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While education is expected to play a significant role in responding to global social challenges, sustainable development discourses often fail to attend to issues of pedagogy, purpose and process. In this paper, we argue that one way to focus arguments on educational practice is through considerations of the relationship between education as justice and education for justice. We do this through discussing one form of justice in education – epistemic justice – and developing our conceptualisation of an epistemic core. Drawing on Elmore’s instructional core, this includes openness to students’ experiences and the place where they live, rich pedagogies and a broad range of epistemic resources. We argue that this is one way that secondary education’s contribution to sustainable and just futures could be made more concretely possible.

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Understanding how today’s children will act in the future is essential to education supporting sustainable development. This study investigated how students in three contexts in Nepal, Peru and Uganda understand environmental, epistemic and transitional justice. It used a tablet-based app to present students with scenarios that illustrates different attitudes, experiences and intended actions with respect to these three forms of justice and analysed responses to focus on factors related to intended actions. The analysis suggests that both attitudes and experiences are important in shaping intended actions in the future. Thus, education systems should not only develop attitudes to support sustainable development, but also exemplify and embody socially justice practices, providing students with experience of social contexts that support sustainable development.

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Through a project undertaken under a programme funded by United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) called Transforming Education for Sustainable Futures (TESF), alternative learning approaches associated with the introduction of a form of vertical farming called ‘tower gardens’ at primary schools were explored. Methods that were new to the local education context were used to support the learning process, for example role-playing sketches that allowed learners to share their own knowledge about gardening activities with their peers, teachers and staff from the non-governmental organisation that facilitated the process. This collective sharing and recall were key elements of the social learning process, building into individual and group knowledge. Corroborated memory recall contributed to group learning and also built into the collective storage of knowledge. Learning was firmly embedded in social interaction, in collective symbolism and arts – music specifically. These forms of learning and storing of knowledge resonated with the learners as it was a continuation of life as they know it in their community. It became clear from the project that educators saw the value of introducing concepts from classroom subjects when constructing and managing the tower gardens and were pleasantly surprised by the responses of the learners to this new way of learning, suggesting that creating scope within the curriculum and schoolwork plan is necessary in tandem with building the required capacity to replicate this without external support.

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This paper offers a novel analysis of how Nepal is delivering its commitment to secondary education provision that is advancing environmental sustainability, tracing a trajectory that begins with national policies relating to environmental sustainability and incorporating the national curriculum framework, textbooks, pedagogies used in classrooms, and learner experiences and anticipated actions. We consider Nepal’s education about and for environmental sustainability in the context of theories of environmental justice, and question if and how secondary provision might promote the behavioural change that Nepal recognises is vital for environmental sustainability. Qualitative data were generated through policy analysis, critical content analysis of secondary-level curriculum and textbooks, classroom observations, semi-structured interviews with 15 teachers and 4 headteachers, and a range of in-person activities with 24 students in purposively selected four community secondary schools in the three diverse locations across Nepal. The results illuminate pronounced disconnections across modalities that indicate incoherence and unresolved debates in the underlying narrative of what environmental sustainability is and the role of education in addressing it. Our findings suggest that learners’ ideas, opinions, thinking and experiences should be encouraged and celebrated in the classroom to aid learners in translating conceptual learning into practical, sustainable behaviours, as well as to contribute to environmental justice. The findings appeal to the concerned stakeholders for their consideration of future policy and programme development that promotes environmental justice through education and establishes a connection between classroom learning and students’ lived experiences through a participatory approach, collaboration, and critical and creative thinking.

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Education is often posed as the harbinger of progress in discourses related to the development of marginalised Indigenous communities. However, since they entered the mainstream schools in the 1960s, the four Indigenous communities of Gudalur, India have experienced various forms of injustice in seeking formal education. This article draws from the work of the Vishwa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust, a community-driven organisation that has been working on matters related to the education of these four communities since 1996, and two research initiatives that captures the community’s voices on their experiences and aspirations related to education, to put forth recommendations for practice that is geared towards greater equality and justice for the children of Indigenous communities. Rooted in the belief that the active participation of the community is crucial to devising solutions that truly address in a sustainable manner the historical injustices faced by them, the article outlines various interventions at different sites of learning that builds community ownership and nurtures a meaningful continuum between the home and school environment of the children.

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This paper explores how Ugandan secondary school learners experience schooling in English-medium schools where the use of English only is strictly enforced. We conceptualise the ways that the learners sit at the intersection of direct, systemic and cultural violence that in turn impacts their educational experiences. We particularly focus on instances of direct violence through corporal punishment, and the ways that such violence, and associated fear, are part of many learners’ everyday schooling experiences. We demonstrate this through presentation of findings from thematic analysis of individual and focus group interviews with 64 learners at two public and two private secondary schools in the Amuru and Kitgum districts of Northern Uganda. Our conclusions advocate for greater attention to be paid to the ways that changes to enforced English-only policies could support more positive well-being and educational outcomes.

