» Archive for category: ‘education


The International Institute of Social Studies is looking for a researcher (MA or PhD level) to work on a ESRC/DfID funded research project on ‘Education systems, aspiration and learning in remote rural settings‘.

The position is open for Lao nationals only and is 18 months full-time. The successful applicant will spend about 9 months in Laos conducting ethnographic research in two remote rural settings and the remainder of the time at the ISS in The Hague, the Netherlands. Details about the position can be found HERE.

Note further a fully funded PhD position and two postdoctoral positions with the project but based at Brunel University.


Guest post by ISS PhD researcher Kim Chi Tran

My research explores how schooled children from Mongolian nomadic pastoralist families experience and perceive the influences of ICT in their lives as they encounter these technologies through formal and informal forms of learning. The research methodology takes a child-centered approach and a multi-disciplinary design: I use ethnography along with visual participatory techniques and complementary applications of qualitative survey and semi-structured interview to progressively take the main research participants and me through deeper engagements with the research questions over a 9-month data collection period. Here I describe the process. You can also see examples of the methods described in this presentation.

The methodology is based on a theoretical framework that posits that the perspectives and experiences of learners, whose agency is situated within a collectivistic social context, are shaped by the interrelations between the social, temporal and spatial dimensions of the landscapes where learning takes place.

During the first 3 months of my ongoing fieldwork, I worked with 10 students (equal gender distribution) from two grade-10 classes. These students come from herding families that live over 200 km away from the school, which is located in the Bayankhongor provincial center. Every week, I held a workshop with these students to explore different aspects of research questions using different combinations of these methods: clouds building, photo-voice, diagramming and semi-structured interview.

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A participant’s map of available ICT.

In order to establish a common understanding of what technologies were considered as ICT among the main research participants, I asked the students to write on sticky notes all the technologies that they thought would be considered as ICT. They would then sort out the availability and accessibility of these technologies to their families and neighbours. This exercise served as the preparatory step for their photo-essays.

Each student was given a digital camera to document three aspects of their lives during their first school break in November 2014: a typical week at home, places and moments in which a specific ICT is used around them, and those in which they would like to use a specific type of ICT to which their family does not yet have access. These photo-essays provided a way for students to crystallize the dominant aspects of their lives as pastoralist learners and the current role of ICT in their lives.

Although most students have cellphones equipped with cameras, my hope for the research project is to engage these students as quasi-native researchers so that their engagement in the research process is not just limited to data collection and generation but will go deeper, so that a certain level of reflexivity will be facilitated through the process. Using separate digital cameras helped facilitate this.

I also conducted a qualitative survey for the entire population of students from herding family at this school, in order to build a backdrop against which the in-depth analysis of the main research participants can be situated.

I also used other visual participatory techniques to tease out the details of selected components of the students’ social landscapes. Mapping proved to be extremely useful as a method that allowed the students to build visual representations of the intimate relationship between the landscape, the seasons, and the different social realities of herders. Their maps reveal that mobility not only governs their spatial and temporal realities but also their social realities.

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A participant’s migration map

By mapping out their social networks in seasonal camps and the corresponding availability of ICT (networks for phones, TV, and internet) in these places the students showed that as learners who are situated within the nexus of nomadic herding – most of which is located far away from urban centers – and schooling – which is necessarily bound to urban centers – the contents of their social realities which are shaped by the interconnectedness between landscape, actors, and materials shift as they move between these places.

I also asked the students to create pie charts of activities that they typically engaged in while they were home. This method revealed the dynamic gender roles that exist in Mongolian herding household and the factors that affect them.

At the end of the 3-month period, I conducted semi-structured interviews with the students where we engaged deeper with their diagramming data, surveys, and photo-essays. The knowledge that I gained from living in the girls’ dormitory and working as an English teaching assistant at the school provided the necessary insight to contextualize the students’ responses.

