The theme and chapters of this volume are based on the millennium year British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) conference, which was held at the University of Birmingham, 8–10 September 2000. The theme of the conference was 'Learning Democracy and Citizenship', and its aims were:
- to bring together researchers and practitioners working in the field of democracy and citizenship internationally;
- to give a voice to students and teachers in this field;
- to examine democratisation at all levels and sites connected with learning: schools, colleges, ministries, non-formal education, teacher training, governor and parent bodies, education authorities, regional governments and aid agencies; and
- to highlight new theorising about and new action on democracy and citizenship.
The conference was hosted by the Centre for International Education and Research (CIER) of the School of Education, University of Birmingham. CIER puts education for democracy and citizenship at the heart of its teaching and research agenda, but we are not alone. In recent years, there has been a shift in discourse of major international agencies towards a greater recognition of the importance of democratic governments and institutions, and an explicit support for the development of democracy and citizenship through education. As UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has stated, 'Education is a human right with immense power to reform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development'.
These global trends reflect a heightened awareness of, and demand for, democracy and human rights, and an unprecedented number of countries have achieved democratic governments in the last decade, including zeitgeist-moving cases in eastern Europe and South Africa. Some would attribute these movements to globalisation, linked to a ubiquitous and imperative push for free markets. We, however, would argue for the plural 'globalisations', as these movements take different forms – neo-liberalism being only one of them. Democracy and human rights are others.
These macro-issues of democracy have parallels at the micro-level at which young people learn (see Harber  for further discussion). In a recent competition run by the Guardian newspaper in the United Kingdom, 15,000 children expressed their views on 'the school we'd like'. Among the most commonly recurring themes were demands for a listening school, with opportunities for representation on governing bodies, and the right to have input on such issues as the employment of teachers, the use of resources, and the content of the curriculum. There were also calls for a more respectful school, where learners are treated as individuals. Respect was the single most commonly used word by entrants; it is, of course, one of the foundations of a democratic culture.
In editing this volume, attempts have been made to reflect the democratic ethos which governed the conference. The voices of pupils and students are present, with minimal editorial control; in fact, the very first chapter after this introduction is comprised of statements by young learners. Within the volume, it was not possible to include every paper that was presented, but those which have been included represent a 'broad church' in terms of how they have interpreted the issues at hand. Inevitably, the editors do not necessarily agree with all that has been written, but this volume provides an inclusive forum for these varying perspectives, and for important debates in this field.
In the 'right spirit' of good comparative education, the volume holds up no national models in terms of how democracy should be learned or done. The issues are far too complex, and too embedded in national and local contexts and cultures, to lend themselves to prescriptions or simplistic cross-national transfer. Nor does the traditional 'developed' and 'developing' countries dichotomy emerge from the papers. The learning of democracy and citizenship in all countries is problematised, and there is as much to learn from 'South' to 'North' as there is the other way around. In fact, as the title of the conference and of this volume suggests, we are all learners: students, teachers, policy-makers and researchers alike. In the context of this volume, we have chosen not to rehearse the issues surrounding theories and definitions of democracy, although CIER members have written about these elsewhere (e.g. Davies, 1999). Instead, the breadth of the discussion has been permitted to emerge from the papers themselves.
This book is, therefore, relatively unusual in the range of voices it includes, and how it attempts to incorporate them. Not surprisingly, most participants at a BAICE conference are United Kingdom-based academics, graduate students and practitioners. However, we have tried to allow other perspectives to be included as well. Inevitably, as inclusive as one may try to be, there will be gaps, both at the level of participation and in the content of the book. We acknowledge that this is the case, inviting further contributions, wider discussion and a continuation of the established research agendas in this area.
The book is divided into five parts. Each part book is prefaced with a brief introduction that outlines the chapters and draws out the links between them. The first part explores 'Pupil and Student Voice', first, by giving pupils voice, and also by exploring practices internationally in pupil representation, and by examining the related issue of children's rights. In the next part, 'Identities and Contexts for Democracy and Citizenship', themes are explored within different national and institutional perspectives. The chapters within Part 3, 'Democratic Ways of Working and Researching', consider democratic behaviours in educational research and in relationships in and between groups working for a common cause. The fourth part, 'Curriculum and Learning for National Identity', offers four case studies of the relationship between curriculum and the development of citizenship skills and attitudes. Finally, to remind us that learning democracy and citizenship is a lifelong endeavour, we finish with a group of chapters that examine issues in adult education.
Annan, Kofi (1998) Foreword, in The State of the World's Children 1999: education. New York: UNICEF.
