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Education in India is a site of intense contestations. Instead of addressing the multiple inequalities of caste, class, and gender that are embedded in the social fabric, the neoliberal state has privileged only the rhetoric of ‘development’, ‘modernity’, and the ideals of the Right to Education. Growing populist authoritarianism, consumerism, an all-enveloping mass media, and the rise of new aspirational classes have compounded the problem further. However, despite these significant limitations, education is increasingly seen as a prized good that even the most disadvantaged seek.
Differentiation and Disjunction is an incisive interrogation of India’s education system, and provides a sociological and social anthropological perspective to these complexities. The author examines a study, based on fifteen years of field work, of government elementary schools, highlighting their failure to consider the specific disadvantages of underprivileged children and their interests. She further discusses India’s highly differentiated schooling system—that range from the most neglected institutions offered to the poor to competitive international schools; studies policy documents to bring out the problems of decentralisation of elementary education administration; and critiques the limitations of current university education.
To understand the problems and processes of marginalisation and discrimination in education and employment-seeking, she relies on the personal journey of a Dalit youth and poignant reflections from his diary. The book also provides a critical review of the key recommendations of the National Education Policy 2020, and suggests possible ways that can, in the future, transform education into a means of social levelling and democracy-building.
This volume will interest scholars and practitioners of education, policy-makers, and readers who believe in education as a public good.
A. R. Vasavi is a social anthropologist and a member of the Punarchith (‘rethink’) Collective, and is based in Karnataka. She was on the faculty of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bengaluru, and was a Senior Fellow at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), New Delhi.
Foreword: In Search of Hope
Educational Differentiation and Disjunction
II. THE CULTURE AND LIFE OF GOVERNMENT ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS
III. SCHOOL DIFFERENTIATION
Pluralism or Separatism?
IV. CONUNDRUMS OF ‘COMMUNITY’
Participation in India’s Elementary Education System
V. ‘GOVERNMENT BRAHMIN’
Caste, the Educated Unemployed, and the Reproduction of Inequalities
VI. REFLEXIVE AND RELATIONAL, EMPATHETIC AND ENGAGED
A Case for ‘Social Transformative Learning’ in India
VII. NATIONAL EDUCATION POLICY 2020
Between Principles and Practice