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Education in Transition
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Education in Transition

international perspectives on the politics and processes of change


2002 paperback 292 pages, £30.00, ISBN 978-1-873927-09-0

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About the book

Reform and reconstruction of education in places as diverse as Chile, South Africa and the former East Germany has highlighted the issue of 'education in transition'. In cases such as these there has been a rapid and profound change of political context from autocratic to democratic, and theory has been generated relating to this. Such cases are included here, but the aim of this volume is to illustrate the fact that all nations are in some form of transition generated by a range of pressures and factors. Consequently, the contributing chapters are structured within three broad themes with the consideration of such issues as 'market orientation' and 'gender' as well as change arising from physical conflict. The resultant book makes a distinctive contribution to the understanding of relationships between policy making for educational provision and the realities of outcomes in practice.


Preface; Rosarii Griffin. Education in Transition: international perspectives on the politics and processes of change

Part 1. International and National Discourses on Education Robin Burns. To Market, To Market: current trends in educational policy in AustraliaRosarii Griffin with Colin Brock. Reform and Transition in English Education: quality versus equity in the marketplaceThyge Winther-Jensen. Tradition and Transition in Danish EducationPaul F. Conway, Joanne E. Goodell & Jim Carl. Educational Reform in the USA: politics, purposes and processes

Part 2. Countries of Conflict and 'Resolution' Clive Harber. Education in Transition? Change and Continuity in South African Education Stephanie Wilde. Eastern German Secondary Schooling since 1989: new beginning or missed opportunity? Julie McGonigle. Integrating Segregated Schools in Northern IrelandRuth Aedo-Richmond. Dynamics of Improvement and Reform in Chilean Education

Part 3. Gender and Development Mary-Louise Kearney. Towards Gender Equality in Higher Education: a global appraisal of policy and process Xiangming Chen. An Old Issue in a New Era: educated women in China's transition from a command economy to a market economyClaire Griffiths. Education in Transition in Francophone West Africa: gender, access and issues of equity in Senegal and Gabon Colin Brock. Gender, Education and Change: the case of India


The Frankish Emperor Lothar I (795-855) is attributed as having once said, 'omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis' (all things change and we change with them). Although this is true, change usually arises of necessity and is not always welcome; nor is it always best, but it is inevitable. Disraeli (1804-81) expressed the same sentiment in a slightly different way when he said, 'change is inevitable in a progressive country' and that ultimately 'change is constant'. Similarly, Burke (1890), in Reflections on the Revolution in France, wrote that 'a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation'. So, while change will always remain with us, the nature of that change is what makes it a success or failure. Or, as President Clinton put it in his inaugural speech of 1993, the most urgent question to address in our time is whether we can make change our friend and not our enemy.

The 'change' on which this book focuses is the transformation of education and society over the last century, but in particular, the transitional phase of such developments over the past few decades prior to the dawn of the new millennium. Most of the more remarkable changes recounted here are changes following situations of conflict, either at a micro-level, for example, the changing role of gender in society at the local level, or at a macro-level, such as the change from one kind of governmental regime or ideology to another. Hence, it is important to note that the transition of education as discussed here is part of a greater societal change, which involves paradigm shifts in a country's culture, economics and societal relationships. Such shifts often perceive education as playing an important role in the formation of a new order, as education has always been seen as a site of resistance as well as compliance (Freire, 1990).

Despite the undoubted significance of some events or individual influence, each society evolves in a particular way, as opposed to being suddenly 'transformed'. Therefore, this book chooses to focus on the whole notion of 'transition'. Most chapters deal with changes that have been gradual, often frustratingly slow. The concept of 'transition' suggests that there is a process involved, and that change does not come about like a wave of a magic wand, which might be suggested by the concept of 'transformation', which is defined in the Oxford Compact English Dictionary (1996) as 'to make a sudden or dramatic change in the form, character, etc.' (p. 1101). On the contrary, transition, in the context of its usage here, is defined as 'a passing or change from one place, state, condition, etc. to another' (Oxford Compact English Dictionary, 1996, p. 1102). While it is said that some countries have indeed undergone a sudden change or 'transformation' of sorts, for example, South Africa, often, such countries' experience of 'transformation' is de facto a transition, and, hence, is often the cause of considerable angst as such monumental changes are often slow to impact. In some cases, perhaps most notably in the East German case, the political transition was so rapid that, again, one might conceivably refer to it as transformation, but even now, the east is still readjusting to a new ideological framework and its modus operandi, and it is this 'adaptation' phase, or 'transitional' phase which is the subject of interest here. Therefore, this book aims to examine the processes of change and the politics involved in change.

Similarly, other authors, such as McLeish & Phillips (1998), in Processes of Transition in Education Systems, have also been fascinated with the concept of what they refer to as 'educational transition'. They attempt, with the aid of a model, to describe 'in broad, non-country specific' terms this complex process (pp. 10_11). They believe that educational transitions are usually connected to the broader political transformations, and researchers such as Birzea (1984) explain the phases of such political transitions. While it is true that educational transitions are usually connected to a broader political change, such as in South Africa or Germany, it is not always the case; for example, Denmark (described in this volume) and the Republic of Ireland (Walshe, 1999) have experienced transitions in education which could be described as incremental. Such countries have experienced no real ideological conflict between their political and educational aims and aspirations. Meanwhile, Broadfoot et al (1981) argue that educational transitions are not only affected by the political, but also by changes in the economic climate of a country. This was evident particularly with the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989 (Offe, 1996). However, as McLeish & Phillips (1998) point out, the 'economic' influence varies from country to country. Certainly, this is true of the selection of countries represented within this volume, where economic considerations were not necessarily the cause of transitions in education in, for example, the USA and Australia, except in a tangential way, i.e. maintaining a lead in economic competitiveness. But this is a desired result of such transitions, as opposed to the cause of such reforms in the first instance.

