Workshop: The Education Alibi - towards a critically reflexive perspective on the paradoxes of schooling in Africa
A workshop, organized in the Frame of the Cluster of Excellency Africa Multiple, University of Bayreuth, Germany.
Convenors: Erdmute Alber, Elizabeth Cooper, Wandia Njoya
Education – and in practical terms, schooling – has often been described as one of the most invasive outcomes and long-lasting societal changes initiated by colonial rule in African countries. In globalized educational and development discourses relating to Africa, education and schooling usually have a positive connotation, as they are believed to be key to the future of the continent. The positive images, promises, and related attempts of “education for all” have for the most part evaded fundamental critique, and if anything, they have become more powerful. The workshop takes a critically reflexive perspective on education and schooling and their inherent moralities. To prompt such reflexivity, we suggest shifting the focus to what we describe as “the education alibi” in Africa.
In conceptualizing education as an alibi we mean to shine an interrogative light on institutions' and actors' plausible use of education to divert scrutiny from other matters. The official story of education – and its defense against accusations of malfeasance - continues to be one of innocence and indeed of public good. Overwhelmingly, the school enrolment of children continues to symbolize access to globalized knowledge and consequently improved futures of enlightenment. Yet, schooling has, since colonial times, constituted an arena of intense contestation. Across many different African histories, education is accused of much wrongdoing and of concealing depravity.
More information can be found in the program for the workshop that is following.