This form of participant observation creates a space in which the students and I can build the necessary familiarity, rapport and trust with each other. The interweaving of resulting data from each method in the step-wise application of different methods throughout the process has led to a systematic uncovering of new depths and widths of the research subject. This non-static approach has provided flexibility for the methods to evolve as new layers of the researched landscape emerge.

Guest post from Megan Baker, a current student in the ISS Child & Youth Studies in Development Context course

Leslie Moore’s presentation on ‘Leveraging Qur’anic schooling for Western-style educational goals’ was mainly centered on comparing Qur’anic schooling to western style schooling, and the ways in which the techniques/traditions of Qur’anic schooling can be leveraged to achieve western-educational goals. More specifically how can Qur’anic schooling be used in order to expand the provision and participation of basic education, as well as to improve educational outcomes for Muslim children who are perceived as being left behind? While these ambitions may be of honorable intention, we should be critical.

For example, looking at the title itself ‘Leveraging Qur’anic schooling for Western-style educational goals’ Moore defines the term leverage as ‘to use something valuable to achieve a desired result’. While this may be the chosen understanding of the verb, and the Merriam-Webstar dictionary does acknowledge this definition, it also presents the following definition, ‘to use for gain: exploit.’ A few of the synonyms listed include abuse, capitalize (on), impose (on or upon), and exploit.

Similarly, it’s important to break down what are the ‘goals’ of western style education that are trying to be achieved. Literacy as well as intellectual, spiritual moral, and community development are mentioned as ideal outcomes of schooling, and while Moore clearly acknowledges that pedagogical shortcomings remain in western style schooling, but highlights the ideal schooling as built on progressive pedagogies that include student-structured instruction, that is inquiry-based and promotes meta-cognition. This is in contrast to critical pedagogy theorists Friere (1970) and Illich (1971) who emphasize the repressive realities of schooling that institutionalize and legitimatize existing power hierarchies and inequalities.

Moore discussed how historically colonial support of Qur’anic schools was the result of goals to reduce Pan-Arab Islamic influence, and to preserve local Islam that fit the interests of the colonizers best. Equally, it’s important to now recognize the motivations behind the current interest in Qur’anic schooling. If the intention is to leverage Qur’anic schooling for Western-style educational goals, we must dig deeper into where goals of increasing literacy intersect with goals of fighting fundamentalism in a geo-political context of Islamaphobia.

We can see such a development initiative as part of the global diffusion of modern education. Andersen-Levitt (2005) explains how “The spread of western style schooling means children growing up around the globe have a more uniform experience of socialization than in the past (998)” and that “Western-style schools can be found everywhere now. They co-exist with other systems of formal education such as Quranic schools and have displaced alternative school systems” (991). This single global model of schooling is part of a much larger globalization process. Ansell (2005), who describes various approaches to development and the neglect of children and youth in these processes, shows how within modernization theory development is done by governments/institutions, and one criterion of ‘modernized children’ is that they attend school. But as Levinson and Holland (1996) remind us, schools are not innocent sites of cultural transmission. Schools tend to target the young, often by global powers, and thus such initiatives to ‘leverage’ Qur’anic traditions should by viewed with caution.


Anderson-Levitt, K. M. (2005) ‘The Schoolyard Gate: Schooling and Childhood in Global Perspective’, Journal of Social History, 38(4), pp. 987-1006.

Ansell, N. (2005) ‘“Development”, Globalisation and Poverty as Contexts for Growing Up’ in Children, Youth and Development. London: Routledge, pp. 38-62.

Friere, P. (1996 (1970)) ‘The “banking” concept of education as an instrument of oppression’ in Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin Books. Chapter 2.

Illich, I. (1971) ‘Why We Must Disestablish School’, in Deschooling Society. New York Harper & Row, pp. 1-24

Levarage. 2015. In Merriam-Webster.com.Retrieved February 16, 2015 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/levarage

Levinson, B. A. and D.C. Holland (1996) ‘The Cultural Production of the Educated Person: An Introduction’, in B.A. Levinson, D.E. Foley and D.C. Holland (eds.) The Cultural Production of the Educated Person: Ethnographies of Schooling and Local Practice. Albany: State University of New York Press, pp. 1-30.