In terms of the political processes, McLeish complains that 'very little has been written about post-totalitarian educational transition from a theoretical point of view' (McLeish & Phillips, 1998, p. 13). Hence, there is no body of literature which provides a comprehensive conceptual framework, a means by which such processes and concepts as 'educational transition' may be understood, though she reports that a growing body of literature is appearing which deals with political transitions (p. 13). It is from these lacunae that this book emerges, although its contribution is not to explain or offer a conceptual framework. It is, rather, to offer a collection on the diversity of situations of educational transition, from which one might begin to conceptualise common underpinnings which resonate with other similar events or eras which instigate educational reform. McLeish (1998) does, however, offer a definition of education in transition:

a passage of one system of education to another over time, the educational transition process is characterised by a certain amount of uncertainty and chaos, especially in the early stages, following the necessary and crucial shift in ideology. Progress in the transition taking place in the political dimension plays a central role in the restoration of some degree of order and certainty to the process of educational transition. (p. 20)

Although McLeish & Phillips deal primarily with the Eastern Bloc, and transitions from authoritarian regimes to liberal democracies, this book takes one step back from that and looks at three different kinds of educational transitions which are affected by three different kinds of interrelated educational discourse: global educational discourse, national educational discourse, and local educational discourse.

Firstly, the global discourse is where the reforms in so-called 'developed' worlds are influenced by international trends and, as a result, the national discourse on education is sufficiently influenced to bring about educational reform within the public system. Of late, post-industrial countries tend to regard neo-liberal issues – which focus on structure and provision of schooling and education (as in the USA and the United Kingdom) – to be the essence in bringing about a higher standard of education and to retain international economic advantage within an increasingly competitive world. Hence, their educational transitions tend to focus on ideologies interested in economic 'outcomes'.

The second form of educational transition is where educational discourse at a national level is concerned with internal situations of 'conflict' and transitions move towards some kind of 'resolution'. These countries will be loosely referred to here as 'second world' countries, i.e. post-industrialised or industrialised countries emerging from some kind of conflict, either sectarian (Northern Ireland), communistic and dictatorial (East Germany), racial (South Africa) or dictatorial and fascistic (Chile). In other words, these are countries emerging from situations which have in some way inhibited their economic progress, and which, subsequently, due to both internal and external political and economic pressure, 'collapsed' and gave way to a more liberal and democratic system of governance within their political boundaries, which has, in turn, caused a correlating transition in education. Again, these post-industrialised or industrialised societies tend to regard neo-conservative issues – or those which focus more on curriculum and content (such as East Germany or Northern Ireland) – as being crucial in transforming some aspect of their educational system, and society.

The third 'transition' mentioned here and which is most evident at the local level, is that of gender. Of course, gender issues pervade all other forms of transition. However, here it is given a category of its own, as gender issues tend to be predominant particularly in strong patriarchal societies (such as Senegal), often governed by oppressive regimes (as in China), or where there is a strong link between the Church and State (e.g. Gabon). Indeed, in most developing countries, gender is one of the main issues to be tackled in order to begin to bring about a transition from a traditional, rural and agrarian society to a modern one. In such countries, it is often a deeper cultural transition which is needed (as opposed to a political or an economic transition). Agrarian societies tend to be concerned with both neo-liberal (provision) and neo-conservative (content) issues. At a very elementary level, the actual provision of some kind of schooling is the key issue, especially for girls but also for boys, with curriculum content concerned primarily with basic numeracy and literacy.

Though these three variants are crudely portrayed here, overlap inevitably occurs. One can see a divide between the concerns of 'rural' and 'urban' societies, each operating according to its immediate needs. In attempting to deal with these divisions, this book is thus divided into three main sections: International and National Discourses on Education; Countries of Conflict and 'Resolution'; and Gender and Development. What follows is a résumé of the main issues within these sections.

Education in Transition in Relation to International and National Discourses

The post-war period (late 1940s onwards) marked an era of optimism and this was reflected in politics through the creation of 'the welfare state', which more or less guaranteed employment and benefits to all. However, following a period of worldwide economic recession in the early 1970s, brought on by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil crisis, neo-liberalism took root and began to dominate the political arena in Western countries, as the notion of the welfare state could no longer be sustained. Neo-liberal thought advocates the reign of free market principles, which would regulate economies and trade operations without state intervention or, at the very least, with minimal state intervention. Such ideology gained considerable ground. There was no viable theoretical opposition, as the main challenger, Keynesianism, was thought to be no longer operable. However, although neo-liberalism might have been viable in the economic sphere, its application in the realm of education has been less than satisfactory. Politicians have advocated the tenets of 'public choice theory' to be employed in education, making three main demands on schools: greater parental choice, greater structural diversity and greater academic efficiency. The application of quasi-market principles to education has been problematic, raising serious questions in relation to: equality of opportunity within education, the application and availability of choice in education (and for whom), measuring of 'quality' in education, and the 'quality' or ability of the chosen indicators to measure educational 'outputs'.