Davies, Lynn (1999) Comparing Definitions of Democracy in Education, Compare, 29, pp. 127-140.
Guardian (Education Section) (2001) The School We'd Like, 5 June.
Harber, Clive (1997) International Developments and the Rise of Education for Democracy, Compare, 27, pp. 171-191.
Dr Lore Arthur is a lecturer in the Centre for Educational Policy and Management at the Open University with responsibilities for postgraduate teaching and research in lifelong learning. She is the coordinator for lifelong learning within the Doctorate in Education programme. Her research and publications cover lifelong learning, comparative education and intercultural communication with, in the main, reference to Germany and Britain.
Archana Choksi was the project manager for the DIET project and now works as an education consultant. She and Caroline Dyer have worked as a collaborative North-South team for nearly 10 years and have published extensively together. Renu Moyade and Neetu Purohit were members of the research project team, working with DIET staff and teachers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, respectively.
Lynn Davies is Professor of International Education and Director of the Centre for International Education and Research in the School of Education, University of Birmingham. Her current research interests are in democratisation of education and in education and conflict, and she is involved in projects in the Gambia, Malawi, Kosovo and Bosnia as well as continuing work on school councils and pupil democracy in the United Kingdom. She is currently Chair of BAICE.
Dr Caroline Dyer is Senior Research Fellow in International Education at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom and co-editor of the journal Compare. She has been researching aspects of Basic Education in India for the last 10 years, and has particular interests in the implementation of policy, education for nomadic and migrant groups, and the professional development of primary teachers and teacher educators.
Palitha Edirisingha is a research fellow at the School of Educational Studies, University of Surrey. Currently he is engaged in an EU-funded research project on Active Citizenship and Governance in the European context. His previous research includes open and distance education with particular emphasis on developing countries, and the use of interactive media for learning.
Dr Clara Fischer has many years' experience of working in popular movements and trade union education in Brazil. After completing a PhD on Brazilian trade union education at the University of Nottingham in 1997, she became a lecturer in the Centre for Human Sciences at UNISINOS, a University in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
Michael Fielding is Reader in Education at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, where he is currently setting up a Centre for Educational Innovation. His two main research interests are the development of the 'person-centred school' and the radical potential of student voice in educational transformation. His recent book, Taking Education Really Seriously: four years' hard labour (Routledge Falmer, 2001), provides a searching, appreciative critique of the educational record of the United Kingdom's New Labour Government.
Dr Janet Hannah is a senior lecturer in comparative education and deputy director of the Centre for Comparative Education Research in the School of Continuing Education at the University of Nottingham. Her teaching and research interests are in the field of comparative education, and in recent years, she has engaged in research and published on workers' education and higher education in Britain and Brazil, and refugee education in the United Kingdom and Australia.
Clive Harber is Professor of International Education in the Centre for International Education and Research, School of Education, University of Birmingham. From 1995 to 1999, he was Professor of Education and Head of the School of Education, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa. His research and publication interests are education and political development in Africa and education for democracy internationally. His most recent book is State of Transition: post-apartheid educational reform in South Africa (Symposium, 2001).
Wai Chung Ho did her MA in music education, followed by a D.Phil in music education, at the Institute of Education, University of London. She is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Music and Fine Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University. She lectures on curriculum issues, principles and applications of music education, and applications in creative music communication. Her current research is on comparative education, gender research in music education and music teaching and learning.
John Holford is Professor of Adult Education, Director of Research and Head of Lifelong Learning in the School of Educational Studies at the University of Surrey. His career has been in adult education, including periods with the University of Hong Kong and the Workers' Educational Association. He has written on trade union education, learning theory, lifelong learning, community education, and adult education in South-east Asia. His current research interests include adult learning for active citizenship.
Keith Holmes is the membership secretary of BAICE. He is completing a PhD at the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education, sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council. Formerly a volunteer teacher in Jamaica and South Africa, he has recently co-authored, with Dr Michael Crossley, Educational Development in the Small States of the Commonwealth (Commonwealth Secretariat). His doctoral dissertation is on research capacity in small states, with special reference to Saint Lucia in the Eastern Caribbean. Interests include education policy in the Caribbean and the implications of post-colonial theory for social and educational research.
George Hudson has taught in secondary schools and also had a career as an educational researcher at the National Foundation for Educational Research and Sheffield City Polytechnic. Since 1978, he has been a senior lecturer in educational studies at University College Worcester. His main field of interest is the relationship between schooling systems and society.
