The ‘Urban’ and Education in India: Section Editor’s Introduction
The introductory chapter to this section presents a perspective and an overview of the many meanings of the urban and education in India. Drawing from the contributions of individual authors who discuss five Indian cities and an urban fringe as well as relevant research, the chapter attempts to provide a glimpse of the complexity of the urban-education interface in this country over time. It sets the context for the section by tracing the pathway of urbanisation and education from the colonial urban (post 1850), through the early post independence decades of welfare developmentalism (post 1947), economic reforms and liberalisation (post 1990s) and the present phase of neoliberal globalisation. The city has been viewed as the site of opportunity and has been the destination for rural migrants especially belonging to disadvantaged communities looking towards economic betterment and a life of dignity. Education has been viewed as a key channel for social mobility. However, the process of urbanisation especially since the early 1980s has seen the city and its schools become increasingly spatially and socially segregated, most starkly visible in the mega cities/metropolis. As exclusive enclaves for the privileged emerge, the poor are increasingly forced to relocate to the periphery of the city to live in slums and shanties where there is little access to basic facilities including education of reasonable quality provided by the state. They are increasingly left to the mercies of the market. This chapter, as well as the contribution of authors, point out that schools and colleges are becoming the main sites of competition for positional advantage and exclusion. Private schooling and ‘coaching’ (private tutorials) are now big business in the city and the education economy is today transforming urban spaces. This is to the detriment of the poor and disadvantaged groups who are pushed to the margins of the city and its education. The chapter raises the larger issue of the importance of building a social imaginary of an inclusive Urban Society. Education is implicated in such an imaginary and h hence must be urgently reflected upon.
KeywordsIndia The urban Neoliberal urbanization Private schools The Education economy Urban education Poverty Middle classes
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