Education Policy and Inequality: On the Challenges of Implementing Global Norms and Trends (Academic Panel)

Increasingly, education policy ideas emanate fromglobal institutions. Within this context, education emerged as one of the main developmental areas topresumably tackle several forms of social, political, economic and geographic inequality. This trend is reflected within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the UNESCO-led Education for All (EFA) global movement or several OECD, World Bank and UN programmes and initiatives – to name but a few. At the same time, education is increasingly positioned as the main positional good to facilitate the entry of local economies into the global knowledge economy. International policy ideas such as competency-based education or global testing (PISA) trends aim to facilitate this. In this process, education is in the main equated with economic development and growth to overcome several forms of inequality, and notapproached as a necessary tool towards political and social Transformation stemming from the societies in question (Smith et. al. 2016).

Yet, while education policy ideas are now often global, it is less clear how and why these global policy standards and initiatives are re-contextualised in local conditions, and ultimately connected to either trends towards homogenisation or heterogenisation of education practices. The growing attention to and increased funding for education not withstanding, several inequalities in and through education continue to thrive and persist. This ranges from access to (quality) education, unequal resource allocation, urban-rural divides or actual and perceived benefits to different groups in terms of education outcomes and attainment. The list of context specific and local issues and conditions that interact with inequality in, through and as a consequence of education is long.

Against this backdrop, we critically reflect upon the difficulties of implementing and adapting standardised global norms in education that are shaped by international institutions and non-governmental organisations. By drawing on different case studies and country contexts, the panel sheds light on aspects that remain frequently disregarded when it comes to translating education policies into practice and how this is related to inequality. Doing so, panellists will pay attention to political ideologies (Taylor et al. 2000), cultural particularisms, a country’s history of state formation or the legacies of colonial rule but also public sentiments (for example, whether education is perceived as public or private good); or the importation of western style education models to non-western contexts and societies.

Mieke Lopes Cardozo, University of Amsterdam

Paper 1:
Title: “Increase the Gap: Unintended Consequence of School-Based Management Policy in Indonesia”
Author: Senza Arsendy, University of Glasgow

Paper 2:
Title: “Public-Private Partnerships to meet the global call for Education for All: the Philippine case”
Author: Marjolein Camphuijsen, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Paper 3:
Title: “Global Norms and Local Reality: Education Policy and Inequality in Mexico and Uganda.”
Authors: Datzberger Simone and Tromp Rosanne, University of Amsterdam

Paper 4:
Title: “Challenging global discourses from local processes: schooling and gender in a “developing” rural Nepal.”
Author: Alba Castellsagué, Universitat Autònoma of Barcelona (UAB)

Discussant: Mieke Lopes Cardozo, University of Amsterdam

Simone Datzberger and Rosanne Tromp, University of Amsterdam