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Religion and Education
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Oxford Studies in Comparative Education

Religion and Education

comparative and international perspectives


2018 paperback 380 pages, £49.00, ISBN 978-1-910744-01-7

This book is expected in January 2018
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About the book

Despite the increased trend towards secularisation in state schooling, issues of religion and spirituality have remained important. Increased pluralism within societies through expanding migration patterns is changing the religious and cultural contours of many countries in Europe and North America, and is creating a need for a deeper understanding of religious diversity. However, the lack of religious or spiritual education within the educational curriculum leaves a moral vacuum that can become a space to be exploited by religious extremism. More recently, religiously motivated incidences of terrorism in several parts of the world have heightened prejudicial attitudes and distrust of certain religions, in particular. These are profound concerns and there is an urgency to examine how religion, religious education and interfaith initiatives can address such misconceptions. This book is thus timely, focusing on an area that is often neglected, particularly on the role of religion in education for sustainable development.
   While religious organisations and faith communities have had a long history of involvement in both schooling and social service delivery in many countries, their role in reaching development goals has not always been explicitly recognised, as is evident even in the United Nations’ most recently conceptualised 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Undeniably, the integration of religious dialogue into mainstream development issues is crucial because deep cleavages resulting from the issue of minority religious rights continue to give cause for concern and conflict in many countries. This edited book explores some of these tensions and issues and draws parallels across differing geographical contexts to help enhance our collective and comparative understanding of the role of religious education and institutions in advancing the post-2015 development agenda. The contributors to this volume each demonstrate that, while religion in education can contribute to understanding and respect, it is also a space that can be contested and co-opted. Without addressing the salience of religion, however, it will not be possible to foster peace and combat discrimination and prejudice. This book will be of interest to researchers, scholars and students in the field of comparative education and development, religious studies, theology and teacher development and training. This book may also be of interest to national and international policy makers. There are also numerous faith-based organisations, as well as other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working on religion and education issues that may find these case studies a useful resource.


Keith Watson. Foreword

Malini Sivasubramaniam & Ruth Hayhoe. Introduction. Religion and Education from a Comparative and International Perspective: issues, tensions and possibilities

Katherine Marshall. Global Education Challenges: exploring religious dimensions

Jun Li. Confucius Institutes and Classrooms as Educational Partnerships in Africa: the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development from a Confucian perspective

Christina Hwang. The Internationalization of Religious Higher Education: a comparative study of Christian universities in South Korea and Canada

Sarfaroz Niyozov. Islamic Education in Post-Soviet Tajikistan: a tool in creating and sustaining the nation state

Vilma Seeberg, Shujuan Luo & Ya Na. The Role of the Church and Religious Learning of Young Women Migrant Workers in Western China

Ruth Hayhoe. Inter-religious Dialogue and Education: three historic encounters between Christianity, Buddhism and Confucianism

Mei-Yee Wong. Religious Education in a Multi-religious Context: an examination of four religious schools in Hong Kong

Xinyi Wu. State Schooling and Religious Education for Muslim Hui students in Northwestern China: changing perceptions and new developments

Prapapat Niyom, Art-ong Jumsai Na Ayudhaya, Witit Rachatatanun & Benjamin Vokes. The Buddhist Approach of School-based Curriculum: the effective learning innovation that promotes human values to learners for sustainable living in Thailand

Lauren Herzog & Nathaniel Adams. Modernizing Islamic Education: Bangladesh and Senegal

Malini Sivasubramaniam & Steve Sider. Faith-based Low-fee Private Schools in Kenya and Haiti: the paradox of philanthropy and enterprise

Yaacov J. Katz. Religious Education in the Israeli State School System

Philip Barnes. Religious Education in Northern Ireland: conflict, curriculum and criticism

Huma Kidwai. Mainstreaming Madrassas in India: resistance or cooptation?

Elena Lisovskaya. Religion’s Uneasy Return to the Russian School: a contested and inconsistent desecularization ‘from above’

Ratna Ghosh & W.Y. Alice Chan. The Role of Religious Education (RE) in Countering Religious Extremism in Diverse and Interconnected Societies

Bruce A. Collet & Hyeyoung Bang. A Multicultural Analysis of School Policies on Religion in 20 Western Democracies, and Their Challenges for Accommodating Migrant Religions: a cluster analysis

Notes on Contributors


Nathaniel Adams is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Johns Hopkins University, USA. His research explores agrarian transformation in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh; more specifically how animist beliefs enter into negotiations around agricultural practice. Nathaniel was previously program coordinator at the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) where he worked on projects in Bangladesh and Cambodia. He is the author of several reports and working papers for WFDD on topics including Buddhist activism. He joined WFDD in 2010 as a research fellow in Cambodia looking at ‘spirit forests’ and land rights in highland indigenous communities and the development work of engaged Buddhist clergy. From 2013 to 2016, he worked in Bangladesh with BRAC University coordinating a multi-year research project exploring a broad set of issues around religion and international development. He holds a BA in Anthropology from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MSc in International Development from Lund University.