UNICEF and UNAIDS are learning that, in the fight against AIDS, they ignore adolescents at their peril. The UN organizations have released their latest statistics on HIV/AIDS worldwide, and they show impressive progress in most areas, with significant reductions in AIDS-related deaths — including the prevention of infant infection through aggressive mother-to-child transmission prevention. There is one glaring exception however: adolescents.

Girl_infections_infographics_1 New infections among adolescents (10-19 year olds) have actually risen. AIDS is now the leading killer of adolescents in Africa and the second cause of death of adolescents worldwide. Girls and young women are disproportionately affected, comprising the majority (64%) of new infections. Adolescents also face greater challenges of access and adherence to treatment than other age groups. In fact, many are not even aware that they are living with HIV (UNICEF, 2014).

In response to this glaring exception, UNAIDS and UNICEF launched the All In to End Adolescent AIDS Initiative this week in Kenya. With the support of UNFPA, WHO, PEPFAR, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation and various youth movements, All In intends to provide ‘a new platform for action to drive better results for adolescents by encouraging strategic changes in policy and engaging more young people in the effort’ (UNAIDS, 2015).

According to UNAIDS, ‘All In focuses on four key action areas: engaging, mobilizing and empowering adolescents as leaders and actors of social change; improving data collection to better inform programming; encouraging innovative approaches to reach adolescents with essential HIV services adapted to their needs; and placing adolescent HIV firmly on political agendas to spur concrete action and mobilize resources’ (ibid.).

While All In shows promise for reversing these trends by involving more young people directly in the effort, it remains to be seen to what extent it will lead to concrete gains, either in HIV reduction amongst adolescents or greater youth participation in such initiatives (after all, UNICEF has made these points before). The initiative’s website contains few details. It is unclear, for example, what role essential support like comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) will play in All In Initiatives, despite the vast majority becoming infected through sexual transmission. madnkts

Further, All In pledges to engage young people, but with All In calling on ‘national leaders to coordinate, support and lead assessments of existing programmes and expand partnerships for innovation between the public and private sectors’ (ibid. ), young people’s participation may easily be hijacked or usurped by others’ interests.

The fight against HIV/AIDS clearly needs adolescents, and adolescents need to take a greater place in research and policymaking. To do this, they need support to receive and even redesign CSE (see our other recent blogposts on CSE) and other capacity building to help them make the most of participatory opportunities, and to lessen the impact of HIV/AIDS on their lives. ISS is doing this through, for example, projects that involve young people directly in research about their sexual and reproductive health needs to improve CSE delivery in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition, The Dutch Children Affected by AIDS (CABA) Working Group, of which ISS is now a part, will be working to ensure that adolescents are prominently involved in the AIDS 2018 conference to be held in Amsterdam.

Posted by Kristen Cheney

The Global TVET Machinery

Category: education| youth

21 Feb 2015


‘The discovery of youth is one of the by-products of the depression. Youth has been officially identified as comprising the age range of 16-25 years. It has also been discovered that this age group has a special set of problems of vocational, personal, and social adjustment, and that society is not facilitating a smooth, easy, and natural transition for its members from childhood into settled and happy adult life.’ (Bentley, 1937: 34)

As the case at the time of Bentley’s writing nearly 80 years ago also today youth have been identified as a social group that is disproportionally affected by economic crises. Indeed, the phenomenon of youth unemployment has been recognised as a global problem. This has led to global responses, which inevitably lead to standardised policy approaches based on a homogenized view of the issue at stake. The can be illustrated by UNESCO’s approach to ‘technical and vocational education and training’ (TVET).