The section on International and National Discourses on Education begins by charting the period from the 1970s, when 'Keynesian politics' of full employment under the welfare state lost credence to the economic theories of Hayek and Friedman. They advocated the employment of market principles in education which would make it more efficient and effective. This notion derived from 'public choice theory', which advocated greater competition within education, determined by parental (or consumer) choice, which would in theory lead to improving educational provision and outcomes, as well as guaranteeing improved equality of opportunity for all students.

Burns, in her chapter, 'To Market, To Market: current trends in educational policy in Australia', describes how the effects of globalisation, and the importation of educational policies from other post-industrialised countries, has influenced national policy in Australia, and how this in turn has been shaped – within Australia – by its own particular political, cultural and socio-economic factors. She describes the effects of 'the market' on educational provision, which has moved from a position of providing an equitable education to providing an efficient educational system. Hence, there is a drive to raise educational standards and national competencies so that Australia can compete successfully on an international or global scale.

Burns describes in some detail the kinds of policies and programmes which have been implemented in the various states and territories in Australia, and cites some successes among such programmes, especially those that focus on local autonomy while also enhancing the professionalism of the teacher. The less successful programmes were due partly to lack of consideration for such issues. However, all such programmes were implemented to reflect central efforts, framed by a national curriculum, to both restructure the public sector and to bring education in line with national aims. Because both the public and private sector have also recently undergone 'structural adjustments', which focus primarily on quantifiable outcomes, in effect, education has become commodified. Burns concludes by reiterating Offe's notion (1984) that 'each policy and each implementation process is a site of contestation', and that a new conformation is emerging with postmodernism – the drive towards localisation which 'challenges the hegemonies of both the polity and the market and their educational influences'.

Griffin, in her chapter with Brock on 'Reform and Transition in English Education: quality verses equity in the market place', discusses the changes instituted by the 1988 Education Reform Act. In order to understand the origins of the Act, the author gives a detailed analysis of the contextual background upon which the English education system was established. Griffin proceeds to describe the impact of the Transatlantic Alliance on education, and the rapport between President Reagan and Mrs Thatcher, one of the outcomes of such influence being the 1988 Education Reform Act in England. The issues which were of paramount importance in relation to this Act were structural adjustments, control and standardisation of the curriculum, and financial reform and institutional governance.

Consideration of the mediation and transmission of policies is crucial in this chapter, which describes the influencing factors on policy prior to implementation. Hence, the marketisation of education in England became politicised and is subsequently mediated in different ways to different effect. Because the reforms are still in transition, although they were implemented over a decade ago, their effects are just beginning to show as having both advantages and disadvantages. The fact that such a reform is trying to address the objectives of 'quality and equity simultaneously' is paradoxical, especially when one examines the effects of the reforms, some of which proved to be 'restrictive and regulatory' while others have shown themselves to be 'enterprising and opportunistic'. What Griffin is at pains to show is that the mediation or transition of such policies is a slow process, which involves a complex host of factors and stakeholders working together to effect change. The outcome may not always achieve the joint aims of 'quality and equity' – if indeed this were the prime objective of the Act.

Winther-Jensen's chapter, 'Tradition and Transition in Danish Education', departs from discussions of recent reforms and the marketisation of education to give a broader view of the educational traditions in which the Danish education system is grounded: both the Romantic and neo-humanistic traditions. The underlying philosophy common to both traditions is the notion that equality of opportunity can be brought about through education. According to Winther-Jensen, the complex amalgam of Grundtvigian educational reform and socialist- inspired concepts has not swayed during the global winds of change, or in the face of the commodification and marketisation of education. The strong socialist concepts have evolved from long and deep-rooted traditions of resistance to outside influences which attempt to shape education, and change what the Danes believe to be their rightful inheritance.

As there appears to be little ideological conflict between political and educational goals, all striving for a more equitable society, current global trends have had little impact on the nature of Danish education. While it might be perceived that tradition still influences Danish education – which may also conflict with European Union aspirations – nevertheless, it has proved to the Danish people to be a satisfactory model which has brought about 'a very 'equalised' society' where the gap between the rich and poor is narrow. Winther-Jensen quotes Grundtvig, in describing Danish society as one where 'few have too much and fewer too little'. This, Winther-Jensen attributes to the structure and provision of Danish education, resulting from the residual effects of Denmark's historical traditions.

One of the strongest features of the Danish system is the fact that it is locally controlled. Although this is an important feature in the context of the local community, Winther-Jensen also perceives it to be a threat to progress in education, as education may be perceived to lack standardisation and become, in Winther-Jensen's words, 'a caricature of itself'. He believes that, because of the risk of stagnation and complacency and the sense of self-sufficiency, education in Denmark is at risk of becoming obsolete. Winther-Jensen believes that the system needs an overhaul in order to maintain its inherited traditions. This again reflects back to Burke's point that 'a state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation'.