Art-ong Jumsai Na Ayudhaya is the director of the Institute of Sathya Sai Education in Thailand. He is also the official trainer of teachers for the Ministry of Education in Human Values Education. He holds a BA and MA in Mechanical Sciences from the University of Cambridge, a PhD in communications from Imperial College London, and a PhD in Education from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. Previously, he has been a lecturer at the faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, an elected member of the House of Senate, and a member of the Parliament as Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Education. He has also participated in NASA’s Viking Space Project in the design of an automatic landing device.

Hyeyoung Bang, PhD, is an associate professor in the School of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Policy at Bowling Green State University, USA where she teaches educational psychology and (cross-cultural) human development. Her main research focus concerns wisdom and self-development, and related topics such as resilience, emotional development (empathy), prosocial behaviour, motivation, spirituality and religion. She also researches refugee and immigrants’ acculturation issues including post-traumatic and acculturation stresses and their impact on schooling. Her latest project, supported by the Templeton Religion Trust, is about ‘Self, Virtue, Moral Motivation, and Wisdom: a cross-national and cross-faith study’.

Philip Barnes is Emeritus Reader in Religious and Theological Education at King’s College London. He has published widely within the fields of religious studies, theology and philosophy of education and contributed articles to such journals as Modern Theology, Religious Studies and the Journal of Philosophy of Education. His recent books include Education, Religion and Diversity: developing a new model of religious education (2014); (with Andrew Davis & J. Mark Halstead), Religious Education: educating for diversity (2015); and (with James Arthur) Education and Religion (2016), a four-volume edited collection.

W.Y. Alice Chan is a PhD candidate studying the potential connection between religious bullying and religious literacy, and is a research assistant on two projects led by Dr Ratna Ghosh, titled ‘Countering Violent Religious Extremism through Education in Multicultural Canada’ and ‘Educational Trajectories of Radicalized Females in Montreal’. She has co-published on this topic with Dr Ghosh. She will also be a lead author on a forthcoming guide on this topic commissioned by UNESCO and the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development. Her overall research interests include religious literacy, inclusive and multicultural education, student identities, and teacher education.

Bruce A. Collet is an Associate Professor in Educational Foundations and Inquiry in the College of Education and Human Development at Bowling Green State University, USA. He teaches courses in the social foundations of education, comparative education, and the philosophy of education, and serves as a core faculty member in Bowling Green’s Master of Arts in Cross-Cultural and International Education programme. His research focus concerns migration, religion and public schooling, with particular interests in liberal multiculturalism as well as critical security studies. Dr Collet is the author of Migration, Religion, and Schooling within Liberal Democratic States (Routledge), and is Chief Editor of the journal Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education.

Ratna Ghosh is James McGill Professor and William C. Macdonald Professor of Education in the Faculty of Education, McGill University, Canada. A member of the Order of Canada, Officer of the Order of Quebec and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she was Dean of Education. Since 2013, she has focused on the role of education in countering violent religious extremism and has published on this topic in the Canadian Foreign Policy Journal and a global report commissioned by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF). Other contributions include invited presentations and a course on Religion and Global Politics co-hosted by McGill University and TBFF in 2016.

Ruth Hayhoe is a professor at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto, Canada. Her professional engagements in Asia included foreign expert at Fudan University (1980 82), Head of the Cultural Section of the Canadian Embassy in Beijing (1989 91) and Director of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, now the Education University of Hong Kong (1997 2002). Recent books include Portraits of 21st Century Chinese Universities: in the move to mass higher education (2011), China Through the Lens of Comparative Education (2015) and Canadian Universities in China’s Transformation: an untold story (2016).

Christina Hwang is a doctoral candidate in Higher Education in the Department of Leadership, Higher, and Adult Education and Comparative, International and Development Education programme at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. She received her MA in Bilingual/Bicultural Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2006. Her doctoral research focuses on the internationalisation policies and programmes in faith-based Christian higher education institutions in South Korea and Canada and how they relate to Christian world mission. She has also held teaching, administrative and research positions in schools and tertiary institutions in Canada, the USA and South Korea.