For example, UNESCO established in 1999 an International Centre for Technical and Vocational Training and Education (called UNESCO-UNEVOC). One of the flagship programmes of this Centre is the setting up of a UNEVOC network envisioned linking TVET institutions in UNESCO Member States the world over with the explicit aim of promoting TVET systems and policies, and sharing of TVET related knowledge and experience. Amongst other things, this has led to the setting up of a ‘Global TVET database’, a repository providing ‘concise, reliable and up-to-date information on TVET systems worldwide’ and a ‘TVETipedia’, ‘an internet portal where users can exchange information and share knowledge’ on TVET. Furthermore, the country reports in the UNESCO-UNEVOC’s Global TVET database all follow the same organizational structure, and recommendations of expanding national TVET systems take similar shapes characterised by a focus on expanding formal, classroom based education and training.

Such a global TVET machinery approach is usefully contrasted with Bentley’s contextualised and historicised plea for ‘vocational guidance’ for youth in the USA at the time of the Great Depression. His call for ‘vocational guidance’ was based on the historical observation that economic development in the USA had brought about a situation in which the world of work had become separated from the domestic sphere. As a result, he argues, ‘the home and home life no longer contribute vitally to the induction of youth into vocational life’ (Bentley, 1937: 34). Given the institutionalization of the productive and reproductive spheres into separate realms in which gender and generation worked as important structuring relations, Bentley’s plea for vocational guidance amounted to a call for permeating these boundaries by introducing youth to the world of work both within the school and beyond the space of the classroom (ibid 1937).

To-date, in much of the world the home has far from lost its ‘productive character’. Thus, the household, and everyday life more generally, continues to offer much potential for the acquisition of vocational skills as well as exposure to vocational options. At the very least, this raises some questions about the self-evidence with which formalised vocational training offered in TVET schools is in the global policy literature presented as a solution to an apparent ‘skills problem’ of youth.

posted by Roy Huijsmans

Schooling Nationalism

Category: education

24 Nov 2014

imagesMass-schooling has long been recognised as an important technique of nation-building. Indeed, Marie Lall notes in her introduction to Education as a Political Tool in Asia that ‘governments have long used education and the school curriculum amongst other vehicles for disseminating political ideology with a view to transforming societies and subjecting them to more effective state control’ (p. 1).

General Prayuth Chan-o-cha adds another chapter to this theme now that his ‘12 core values of the Thai people‘ have been included into textbooks by the Thai Ministry of Education. General Prayuth is the former commander in chief of the Royal Thai Army who launched a successful military coup against the Thai government in May 2014, despite his earlier claim of neutrality of the army in the Thai conflict (see HERE), and has meanwhile been appointed as the new prime-minister of Thailand.

The Chiangrai Times  refers to the chief of the Thai Office of the Basic Education Commision who explains that ‘students at all levels will be required to recite the ’12 core values of the Thai people’ either as part of their daily flag-raising ceremony or in class’. It also lists the ’12 core values’:

1. Upholding the nation, the religions and the Monarchy, which is the key institution
2. Being honest, sacrificial and patient with positive attitude for the common good of the public
3. Being grateful to the parents, guardians and teachers
4. Seeking knowledge and education directly and indirectly
5. Treasuring the precious Thai tradition
6. Maintaining moral, integrity, well-wishes upon others as well as being generous and sharing
7. Understanding, learning the true essence of democratic ideals with His Majesty the King as the Head of State
8. Maintaining discipline, respectful of laws and the elderly and seniority
9. Being conscious and mindful of action in line with His Majesty’s the King’s statements
10. Practicing the philosophy of Sufficiency Economy of His Majesty the King. Saving money for time of need. Being moderate with surplus used for sharing or expansion of business while having good immunity
11. Maintaining both physical and mental health and unyielding to the dark force or desires, having sense of shame over guilt and sins in accordance with the religious principles
12. Putting the public and national interest before personal interest.

posted by Roy Huijsmans




funded PhD positions

Category: education| research

31 Oct 2014

indexMarking its 150th anniversary, Oxford Brookes University offers a number of full-time PhD studentships.

