s Knowledge for Development
report (World Bank, 1998) justified this international educational policy and practice with the notion that knowledge development would accelerate sustained economic growth (McGrath, 2002). In the pursuit of disseminating knowledge, the movement of finding effective schools in Western countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, has been reignited. This global pressure was also reflected in PRISM (Crossley et al, 2005). To build the sustainable capacity in education, it is important to strengthen the capacity of leadership. In school effectiveness theory, the most influential figure in education is often considered to be headteachers (Sammons et al, 1995; Sammons, 2007). By focusing on headteachers’ management and leadership training, PRISM pursued an effective way to sustain and develop quality of education to keep up with the global standard.
Another global pressure which affected PRISM was the issue of decentralisation. Globalisation accelerated decentralisation and local autonomy, which gives more reasons for local cultural identities (Giddens, 1999). Sadly, poor countries might not be able to exert the local autonomy nor cope with decentralisation without external funding. Thus, it is essential for multilateral/bilateral agencies to design the research to be sustainable even after the funding phase. In the light of decentralisation, PRISM was designed to encourage schools and communities to be more responsible by empowering local ownership.
With the concept of ownership, ‘new’ strengthened partnership has been emphasised in the international co-operation arena (Bray, 2000; Higgins & Rwanyange, 2005; Crossley et al., 2005). Bray (2000: 32) highlights the joined power of donor agencies, governments and communities with more cultural sensitive perspective. PRISM’s collaborative partnership was also in the line of this international justification for more sustainable development. The question is how this globally theorised and pursued policies—capacity building, ownership and partnership—affected national context of Kenya.Kenya’s Experience of Ownership and Partnership through PRISM
The current international trend of prioritising primary education was not the only motivation of PRISM. The urgent need for improved primary school management and leadership training was sought out within the Kenyan government (Crossley et al., 2005). Reflecting global school effectiveness theory and decentralisation, more professional headteachers with leadership and management capacity were demanded. To ensure the sustainability of the project, in-service training was recommended with Headteachers Support Groups (HTSGs) (Herriot et al., 2002; Crossley et al., 2005).
HGSGs are clusters of headteachers, local trainers and community members formed to train headteachers and to establish a network of potential ‘pockets of excellence’ (Herriot et al., 2002; 510). It is designed to impact and empower locals and community, who will eventually support headteachers efficiently. Theoretically, the pattern seems to create the circle of leadership that ultimately begets local ownership. The theory was put into practice with a strengthened cascade system in training model.
A cascade system was applied before in Kenya with The Strengthening of Primary Education (SPRED) project from 1991 to 1996 assisted by DFID (DFID, 1998). However, according to DFID (DFID, 1998), the training model was reported to dilute the quality of information with top-down system and to under-utilise local capacity. The PRISM team reinforced the training model and designed it to be more bottom-up in the hope for grass-roots level changes. By strengthening the existing model, the PRISM team showed the importance of ‘continuity’ (Crossley & Jarvis, 2000) of practice.
Herriot et al. (2002) claims HTSGs brought rippling effects of grass-roots level changes in learning process with an involvement of community and parents with their constructive feedback. The ripple effect also encouraged the concept of a learning organisation through self-help, which was considered to be valuable for sustainability in decentralised administration (Herriot et al. 2002). This decentralised system of HTSGs (Herriot et al., 2002: 514) reflects Kenyan’s efforts to keep up with global context. Kenyan communities tried to cope with this world trend, decentralisation, by enhancing local capacity coupled with headteachers’ leadership. The local experience of planning for educational change (Higgins & Rwanyange, 2005: 10) empowered local ownership with local voices. The locally grounded experience suggests the powerful effect of grass-roots level of changes.
Despite the collaborative efforts, continuing dominancy of one-way communication problem between headteachers and other stakeholders was frequently reported (Crossley et al., 2005: 82). The culture of respecting elders in Africa could have caused this problem. CIE researchers often come across this kind of sensitive culture-related issues. And handling the situation with more broad perspective is necessary not pushing the situation in the way the donor agency wants. Otherwise, the concept of partnership would be faded into less than rhetoric legitimacy with ‘dependency syndrome’ (Herriot et al., 2002: 515) threatening sustainability in education.
To avoid the ‘dependency syndrome’, constructing more insider perspective in the project is pertinent. The participatory nature of PRISM is designed to give local ownership and partnership through contribution of both insiders and outsiders. The diversity of participants means a diverse team of perspectives, which makes it possible to interpret findings of research in cross-cultural perspectives. Smith (2000) emphasises that it is necessary to involve recipient’s perspective to avoid pitfalls of depending on donor’s perspective. Smith goes on to say that the various perspectives are especially needed when we evaluate projects. Whether projects were effective or not should be weighed in both perspectives of aid agencies and beneficiaries. Thus, building research and evaluation capacity in Kenya with cross-cultural perspective became inevitable to achieve true ownership and genuine partnership.
Through the direct participation of MOEST in the process of research design, the PRISM team developed the research and evaluation capacity within the MOEST and Kenyatta University. Crossley et al (2005:70) argues that the participatory research brought an increase in the involvement of MOEST/PRISM personnel in the design, conduct and writing-up of many studies. Through this direct involvement of administration, practitioners could realise potential problems in practice by direct feedback and could handle them more flexibly. It also made administrative workers be aware of implementation issues (Crossley et al., 2005:70). The practical and direct collaboration between the government and Kenyatta University shows the possible notion for relationship between government bodies and local universities (Crossley et al., 2005). The balanced relationship between two bodies could promote research and evaluation capacity for the future researches. Thus, it could be argued that strengthening local research and evaluation capacity not only helps in practical level, such as writing reports, but also empower local ownership by bridging communities and practitioners. Limitations and DiscussionsApproach towards the Research Model: Defining the Concept
Even though PRISM project team tried hard to reflect local context with careful planning, the approach towards the role of the headteacher in education was originated from Western school effectiveness assumptions (Crossley et al., 2005). Despite the fact that headteachers’ leadership and management skills have been proved to be essential worldwide, there is a potential danger of ‘uncritical transfer’ of school effectiveness to African countries (Harber & Davies, 1997). Harber and Davies further on questions what constitutes ‘effective’ headteachers in African context. Africa is such a diverse and vast continent with many different languages co-existing even in one country. The geographic and cultural differences should be considered into the rationale of research design. In the light of this complicated context, PRISM project’s long-term sustainability could be at stake (Crossley et al., 2005).
How we define the ‘effectiveness’ could affect research design, practice and its result: success or failure. However, judging the success of a project could be related to the power game between international agencies and national governments. As mentioned earlier in this paper, Smith (2000) stressed the necessity of putting recipient’s perspective in the research design and evaluation for genuine partnership. He suggests that:
There is a need to involve other stakeholders more fully in identifying project success criteria. Although donors have made moves towards including representatives of the recipient government or host institution in project evaluation teams, the terms of reference for the evaluation may well still be those of the donor. (Smith, 2000: 217)
Thus, it is pertinent to ask what effectiveness means in the country with cross-cultural perspectives: are we talking about cost effectiveness; effective research design; how it affects international test result; getting more help from aid countries; getting the outcome that donor agencies want; how to develop human resources; how much it contributes to well-being of citizens? It is also crucial to think about ‘whose’ effectiveness we should consider. Holmes and Crossley (2004:204) critically highlight the unfairness of decisions from outsiders to define the parameters of research design. Hence, it is crucial as a researcher to look beyond the global standard of effectiveness and success. Otherwise, the ‘genuine’ partnership that we always emphasise would remain rather rhetoric.Timing & Continuity
It takes a long time to set up true partnerships between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners (Crossley et al., 2005). However, tight budget and timetable from external agency could make cultural trust and understanding difficult to be established. The diversity of team members in PRISM project was one of great strengths, but it also required more time to build research and evaluation capacity (Crossley et al., 2005). Without the trust and bond, it could be hard to establish a genuine partnership between donor agencies and recipients.