Conway, Goodell & Carl's chapter, 'Educational Reform in the USA: politics, purposes and processes', lays out the context from which recent reforms have emerged within the USA. Educational reforms have always been a feature of American society, highlighting an innate belief that its problems and solutions are to be found therein. However, Conway et al, citing Cibulka (1999), believe that the current fascination with accountability in US education is driven by two converging political forces: the continuing evidence confronting the political mainstream that American students are not performing well in international achievement studies, and the seizure by the political right on the notion that public schools have failed utterly. This, they believe, is nowhere more evident than in recent governmental reports, and subsequent reforms, to quell the 'rise of mediocrity' and to bring about excellence, which will, it is hoped, reflect in the country's economic performance. Conway et al refer to such work as Berliner & Biddle's (1996) The Manufactured Crisis, which highlights how such reforms can be politically motivated and driven by ideological concerns. Nevertheless, a certain amount of reform was instigated on the strength of media coverage and subsequent public concern for their 'failing' educational system, following the publication of such reports as A Nation at Risk (1983).

Recent reforms, mostly structural, were brought about in order to appease the public. Such reforms include the introduction of charter schools, i.e. schools contracted by the state to individuals, groups or companies, who will run the school, and receive public funding for their operation. A second kind of reform that was introduced was broadly referred to as 'systemic'. This reform has operated with and outside of governmental control, giving top–down support to 'grass-roots' initiatives by both governmental and non-governmental agencies. The operation of the National Science Foundation (NSF) is one such example of this, whose goal is to support, promote and advance science and innovation, through mathematics and technology at all levels of education. This organisation felt that Systemic Initiatives (SIs) would solve the problems of underachievement and underrepresentation by 'infusing equity and quality in all mathematics and science education reforms'. The division of Educational Systemic Reform (ESR) was created to assist leaders of the SIs in their efforts to transform their system. They are funded by the NSF under three main categories: statewide, urban and rural. While Conway et al believe that the statewide SIs have lost their appeal, the urban and rural SIs may well have a future. The authors believe that 'until the goals of the SIs have been uniformly met, an enormous task given the diversity, size and decentralised governance of the US system of education, the need for educational system reform will remain'.

The third area of educational reform in the American case is that of state-driven assessment and accountability. This has been spurred on by the results of some international comparative tests, such as TIMSS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study), which indicated that the USA's standard in mathematics and science was behind other developed countries, or, as perceived by Schmidt et al (1997), the US mathematics curriculum was 'a mile wide and an inch deep'. Again, assessment results were often used as 'the common metric to assess quality'. The authors believe that 'underpinning the shift in the use of assessment for accountability purposes is a move from using assessment as an indicator of change to one in which it is used as a lever for reform'. In the final analysis, Conway et al conclude that while some of the reforms do have a future and are likely to linger and develop, other reforms will fade out in the same way as they were phased in.

Education in Transition in Relation to Countries of Conflict and 'Resolution'

The second section of the book, 'Countries of Conflict and 'Resolution'', looks at societies which have made a transition from one kind of political system to another. This section begins with Clive Harber's chapter, 'Education in Transition? Change and Continuity in South African Education', which looks at the transition of apartheid South Africa to a liberal democracy and a racially desegregated society. He describes in some detail the clearly violent nature, particularly against women, of this transitional phase. In Harber's words, 'violence became a way of life in homes, schools, and communities … violence became accepted as a powerful means of attaining change, including change within education, and social status was gained by carrying a gun'. This was partly due to the racist, authoritarian regime previously in place, which led to the polarisation of blacks and whites, particularly in terms of their social and economic situation. The key changes brought about in South Africa were characterised by two main words: decentralisation and democratisation. The 1996 Education Act endeavoured to establish partnerships between all the interested stakeholders in education, particularly between the Government, the schools and their local communities. Harber concludes that while change has taken place, it is, as yet, still at the policy level, and is much slower at the local level, where he states that schools are 'characterised as much by continuity as by change'.

Wilde's chapter on 'Eastern German Secondary Schooling since 1989: new beginning or missed opportunity?' looks at the case of Communist East Germany, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and its rapid integration with West Germany. Wilde believes that this was not merely a transition but a 'conforming' of the east by the west. She argues that because the transition happened so quickly, many of the valuable aspects of the educational system in East Germany were ignored or condemned as being part of a totalitarian regime, i.e. the baby was thrown out with the bathwater. For this reason, Wilde describes the loss, on behalf of West Germany, of valuable lessons which could have been learnt from their teaching and other professional counterparts in East Germany. Her analysis highlights the strength of inertia in formal educational systems, a universal phenomenon but particularly evident in Germany where the FDR traditional selective patterns were reclaimed after the Allied Occupations by Britain, France and the USA. This, combined with a powerful political agenda accompanying reunification, Wilde has shown to have had a reactionary effect that was unfortunate to say the least, possibly unnecessay and even counter-productive.

McGonigle's chapter, 'Integrating Segregated Schools in Northern Ireland', describes another kind of apartheid, in respect of political lines in Northern Ireland, between Nationalists (pro-Republican) and Unionists (pro-Monarchist), the former group being primarily Catholic, and the latter, Protestant. After the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Northern Ireland became a place of violence, following clashes between these two communities, expressing deep dissatisfaction with an economic and political system which discriminated against the nationalist and predominately Catholic community, who then organised what was originally a 'vigilante' group to protect itself from 'the establishment'. However, this soon developed into a militant guerrilla group. Protestants reacted by setting up equivalent groups that were equally violent.

