ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Alternative Perspectives on Educating the Poor

literacy. Other nation states with Alternative Perspectives different historical trajectories were also expected to witness the same linkages. Based on this assumption, the system of on Educating the Poor education and its proponents form a Shiksha Aur Jan Andolan (in Hindi) by Sadhana Saxena; Granth Shilpi, New Delhi, 2000;

This is a significant and important addition to the work done on the sociology and politics of education in India. While the text builds its narratives and frameworks from a detailed exploration of the field visions emerging from educational and development experiments in India, these are not put forward by the author as anecdotal narratives of local success stories. The Andhra Mahasabha library movement of the pre-independence era, the Kishore Bharati education and rural development experiment in Madhya Pradesh, literacy and the anti-arrack movement in Nellore, and the Women’s Development Programme experience in Rajasthan are reflected upon, and culminate in the raising of significant questions, comparisons and generalisations. The questions raised are of significance as they reveal the complex character of the relationship between education and social transformation. Purely educational interventions in a rural area, started with assumptions about the neutral character of education, do not yield limited and controlled outputs – of merely raising consciousness for a development oriented towards modernisation. They inspire a critical scrutiny of the social relationships and structures that perpetrate poverty and inequality. In doing so like the mythological Bhasmasur they begin to challenge their very mentors. The book begins with a statement on this main focus. Among the deprived and oppressed, educational programmes take on unexpected contours, and enter the terrain of political struggle. When this happens, the programme implementors look for exit strategies saying that an educational programme has taken on an unexpected political turn.

When viewed from the perspective of the people, as expected from the title of the book, an educational programme turning into a political movement, is seen as an expression of active protest and rejection on the part of the people. Ordinarily these people are assumed to be passive recepients of development programmes, incapable of agency. Their political struggles are statements to the contrary. This insight of people possesing an active capacity demolishes oft repeated developmental myths about them and emerges from a keen association with issues of the poor. Why do educational programmes meant for the poor fail? Why don’t people enthusiastically associate with programmes meant for them? These are some of the questions with which the book begins. It must be stated here that the book is replete with insightful questions that hold exciting possibilities for those willing to delve into deeper empirical/logical analysis.

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