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‘Human trafficking’ represents a complex global concern plagued by definitional ambiguities, ideological disagreements, and the (un)intended harmful consequences of anti-trafficking measures. Despite well-established critical scholarship that exposes the ‘collateral damage’ caused by these measures, research funding continues to support top down research endeavours aimed at identifying, rescuing, sorting, labelling, classifying, and rehabilitating vulnerable people on the move. These colonial forms of research often justify harmful anti-trafficking measures; producing new measures that often neglect the experiences and perceptions of the targets of such interventions. Whilst it is recognised that anti-trafficking research carries a problematic political epistemology, researchers often argue that there is a need for more research on ‘trafficking victims’ or ‘survivors’. In this chapter, I caution against exclusive victim-centred research, which may deepen boundaries between deserving and undeserving subjects of knowledge and protection. To address this concern, I provide a detailed account in this chapter of an academic Participatory Action Research (PAR) conducted in a post-disaster Himalayan location in Nepal, often stigmatized as a ‘hotspot’ of human trafficking. This PAR engages with people considered as targets of anti-trafficking who are attempting to undo the stigma of trafficking attached to their place. In this chapter, I illustrate the messy sites, capturing tensions, failures, and emotionally charged moments that lead to disruptions during the research process. These disruptions raise questions about both the perception and translation of dense power relations and the significance of the knowledge produced amid multiplicity for everyone involved in the research process. Through this chapter, I advocate for an inclusive and situated approach to trafficking research that acknowledges the full spectrum of mobility and labour experiences, challenging dominant trafficking research that deepen boundaries between victims and non-victims.

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In the post-Brexit context increased attention is (correctly) being paid to the heightened risks of labour exploitation for EU migrants. The removal of free movement-facilitated access to the labour market, and the loss of associated social rights stemming from Union citizenship, contribute to the enhanced vulnerability of EU migrants to exploitative treatment. However, even under the auspices of the free movement framework, exploitation has been part of (some) EU migrants’ experiences in the UK labour market over many years. In particular, migrants from the Central and Eastern European (CEE) states that acceded to the EU in 2004 and 2007 have been more heavily concentrated in sectors of the labour market in which slippage along the continuum from poor treatment in employment to more severe forms of labour exploitation is more common. These migrants have had a higher visibility as victims of the types of exploitation deemed to constitute modern slavery than EU migrants from the older member states. This can be traced back to the way in which ‘free’ movement was extended to the new EU citizens at the time of EU enlargement. CEE accession migrants’ access to the labour market was conditioned on their willingness to carry out low-skilled roles to plug gaps in the (pre-2008 financial crash) labour market. The curtailed nature of the original access rights has ongoing implications for the treatment that migrants from the CEE accession states experience in the workplace. Moreover, the restrictive trajectory of immigration policy generally, and the move towards limiting support for those identified as victims of modern slavery specifically – encapsulated in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 and Illegal Migration Act 2023 – offers little solace for the future to any migrants who experience exploitation in the UK.

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There is nothing new or uniquely modern about exploitation. Yet this idea of ‘newness’ continues to dominate, with numerous exploitative practices drawn under the elastic construct of modern slavery and/or human trafficking. The image on the front cover was therefore selected not simply because it is aesthetically appealing but also because the kaleidoscope represents how this interdisciplinary volume has been drawn together. A kaleidoscope is traditionally thought of as a toy ‘consisting of a tube containing mirrors and pieces of coloured glass or paper, whose reflections produce changing patterns that are visible through an eyehole when the tube is rotated’. This creation of constantly changing patterns or the sequence of objects and elements illustrates both the issue of modern slavery and its perceived ‘newness’. The contributors interrogate the construct of modern slavery and anti-trafficking discourse which have dominated contemporary responses to and understandings of exploitation. Through providing insights and evidence we need to continue navigating a different path – beyond the racialized legacy of anti-trafficking and fears of modern slavery

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Modern slavery is a contested and confusing issue. In recent years significant critiques have emerged of the mainstream approach that frames modern slavery as an individualized relationship linked to economic underdevelopment. This chapter addresses two such critiques: weak historicity and the lack of analysis of power relations, particularly the role of the state. This chapter applies the concept of ‘coloniality of power’ – which involves two interrelated processes of racialized categorization and the articulation of forms of labour control to produce commodities for the world market – to cases of exploitation in post-independence Latin America. The chapter draws on documentary and field research to analyse state responses to modern slavery in the guano and rubber sectors in Peru’s neocolonial state; and to the exploitation and abuse of Indigenous Guaraní in Bolivia’s ‘decolonizing’ state under the government of Evo Morales. The chapter finds a coloniality approach to have strong utility, focusing attention on overlooked interconnections between racialization, labour control, and global capitalism. It also reveals that, far from a simple enforcer of laws, the state’s role is ambiguous. While the Bolivian case provides some evidence that states can act to reduce vulnerability, more often they help to create the conditions for exploitation under the pretext of ‘development’. In both cases the state’s prioritization of capitalism saw it reproduce racialized divisions and deepen vulnerability. These findings call for a reorientation of modern slavery scholarship and practice towards critical engagement with colonial legacies, global capitalism, and the state.

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