Not long after the project was completed, Kenyan government introduced FPE policy. Even though, the government praised PRISM and wanted to apply the project in the new policy, the impact of PRISM could not be fully shown (Kamunde, 2010). For the better judgment of success of the project, it needed more time to evaluate. It is not, of course, the fault of the project itself. However, when new policy and practice meets the old one, the latter could be easily forgotten. In the light of continuity, future researchers in Kenya could consider altering and applying PRISM in the new policy with reconceptualisation. Hence, interaction between researchers is highly recommended to bridge an old project and a new one. Continuing Financial Problem
The financial problem in Kenyan primary schools has always been a big realistic hindrance to sustainable practice and policy, especially in the poor region (Crossley et al., 2005). One of the goals of PRISM was to create the sustainable project which could continue even after the funding period. The growing importance of decentralisation has affected the design of PRISM with cost-sharing framework. By sharing cost in education, PRISM attempted to make more independent schools and communities (Herriot et al., 2002) to be prepared in the decentralised world. Consequently, this had put more burden on parents and communities in poorer regions (Crossley et al. 2005). The financial problem in developing countries is and will be a big obstacle which everybody involved in international development must tackle. Thus, researchers should be more careful with the interpretation of a concept or a theory which could affect results of policy in unintended way by applying universal policy uncritically. Paradoxically, this shows it is important for researchers to acknowledge the national context more seriously and keep pursuing the sustainable project that could maximize local capacity to manage cost efficiently.Constant Monitoring and Evaluation of International Projects
While researching the evaluation and lessons from PRISM, I came across a few documents related to PRISM. Since it is regarded as a role model to other international projects, several documents complemented PRISM with its accomplishments and its inspirational influence on other projects (Herrioet et al., 2002; Higgins & Rwanyange, 2005; Crossley et al., 2005; Kamunde, 2010). However, there was little criticism towards the project. Considering the fact that PRISM was a very successful project, it might not be surprising to find little literature of criticism. On the other hand, for local and international researchers, especially the new and inexperienced ones like me, critical evaluation from leading scholars could provide valuable insights and lessons. Constant monitoring and evaluation of international projects could enlighten future students and researchers who are interested in the international development arena. Case Study Conclusion
The PRISM study has shown that how well planned theories could contribute to practice and policy by empowering local researchers and strengthening research and evaluation capacity. To keep up with globalisation, it is essential to build local capacity for sustainable development (Crossley et al. 2005). More involvement of local researchers and ministries in the research created local ownership and showed possible new partnership between not only local researchers and government officers but also North and South. The broad cultural sensitive perspectives that have been flourished through collaborative partnership justified the importance of empowering local ownership.
In terms of continuity, PRISM team linked existing training cascade model to updated and more flexible one. The strengthened cascade system facilitated grass-roots level changes. And it gave more justification of local ownership. However, the lack of information and research in African effective school model was criticised. In the light of continuity, it’s pertinent to research the meaning of effective school reflected in African history and reconceptualise the historical context to modern African and global context. Conclusions
TheCIE researcher’s role as a mediator is apposite to the present timing, when the United Nations (UN) Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) has taken place in New York in September 2010. In its action agendas, One of MDGs, achieving Universal Primary Education (UPE) is highlighted with the importance of building capacity and partnership. Education cannot be decontextualised from its local culture (Crossley & Watson, 2003). And the education policy should reflect its own national perspective with modified global perspective. The one-size-can-fit-all policy should be carefully revised with more cultural sensitive ‘context matters’ attitude. Even when we evaluate successful project like PRISM, it needs extra caution not to be transferred directly to other countries.
One of the main concerns regarding effective practice should be how to define the term, “effectiveness”. Interpreting the term with the question of ‘what constitutes effectiveness’ also should be accompanied with the questions of ‘whose’ effectiveness’. As presented in this paper, fundamental theory of PRISM project lies in Western school effectiveness. The simple transfer of Western management theory to developing countries could bring out unintended issues related to sustainability (Harber & Davies, 1997). Furthermore, historical studies regarding school effectiveness in African context and other developing countries’ context should be investigated for future studies. After all, education is ‘about tomorrow, although all its established systems were developed for a world that no longer exists.’ (King, E.J. 2000:267).
Empowering locals is emphasised for sustainability and genuine partnership between North and South. The PRISM study shows how strengthening local research capacity could bring local ownership. Bridging between insider and outsider researchers in Kenya’s case proves the advantage of cross-cultural perspective. With both inside and outside collaborators, their cultural-sensitive interpretation could expand. Through the article, I emphasised the importance of interpretation of the concept. Research design and outcome could be affected by how we interpret effective contribution. Thus, reconceptualising research and evaluation capacity through others’ perspective is necessary. This mutual and powerful interpretation is pertinent not to fall into the pitfalls of ‘uncritical transfer of education’ (Crossley, 1984; Crossley, 2000; Crossley & Watson, 2003). In order to keep up with the rapid pace of globalisation, international agencies focus on capacity building. But what they mean by capacity building is not always explicit. Often, intentionally or unintentionally researches are designed in favour of donor agencies with their own interpretation of capacity building. Hence, their mutual interpretation could benefit CIE, suggesting possible bridges between the global and the local; theory, policy and practice (Crossley, 2000) through reconceptualisation.
For the optimised development result, international agencies and CIE researchers need to cooperate more to put theories into practice. I have come across some concerns while I was reading and analysing discourses: Will all these wonderful theories and voices of researchers ever be carried out as a policy by donor agencies; how could a future researchers like me could contribute to carry out the theories? The gaps between theory, practice and policy do exist. And quite often the powerful and influential external agencies press educational research to be too applied and too direct for policy and practice in their convenience (Crossley, 2000: 328). However, as a medium between them, researchers should constantly ask how to bridge those gaps and whose effectiveness they should care to achieve quality education through partnerships between researchers and practitioners; government bodies and local researchers; international agencies and local governments. References
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Kundyz Mukatayeva Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, UK
This article aims to discuss education and effectiveness of higher education in Kazakhstan in the changing world. The idea that education of high quality can provide stability in the economy and social life of a country is presented. The effectiveness of higher educational institutions can be evaluated by the ability to educate high qualified specialists. Therefore, it addresses the role of tertiary education and some problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan. Keywords:
Kazakhstan higher education, effectiveness of higher education, teaching profession
Introduction In the new global world, education has become a central issue for discussion. The Asian Development Bank’s policy and strategies paper (2002: 1) states that education is a ‘prerequisite for development’. The Republic of Kazakhstan also shares the idea that education of high quality can provide stability in the economy and social life of a country by helping to advance ‘human potential’ (MDG 2007: 23) and improving its competitiveness. Education is a long process that provides basic skills and is essential in shaping our future lives, as Dewey (2004: 2) clearly points out: ‘education is the means of social continuity of life’. To be highly qualified means to have completed higher education, however, an important question is what kind of educational organisation an individual has graduated from.
In the previous paragraph attention has been drawn to a set of opinions about education and what education means in our society. At this point, consideration will be made in more detail of how the points of view above relate to the subject of this paper, namely what quality of higher education institutions means, as quality is the key point in the effectiveness of higher education institutions. After that, the role of tertiary education and problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan will be discussed. Finally, a conclusion on the topic will be presented.
Quality of higher education institutions Quality and efficiency are perceived as the level and volume of educational product provided according to expectations of the market and society at a certain stage of development and with the real capability of a graduate to compete both within the country and abroad (MDG 2007: 26).
In the World Conference Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century: vision and action, the following main mission of higher education is stated:
… to educate highly qualified graduates and responsible citizens able to meet the needs of all sectors of human activity, by offering relevant qualifications, including professional training, which combine high-level knowledge and skills, using courses and content continually tailored to the present and future needs of society (UNESCO 1998: 21).
By achieving the above mentioned expectations higher education institutions can become effective organisations, as the quality of education is evaluated to the degree of an education organisation’s ability to achieve the main goals of a changing world.
It is widely known that the effectiveness of higher education institutions include their quality, for it is considered to be the main factor of economic and social development of a society. However, as Bloom and Rosovsky (2001) point out the quality of tertiary education has not classically been the main area for many international agendas, and the World Bank is not an exception. There is an increase in concern that some areas of education, like pre-primary, secondary and tertiary are being disadvantaged as all international agendas concentrate on the improvement of primary education. ‘Countries need primary, secondary and tertiary education. All three are vital to human, social, and economic development and all three are in the public interest’ (Bloom and Rosovsky 2001: 253-254). Therefore, higher education institutions also need to be prioritised as they are the basic social institutions of a society. Hansen and Lehmann (2006) make similarly point that there is a strong link between quality in primary, secondary and higher education systems:
Universities educate decision-makers of tomorrow in both public and private sectors. To do this they are dependent on a bottom up supply of students and the national primary and secondary education systems must be maintained and tuned accordingly (p. 822).
