Development as discourse: what relevance to education?

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Regarding 'development' as a constructed and contested concept can enable us working in international education to re-examine our assumptions and approaches as 'developers'. Given its theoretical origins in post-modern, post-colonial and feminist thought, the concept of development as discourse implies more than simply 'development speak' and can provide a way into analysing relationships around knowledge and power. Stressing that there are many overlapping discourses, rather than just one Development Discourse, I explore in this paper the insights gained, methods used and constraints faced when using this approach during fieldwork in Nepal. Practical situations like literacy classes or meetings, and texts such as funding proposals or students' writing, illustrate how analysis of development discourses can bring out new dimensions relevant to training and planning. Moving from this micro-level to a wider context, I argue that the ideological dimension of educational planning and policy needs to be recognized and analysed through a focus on discourse. Instead of suggesting that a certain policy succeeds or fails in 'technical' terms, policy makers can then begin to ask different questions which acknowledge the political agendas of the various development players and allow for a greater variety of voices to be heard.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-327
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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