Attempts to promote a culture of peace began through formal education in the 1970s, but with limited success. Influenced by schools' desegregation movements abroad (the USA and Israel), a similar movement was initiated in Northern Ireland. One of the more successful attempts was 'Education for Peace', which began to encourage cross-community contact through curriculum reform initiatives. This movement was subsequently replaced by the 'Education for Mutual Understanding' initiative. Other projects were set up based on the 'contact hypothesis', which resulted in cross-religious contacts between schools. Again, this had limited success because teachers did not have 'anything to hang onto'. Although such movements have affected both the policy and process of education in Northern Ireland, their effect to date is limited. The success of such movements, however, lies in the fact that they are 'grass-root' movements, and, echoing the optimism Aedo-Richmond exhibits in her chapter on Chile, which follows, McGonigle points out that, 'regardless of political opportunity, it is not a movement that will be easily prevented'.

The case of Chile parallels that of South Africa in a number of ways, as Chile is also a country in transition, emerging from an oppressive military regime under Pinochet (1973_90). Following Pinochet, the Christian Democrat, Patricio Aylwin, took over as President (1990_94), followed by Edwardo Frei (1994_99), and now the current President, Ricardo Lagos (2000), heads the 'emerging democracy'. It is against this background of political turmoil that Aedo-Richmond writes on the 'Dynamics of Improvement and Reform in Chilean Education'. She describes the process of systemic educational change in Chile from 1990, beginning with the victory of Alywin – and the prodigious challenge he faced to bring about educational reform following 17 years of military dictatorship. Aedo-Richmond describes the difficulties of moving from one system to another, and the lessons which might be learned from such an experience. She characterises the transitional process as one of innovation, experimentation and development, which managed, in all its difficulties, to retain its overall sense of coherence and sense of direction despite political changes. Fortunately, the political will of subsequent governments, and their ideological convictions, enabled them to continue with reforms that had already been put in motion. Aedo-Richmond attributes the main reason for this to be the desire for consensus on both administrative and pedagogical issues in terms of decentralisation. Also, the desire to sustain partnerships between government and civil society, as between public and private sectors, was at the forefront of this momentum. She describes the stages of this process, and includes a description of various experimental projects, which were attempted, but were often constrained by time, resources and contextual circumstances. She concludes that the success or otherwise of the transitional phase and educational reforms depends very much on the need for both political and economic stability, as well as a nurturing context for the aims and aspirations of such reforms, in the desire for an education system that is both participatory and democratic. Aedo-Richmond again reiterates the need for continuity in order for such transitions to be successful, peaceful and embedded.

Education and Transition in Relation to Gender and Development

The third section of the book focuses on gender issues and the transition in developed and developing countries from male-dominated education systems towards a system that offers equal opportunity for females.

The opening chapter of this section gives an international overview of the state of higher education for women. In 'Towards Gender Equality in Higher Education: a global appraisal of policy and process', Mary- Louise Kearney gives an account of the significant education conferences where gender was one of the key concerns.

Kearney gives a historical chronology of all of the significant events which formed the basis upon which gender and education, specifically female education, became recognised as a key concern for the advancement of societies, particularly developing countries' societies. One of the first declarations on the issue of equality of opportunity was the 1948 'Universal Declaration on Human Rights'. More recent declarations include the 1999 'Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women', culminating in the statement of the millennium, and highlighting the advancement, at least in theory, in thinking about women's contribution to society, with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan's, inaugural address entitled 'The Future of This Planet Depends on Women' (June 2000).

In spite of such progress in theory, or in policy, Kearney highlights in her chapter that the reality of progress for women on the ground has been very slow. While highly educated women complain of the 'glass ceiling' effect and token positions in the workplace, women in developing countries are still fighting for literacy and basic health care facilities, though these conditions are not mutually exclusive, or necessarily confined to gender. However, gender remains one of the most pervasive elements hindering real development. Kearney states that 'policy and practice should be related, but frequently appear as distant poles of activity which operate with little if any logical linkages'. She engages in the policy debate on gender in the 1990s, and discusses policy gains and the need for large-scale capacity-building action so that women acquire all the necessary skills for their role as citizens as well as professionals. Kearney discusses the kinds of strategies and partnerships which help to facilitate this, including taking a person-centred approach, a structure-centred model, and a culture-centred view of the situation. Finally, Kearney believes it is necessary, for the advancement of women, to have further training, legislative and infrastructure support, more networks for women, and mentoring and gender management systems to be adopted at the institutional level. She concludes with the desire for a power-sharing forum with male counterparts which will lead, she believes, towards more equitable human development, genuine power-sharing, and ultimately, towards gender equality at all levels of education.

