Education and Learning

Only a third of children in the world’s poorest households currently complete school. Two thirds of all illiterate adults are women and nearly half the global illiterate population lives in Southern Asia.

In focusing on education policy and the inequalities that are both built into education systems and perpetuated by them, our publishing responds to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education. Revealing and addressing some of the challenges in education, including those around technology and the digital divide, it looks to internationally-sourced evidence-based solutions, challenging traditional neoliberal approaches to learning.

Bristol University Press and Policy Press are signed up to the UN SDG Publishers Compact. In Education and learning, we aim to address the following goal: 

Education and Learning

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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.

Open access

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.

Open access

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.

Open access
A Decolonial Perspective

This short book aims to provide a decolonial critique of dominant global agendas concerning teacher professionalism and to propose new understanding based on the perspectives and experiences of a sample of teachers in Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Rwanda and Tanzania. The book opens by setting out dominant conceptions of teacher professionalism as they appear in the global literature. It then uses Ndlovu-Gatsheni’s three dimensions of coloniality (namely, the coloniality of power, of knowledge and of being) as a framework for considering the legacy of colonialism on teacher professionalism and setting out teachers’ ideas concerning the barriers to and affordances of their professionalism. The main arguments advanced in the book are that a decolonial lens is helpful for contextualizing the perspectives of teachers in the global South; the lived experiences and material conditions of these teachers are often neglected in dominant discourses; it is important to situate the perspectives of teachers in an understanding of local contexts and realities; and, in contrast to deficit discourses that predominate in the global literature, there is much that can be learned about teacher professionalism from teachers in the global South.

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This paper draws on findings from the JustEd study to discuss the shallow pedagogies that have emerged in Peru in the context of learner-centred and outcomes-based reforms that have been poorly implemented in a context with many limitations in terms of policy orientations, resources, and teacher training and support. These pedagogies promote little to no critical thinking, are disconnected from students’ experiences and do not encourage them to problematise reality nor to grasp complexity. Such pedagogies constitute a form of epistemic injustice in that they do not help to develop students’ capacity to participate as equals in the consumption and production of knowledge. Through this, these pedagogies also limit education’s potential contributions to justice, peace and sustainability. Our discussion of shallow pedagogies leads us to articulate some more positive elements of what rich and just pedagogies might entail.

Open access
Disadvantaged Students, Exclusion and Social Justice
Author:

Why do disadvantaged students continue to get a poor deal as they progress through England’s education system?

Challenging orthodox thinking about school exclusion, this book powerfully advocates for a fairer education system for disadvantaged students. It argues that the current conceptualisation of ‘exclusion’ – physically removing the student from the school – is insufficient. This approach fails to recognise the layers of exclusion that these students encounter. Students can be excluded within their schools (inner exclusion), not just from school (outer exclusion).

Drawing on student experiences of exclusion and the perspectives of senior leaders, including the author who is a Head of School, this book demonstrates how we can create a fairer education system for disadvantaged students.

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Aspirations, Opportunities and the Reproduction of Social Class
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Despite a mass expansion of the higher education sector in the UK since the 1960s, young people from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds remain less likely to enter university than their advantaged counterparts.

Drawing on unique new research gathered from three contrasting secondary schools in England, including interviews with children from three year groups and careers advisors, this book explores the aspirations, opportunities and experiences of young people from different social-class backgrounds against a backdrop of continuing inequalities in education.

By focusing both on the stories of young people and the schools themselves, the book sheds light on the institutional structures and practices that render young people more, or less, able to pursue their aspirations.

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We Do!
Author:

This book traces the history of nurseries in the UK, the types and levels of provision, the long-standing splits between welfare care and public education, and community-based attempts to improve the situation. It charts the shifts in public attitudes towards these various forms of childcare and argues that the privatization of childcare, as for many other privatized services, has been a profound mistake that has entrenched inequality and resulted in poor-quality, yet very costly, services for children.

The book recognizes the considerable difficulties in overhauling the way in which nursery education and care are delivered and paid for, but makes practical suggestions about the ways forward. These include more support for flexible state nursery education, a ban on the offshore privatized nursery companies that increasingly dominate nursery ownership, a substantial overhaul of Ofsted’s remit, and involvement of the many unqualified care workers at the fringes of nursery provision.

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