Coordinator: Dr. Sonali Raje
Coordinator: Prof. Anwesh Mazumdar
Coordinator: Prof. Jyotsna Vijapurkar
Social reproduction theories highlight extensively the role of schooling in maintaining and perpetuating marginalization and socializing children in ways that reproduce class structures. Bourdieu’s (1990) notion of social and cultural capital is an attribute used in schools to reward students who have high social capital (as defined by society) and punish those who have low (as in poor students). South Africa is a world apart and the metaphor is extended into two education ‘systems’. The second school system, enrolls the vast majority of poor and working-class children whose health, economic and community difficulties concomitant with equally deficit schools produce learners that read mostly at the functional level, write without fluency or confidence and use inappropriate concrete techniques with numeric operations. The Poverty and Literacy Research Unit engages with literacy issues in poor schools and key projects of the Unit will be highlighted in the presentation.
Rajendra Chetty is Research Chair in Poverty and Literacy at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He is a postcolonial scholar and currently serves as President of the English Academy of Southern Africa. He was awarded the 2015/16 Fulbright Scholarship as visiting professor to leading universities in the United States. His research areas include postcolonial writings, race, class, literacy and social issues in Education. He received the 2016 Medal of Honour from the Education Association of South Africa in recognition of his outstanding service to education over a sustained period of time.
Coordinator: Prof. Jyotsna Vijapurkar
Literacy means the ability to read and write for all, although, according to the US National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the percentage of students reading at a proficient rate is lower for students from minority groups and from poor communities. High school seniors scoring at or above proficiency levels on reading according to their race is as follows: Caucasian at 43%, Hispanics at 20% and Blacks at 16% (The Nations Report Card, 2007). When we add income disparity to the racial component, the discrepancy becomes significant and more students from these groups are likely to drop out of school; the result of not achieving high school diplomas or certification in higher education is poor paying jobs. Due to lack of basic education, the vicious cycle of poverty, and the subsequent criminalization of it, continues for many even in industrialized nations, such as the US. What are the relevant social and cultural contexts for achieving proficiency in reading and writing for all? How do we support students who are multilingual and bilingual and speak English as a second language? In terms of race, class, gender, ability, and sexuality, how is literacy disseminated for various students? One of the reasons cited by many scholars for students’ lack of engagement with reading is deficiency of pedagogies for critical thinking and writing within a multicultural classroom. For literacy to be sound and successful, the cultural contexts of reading and writing as well as pedagogical goals need to be addressed.
Barbara Ehrenreich in her introduction to The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty, writes, “The poor, and especially poor people of color, have long been over- represented in the prison population . . . a simple traffic violation – such as a broken tail-light – can bring down a cascade of fees and fines, which mount quickly if not paid on time and can lead to incarceration.” Many in the US seem to suggest that the reason the majority of youth and adults from minority communities are incarcerated is due to their inability to read or write. The criminalization of poverty, its relationship to lack of literacy in minority communities, and strategies for multicultural literacies will be addressed in this presentation.
Jaspal Kaur Singh is Professor of English at Northern Michigan University, Marquette, Michigan. A postcolonial literature and theory scholar, Jaspal received the Fulbright Nehru Award in 2012-2013, the Northern Michigan University Distinguished Faculty Award in 2012-2013 and the Peter White Scholar Award 2013-2014. Her publications include: a monograph, Representation and Resistance: Indian and African Women Writers at Home and in the Diaspora; three coedited anthologies: Negotiating Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Turkey; Indian Writers: Transnationalisms and Diasporas; and Trauma, Resistance, Reconciliation in Post-1994 South African Writing.