CESI 2019: Concept Note
Theme: EXCLUSION, INCLUSION AND EQUITY IN EDUCATION
The idea and processes of social exclusion are not new to the arena of social sciences and educational studies globally. Nor are the discourses of exclusion and demands for inclusion peculiar to some societies or to specific periods of history. Exclusion of some and exclusivity and privilege for others was pervasive among all known human societies in all times though the nature, type, context and the consequences of exclusion and exclusivity differed from society to society or within a particular society or in different epochs of human evolution. While exclusion can take various forms it tends to be contextually grounded. Inclusion, on the other hand, has been a value of democratic systems of governance, adopted by many societies in the post-Renaissance era and particularly in the post-colonial period. Inclusion came to be part of the lexicon of modern democratic societies through Constitutional and legal frames. Realising the constitutional objective of treating all citizens as equals has been the cherished goal of democracies. However, there have always been counter-claims of exclusion and marginalisation through policy practice and implementation or the lack of policies to include those hitherto marginalised and excluded, emphasising differential requirements which then foregrounds demands for equity.
Within the domain of education, nation-states globally attempted to address issues of exclusion of both individuals and social groups. Nonetheless, in all societies, there are still voices which claim exclusion and inequity in terms of access, everyday life within institutions, and within the possible outcomes of education. In several countries over the past few decades popular social movements for equality have had their effects on raising public awareness about exclusion as well as putting pressure on states to address exclusions within educational systems and facilitate inclusion into everyday educational contexts. This has certainly widened the net of educational achievements in many societies including India. Issues of exclusion, inclusion and equity have gained far more valency in this time as wider political discourses within and outside of educational institutions have begun to be shaped by such concerns. With education policies and programmes influenced by these discourses, newer strategies to include hitherto marginalised sections and attempts to promote equity have been devised, tested and implemented, both within classrooms and outside them.
Acknowledging the gains made by these efforts, it must be recognised that the onset of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism in many societies have brought discourses of equity, exclusion and inclusion in education onto the centre-stage once again. Now, social scientists and policy makers grapple not only with widening gaps between individuals and social groups in education, they are confronted with new forms of exclusion and inequalities, which require newer strategies for inclusion. Education in India has been seeing an entrenching of social and economic inequalities over the past two decades, since the onset of liberalisation. Recent state policies have significantly contributed to this phenomenon, such as encouraging school choices through direct cash transfers or fee reimbursements instead of creating and improvising public education infrastructure, or policies of school closures in the name of rationalisation or consolidation of so-called unviable or small schools. Lack of policy measures, such as the absence of policies directed towards stemming unscrupulous privatisation and commercialisation of professional higher education are also engendering new contexts for exclusion rather than facilitating inclusion. Further, the loud announcements of Education for All in the new millennium or the mere provision of Right to Education does not guarantee inclusion and equity for all. The Draft National Education Policy (2019) has highlighted various provisions and incentives to provide access to education and work for marginalised groups. However, significant and wide-ranging processes of sensitisation, and involvement of multiple participants in the system, in a shared ownership of these concerns, still needs elaboration.
It is within this background that the 10th Annual International Conference of the Comparative Education Society of India (CESI) will seek to deliberate and discuss the theme of 'Exclusion, Inclusion and Equity in Education' from a comparative perspective. The Conference will provide an academic forum for the exchange of ideas, perspectives and experiences on these key themes from disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives in the social sciences.
The conference is hosted by the Zakir Husain Centre for Educational Studies (ZHCES), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. It is significant that the first conference of CESI, post its revival after a gap of twenty years, was hosted by ZHCES in 2010 and it is indeed a pleasure to announce ZHCES as the host of the Tenth Conference (CESI 2019) too. In fact, CESI was set up as a professional society with the initiative of a group of scholars of educational studies located in ZHCES, JNU. Today CESI is recognised as a key national body of comparative education researchers, both in India as well as globally. CESI and ZHCES invite the participation of all researchers.
Sub-themes for CESI 2019