This includes a PhD position in a project entitled ‘Urban Futures: Aspiration, inequality and transitions to adulthood among young people in London and New York City’. The anticipated project is described as follows: ‘The research will involve a year of long-term ethnographic research with a cohort of individuals making the transition from schooling to early adulthood, coupled with an intensive period of observation and interviews with students and school leavers in London (with a smaller comparative study in New York City, partly funded by the studentship provided by Oxford Brookes).’

Unfortunately, only UK and EU national applicants are eligible. For further details go HERE.


Category: CYS specialisation| education| research

17 Sep 2014

downloadNext week the 2013-14 cohort of ISS students present their research paper drafts. The titles suggest an exciting week with many students working on interesting children and youth related topics.

The International Institute of Social Studies in the Hague, the Netherlands offers, among other things, a 15.5 months MA programme in Development Studies. A unique feature of the ISS course offering is that it includes a number of elective courses that specifically focus on questions pertaining children and youth in contexts of development. In addition, other courses integrate a generational perspective that highlight the specific position of children and youth (as well as older people) as a critique to the adult-centric perspective that dominates much development studies.

The 2013-14 students started their programme in September 2013 and finished their course work in June 2014. The summer months were dedicated to individual research projects, often involving primary data collection in countries in the South. Next week students present a first analysis of their material in their research paper draft seminars. Each student has a full hour, which starts with a short presentation followed by feedback from peer-discussants, the supervisory team and other students.

Looking at the titles we have an interesting week ahead of us:

‘The Effects of Cross-border Violence on Uganda Children and Young adult between age 15-24 in Kasese District of Rwenzori Region: The coping strategy for survival’ by Mabel Kabatalya.

“How Are You All Doing?”: Exploring the life experiences and struggles of young generation of South Korea through “narrativization” by Min Jee Park

‘Youth School to Work Transition Experiences in Urban Ethiopia: In the lens of Unemployed and Jobless Youth Experiences’ by Beshir Butta Dale

‘Mothering Fathers?  Fathers’ New “Care” Identity and Navigating the Health Needs of their Children’ by Maurene Ann Donato Papa

‘Migrant Boys and Their Work on Streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’ by Degwale Gebeyehu Belay

‘The Social Impact of the Zimbabwean Crisis: The Case Study of Access and Quality of Education for Rural Secondary School Children’ by Samuel Kapingidza

‘Diverse experiences of teenage pregnancy in Monterrey, Mexico’ by Brenda Janett Rodriguez Cortes

‘Gender Barriers to Policy formulation and Re-entry Policy for pregnant teenagers in Ghana: Examining the silence discourses ‘ by  Yenutien Kombian

‘Responsibility of the State and parents: Child maintenance claims administered in the parallel Kadhi Court system in Zanzibar’ by Sheikha Mohamed Ramia.

‘The Difficulties of Ending FGM: Case of Afar Pastoralist Communities in Ethiopia’ by Masresha Yazew Andarge

‘Societal stigmatization and prejudice: A challenge to the survival of street children in Kampala city of Uganda’, by Annet Najjuma.

‘Eternal Outsiders? Social Exclusion and the Rights of Children with Albinism in Kenya’, by Irene Katunge Nyamu.

‘Troubling Paradox: Gaps between Policy and Reality; Child Poverty and Wellbeing in India’, by Pranab Kumar Chanda

‘Universal Primary Education under Decentralization: An asset or liability to rural schools and communities of Uganda?’ by Agnes Kawala

‘Examining the Dichotomies of Social Protection:   Is the South African Child Support Grant alleviating poverty or perpetuating dependency?’ by Zanele Silo

‘Urban poverty and social protection; Ideal versus reality in the intervention strategies. A Case study of Kazi kwa Vijana (Work for Youth) in Kenyan slums’, by Dominic Ngumbi Mutuku

‘Exploring the Phenomenon of Child-adult partnership for street begging in Tamale, Ghana’, by Wedadu Sayibu.

posted by Roy Huijsmans


UntitledIn a previous post I have commented on the academic platform Erasmus University Rotterdam offers to the financial industry in a university course specifically designed for Dutch primary school children. In this post I will take a look at the exercise book that the participating children get to use as part of the programme (see cover page above).