The Republic of Kazakhstan made steps towards decentralisation its existing control mechanisms and gave academic freedom to higher education institutions to improve the quality of higher education (OECD 2007). It is believed that above mentioned steps will help to advance the country`s higher education institutions towards the developed world`s level:
Without adequate higher education and research institutions providing a critical mass of skilled and educated people, no country can ensure genuine endogenous and sustainable development (Stephens 2009: 16).
It can be seen that quality and effectiveness of higher education institutions are important issues in a global world. The effectiveness of higher educational institutions can be evaluated by the ability to educate high qualified specialists; therefore, the next section will now discuss the role of tertiary education and problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan.
The role of tertiary education and problems with the teaching profession in Kazakhstan It has been argued that by looking at the quality of teaching the power of a country`s educational system can be seen (Thomson and Crossley 2000). Preparation of teachers for future profession is a special topic affecting economic, demographic and political problems (Porter 1996). It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the importance of higher education in the preparation of teachers. Unlike the UK, in Kazakhstan the right to prepare teachers is the responsibility of higher education.
One of the main aims of higher education is to educate competent teachers, with great subject knowledge, an ability to think critically, open to activities and flexible to changes in the world.
In a world undergoing rapid changes, there is a perceived need for a new vision and paradigm of higher education, which should be student-oriented, calling in most countries for in-depth reforms and an open access policy so as to cater for ever more diversified categories of people, and of its contents, methods, practices and means of delivery, based on new types of links and partnerships with the community and with the broadest sectors of society (UNESCO 1998: 24).
The role of an educational organisation with its active methods of teaching is the important one, as the efficiency in formation of professional competence of teachers mostly depends on an educational context, pedagogical approaches and conditions of educational process of higher education organisations. For the aim of achievement of educating competent teachers educational institutions should organise an educational environment that will supply transition from cognitive types of activities to professional ones.
Countries can benefit by providing high quality education to their citizens. In this process the role of teachers is an important. Kazakhstan faces some potential labour shortages in teaching, especially at school level, so the Ministry of Education and Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan (MoES) has made an effort to provide more government scholarships to teaching professions. However, students going to the teaching profession choose it not because of eagerness to become a competent teacher, but just to get free higher education, as the competitiveness in the teaching profession is lower. In other words, there is a greater chance to get higher education free of charge. Consequently, the country tends to end up with graduate teachers, who are not willing to teach.
Chapman et al. (2005: 523) argue that in Central Asian countries, Kazakhstan included, ‘the inadequate level of teacher compensation is recognized by educators and government’. They further claim that individuals with high ability are discouraged from entering or remaining in the field as teachers because of low salary. This is still the main discouragement factor from becoming a teacher in Kazakhstan.
In order to reduce the problem the Government has made major emphasis on the status of teachers. In 2010 the MoES constructed a new State Education Development Programme for 2011-2020 (MoES 2010) where the increase in prestige of the teachers’ profession is targeted. The key aims are to provide the country with high quality specialists and to improve the state support for the work of pedagogical staff. As in the UK (School Teachers’ Pay and Condition Document 2003), in Kazakhstan teachers are paid according to their numbers of years in profession (UNESCO 2008). The new programme (MoES 2010) states that a new model of payment will be introduced. It is believed that the realisation of these aims can improve the effectiveness of the HE system and to improve its quality.
Conclusion To conclude, it is important to stress that analysing effective educational organisations is a complex issue. Higher education should be able to respond to the needs of individuals and whole societies, and today`s globalised world demands educational institutions to be flexible to all chances. Effective educational organisations should be managed from where new teachers with intent to work as a teacher will graduate. By reducing workload and paperwork, raising teaching salaries by making it more competitive with private sectors salaries and providing better carrier opportunities it can be possible to make teaching profession prestigious as stated in the new state development programme. References
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Lizzi Milligan Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, UK
This article offers an overview of postcolonial theory and its main concepts. Key concepts discussed include the notion of the ‘other’; neo-imperialism and the relevance of Foucault’s term ‘governmentality’ in the discussion of global governance; and the epistemological adoption from both postmodernism and poststructuralism. As the theoretical underpinning for my own PhD research, the article further explores the relevance of this paradigm for a single project in the field of International and Comparative Education. Keywords:
Postcolonialism, African Education Introduction
Postcolonial theory first developed within the study of literature and culture by writers such as Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Chinua Achebe (wa Thiong'o, 1981; Achebe, 1977). The central argument of postcolonialism is that the effects of colonialism and imperialism are still being felt today among those countries that were colonised. Postcolonial theory is most often used ‘as a critical idiom; through which to analyse discursively the continuing legacy of European imperialism and colonialism and to uncover the oppositional discourses of those who have struggled against its lingering effects’ (Tikly, 2004, p. 173). Those working within a postcolonial framework should view the relations between North and South with these political implications in mind and through the eyes of those most directly involved (Crossley & Tikly, 2004, p. 148). Hickling-Hudson describes the postcolonial perspective as one which is ‘concerned with how cultures have been influenced by the legacies of colonialism, the culture wars that result from challenges being made to those legacies and the difficulties and ambivalence involved in change’ (Hickling-Hudson, 2004, p. 290). The ‘post’ refers both to its focus in countries that were once colonial but are now in the period after settler colonialism; it also points to its connection theoretically with many of the themes of both postmodernism and poststructuralism.
From a postcolonial conceptual standpoint, my PhD thesis explores local stakeholders’ perceptions of quality in education in Kenya. I am particularly interested in the lack of mechanisms for local stakeholders’ in education to contribute to the formulation of policy. For the past six years, I have been heavily involved with a grassroots project in Kisii, Kenya which invests in key resources in rural secondary schools. In this time, I have witnessed the haphazard nature of policy implementation and the lack of both time and resources that restrict Head teachers’ ability to respond in practice. The Kenyan Government appears to be more accountable to their donors than to its citizens; a point that is not well received among the Kenyans I know. The voices, values and priorities of these Kenyans, living in a ‘postcolonial condition’, are at the heart of the research that I do. This article will discuss the main concepts espoused in postcolonial theory and tie these to my own research. First, the notion of the ‘other’ is covered; focusing on the texts of Said’s Orientalism
and Mudimbe’s The Invention of Africa
(Said, 1988; Mudimbe, 1988). I will then turn to the idea that imperialism is still alive and well (often referred to as neo-imperialism) and the relevance of Foucault’s term ‘governmentality’ in the discussion of global governance (Tikly, 2004; Hoogvelt, 2001). This will lead into a discussion of the main ways in which postcolonial theory draws upon both postmodernism and poststructuralism. Said, Mudimbe and beyond
The formulation of a particular, and discrediting, image of an ‘other’ for self and communal validation is certainly not a recent phenomenon. In the fifth century BC, Herodotus was writing about the ‘barbarians’ that he encountered on his travels away from Greece, contradicting these from the ‘civilised’ and ‘democratic’ Athenians (Waterfield, 1998; Mudimbe, 1994). One only needs to read the accounts of Alexander the Great’s expeditions through Persia to Southern Asia, to witness how keen Arrian is to describe all that is new and explicitly both ‘other worldly’ and ‘inferior’ to what they already know (de Selincourt, 1971). This is not to say that all non-Greeks simply became a homogenised ‘other’; the Scythian was certainly not the same as the Indian. However, what was important was the ways in which authors could construct their difference to Greeks in a hierarchical way and validate their occupation, and often destruction, of foreign societies.
The construction of the ‘other’ then is a specific way to create meaning for society – it is a contrasting image of just what that society is not (or what it does not want to portray itself to be). This is what Said describes as Orientalism
– ‘a Western style for dominating, restructuring and having authority over the Orient’ (Said, 1988, p. 3). This draws on Foucault’s definition of discourse as a ‘group of statements which provide a language for talking about ... a particular topic at a particular historical moment’ and Gramsci’s definition of cultural hegemony (Said, 1988, p. 5). The central thesis is that the Occident controls the knowledge produced regarding the Orient and creates such knowledge to construct a particular image of this contrasting place. This knowledge serves to legitimate the deployment of Western power. For Said, it is not a coincidence that colonialism and Enlightenment thinking came hand in hand. As the Enlightenment’s universal thirst for knowledge and will for totalising and positivistic narratives grew, it fed Orientalism’s will to power (Williams & Chrisman, 1994). Comaroff and Comaroff describe the construction of Africa in the mindset of eighteenth century Britain, in a similar way, as ‘a by-product of the making of modern European self-consciousness’ (Comaroff & Comaroff, 1997, p. 689).
is not without its critics, the thesis has been used as a basis for postcolonial theory in highlighting the power-knowledge constructs that limit and define relationships between West and East; or in this case between ex-coloniser and ex-colonised. The binary oppositions present in colonial discourse are clearly shown in the quote below.