Peter Jarvis is Professor of Continuing Education at the University of Surrey, and Adjunct Professor of Adult Education at the University of Georgia, USA. He was President of BAICE in 1999_2000. His main areas of interest are learning theory, lifelong education and lifelong learning, and social-philosophical perspectives on all aspects of the education of adults. One of his books, Adult Learning in the Social Context, gained an international award for Adult Education Literature. His most recent books are Learning in Later Life and Universities and Corporate Universities: the higher learning industry in global society (both Kogan Page, 2001). He is also the founding editor of the International Journal of Lifelong Education.
Professor Kenneth King is Director of the Centre of African Studies and Professor of International and Comparative Education, University of Edinburgh. He has published extensively on education, training, the informal sector and aid.
Gerison Lansdown is a children's rights consultant. She was the founder director, in 1992, of the Children's Rights Development Unit, now the Children's Rights Alliance for England, established to promote implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. She has published and lectured widely on the subject of children's rights, both nationally and internationally. She is on the executive boards of the Children's Discovery Centre in east London and UNICEF-UK. She is a consultant for the UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence and for Rights for Disabled Children, an international working group established with the support of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Wang Meifang is an associate professor in the Institute of Educational Science at Shandong Teachers' University, China. Her research interests are in the field of social and cognitive psychology and she has acted as an adviser to schools on moral education. She is current studying for a PhD at Beijing Normal University on children's understanding.
Dr Rob McBride is now in the School of Development Studies (including the Overseas Development Group) in the University of East Anglia. Much of his earlier activity was in the field of teacher education, in which he has published widely. In the new school, he has been able to develop his interests in applied cross-cultural research, the education of the marginalised, and educational improvement in low income countries. He has just completed the first stage of research into the educational needs of orphans in Malawi and has new projects researching the development of university teaching in Bangladesh and the education of street children in more than one country.
Dr Simon McGrath is a research fellow at the Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh. His teaching, research and consultancy interests are in education and skills development policy; the informal sector; and knowledge, aid and development.
Svend Poulsen-Hansen has been Deputy Secretary-General of the Danish National Commission for UNESCO since 1994. He is Secretary of subcommittees for Culture and for Education. He has worked as an Assistant Professor at Copenhagen University and Copenhagen Business School, and done a number of consultancies in eastern and central Europe as well as in Denmark.
Julia Preece is a senior lecturer at the University of Botswana where she is conducting a study on HIV/AIDS and gender issues in the workplace. She is also responsible for coordination of gender issues in a pan-European research project into the Education and Training of Governance and Citizenship in Europe, which is being managed from the University of Surrey, her previous place of employment. She has published extensively on issues of social exclusion. Her latest publication, co-authored with Ann-Marie Houghton, is Nurturing Social Capital amongst Excluded Communities: a kind of higher education (2000)
Marcia Prieto is Professor of Social Foundations of Education and Qualitative Research Methods at the Institute of Education of the Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile. Her research interests are related to education for democracy and citizenship and teacher education.
Dr Michele Schweisfurth is a lecturer in international education at the School of Education, University of Birmingham. Her research and teaching interests lie in teachers' responses to educational reform, particularly in developing countries undergoing political democratisation. Her forthcoming book, Teachers' Experiences of Democracy: policy and practice in South Africa and Russia (Symposium, 2001), deals with these themes.
Ikuko Suzuki is currently a D.Phil student at the University of Sussex Institute of Education, working on a thesis about the participation of parents in education in primary schools in Uganda. She has taught at secondary schools in Japan and Kenya and has working experience in East African countries.
Dr Elwyn Thomas is an international education consultant, specialising in teacher education, curriculum development and staff training in higher education He also carries out research into cultural aspects of educational development. He is at present working on research and development projects in north and South-east Asia. He was former chair of the Department of International and Comparative Education, Institute of Education, University of London and recently held Senior Fellow and Visiting Professor status at the Singapore Nanyang Technological University.
Joseph Zajda is Director of the Institute for International and Comparative Education, the School of Education, the Australian Catholic University (Melbourne), where he also teaches courses in the sociology of education, global studies in education and educational research methods. He edits Curriculum and Teaching, Education and Society, and World Studies in Education for James Nicholas Publishers. His recent books include Education and Culture (co-edited with M. Secombe), Learning and Teaching, Curriculum, Culture and Teaching, and Education and Society, 3rd edn (2001).
Rea Zajda majored in politics, anthropology, and sociology, and she won the Frieda Cohen prize for the best dissertation at the University of Melbourne. She is the Publisher and Managing Director of James Nicholas Publishers, where she also edits Educational Practice and Theory, and Information, Theory and Society, and serves as Managing Editor of the Journal of Postcolonial Education, Information Technology, Education and Society, and Information, Theory and Society.