(Re)Constructing a ‘Good’ School: Perspectives on Educational Transformation in Post-earthquake Nepal
What is education, and who counts as an ‘educated person’, amidst competing religious, political and pedagogical ideologies, which have shaped contemporary educational practices and institutions in Nepal? The rapid socio-political transformations combined with the historically rich educational diversity in Nepal provide a fascinating vantage point from which to explore the interplay of enduring structural inequality and prospects of social mobility in and through education; the production of new educational identities and the transformative potentials of this; and the reshaping of educational infrastructures and institutional dynamics. Using the lens of education anthropology, this presentation will shed light on the multiple ways in which processes of education, broadly defined, intersect with socio-political ideas, institutions, and identities. The field of ethnographic research on education in Nepal has grown steadily since the late 1980s. As amply demonstrated by Kathryn Anderson-Levitt’s edited volume ‘Anthropologies of Education. A Global Guide to Ethnographic Studies of Learning and Schooling’ (2012) local concerns make certain dimensions of education more visible than others and open up particular vantage points from which to examine educational processes in specific national contexts. The presentation invites the audience to appreciate education in contemporary Nepal, its multiple locations and the many meanings ascribed to it. The aim of the presentation is three-fold. Firstly, it expands and ties together the emergent and somewhat sporadic body of anthropological studies on education in Nepal into a coherent field. Secondly, it adds to the debate on educational processes in South Asia by foregrounding Nepal as a site, which in regional scholarship has often been perceived and treated peripherally to India. And thirdly, it contributes to the subfield of educational anthropology by using ethnographic evidence from Nepal to rethink ‘educational locations’ more broadly and thereby help push anthropological knowledge production on education.