Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Choosing Schools in a Dhaka Slum: How Policy, Practice, and Notions of the Educated Person Guide Parental Decisions about Schooling
by Cierniak, Katherine, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2018, 248; 10932005
Abstract (Summary)

This study explores the choices that parents make about their children’s primary level schooling in one of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s largest slums (Lebu Bari, a pseudonym). With few government primary schools available for children living in Bangladesh’s urban slums, parents must often choose between non-state education providers, primarily non-government organization (NGO) schools and madrasas. This study examines the ways in which the schooling context (“educational landscape”) as well as local meanings of what it means to be educated shape the choices parents make about their children’s primary schooling.

The primary research question is: How do parents in this community navigate among the schooling options that are available to them? The sub-questions are: • How do national policy and local practice impact the school-going behavior of children in this community? (What role do non-state providers of education play in this community?) • How do parents’ notions of the “educated person” guide choices about schooling?

An ethnographic case study method was utilized in answering these questions. In explicating findings, I draw upon the following conceptual frameworks: policy as practice (Sutton & Levinson, 2001); school choice as a flexible and malleable concept (Forsey, Davies, & Walford, 2008); habitus , social capital, and cultural capital (Bourdieu); and, finally, the cultural production of the educated person (Levinson & Holland, 1996).

Findings indicate that parents in Lebu Bari must navigate among non-state providers due to the way in which government policy is practiced. The choice landscape of Bangladesh can best be described as “state-endorsed choice,” in which multiple providers are welcome in the education sector. Second, when choosing schools parents consider economic factors such as cost and proximity as well as school-level factors such as curriculum and the care and dedication of teachers. Finally, parental notions of the educated person guide decisions about their children’s schooling. For parents in Lebu Bari, to be considered educated, one must be a self-sufficient person with a good, moral grounding. Consequently, children in Lebu Bari typically participate in some form of religious education, either through primary attendance at a madrasa or through attending a madrasa in addition to a secular NGO school.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sutton, Margaret
Commitee: Ibrahim, Nur Amali, Levinson, Bradley, Manring, Rebecca, Sutton, Margaret
School: Indiana University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 80/01(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education Policy, Education, South Asian Studies
Keywords: Bangladesh, Madrasas, School choice, Slums
Publication Number: 10932005
ISBN: 978-0-438-36044-0
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