On the issue of women and further education, Chen, in 'An Old Issue in a New Era: educated women in China's transition from a command economy to a market economy', writes about the changing role of women in relation to this transition. Although legislation was introduced to eradicate the subordination and exploitation of women, their status in China never achieved the kind of recognition that these legislative changes hoped for. Cultural beliefs that women were inferior, that their role was primarily a domestic one, and that further advancement was not particularly advantageous or, indeed, virtuous, led to discrimination on a number of different levels. These beliefs still operate despite modern legislation. As a result, the 'great leap forward' experienced by Chinese women in 1958/59 did not continue through to the late 1980s, at which point the Government took measures to improve the status of female intellectuals, and attendance at university began to increase, though slowly. The percentage of female faculty members rose from 11% in 1950 to 34% in 1996. However, in comparison to their male counterparts, fewer females attend higher education overall (39% in 1996). Chen refers to 'tokenism', where women are assigned areas which are predominately related to female issues, or are assigned to sectors of perceived lesser importance.

Inhibiting factors to female advancement are usually a result of culturally embedded beliefs about women's role in society. Intelligent women are often perceived as being unattractive, as having acquired male traits of aggression and of lacking female qualities of gentleness. Curriculum options at the second level also gear women into taking 'more suitable' subjects, which usually lead to the 'care related' professions, such as nursing and teaching. These issues are not unique to China, but are commonly experienced by other, 'more developed' countries. Chen also refers to the 'false consciousness' among successful women, who dismiss societies' discriminatory messages, and who internalise gender bias against their own sex. Since the transition towards a market economy, women's status, ironically, has not only decreased, but discriminatory practices have intensified. Having explored the reasons why this has occurred, Chen concludes that 'in addition to cultural tradition, the continuing subordination of women can be attributed to the Government's neglect of gender equality in the economic reform' and that any change in the current status of women will require women's 'constant hard work and commitment'.

In her chapter on 'Education in Transition in Francophone West Africa: gender, access and issues of equity in Senegal and Gabon', Griffiths explores how each country adapts education to the changing and diversifying roles of women in African society. She explores the colonial legacy in both countries and how this has influenced the way in which education has evolved. In Gabon, for instance, Griffiths provides evidence to show that, as a result of colonisation, a higher number of girls were educated than would have been the case if the education system had been solely run by 'the state'. This was primarily because the churches, in a mission to convert the indigenous population to Christianity, provided for girls' education, though the curriculum was geared towards domesticity as much as academic knowledge. Even by the 1950s, less than one-tenth of the population was literate, primarily because of the goals of the missionaries to educate a select number to continue with their missionary work.

Although Senegal was colonised in 1848, the Governor at the time wished to begin a national education system. However, this did not take place. Female education suffered because of the different political and ideological motives for educating young women. As a result, at the turn of the twentieth century, only one-tenth of those enrolled in school were females.

Gabon's economic situation is much better than that of other countries in francophone Africa because it has offshore oil fields and rich uranium deposits, making its GDP per capita unrivalled (for example, in the 1990s, Gabon's figure is about $3400 in comparison to Senegal at $500). This has had a positive influence on its education of females, in so far as improving female education correlates with the improved health of the next generation: hence, the arguments for continual investment. In addition to economic conditions, cultural and ideological mores have also influenced the role education plays in the lives of women in both Gabon and Senegal. In Griffiths's words, 'the question for the whole subregion becomes the form this education must take and the way it deals with the issue of society in transition'. She leaves us with the question, what does the goal of 'education for all' hold for women in francophone Africa in the twentieth century?

Finally, Brock writes on 'Gender, Education and Change: the case of India'. He begins by observing that India is now the most populous nation on earth, and that the scale of the country and its distinctive regionalism make it difficult to organise any centralised educational system. This is further complicated by the fact that within India, there are many different communities, hundreds of different languages and quite diverse religious groups. The social realities of the situation make it difficult to integrate into the range of educational activity any single policy or educational framework which might make it possible to bridge the numerous lacunae which currently exist between policy and practice.

Brock guides us through the macro-context in which educational efforts reside. He states that 'the resolution of the gender conflict lies at the heart of the development process' and cites Bown (1985): 'Without women, no development'. The relatively recent globalisation of social change in relation to female disadvantage in education and female emancipation has not affected India to any great extent as it is already steeped in various different traditions and hierarchies, such as its pre-colonial social structure and its links with the Raj, the caste system, the role of language, and, patriarchal religious thought on the role of women in society.

Although education was provided for girls post-World War II, over half of that provided was private, and therefore primarily accessible to the elite. Brock gives a brief overview of the development of India since its independence in 1947, describing the change or transition period in terms of 'development', especially in respect of the gender factor. Many of the factors inhibiting development are sociocultural, and are rooted deep in its various traditions, reflecting the notion of 'natural justice'. As a result of caste, and class as well as gender bias, women are more than doubly disadvantaged.

Brock examines the various factors that influence female participation in education: geographic, sociocultural, economic, law and health. He goes on to describe the effects of urbanisation and modernisation on female participation in higher education. This varies enormously depending on the historical context and cultural roots of a region. However, as observed by Chen and Kearney, even educated women are often not socially welcomed, as their education poses a threat to well-established mores in respect of marriage, traditional patterns of female occupation and the role of men. Ironically, Brock alludes, as does Griffiths, to the fact that, sometimes, the residual effects of colonisation can have a positive effect on female participation in education, as 'Western' values were transferred through formal bureaucratic structures.