Let us ... contrast piety with atheism, the philosopher with the rude savage, the monarch with the Chief, luxury with want, philanthropy with lawless rapine: let us set before us in one view, the lofty cathedral and the straw hut, the flowery garden and the stony waste, the verdant meadow and the arid sands. (William Burchell, 1824 in (Comaroff & Comaroff, 1997, p. 688)
For postcolonial theory, Said’s discussion of representation as a ‘historical fact of domination’ is of particular note. One example Said takes is of Flaubert’s encounter with an Egyptian courtesan whose image became a prevailing model for an Oriental woman. She had no say in the way in which she was represented – she was simply what Flaubert chose her to be (Said, 1988, p. 6). Mudimbe’s The Invention of Africa
: Gnosis, philosophy and the order of knowledge
charts the history of the portrayal of Africa in the Western world and uses similar notions of otherness to Said’s Orientalism
(Mudimbe, 1988). As Mazrui reminds us, for both Mudimbe and Said, the other is perceived as ‘exotic, intellectually retarded, emotionally sensual, governmentally despotic, culturally passive and politically penetrable’ (Mazrui, 2005, p. 69). Mudimbe’s discussion of ‘epistemological ethnocentrism’ is particularly illuminating (Mudimbe, 1988, p. 15). He presents a series of examples of Western explorers, missionaries and later colonisers who, within the parameters of colonial discourse which had already been defined, reaffirmed how Africa would become known (and it can be argued continues to be known). The emergence of the disciplines of anthropology, philosophy based on the self and natural biology also allowed such discourses to take on the authority of scientific knowledge and philosophical claims. A central aim of postcolonialism is to counter such prevailing models and present (rather than represent) postcolonial voices and ‘truths’.
Said and Mudimbe’s texts both offer excellent insights to the discourses that shaped the way in which the Orient and Africa were ‘invented’ and the ‘epistemic violence’ that imperialism inflicted upon colonised countries (Spivak, 1999). Postcolonial theory takes such theses one further and analyses how the effects of colonialism have continued into the postcolonial period. For some authors, the colonial creation of an elite, educated in the Western system, has ensured that colonial discourses continue to have relevance today.
We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, and opinions, in morals and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population. (Macaulay, 1835 in (Spivak, 1999)
The quote above from Macaulay is used by Spivak to highlight this. Colonialism is not simply seen as a system of land control but a deep-seated process which engulfed all areas of society. As Hall explains ‘there is a false and disabling distinction between colonisation as a system of rule of power and exploitation and colonisation as a system of knowledge and representation’ (Hall, 1996, p. 254). There is a clear link with education. For example, Loomba discusses how colonial epistemologies were closely linked to institutions, including schools, and how these discourses served to maintain a level of power and control over the colonised subjects (Loomba, 2005). Tikly and Hickling-Hudson have both shown how the colonial education system, and with it the implications for knowledge production and control, in large parts remains in many postcolonial countries (Tikly, 1999; Hickling-Hudson, 2004). One area of particular note is the postcolonial discussion about language. In Decolonising the Mind
, Ngugi wa Thiong’o explained his postcolonial reasoning for writing in his own language, Gikuyu, rather than English and encouraged other African writers to embrace their local language in their art. By celebrating African languages, wa Thiong’o hoped to ‘decolonise the minds’ of young Africans who were subconsciously seeing the colonial language as superior (wa Thiong'o, 1981). Global governmentality and Neo-imperialism
Foucault coined the term ‘governmentality’ as a symbiosis of the terms ‘governing’ and ‘mentality’. He linked forms of government with the rationalities (of governing) which justify and legitimise the form of government adopted. Foucault emphasizes the relationship between the government of the state (politics) and the government of the self (morality). It is not simply about the political control of citizens but the ways that they are controlled and their conduct shaped (Lemke, 2000, pp. 2-3). This concept has been adopted in many analyses of policy making. The thesis which specifically relates to my work is Tikly’s 2004 article which adopts governmentality as a tool to analyse the continued ‘imperial’ presence in low income countries (Tikly, 2004). Tikly explores the ways in which discourses of development are embedded in an emerging ‘global governmentality’ as they represent an extension of a specifically Western and liberal view of government to postcolonial settings. The article focuses upon the relationship between education and the new imperialism and the ways in which development discourse had legitimated a global push towards universal primary education for all. Crucially, it is deemed to be a global push to which postcolonial countries could offer little resistance or response. Relating back to Foucault’s governmentality, one of Tikly’s more interesting arguments is that discourses of social good and human capital have both justified and legitimised the dominating presence of development agencies in the policy making of postcolonial countries.
Said’s conceptualization of imperialism is often quoted in works on postcolonial theory and global governance. For Said, imperialism means ‘the practice, the theory and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan centre ruling a distant territory; colonialism, which is almost always a consequence of imperialism, is the implanting of settlements on distant territory’ (Said, 1993, p. 6). Parry takes this one step further and the following quote sums up the postcolonial view of neo-Imperialism: ‘colonialism is a specific, and the most spectacular, mode of imperialism’s many and mutable states, one which preceded the rule of international finance capitalism and whose formal ending imperialism has survived’(Parry, 1987, p. 34). This concept of neo-imperialism has important implications if we return to Foucault’s power-knowledge relationship. If multi-lateral agencies, and ultimately the USA and ex-colonising states, have control over the policy formulated (or the knowledge constructed), postcolonial peoples continue to be subject to ‘epistemological violence’ (Spivak, 1999). Wane argues that Eurocentric discourses ‘serve the purpose of justifying the neo-colonial agenda’ (Wane, 2008). Much of this literature challenges the universalising effects of globalisation. The quote below from Rivzi articulates the value of postcolonial theory for analyses of the impact of globalisation in low income countries:
Not least because they draw attention to the false universalism of globalisation and show how contemporary social, political, economic and cultural practices continue to be located within the processes of cultural domination through the imposition of imperial structures of power (Rivzi, 2007, p. 257)
This aspect of postcolonial analysis is of particular note for my thesis because much of the literature concentrates upon the role of the ‘education for development’ agenda. There has been a tendency among the multi-lateral organisations to uncritically transfer policies from one country to another, usually with little consideration for contextual differences between the two countries. In Samoff’s words, there has been a global diffusion of Western ideas so that thinking about education has become ‘almost universal, dominated by a set of imperial assumptions concerning economic progress, with notions of human capital and development becoming part of a broader discourse of capitalist triumphalism’ (Samoff, 2007, p. 57). Thus, development discourses, underpinned by large donations, dominate educational policy making in low income countries.
In my own research, the overriding influence of international agendas and their underpinning development rationales in the policy making of low income countries is one of the central aspects of my conceptual framework. Using the specific example of the implementation of FSE in Kenya, I aim to expose the direct links between how quality is defined in national policy documents with that in current international discourse; especially that espoused by the donor agencies who give money to the Kenyan government. Furthermore, my research will resonate with the international and comparative literature that argues persuasively that context matters (Crossley & Watson, 2003). I will document the diverse and contextualized views of local stakeholders in Kisii highlighting that what is deemed to be important in education cannot be generalized even at this small-scale level; let alone on a global scale. In line with the global movement towards education for all, Kenya introduced Free Primary Education (FPE) in 2003 and there has been a great increase in the number of children enrolled in primary school. As witnessed in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, and more widely, access has been achieved at the expense of quality (Kagia, 2005; Wedgwood, 2007). Classrooms are overcrowded, resources sparse and many teachers untrained (Kamunde, 2010). One of the key messages from this literature is that what counts as a quality education is relative. The need for closer attention to local priorities and realities, rather than international concerns is one of the underlying premises of my research.
