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Rethinking Education

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Humanizing Education in the 3rd Millennium

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This paper begins with a critique of neoliberal reforms that have shaped education to fulfil individual aims and self-interest defined in narrow economic terms. Embedded in coloniality, the neoliberal education project accords priority to skill development over human capacities to relate, cohere and be just. Questioning Eurocentric universalism has led to the view that the world we live in is a pluriverse. Epistemological and ontological questions are therefore fundamental in engaging with issues of social inequality and the Anthropocene. To enable equity and social justice, it is important to design content and processes of education that are egalitarian and emancipatory in nature. Social and environmental movements and the construction of anti-colonial national imaginaries in diverse societies can provide new discourses of education. The project of human education is a challenge of content as well as pedagogic approaches, as true education is as much about liberating others as oneself.

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  1. 1.

    The term ‘international education project’ is being used here as an umbrella term that indicates the convergence of a host of international think tanks and players: global networks and projects, including bilateral agencies that form part of an international education community such as the EFA and a global epistemic community that Stephen Ball talks about (Ball, S. J. [2012]. Global education inc: New policy networks and the neo-liberal imaginary. Routledge).

  2. 2.

    Colonisers’ rejection of sociocultural contexts and knowledge in shaping curriculum in India created deep conflict between education and culture, thus isolating school knowledge from the socio-cultural milieu of children (Kumar, 2005).

  3. 3.

    This isolation characterises the bulk of educational practice in India and lies at the root of the country’s poor performance in universalising critical education (Batra, 2014).

  4. 4.

    The term ‘universal’ refers to the universal frames which have dominated educational discourses, such as theories of child development; theories of learning that have little scope to account for cross-cultural differences. Viewing children/learners and the process of education from a universal prism undermines diversities of language, culture and socio-economic realities that shape children and the manner in which they learn.

  5. 5.

    The term Dalit was in use as a translation for the British Raj census classification of Depressed Classes prior to 1935. It was popularised by the economist and reformer, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (1891–1956), himself a Dalit. Scheduled Castes is the official term for Dalits.

  6. 6.

    ‘Informal education’ here refers to self-directed learning which is typically part of several communities in India and elsewhere, such as learning among agrarian communities, artisans, weavers and crafts people.

  7. 7.

    COVID-19 Pandemic.


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Batra, P. (2022). Rethinking Education. In: Webster, R.S., Airaksinen, T., Batra, P., Kozhevnikova, M. (eds) Humanizing Education in the 3rd Millennium. SpringerBriefs in Education. Springer, Singapore.

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