The cover page and the title (‘Beleggen: een goed belegde boterham’) leaves no doubt about the overall message of the course material: financial investment pays – in fact it pays very well! Yet, a discursive reading of the exercise book reveals another message: financial investment doesn’t only pay, not doing it is foolish.

How is this second message delivered? The first chapter on ‘money’ asks participants some general questions about their financial situation: do you have money? If so, what is the source of income, what do you do with it, and do you save? This is followed by a second chapter with the title: ‘Spending or saving?’. In this chapter simply putting money aside, instead of putting it into a savings account, is presented as not very financial-savvy as there is no interest earned. This message is given further weight in chapter 3 on ‘inflation’, which makes students realise through a range of simple calculations that the purchasing power of their Euros diminishes overtime. This leads to the question of ‘whether there are ways to earn money whilst saving’ (p.11). The answer to this question is presented in chapter 4 on ‘financial investment’ and is further explored in a number of chapters that follow.

The conclusion that is presented to the participating primary school students is that financial investments make much sense (because it is profitable) if you have spare money. It is also acknowledged that losses may be incurred but that’s ultimately not a real danger because ‘risks’ are presented as manageable and knowable.

This narrative, however, is based on a number of silences. What, then, are the questions that are muted? I note here two main ones: first, there is the unquestioned idea that money must make more money – it must be made profitable. Another important silence is found in the chapter on inflation which is presented as a natural phenomenon which silences any question about its why’s and how’s.

If universities are places to exchange ideas, further knowledge and question what we know and how we know this then such silencing is deeply problematic, particularly if the larger aim of the project is to introduce primary school students to the university.







Applications are invited from potential applicants with an interest in the topic:  ‘Families’ sense of place and place attachment’ commencing in 2014.

Supervisors: Dr Christina Ergler & Associate Professor Claire Freeman (Department of Geography, University of Otago, New Zealand)

We are seeking a student willing to embark on a PhD and interested in working on a mixed-methods project on ‘Place attachment and social connection in urbanising societies’. Whilst place attachment is an area that is of established interest to geographers the role of children in forging place attachment for families is less well understood (Weller & Bruegel, 2009, Gordon, 2012).  The project seeks to critically explore broad questions around factors contributing to and hindering place attachment. In particular, the project is interested in how family members from different New Zealand communities develop or negotiate the complexity of place attachment through their social and physical mobilities (see also Freeman, 2010). In doing so, the research contributes to debates in geography, environmental psychology and planning with reference to multiplicities of place attachment.

Students with first class Honours or Master degrees and backgrounds in human geography, planning, childhood studies or sociology are encouraged to contact us. Knowledge of or interest in developing skills in a geographic information system as well as excellent oral and written communication skills are a requirement for this project.

The project is contingent on the applicant applying for and securing a University of Otago PhD Scholarship (international or domestic), satisfying University of Otago Ph.D. entry requirements and meeting New Zealand study visa requirements, if appropriate.

If you would like to discuss the project further please contact Christina Ergler via e-mail Christina.ergler@geography.otago.ac.nz or Claire Freeman cf@geography.otago.ac.nz.  Please send a CV (including academic transcripts) and a one page covering letter outlining why you consider  that you are a suitable candidate (this should cover what skills/knowledge you bring to the project, what aspects you find particularly interesting and any ideas you may have on how the project could be developed).

Information on the Otago University Geography Department and the supervisors for this project is available on http://www.geography.otago.ac.nz/

International Institute of Social Studies

ISS is an international graduate school of policy-oriented critical social science. It brings together students and teachers from the Global South and the North in a European environment.