Furthermore, I argue that local voice is not present in the educational policy making decisions of the Kenyan Government because the Kenyan government is looking outwards to the discourses from the West. This is situated both within a colonial (and postcolonial) history of looking up to a Master and the present day reliance on donor assistance (Ochieng', 1990). As King has argued, national priorities have often been compromised by the need to rely on external funding Development (King, 2007). Put differently, it could be said that local knowledge or opinion is deemed ‘less worthy’ than the international discourses – a statement that purposively situates my research within a neo-imperial analysis.There is little difference between this and the discourses that framed the invention of Africa and the Orient discussed earlier. Take the example of the dominance of human capital theory in much of the development literature, especially within the World Bank. Using rates of return analysis, developed by highly regarded economists, scientific data was produced to support the argument that primary schooling should be the priority in low income countries. This analysis was an important development in the move towards the Education for All agenda and has been used to justify a particular method of development in many low income countries. The echoes of ‘epistemological violence’ are there to be heard. Postmodernism, Poststructuralism and Postcolonialism
‘I don’t know what you mean by glory’, Alice said. Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously, ‘Of course you don’t – till, I tell you. I meant that there’s a nice knock-down argument for you’. ‘But glory doesn’t mean a nice knock-down argument’, Alice objected. ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more or less’. ‘The question is’, said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is’, said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be Master – that’s all’ (Carroll, 1998, chap. 6)
I have found the above quote from Alice Through the Looking Glass
to be very useful in understanding poststructuralism and the contribution that it makes to postcolonial theory. Agger helpfully explains the difference between poststructuralism and postmodernism with the former, put very simply, a theory of knowledge and language and the latter one of society, culture and history (Agger, 1991). There are many aspects of poststructuralism which are beyond the realms of this article since they are not relevant to postcolonialism in my research. However, the central denial of structuralism’s binary oppositions is, perhaps surprisingly given the dichotomous nature of much of Said’s thesis, of crucial importance. Binary oppositions are described by Derrida as ‘the pairs of opposites on which philosophy is constructed’, with the privileged term given in opposition to the latter term, its ‘other’. The privileging of one term over another, often described as logocentrism, constructs notions of superiority (Norris, 2002). Derrida uses the concept of ‘differance’ to expose these contrasts inherent in Western philosophy (Derrida, 1985). Perhaps Derrida’s most important contribution to poststructuralism which has been heavily used within postcolonial theory is the methodology of deconstruction: ‘every text is a contested terrain in the sense that what it appears to ‘say’ on the surface cannot be understood without reference to the concealments and contextualisations of meaning going on simultaneously to mark the text’s significance’(Agger, 1991, p. 112) Deconstruction can help reveal the values and interests suppressed beneath the surface of the text and the knowledge presented. The clear implication for postcolonial theory is the encouragement to probe fully policy texts for the Western ideologies and beliefs that they purport. Deconstruction can also help to break down binary oppositions and reveal multiple, and often submerged, voices. It allows a postcolonial theorist to break down the imbalanced dichotomies where certain knowledge and values are privileged over others which can give more epistemological control to postcolonial peoples.
There are clear connections between the prioritisation of local voice with the postmodernist’s scepticism with the grand narrative. In The Postmodern Condition
, Lyotard announced his incredulity toward metanarratives such as Marxism and encouraged the ‘discarding of the lived and world-historical grand narratives through which modernity constituted itself’ (Serequeberhan, 2006, p. 88). Lyotard maintained that one cannot tell large stories about the world ‘but only small stories from the ... subject positions of individuals and plural social groups’ (Agger, 1991, p. 116). If modernity was the time of the macro-narrative, postmodernity is thus characterised by an abundance of micro-narratives. One of the main criticisms of postmodernism is that, although it is helpful to highlight the importance of context and subjectivity, it fundamentally creates exaggerated relativism. Surely not all communities, people or nations are entirely different from one another? Postcolonialism does not tend to be tarred with the same brush here since few postcolonialists would espouse relativism; rather that it seeks to hear micro-narratives to break down the power structure represented by the meta-narrative. Hickling Hudson et al. in the introduction to Disrupting Preconceptions: Postcolonialism and Education
summarise this succinctly by saying that ‘truth and knowledge rest on the power to produce, regulate, circulate and consume information’ (Hickling-Hudson, Matthews, & Woods, 2004, p. p.5). In postcolonial thinking, then, there is a move towards multiculturalism and a recognition that knowledge can and is produced in postcolonial communities. This shift is one of the more recent developments within postcolonial theory. One of the critiques of Decolonising the Mind
is that wa Thiong’o only recognises two binary epistemologies – one of imperialism and one of resistance. Postcolonial studies are beginning to emphasise cultural complexity that means that the world is no longer structured along binary axes. In Kenya, say, there will be a huge difference in the epistemological claims that a member of the elite may make compared with a poor, rural woman without a formal education. These people may have very different worldviews. What they know is contextualised in their own experiences, of which being postcolonial is just one of them; as is being in a country deemed to be ‘developing’. Thus, it is ‘how differential experiences of the world are framed by the discourses and practices constitutes the experience of being a woman or person of colour at a given historical moment’ (Agger, 1991, p. 117).
An important aspect of my analysis will be to highlight the differences between national education policy and local realities. In doing so, I will be using a postcolonial approach which ‘means recognising the silences, gaps and omissions within and between hegemonic systems of knowledge so as to being to unearth alternative ways of knowing the world’ (Tikly, 2004, p. 193). I am conducting an ethnographic case study to document one particular selection of local and postcolonial ‘voices’. My site is one rural community in Kisii, Western Kenya and I aim to construct a locally grounded quality educational framework. The purpose of the research is to compare and contrast this with that identified in national FSE policy to see whether secondary education is meeting the needs and hopes of those it seeks to help. Thus, I will be comparing three discourses of global, national and local, while recognising that there is cultural complexity within each of these. As Rivzi reminds us, one of the strengths of postcolonial theory is to challenge dominant discourses while recognising that ‘relations between global and local are always complicated and ambiguous and require detailed ethnographic case-by-case analyses’ (Rivzi, 2007, p. 261). Conclusion
By way of a conclusion, I would like to turn to the implications of a postcolonial worldview for the methodology that I have chosen. I recently reviewed an article by Hickling-Hudson in which she announced in the introduction her explicitly postcolonial perspective (Hickling-Hudson, 2004). However, further reading revealed that her methodology of semi-structured interviews and much reflective thinking of her own reflected very little of her theoretical positioning. Although I plan to adopt many aspects of the interpretivist paradigm in my methodological approach, I am also keen to conduct research in a manner which is compatible with postcolonial theory. This will be evident in my emphasis on local voice and the use of specific methods, such as ‘photovoice’, which will probe fully the real perceptions of my participants. Alongside this, I am also keen to ensure that the many aspects of power-knowledge relations are at the front of my mind throughout the planning and carrying out of my research. I cannot separate myself from my distinctly non-postcolonial self, nor would I wish to, but I can ensure that I am aware of the impact that this will have on my findings. Davies and Harre have said that ‘much qualitative research has maintained a colonizing discourse of the ‘other’ by seeking to hide the researcher under a veil of neutrality or objectivity … a situation in which the interests, concerns and power of the researcher … remain hidden in the text’ (Bishop, 2005, p. 117). By adopting a postcolonial approach, I will try to ensure that my qualitative research does not suffer this critique. References
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Sarah Dubois Harrison Middleton University, USA
Would it be worth it to study moral states of character, and the actions needed to develop positive character traits within a school curriculum? Could a nation of individuals who are filled with “more virtue” be created? If anything, the possibility of having citizens who are more self reflective and content is worth the attempt. Keywords:
Morals, Behaviour, Education Reform
From an early age people are taught what is right and what is wrong. Based on what is heard the individual modifies his/her behaviour to fit into society and what is learned translates into action and habits that follow into adulthood. Where does civilization pick up the majority of its habits? In all likelihood most habits come from family, friends and the education system. Plato (1993) discusses in Timaeus, “that which is beyond the range of a man’s education he finds hard to carry out in action and still harder adequately to represent in language” (p.443). This idea appears significant because how can society form virtuous habits if they are beyond its’ education? If the masses do not know what is considered virtuous then the general public cannot speak about it or practice it. Merriam Webster’s dictionary (2005), defines virtue as “conformity to standard of right and a particular moral excellence” (p. 1397). That is the standard of “right”? Habit is defined as a manner of conducting oneself, the prevailing disposition of character and a behaviour pattern acquired by frequent repetition. Conduct implies behaviour and action.
What is considered virtuous seems to be suited to the place and time because what is considered a virtue now may be different from three hundred years ago. Virtue in relation to morals and doing what is right does have a universal quality that transcends time. Lucretius (1993) mentions a valuable notion related to virtue and moral, “The greatest wealth, is living modestly, Serene, content with little.”(p.
72). He goes on to say that there is enough modesty to go around. What a different outlook on life and character to be satisfied with having little compared to never having enough.