The first section of the book deals with the dominance of one kind of ideology, which challenges national traditions. The challenge results partly from the thrust towards globalisation, but also from the preferences of certain elites for one ideology over another. Denmark serves as a contrast to both the United Kingdom (influenced by the USA and vice versa), and Australia. How countries have adopted market-oriented policies, and their attempts to transform their systems of education into more viable ones from an economic perspective, has been an interesting experiment, and the transition from the post-war welfare state ideology towards a more market-driven educational system has been a fascinating process, with diverse outcomes. Denmark's resistance to such changes shows the power of the nation state over international forces, a force of reaction which has yet to be fully reckoned with. Education has always been a site of resistance as well as compliance. The key to understanding such developments may indeed, as Griffin states, be in the mediation of such policies, the transition and transmission of which are influenced by the factors and stakeholders involved in them, but such a focus would be the subject for another book.

Change in education in countries emerging from situations of conflict, such as South Africa, Northern Ireland, Chile, and, to a lesser extent, eastern Germany, can often be very slow, and the transition process painful. Traditional ways of life are disrupted, and deeply held values are challenged. Compromise is inevitable. The new situation becomes uncomfortable, as the gloss of transition wears thin. However, in all sites of resistance, education is a powerful tool, when rightly harnessed, to help bring about peaceful and fair transitions. The aforementioned countries are all emerging from oppressive regimes, and have different and difficult sets of complex problems to deal with resulting from the unique cultural context in which they are operating. However, by examining the factors and stakeholders that effect change, and hence, transition, one may gain insight into the structures in which change operates.

Despite the fact that the speed of transition from a traditional society to a modern one – where females have equal opportunity to education – is often painfully slow, Brock, Chen, Griffiths and Kearney, in their respective chapters, all remain optimistic that progress is still being made, despite the obstacles. However, they do stress that one must not become complacent, because, although the structures are in place for female emancipation, attitudes and mores are far more difficult to change. As Chen and Kearney point out, there is a great deal of rhetoric and even organisations 'dealing' with the problem often hive it off by institutionalising women's issues, attempting to segregate gender issues from 'the real world'. There is a long road ahead, or, to use Chen's analogy, 'half the sky'; therefore, continuous efforts need to be made to secure the ongoing progression of women, for, as United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has observed, 'no women, no development'.

For now, suffice it to say that education is always in transition, but when whole societies and ideologies are at stake, and where policies are in direct conflict with the sociocultural context in which they are being transmitted, then change is often difficult to bring about. What is needed is an in-depth understanding of the forces of change, the elements which make educational transition a process that is, though rarely comfortable, comprehensible to all. This book may go some way in illuminating some of the obstacles which can cause dilemmas in the process of change. Although transition is not always easy, it is often said, with hindsight, that the journey is often far more interesting than the destination. For this book at least, the transitional process remains an intriguing topic, resulting in a myriad of case scenarios, some of which are sketched here. It is hoped that the reader derives as much from the complexities as the authors of such researches derived in arriving at their preliminary 'conclusions'.


Birzea, C. (1994) Educational Policies of the Countries in Transition. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Broadfoot, P., Brock, C. & Tulasiewicz, W. (Eds) (1981) Politics and Educational Change. London: Croom Helm.

Coulby, D. & Jones, C. (2000) The World Yearbook in Education 2000. London: Kogan Page.

Freire, P. (1990) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum.

Fullen, M. (1999) Change Forces. London: Falmer Press.

Kandel, I. (1948) Education in an Era of Transition. London: Evans.

O'Donnell, G. & Schmitter, P. (1986) Transitions from Authoritarian Rule. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Offe, C. (1996) Varieties of Transition: the East European and East German experience. Cambridge: Polity Press.

McLeish, E. & Phillips, D. (Eds) (1998) Processes of Transition in Education Systems. Wallingford: Symposium Books.

Walshe, J. (1999) A New Partnership in Education: from consultation to legislation in the nineties. Dublin: Institute of Public Administration.


Ruth Aedo-Richmond is a lecturer in Hispanic Studies, Department of Modern Languages, University of Hull. A trained teacher and a graduate in educational studies from the University of Chile, and with postgraduate qualifications in education from the University of Hull, she has researched into and written about Chilean education for many years. She recently published a book on the history of private education in Chile and is currently preparing a book on Chile's educational reform in the context of globalisation. She has taught at many levels of education and presently has a special teaching interest in education, culture and development in Latin America. A former joint editor of the journal Compare, she has also written and/or edited publications on education in Latin America and education for refugees and crisis situations.

Colin Brock currently lectures at the University of Oxford in the area of International and Comparative Education. Colin has extensive field experience, having worked as an international educational consultant in Africa, Asia and Latin America, as well as in North America and Europe, for major international agencies such as UNESCO, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Bank and the European Community, as well as for bilaterals and non-governmental organisations. Colin has also published widely in the field, has taught in a number of United Kingdom universities, including Hull, Reading and Leeds, as well as acting as an external examiner to universities in a number of countries.

Robin Burns spent the years 1972–98 at Centre for Comparative and International studies in Education at La Trobe University, where she taught across a broad range of topics. Her recent research interests include the globalisation of education, education in Namibia, and the ethnology of science in remote locations (the Namib Desert, Uzbekistan and Antarctica). She is currently an honorary research Fellow at the Institute for International Studies, University of Technology, Sydney and the Centre for Women's Studies and Gender Research, Monash University, and an honorary senior lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University.

