The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy

Eshuchi JCA (2014)
Bielefeld: Universitätsbibliothek.

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Bielefeld Dissertation | English
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This dissertation focuses on the implementation of free and universal primary education in Kenya, policy inspired by the human development paradigm in which education is a mechanism for provision of essential educational outcomes that enable all children to develop capabilities for the good life. The central purview of this study is the tension between structure and agency in pursuit of educational justice, particularly how gendered, economic and cultural constraints interact with children’s educational aspirations. This tension is framed in the relationship between new equity regimes and continued educational inequalities and is explored it in light of the impact of free primary education on educational outcomes of children in disadvantaged regions of Kenya through analysis of the interaction of macro-processes of education at policy level with micro-processes in schooling at the family, school and individual levels. The main research problem addressed in this dissertation addresses is, “how does the intersection of pupils’, families’ and school educational aspirations and practices affect the educational outcomes of pupils in Kenyan schools?”. The Capability Approach is employed to conceptualize the global, national and local priorities of the socialization arrangements in Kenya primary schools, focusing on free primary education in Kenya as influenced by the Millennium Development Goals, while a structure-disposition-practice model originating from Bourdieu’s reproduction thesis and refined with a critical realist perspective frames deeper exploration of socialization, reproduction and transformation within schooling experiences. The study focused on three schools in an urban slum, rural agricultural and rural pastoralist setting. Data was collected through policy analysis and semi-structured interviews with teachers, pupils and families. Analysis of the data showed that parental involvement in schooling occurs as a form of social practice that only achieves meaning when located in a classed institutional context. When class locations limit parental understandings of educational standards and norms, families are unable to effectively contribute to children’s learning and outcomes. However, the high familial aspirations exhibited by parents in thi study went beyond the bounds of their social class and played a key role in enabling children overcome habitus-contingent limitations and pursue educational success through mitigation of competing socialization demands and negative cultural norms. Notwithstanding the high aspirations of the families in this study, it was evident that the disconnect between schooling and livelihoods and the lack of opportunities for transition were a major cause of disillusionment in education. This calls into question the design of schooling and curriculum and requires greater engagement with children’s realities. Pupils were caught up in the disparities between schooling and their social lives, where modern schooling was in stark contrast to the socialization processes within their community. Schooling was thus a process of becoming estranged from their cultural norms and backgrounds, and this led to tensions in children’s efforts to pursue a balance between modernity and tradition. As the families and teachers in this study have shown, the ontological reality of organizations can be altered through human agency to better handle structural flaws in institutional habitus, as familial aspirations, coupled with institutional commitment to provision of quality education enabled the pupils to successfully pursue educational success in spite of cultural, economic and political constraints. While the family habitus affected children’s aspirations and socio-economic ability to participate successfully in schooling, school habitus structured children’s opportunities to achieve instrumental, positional and intrinsic benefits of education. This affected children’s perceived chances at educational success, as children developed either positive or negative dispositions towards schooling based on their families expectations and support, their ability to match to schools expectations and cultures and their own pragmatic choices regarding the future. In particular, the compulsion to either conform to traditional norms of their community or discard them in favor of the modernity espoused by schooling posed a great challenge that in the end made or broke the children’s educational careers. From the analysis it was evident that the children’s aspirations for educational success were largely linked to the perceived instrumental function of education as a ladder towards future economic success. Children focused solely on achieving good tests scores rather than a broader notion of education as human development, underscoring the human capital orientation of Kenyan education. The adoption of the MDGs and EFAs in Kenyan developments served as an ideal starting point to consider changing global paradigms that influence how education is conceptualized as a tool for social change in developing countries. It was evident that global priorities and shifting development paradigms had considerable influence over educational reform in Kenya. However, the reality on the ground as experienced by teachers, pupils and families indicated that implementation challenges, lack of political will and policy oversights lead to lack of substantive progress towards the policy goals. In particular, it is evident that the institutional frameworks of primary school provision are still highly influenced by the regional and social inequalities that have for long prevented achievement of equity, access and relevance of education. Thus, the foremost implications of this study are that educational authorities should undertake a comprehensive situation analysis of the educational system in Kenya to develop a minimum threshold of educational provision that ensures representation of all stakeholders, redistribution of education opportunities to all children and recognition of diverse needs. Such a threshold should be evidence-based, drawing on a firm foundation of evidence from theory and empirical research and supplemented by democratic consultation and debate. This dissertation argues for a nuanced and refined conceptualization of educational outcomes that should encompass the breadth of human development rather than the focus on economic growth and employment that is prevalent in Kenyan education and development policy. Such a conceptualization is offered by the Capability Approach in its approach to development as agency and wellbeing freedom. Education as a tool for poverty reduction would be in this instance vital in enabling individuals escape the influence of inequalities arising from gender, cultural and class and thus be able to pursue lives that are of value to them.
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Eshuchi JCA. The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy. Bielefeld: Universitätsbibliothek; 2014.
Eshuchi, J. C. A. (2014). The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy. Bielefeld: Universitätsbibliothek.
Eshuchi, J. C. A. (2014). The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy. Bielefeld: Universitätsbibliothek.
Eshuchi, J.C.A., 2014. The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy, Bielefeld: Universitätsbibliothek.
J.C.A. Eshuchi, The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy, Bielefeld: Universitätsbibliothek, 2014.
Eshuchi, J.C.A.: The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy. Universitätsbibliothek, Bielefeld (2014).
Eshuchi, Joshua Caleb Amunga. The Millennium Development Goals and educational justice: a critical realist analysis of capability deprivation in Kenyan education policy. Bielefeld: Universitätsbibliothek, 2014.
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