Acts considered not virtuous or immoral are killing, stealing or lying. In addition are those character traits which are either naturally inherent or developed through habit, such as being anti-social, lazy, mean, greedy and unable to control one’s vices. These negative habits unfortunately require a concerted effort to stop them once engrained in an individual. A child may be reprimanded for being anti-social or greedy, yet an adult with those same traits is largely ignored. This is unfortunate, as a greedy/anti-social/lazy or means adult may have a severe negative impact on society, especially once that individual rises to power. The effects can be devastating in denying the masses equal rights or not distributing collective funds appropriately. Mill (1993) reflects that our dispositions are full of moral vice such as being cruel or abasing others. These characteristics lead to "a bad and odious moral character" (p.
304). Mill further suggests that we should have a way of policing these elements in our dispositions as they have been around from the beginning of time and do no good, continuing generation after generation. While the “vice police” may be entertaining, it seems hardly plausible. Yet if there is a great awareness from an early age about repulsive characteristics and the results of having them imbedded in character, at least people would be able to recognize a negative feature in them that is budding.
Aristotle (1993) believes virtues are “made perfect by habit” (p.348). Habits, whether just or unjust, add up and all of these transactions lead us to be virtuous or not. Aristotle further believes that activities give rise to certain “states of character” and that these activities form in early youth make a significant difference (p.349). It can be understood that a habit that is nourished in youth again and again could be heavily ingrained in that particular individual’s psyche and how that habit follows the adult throughout his or her life. This habit could be something as simple as putting your coat away or washing your hands to being advanced in creativity. There is a real need for a methodology to reverse the effects of negative habits. Can years of negative habits be replaced by positive ones? Some individuals are well aware of their negative habits and are not certain how to change them, while others are not even aware of their negative character traits. Habits have a neutral tone to them, yet addiction implies vice. Addictions are detrimental whereas habits could fall into a moral or immoral.
William James (1993) warns the youth that they are making a living hell by “habitually fashioning our characters in the wrong way” and they are not aware that they are “walking bundles of habits” (p.83). He further points out that on a molecular level human nerve cells and the very fiber of people’s being stores these habits, making an easy groove for them to continue again and again. This warning he emphasizes is that, once a habit has begun, it becomes easier to continue. James uses the example of a drunkard and a saint. Someone becomes a drunkard through a series of drinks just as a saint becomes a saint through a series of moral acts. A significant message that can be gleaned from these authors is to make virtuous acts habitual.
Aquinas (1993) says, regarding the intention of law, that it "aims at leading a man to virtue" (p.
261). Many current laws have severe punishments for stealing or murder so they serve as a deterrent to immoral behaviour. Yet, for the other behaviours such as abasing others or being lazy, it is usually up to the family to police the individual. As it can be acknowledged that some are not taught to treat others kindly or to be diligent workers, would it be reasonable to request this from the education system? Would it be worth it to study moral states of character, and the actions needed to develop positive character traits within a school curriculum? Could a nation of individuals who are filled with “more virtue” be created? If anything, the possibility of having citizens who are more self reflective and content is worth the attempt. Darwin (1993) points out that moral beings have the capability of reflection on past actions and disapproving or approving of some. Darwin believes our moral senses are a great feature that sets man apart from animals, and “habits gained in early youth and strengthened during our whole lives” become almost instinctual.(pgs.319 and 592). In light of this information, which areas could be expanded to discourage those habits in early youth that have led to odious moral characters and encourage those virtuous moral characters? Perhaps children absorb a great deal of their habits from their parents, some of these habits virtuous and others odious. The same can be said for habits we absorb from friends and from different social environments, such as work or school. Society itself is responsible for the formation of habits as well, by encouraging a collective understanding of proper public behavior.
The impact of having virtuous habits in the classroom could be immense, because an individual would be empowered to consciously make the right choices before a detrimental habit has formed. For example, in many schools children are taught to share food or toys. They learn how to share and hopefully carry this habit into adulthood. Another example that can be observed in America versus another country is waiting in lines. Children are socialized to wait their turn from an early age. They line up by their classroom to enter and exit. They also wait in lines at the lunch room. This same habit is used in adulthood when waiting in line at the bank or grocery store. In some countries there are no lines and people have to fight to get service. If virtuous habits were expanded to include self management of anger in childhood, it could mean managers and leaders who are skilled in problem solving in adulthood.
How can negative habits, be replaced with positive ones? Bacon criticizes Aristotle for not having taught the manner of super inducing habits asking what good it does to know that habits lead us to virtue or vice without knowing the process of acquiring habits. People learn through imitating others and when they are too young to judge, others judge for them in terms of defining. Some habits appear to naturally be absorbed without society being able to consciously choose, a person may see others smoking and go along with it, and it may eventually follow as a vice. What can be said of habits we are warned about from an early age but still choose them. Smoking for example is a vice that is discouraged and promoted in society, resulting in mixed messages. The school system and health system say do not smoke you could die. The advertising and movie industries say smoking is it beautiful. These contradictory elements probably play out in the mind of youth deciding whether to try it out or not. Smoking is portrayed as being deadly but glamorous?
Do the actions of family have more weight than society or school? Do friends have a significant influence? Who has the most influence in affecting character building habits? Bacon (1993) also includes Seneca’s “Successful villainy is called virtue” philosophy to illustrate the ways in which young mens’ judgments could be corrupt. (p.79) This idea of successful villainy labeled as virtue is an ideology revered by old men as well. One can easily see this in the current political climate of dictators who rule over the masses and hoard billions of dollars, believing they are “virtuous”. Similarly immoral acts are often labeled as virtuous, such as when justifying war. This leads to recognition of the importance of defining virtue and what exactly are its parameters. Virtue is the sum of right habits. These right habits are partially defined within an era and place, but also consist of characteristics that will always be accepted. These may be the early values we learn and carry into our adult life such as sharing, working hard, being clean, being fair, modest and content with what we have, praising others, being friendly, generous, preserving life and telling the truth. What is the manner of super inducing these habits in our youth? How can we super induce these habits when vice has taken over? A new moral development program within the curriculum of schools could assist society in the goal of enhancing virtue. It would need to be a well developed mechanism that teaches how to develop virtuous habits and how to transform vices. Such a program may help one to be better equipped to prevent vice. In addition, the seeds of virtue would be entrenched and ready to grow once we reach adulthood.
Traditionally the moral role may have been filled by religion which, due to the variety of cultures and people, it is left out of the current educational environment. Schools do teach morality and virtue to a degree, but in more of an indirect implied way. For example, if a student is caught lying then he/she may be given detention. Yet society does not systematically learn about liars and the habit of lying and telling the truth. People do not learn about what happens if an individual has a habit of being mean and how that affects work and family relationships. If children had the chance to know about adult character flaws, maybe they would consciously choose to develop positive, virtuous habits and prevent a negative habit from forming. Also, if adults had an awareness of common vices and the way in which they develop, they may learn how to modify them and decide to take another route instead of continuing on the same path. If the answer for the masses is in the control of education, then they would have the knowledge to change their habits into the direction of virtue.
A direction for further study may be to see if people who are truly happy and content, are also virtuous. It appears that individuals laden with vice or negative character states have darker dispositions yet this has not been proven substantially. People who are content happy and virtuous should be studied to provide evidence of what traits are needed to form a positive disposition, especially instructive would be to study individuals who used to be cruel then turned kind, or people who were lazy then became hard workers, because this knowledge could be applied in order to transform elements in society that may contribute to a negative life experience. It is unrealistic to think that there can be an end to vice or negative traits. They could be reduced if people had knowledge though, awareness itself may be a step in the right direction.
Kant (1993) mentions how humanity’s inclinations are “sources of want” and are “far from having absolute worth” and that we should focus on being free from them. (p.271). If he is referring to our desires relating to vice or our insatiable need to consume goods, then society would first have to know that these inclinations themselves are not virtuous. Again, this relates to definition and mixed messages. Businesses say buy more, people need many shoes, and people do not have enough. This may fuel inclinations because want in itself may arouse feelings of emptiness.
What would a curriculum formed with the goal of teaching virtue look like? It should be comprised of a committee of individuals who have been well known to be virtuous and content with life. These individuals would create the curriculum; they also would have to be somewhat of an accurate reflection of society in terms of age, gender and race. Their aims would be to establish bundles of habits that are positive in order to institute virtuous character states. These habits could include hands on activities that through practice would lead to desirable states of character. What is unknown is what qualities are missing that must be taught? A simple skill like being organized may prove invaluable as this skill can be carried virtually anywhere. Students could have hands on activities to teach on how to organize their living space, their time or even their thinking. Yet, in order to create a strong curriculum a committee would have to base its goals on research and the identification of what gaps that need to be filled. These gaps may change depending on the school environment itself. References
Aristotle 2.(1993). Nicomachean Ethics.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 8, pp. 348-349). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Aquinas.(1993). Summa Theologica.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 18, p. 261). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Bacon.(1993). Advancement of Learning.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 28, p. 79). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Darwin.(1993). The Descent of Man.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 49, p. 319 and 592). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
James.(1993). Principals of Psychology.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 53, p. 83). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Kant.(1993). The Metaphysics of Morals.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 39, p. 271). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. Lucretius.(1993). The Way Things Are Book 5.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 11, p.72). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Mill.(1993). On Liberty: Society and the Individual.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 40, pp. 304-305). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Plato. (1993). Timaeus.Great Books of the Western World(Book. 6, pp. 442-443). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.
Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary. (2005). (p. 1397).Springfield: Merriam Webster.
Milan PoudelRoom to Read, Nepal
School-based Management refers to the system of administrating schools with active public contribution. Forces driving the move towards SBM demand more freedom, diversity and the establishment of a strong network. Creating a network among such SBM, schools will be an important factor for achieving the desired outcomes. It takes time, effort and resources for the full implementation of SBM.
It is very difficult for Nepal to move directly to the desired level of SBM because the process involved in it has several barriers. Implementation of reform policies that require breaking up of the traditional values and practices faces severe resistance not only from real interest groups but also from the genuine stakeholders. It helps to realize the possibility of transformation and build the capacities that address systematic, significant and sustained change across all schools. Keywords:
School-based Management ,administration, decentralization, economy, stakeholdersBackground
Governments all over the world are introducing a range of strategies aimed at improving the financing and delivery of education services, with more recent emphasis on improving quality as well as increasing quantity (enrollments) in education. One such approach is to decentralize education decision-making by increasing parental and community involvement in schools, popularly known as School-based Management (SBM). SBM focuses on decentralization in decision-making authority to parents and the community fosters demand and ensure that school provide the social and economic benefits that best reflect the priorities and values of those local communities (Lewis,2006).
These days, a major concern in education in Asia and the world is to decentralize the authority of the central education offices back to individual schools, allowing schools to develop their own management policies ; school-based management (Chapman,2002). The aim is to empower principals and teachers or at strengthening their professional motivation, thereby enhance their sense of ownership to the school. In SBM system, tasks are set according to the characteristics and needs of the school itself. The members of the school have greater sovereignty and accountability for the use of resources to solve problems and carry out efficient educational activities. Each of these tasks is focused for the long-term development of the school. The teachers and parents, who become active directly with students, have the most informed and plausible opinions as to what educational arrangements will be most beneficial to those students. More over the primary stakeholders are key actors who have the best information about what actually goes on in schools and how it can be improved by using limited means.
The concept of School-based Management is new in Nepal. The government of Nepal is now using this as a test implementation in some of the schools and not decided whether to imply all over the country or not. This paper tries to analyze the situation of SBM in Nepal and discusses on the difficulties of SBM system in Nepal.School-based Management (SBM)
SBM as an organizational delivery model for schooling has been well documented in the literature over the past decade (Barrington 1997; Brown 1990;levacic 1998; Whitty et al 1997) in Cranton (2001). A world wide shift of the education reform and school reform in the 1990s was to decentralize power to the school level so that schools can make full discretional use of their human and other resources to provide quality education to students according to their own structural context. With this delegation of power, schools can make better decisions at the site level and set their own development plans according to their needs and characteristics (Robertson & Briggs 1998). At the same time, schools have to increase accountability of their work to their stakeholders that include students, staff, parents, alumni, relevant school organization and community members. Ideally, all these parties take part in school management and decision making (David, 1989).
The beginning of SBM was from the developed countries like: Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. Hong Kong introduced SBM in early 1990s, followed by Thailand and Malaysia. International bilateral/multilateral agencies, such as UNICEF, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, USAID and AusAID, have been assisting the government in supporting, strengthening and extending SBM to include governance.What is School-based Management?
SBM is a “strategy to improve education by transferring significant decision-making authority from state and district offices to individual schools” (Myers & Stonehill, 1993). They further describes that, the traditional participants in the educational process, specifically, principals, teachers, students and parents are given greater control over the education process by giving them responsibility for decisions about the budget, personnel, and the curriculum.
In SBM, authority is decentralized from the central government to the school level (Caldwell, 2007). In the words of Malen et.al.(1990:290), “SBM can be viewed conceptually as a formal alternation of governance structures, as a form of decentralization that identifies the individual school as the primary unit of improvement and relies on the redistribution of decision-making authority as the primary means through which improvement might be stimulated and sustained.” Carldwell (2007) says that SBM is the systematic decentralization to the school level of authority and responsibility to make decisions on significant matters related to school operations within a centrally determined framework of goals, policies, curriculum, standards and accountability. SBM mainly is an approach to decentralize decision-making to the individual school environment, which assists the empowerment of parents and the professionalism of teachers with special focus on the shared decision-making among key stake holders at the local level becomes a defining characteristic (Murphy1997;39).
SBM does not guarantee school improvement. Wohlstetter, (1995) says that SBM as a form of governance will not in itself generate improvement in school performance. It is simply a tool, through which school-level decision makers can implement various reforms that can improve teaching and learning. It shows that SBM transforms the responsibility and decision making authority of school operations to principals, teachers, parents and sometimes even the students including other school community members. Though, they are responsible for the management of the school, they need to run within the set of policies determined by the central government. SBM program generally transfers all the authority like: budget distribution, hiring and firing of the teachers and other school staffs, designing and developing the curriculum, management of textbooks and other educational materials, infrastructure improvements and evaluating the teacher performance and student learning outcomes. Models of
School-based Management Morph and Beck (1995) suggest that SBM usually takes one of the three forms: administrative control SBM, professional control SBM, and community control SBM. Except these types one more is still visible in which power is shared and utilized equally by school professionals and parent/community ( Leithwood K., & Menzies T. 1998,p 25).
Administrative control SBM is aimed at enhancing responsibility to the school principals for the efficient expenditure of resources, on the supposition that such efficiencies will eventually pay off for students. These efficiencies are to be gained by providing local school administrators authority on the key decision areas such as budget, personnel and curriculum. Supporters of this model argues that such power in combination with the motivation to make the best use of resources, ought to get more of the resources of the school into the direct services of students. The teachers, parents, students or the community representatives can also be consulted informally for assisting to achieve the objective. To help the principal in decision making site councils are established.
In professional control SBM, teachers control the management of local schools aiming to make the better use of their knowledge in such key decision areas as budget, curriculum and personnel. The belief of this model is that professionals who are closest to the student have the most relevant knowledge for making decisions. Complete participation and authority to the teachers, in the decision-making process will increase their commitment to implement whatever decisions are made because they are the ones who interact with the students for delivering the knowledge (Hess, 1991).
Community control SBM model is established to make the parents accountable and satisfy, who are the consumer of the school. The basic assumption giving rise to this model of SBM is that the curriculum of the school ought to directly reflect the values and preferences of parents and the local community (Ornstein,1983). The supporters of this model claim that the school professionals are not as responsible to such local values and likings as they ought to be. School councils in which parent/community constituents have a majority of the membership are the primary instruments for the exercise of such power. Community control SBM is limited to school governance dominated by parents and community members. There is, however another focus of community control in which parents are given a choice of schools, the most direct form of accountability by schools to the community.
Parents and teacher control (Balanced) SBM model attempts to accomplish the purposes of both community control and professional control forms of SBM. It aims to make better use of teachers’ knowledge for key decisions in the school, as well as to be more accountable to parents and the local community. Unlike the pure community control form of SBM, balanced control forms assume that professionals are willing to be quite responsive to the values and preferences of parents and the local community under conditions in which parents are in a position to act as partners with schools in the education of their children. It is assumed that both parents and teachers have important knowledge on key decisions about curriculum, budget and personnel. Site councils associated with form of SBM have decision-making power and their membership is balanced between school staff and parent members.
Decentralization and School-based Management Highly centralized system tends to be bureaucratic and allow little opportunity to schools and local communities. Decentralized systems divert significant powers to local level called self-management (Bush, 2003). Lauglo (1997:3-4) connects bureaucracy with centralization and defines as follows:
Bureaucratic centralization implies concentrating in a central (‘top’) authority decision-making on a wide range of matters, …a ministry could make decisions in considerable details as to aims and objectives, curricula and teaching materials to be used, prescribed methods, appointments of staff and their job descriptions, admissions of students, assessment and certification, finance and budgets and inspections/evaluations to monitor performance.
