Literacy for what? Literacy for whom? the politics of literacy education and neocolonialism in Unesco- and World Bank sponsored literacy programs

Corrine M. Wickens, Jennifer Sandlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article explores literacy education, especially the kinds practiced and promoted by organizations such as the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as a form of neocolonialism. Although researchers in other educational contexts have examined how schooling and education operate as a form of neocolonialism, little research has been conducted exploring this connection within adult literacy education. Using postcolonial theory and Thomas and Postlethwaite's framework for analyzing neocolonialism in educational systems, the authors present findings from a qualitative textual analysis of UNESCO- and World Banksponsored publicity and policy documents in which they examined two dimensions of literacy programs sponsored by UNESCO and the World Bank: (a) the purposes of literacy and (b) the funding of programs. Despite progressive shifts in how literacy is defined and practiced from colonialist Western control to local governance, for these shifts to continue, financial structures must be reorganized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-292
Number of pages18
JournalAdult Education Quarterly
Volume57
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2007

Keywords

  • Adult literacy
  • Critical literacy
  • International literacy organizations
  • Neocolonialism
  • Postcolonial critique
  • Qualitative document analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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