AbstractsSocial Sciences

Real learning or just school for all?

by Ronja Bäckström

Institution: Linnæus University
Year: 2015
Keywords: Social Sciences; Other Social Sciences; Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified; Samhällsvetenskap; Annan samhällsvetenskap; Övrig annan samhällsvetenskap; Peace and Development Programme, 180 credits; Freds- och utvecklingsprogrammet, 180 hp; Freds- och utvecklingsstudier; Peace and development
Record ID: 1328174
Full text PDF: http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-40098


As the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, are coming closer to the target year of 2015, this study joins the ongoing debate about the achieved results with a focus on India. While India has seen great improvements concerning the second MDG, which is for all children to enrol and complete primary education, the country has for the past years been facing a challenge of decreasing learning results. The focus of this study is the effect that the increased enrolment has on the learning outcomes, measured in arithmetic and reading ability. This paper is based on a field study conducted in the rural southern parts of West Bengal, India. The data primarily originate from semi-structured interviews with teachers, families of school children and field observations. The findings are analysed through Bourdieu’s framework of habitus. By analysing the situation through Bourdieu’s three forms of capital; economic, cultural and social, the study aims to broaden the understanding of the declining learning results in Indian primary schools. The study concludes that one has to look beyond the concept of habitus in order to get the full picture of why the children do not learn as much as they did before. Though habitus can be seen as a contributing factor to the decline, this due to the increased enrolment of children from a weaker habitus; that have different prerequisites for learning, this effect could be enhanced through migration of children with a stronger educational habitus from the public to private school system. However, this paper shows that other factors such as the role of the teachers and lack of focus on the fundamentals for learning might be more important when looking at the lower academic performance.       <strong>Key words</strong>: India, West Bengal, Primary education, Decrease in learning achievements, Bourdieu, Habitus