We can come with number of solid arguments to clarify the introduction of SBM. It is more democratic, which allows teachers and parents to take decisions about an issue of such importance as education is certainly more democratic than to keep this decision in the hands of a select group of central-level officials. SBM is more relevant to locate the decision-making power closer to where problems are being experienced. The local staffs generally know their own situation better than the ones form administrative level at central level. Decisions can be taken much faster if they do not need to go through a long bureaucratic process (from school through several intermediary offices to the central level), which is possible in SBM system. In SBM the decisions can be made at school level so that it is faster. SBM system is more accountable to the focused group. It focuses the teachers to be accountable for the school results towards parents and the close community directly. Such accountability is expected to act as tool for greater effectiveness. Mobilization of the resources in SBM system is more reasonable and rigid. Especially the parents including teachers will be more enthusiastic to contribute to the funding of their school using the locally available sources (Chautaut, 2005).
SBM system is not so easier to handle because the local people including the head teacher might not have got any training on educational management. Until and unless the management system is not better no promotion of an institution can be wished. Many management-related decisions, especially financing and staffing issues, are intricate and complex. Studies covering four OECD countries found that “principals were troubled by ethical dilemmas in all four countries and some reported an increase in the frequency with which they were confronted with difficult decisions in recent years” (Dempster, 2000, p. 51). All the communities are not able to fund the schooling then what happen is collapse of the school. This can be unwanted burden for the public and it is obvious that the educational quality will be decreased.
Autonomous schools and colleges may be regarded as potentially more efficient and effective but depend much on the nature and quality if internal management of these potential benefits is to be realized (Bush, 2003 p.12). But the effectiveness of SBM depends strongly on the responsibility that the school feels towards the community as well as pressure that the same community can exercise on the school. For the community to play that role, four requirements should be presented valid participation, as identified by Lawler (1984): knowledge and skill; power; information and rewards. This is hardly the case in many communities, which puts in doubt, one of the main tenets of the advocates of SBM: that it will create a stronger accountability framework than the centralized management system.School-based Management Movement in Nepal
The development of education in Nepal has got short history. During the prehistoric time, religious schools; Gurukul (Hindu) and Bihar (Buddhist) with the characteristics of religious values were managed and funded by the religious community with their trusts. Most of the schools before 1951 were established and financed by individuals and communities. On the other hand, there were very few fully funded educational institutes from the government. In this way, school governance before 1951 was the responsibility of both the community and the state. Even though the people were not educated, people from different parts of the country started to establish new schools on their own initiatives. They did not wait for the government to take initiative for establishing new schools and recruit teachers.
It can be said that the systematic development of education in Nepal started since 1951, after the establishment of Ministry of Education (MoE).In 1954, government had formed an education committee, known as Nepal National Education Planning Commission (NNEPC) for the systematic development of education. Subsequently, several commissions were formed and reports were made available. However, education policy, planning, administration and management aspects were not made specific as compared to and in line with the expansion of the schools. In the past, it is seen that the people in the community have the sole responsibility of school governance with little support from the government. From the initiative of the community, several new schools were established in many parts of the community within a short period of time. Hence, most schools at the initial stage were community-initiated schools which received different kinds of contributions like; land, funds, volunteer teachers, labor, construction materials etc. from the community. Since, the initiation was from the community, the community people were responsible for the management as well.
After the introduction of National Educational System Plan (NESP) (1971-1976), all community schools established earlier without any circumstances were brought under the direct control of the government which also shifted the governance role from the community to the central government. This plan became an effort to implement a uniform system of education by nationalizing the educational institutions of the country. This plan was formed on the assumption that education is one of the prime functions of the state and therefore, it must receive support and stimulation due to it. The feeling of the plan was that the educational system of a nation must be organized and supervised by the state itself. Ministry of Education (MoE) planned to have solitary authority and responsibility for the management of all schools in the country carried out through its Regional Education Directorates (REDs). During the time National Education Committee (NEC) was formed to guide the central Ministry in terms of general policy, establish coordination between school and higher level education. Furthermore, it was for assisting the MoE in the easy implementation of the NESP and carry out research and development functions. All the school management committees were dismissed. The school supervision system was run through secondary and primary school supervisors. This centralized system of education could not manage thoroughly the local problems in terms of curriculum, resources, manpower and monitoring (Lamichhane, 1997).
As time passed, the educational system in Nepal also has been influenced by the evolvement of the SBM practice throughout the world. Local Development Act 1966 divided the country into 14 zones and 75 districts for the administrative purpose. The educational management also was tired to decentralize according to the administrative division. However, such structural administrative changes did not manage any significance changes in educational governance (ibid. 1997).
After the Decentralization Act 1982, the government granted authority and responsibility to the local village development committee for formulating and implementing local development plans. A system of block grants-in-aid was introduced, in line with the government’s commitment to meet the teachers’ salaries for a fixed staff size so as to prevent indiscriminate hiring of teachers and also to encourage local resource mobilization by the schools. The management of public schools was thus handed over to the communities.
In 1990 the democracy was restored and the first elected government was formed. The government initiated several measures to expand the scope and participation of people in school management, but they remained less effective. Later on, Government of Nepal amended the “Education Act” in 2001(seventh amendment) and introduced the new “Education Regulations” in 2002. According to the amended version of the Education Act 2001 and regulations 2002, the government introduced major changes in the formation of school management committee (SMC). The guardians of the students were the members and they had the right to select or elect the SMC. In the history of Nepalese education development, this was the first time that community people were made responsible to government schools through the specific authority in the education act and regulations. The authority handed to the community was fully under control of the central administration. So the SMCs became the administrators without any power because all the financing, curriculum, teacher selection, supervision and monitoring was centrally handled (Lamsal, 2008).
After 2005, the government selected some schools as model-school and handed over the schools to the community. These school management committees of the respective schools get regular fixed amount of funding and centralized curriculum from the central government but the selection of teacher and staff, administrating the school, supervision and monitoring is the job of the SMC. The government is adding the number of this type of community based model-schools every year (ibid. 2008).
In the remote past, Nepal almost exclusively relied on community-managed and to a large part, community-financed schools for primary education. But those schools were not government’s schools they were established private and managed by themselves. During the time when the government became active in educational matters, community-managed schools were taken over with the anticipation of improving the overall quality of education through increased government funding and technical support. While there had been an increase in government funding of the school sector after nationalization, the improvements in quality and efficiency of SBM lagged seriously behind the public expectation with comparison to the fund invested. It can be said that there was gradual erosion of governance, accountability and quality after nationalization of the school management.
Conclusive Discussion SBM is for the enhancement of the local society in terms of education. This process is not so simple to be succeeded. Only enforcement of the rules and regulations alone is not sufficient to make it effective and success. It is a joint effort of policies implementation, empowerment of community and professionals. Key element in successful operation of SBM is capacity development in the local level. Studies have indentified that defining the responsibilities of the stakeholders, widening participation, developing professionalism of teachers, setting goals, evaluating effectiveness and developing characteristics of good schools are necessary for the implementation of SBM. For the community to play the role, four requirements should be presented; (i) legitimate participation (ii) knowledge and skill (iii) power (iv) information and rewards. This is hardly the case in many communities, which puts in doubt, one of the main beliefs of the advocates of SBM: that will create a stronger accountability framework than the centralized management system.
In SBM system, reform of administrative procedures and devolution of more authorities to schools in human resource management, use of resources and design and delivery of curriculum is sought. These measures are for creating more area for schools to develop quality education with their own unique characteristics. Principally, Nepal can adopt SBM, but above mentioned serious considerations are needed. One very important aspect is that, SBM system is not any magic which can solve all the problems immediately.
The school management system which is being practiced as test-model in Nepal seems as if it is SBM but it requires more sovereignty and flexibility. The government and the policy makers themselves are not fully confident on it. Only recruiting the teachers and staffs and handling them with the fund from the government cannot be SBM. It can be extended to be autonomous in term of curriculum development according to the community including the main stream educational system and establishing local funding resources for the education. Some people argue that the full power to the school management committee to administrate is not better because issues like politics, culture, relationship etc. will influence while recruiting and evaluating teachers and staffs. In some cases what also can happen is the school management committee does not hold the capacity to conduct the administrative activities. This practice can only be the promotion of local politics in the educational institution in the name of SBM. If this happens then it is for sure that there would be an accident which costs much and the quality can never be improved. The capacity of the school management committee and community people remains to be crucial factor for the establishment of the basic principles of SBM such as flexibility, autonomy, transparency, accountability and participatory decision making in school. References
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