Lauren Herzog is a programme coordinator at the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), where she led an effort to strategically examine the religious dimensions of development in Senegal. She currently coordinates a project supporting an interfaith group of religious leaders in Senegal working to advance family planning. She has authored several reports and briefs for WFDD on various aspects of faith and development in the Senegalese context. Lauren has been the recipient of two Department of Education grants to study the Wolof language, and she has lived and worked in Senegal and Congo-Brazzaville. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree from Kalamazoo College, USA and a master’s degree in French and international development from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

Yaacov J. Katz is Professor Emeritus at the School of Education, Bar-Ilan University in Israel as well as President of Michlala – Jerusalem Academic College. He specialises in research on religious education and values, affective education, social attitudes in education, and ICT use in education. Prof. Katz served as Head of the School of Education at Bar-Ilan University, as Chairperson of the Israeli UNESCO Education Commission, and as Chief Pedagogic Officer at the Israel Ministry of Education where he was responsible for all subject matter taught in the Israeli school system.

Huma Kidwai is an education consultant at the World Bank, in Washington DC, USA, supporting projects ranging from early childhood and basic education to higher education and skills development in Sub-Saharan Africa and the East Asia and Pacific region. She has a doctoral degree from Teachers College, Columbia University; her research focused on the relationship between the state and madrassas in India. Her other professional experiences include projects with the Poverty Reduction Group of the World Bank; projects related to health and social equity at the Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices in New Delhi; and education programmes and research at the Earth Institute’s Global Center in Mumbai on their Model District Education Project.

Jun Li is Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy at Western University, Canada, and Past President of the Comparative Education Society of Hong Kong (2012 14). He is currently serving on the Comparative and International Education Society’s Publications Committee and the World Council of Comparative Education Societies’ Research Standing Committee. Dr Li was originally trained as a historian of Chinese education and later as a policy analyst of international education and development, each with a PhD. He has accumulated wide experiences in China, Canada, Japan and the USA, in addition to Hong Kong and Africa. His publications include Quest for World-Class Teacher Education? A Multiperspectival Study on the Chinese Model of Policy Implementation (Springer, 2016) and A History of Chinese Thought on Education (in Chinese, Shanghai People’s Press, 1998).

Elena Lisovskaya is Professor of Sociology at Western Michigan University, USA. She specialises in comparative sociology of education and religion. Her core research interests include institutional and ideological changes in post-communist education. She has published on privatisation, dogmatism and new ideologies in textbooks. Since the 2000s, she has been engaged in comparative research on desecularisation and religious education in state-run schools, and most recently published Religious Education in Russia: inter-faith harmony or neo-imperial toleration. She co-authored Religious Intolerance among Orthodox Christians and Muslims in Russia (2008); Orthodoxy, Islam, and the Desecularization of Russia’s State Schools (2010); Ethnodoxy: how popular ideologies fuse religious and ethnic identities (2012) and many others.

Shujuan Luo is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education at Kent State University, USA, which was preceded there by her MA in Education. She has a BA in English from Wuhan University of Technology, China and a BSc in Psychology from Huazhong Normal University, China. Her main research interests are women’s education and empowerment, informal learning of life skills, capability approach, and entrepreneurial education.

Katherine Marshall, a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, is Professor of the Practice of Religion, Development, and Peacebuilding in the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, USA, and heads the World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD), that bridges the worlds of development and religion. She has worked for four decades on international development, and was a senior officer for many years at the World Bank. She sits on several non-profit boards. Her most recent books are (with Susan Hayward) Women, Religion, and Peacebuilding: illuminating the unseen (USIP, 2015) and Global Institutions of Religion: ancient movers, modern shakers (Routledge, 2013).

Ya Na is a PhD student at Kent State University, USA. She grew up as part of the Mongolian minority ethnic group in Inner Mongolia, China. Her research interests include migrant girls’ education in urban China and education of ethnic minority students in China. Currently, she is assisting in a study on ethnic Mongolian students’ education in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China.

Prapapat Niyom has a background in architecture and holds an honorary doctorate in education for local development from the Rajapat Phranakorn University, in Bangkok, Thailand. She founded Roong Aroon School in 1997 and Arsom Silp Institute in 2006. She is currently the President of the Arsom Silo Institute of the Arts in Bangkok. She is well versed in applying holistic education in schooling based on Buddhist principles. She has previously served as a member of the national reform council on education and advisor to the Minister of Education and has also served as the deputy governor for the Bangkok Metropolitan Authority.