Jim Carl is an assistant professor at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he teaches courses in the history and politics of American education. His primary research interest is the history of urban education in the USA. He also follows the history and politics of education in post-World War II Britain and the comparative origins of national systems of mass schooling in Europe and North America in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Xiangming Chen is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Peking, People's Republic of China and an educational consultant, working with multilateral and bilateral agencies. She is one of the leading experts in the field on higher education in comparative and international perspective, and her work is widely disseminated and respected. Within that field, Dr Chen is especially interested in the position of, and opportunities for, women and has participated in projects and seminars on this issue in North America, Europe and Britain where, from 1998 to 1999, she was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford.

Paul Conway is College Lecturer in the Education Department at the National University of Ireland, Cork. Previously, he was Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology and Human Development at Cleveland State University. He teaches courses in educational psychology, teaching studies, and literacy and is engaged in research on teacher learning, literacy, and policy analysis of state and national educational technology plans. He has been a Visiting Faculty at Michigan State University and at the University of Michigan-Flint. He has worked as a researcher at the National Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement (CIERA) at Michigan State University.

Joanne Goodell is Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education at Cleveland State University. Dr Goodell came to Cleveland State in 1999 from Curtin University in Western Australia. She teaches mathematics education courses and works with Cleveland-area urban school districts on professional development, and is engaged in research focused on equity and reform issues for teaching and learning in mathematics. Previously Head of the Mathematics Department and teacher of mathematics in Western Australia, she also has served as a research associate for Ohio's systemic initiative, Discovery, and as Women in Engineering coordinator at Curtin University, Western Australia.

Rosarii Griffin is currently the holder of a Wiener-Anspach Foundation Scholarship undertaking post-doctoral research at the University of Brussels. She completed her Economic and Social Research Council funded doctorate at the University of Oxford, where she was also a Research Officer. Rosarii was previously an ERASMUS scholar at the University of Strasbourg, France and at the University of Leicester, England. Rosarii has undertaken extensive research in the USA, including a joint Multiple Intelligences Project between Harvard University, USA and University College, Cork where she worked as a Research Officer and as a part-time lecturer in the Adult and Continuing Education Department. Rosarii has published many articles and is also co-editor, with Colin Brock, of the Symposium Books Monographs in International Education series.

Claire Griffiths is a lecturer in the Department of French at the University of Hull. She is a member of research groups working on francophone African Studies in the United Kingdom, Africa and the USA. She has published a number of studies on social development issues in relation to women and development in Morocco, in Gabon and in Senegal. She is currently writing a book on women's lives in colonial French Africa while also preparing a PhD on changes in gender identity as manifested in contemporary sociological and literary accounts of women's lives in francophone Africa.

Clive Harber is Reader in Education at the University of Birmingham, where he specialises in international educational development . Widely acknowledged as one of the leading experts on educational change in the Republic of South Africa, he was for several years Professor of Education at the University of Natal. He has published widely on aspects of education in Africa, especially with respect to such themes as 'education for democracy' and 'educational management'. His most recent analysis of post-apartheid education in South Africa is published by Symposium Books in the series Monographs in International Education.

Mary-Louise Kearney is a Director for Relations with National Missions and New Partnerships at UNESCO in Paris. Previously she was Head of the Unit for the World Conference on Higher Education organised by UNESCO, and coordinated the joint follow-up to that conference with the World Bank as well as holding responsibilities for non-governmental organisation links with UNESCO. A linguist, Dr Kearney gained her BA and MA degrees and teaching qualifications in her native New Zealand before gaining a doctorate at the Sorbonne, and experience as a consultant to French industry. She has been a regular Visiting Scholar at the University of Oxford, Vice-President of the Society for Research into Higher Education and an active member of the International Federation of University Women.

Julie McGonigle has just completed her doctorate at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her study focused on the problems and processes of integrating segregated schools in Northern Ireland, and her findings are being used to inform educational policy and practice within that context. Julie is also carrying out some research about 'Education for Peace' in Israel and she hopes to continue to look at how education can ameliorate social conflict in a variety of international settings. As well as being a researcher, Julie is a qualified teacher, and she is currently teaching English Literature and Language at an international/community school in Cambridge.

Stephanie Wilde completed an Economic and Social Research Council funded doctorate in educational studies at the University of Oxford in October 2000. The thesis examined teachers' perceptions of the changes in eastern German secondary schools since 1990. She has since moved to Berlin in order to undertake research into political and citizenship education in German secondary schools. She currently holds the Theodor-Heuss Fellowship, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and is a Research Fellow of the Department of Educational Studies, University of Oxford. Her research interests include the developments in education in eastern Germany since unification in 1990, comprehensive schooling, citizenship and political education.

Thyge Winther-Jensen is Professor of Education in the Institut for Paedogogik at Kobenhavns Universitet. He is a widely acknowledged expert in the field of International and Comparative Education, and especially in respect of educational development in the Scandinavian Countries. Thyge has remained particularly interested in the educational traditions of his native Denmark, and contributed on this theme to many publications, including the Routledge volume on Education in a Single Europe (Eds, Brock, C. & Tulasiewicz, W.F., 2000). For many years, he has been a stalwart member of the Comparative Education Society in Europe of which he was President from 1996 to 2000.

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