Sarfaroz Niyozov is an Associate Professor in comparative education, curriculum studies and teacher development at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada. He was the former founding head of the Central Asian Studies Unit at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, Co-Director of the Comparative, International Education Centre (CIDEC), University of Toronto, and the editor of Curriculum Inquiry. He is currently on a three-year unpaid leave to serve as the Director of the Institute for Educational Development, Aga Khan University, Karachi (AKU-IEDP). His research interest includes educational change, teacher development and religious education in post-socialist and Muslim societies.

Witit Rachatatanun is currently director of Panyaprateep School, Thailand, a private boarding school which has an emphasis on Buddhist education in its curriculum development. He holds an EdD and EdM from Harvard University, an MA in Sociology from the University of Essex, and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. He also holds a graduate diploma in Curriculum and Instruction from STOU, Thailand. Previously, he has served as the Assistant Secretary-General, National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB), Office of the Prime Minister, Thailand.

Vilma Seeberg is associate professor for International/Multicultural Education at Kent State University, USA in the College of Education, Health and Human Services. She studies the role of human agency, education and empowerment in social change, focusing on two marginalised peoples, rural girls in globalising China and Black American students in predominately White schools in the USA. She has published two books on Chinese literacy policy and effects, numerous articles on a continuing long-term study of village girls’ schooling and urbanisation, e.g. in Comparative Education Review in 2014, and has a forthcoming book on Black American Students’ Achievement in the Suburbs.

Steve Sider has a PhD from Western University, USA and is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He teaches courses in global education, school leadership, and special education. His research interest is in educational leadership in international contexts. He currently holds a national research grant examining inclusive leadership practices of Canadian school principals. Recent publications have included a co-edited book which provides comparative and international perspectives on education as well as articles in International Studies in Educational Administration, the Canadian Journal of Education, and Comparative and International Education.

Malini Sivasubramaniam completed her PhD at the University of Toronto, Canada with a specialisation in Comparative, International and Development Education. Her dissertation examines household decision-making in low-fee private schools in Kenya. She is currently a Visiting Scholar with the Comparative, International and Development Education Centre at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE/UT) as well as an independent research consultant. Her research interests include the privatisation of education, school choice and equity for marginalised communities, and faith-based non-state actors in education.

Benjamin Vokes currently teaches English at Panyaprateep School, Thailand, a private boarding school which has an emphasis on Buddhist wisdom education and curriculum development. He holds a BA from the University of Teeside, UK. He has had prior teacher training in EFL at Chiangmai (Lanna) school in Chiangmai.

Keith Watson is Emeritus Professor of Comparative and International Education, University of Reading, United Kingdom. He was educated at the universities of Edinburgh, London and Reading. He has worked for the British Council in Poland, Pakistan, Thailand and, briefly, Iran. From 1976 to 2001 he was a lecturer, then Reader and finally Professor of Comparative and International Education and Director of the Centre for International Studies in Education and Management at the University of Reading. In addition, he was also Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Educational Development from 1990 to 2006. He has written or edited about 16 books and over 120 articles. He was also variously Secretary, Chairman and President of the British Association of International and Comparative Education.

Mei-Yee Wong is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the Education University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on power relations, values and moral education in primary and secondary schools and university, and teacher professional development. Her recent publications include her book, Teacher–Student Power Relations in Primary Schools, and the article, ‘Teacher–Student Power Relations as a Reflection of Multileveled Intertwined Interactions’ published in the British Journal of Sociology of Education. She is currently engaged in a values education project, exploring the use of portfolio and circle time for values learning.

Xinyi Wu is a visiting faculty member at Brigham Young University, USA. She received her PhD in Comparative and International Development Education from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Her research interests include economics of education, cultural foundations of education, and language and education. She is particularly interested in the issues of ethnicity, ethnic identity, and their relationship with educational equality and quality. She has conducted fieldwork in north-western China on the rural Chinese Muslim population. She also participated in projects for disadvantaged youth in Africa. Her recent publications include comparative studies of educational policies for China and Vietnam, Chinese ethnic minority students’ access to higher education, and the effects of globalisation on development aid. She is currently working on a book manuscript on Chinese Muslim students’ constructions and negotiations of identities amidst poverty and modernity.

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