23 SES 02 C, Policies & Politics of Exclusion and Inclusion (Part 2)
Paper Session continues from 23 SES 01 C
Over the past few decades within the global policy field there has been significant attention given to the importance of literacy. This paper will consider the ways in which literacy is named and mobilised within two international organisations. The first is by the OECD, where literacy is determined as a function of economic policy and the testing or measurement of literacy performance provides a means to make decisions about the worth or education institutions and systems. Such testing measurement regimes have been ordered around axioms that posit ‘Good’ literacy as guaranteeing human capital formation and economic productivity. The second is the perspective of literacy as portrayed by UNICEF. Here literacy is positioned as a life skill and a human right, having transformational power in providing a wide ranging view of life opportunities. While the OECD view of literacy has gained significant purchase within the practices of institutionalised education through its testing regimes the values and ideals of the UNICEF position continue to be held and played out in literacy research and global and national education practices.
In this paper I examine the ways literacy is constituted and ontologised within these two international organisations and how these are institutionalised within layers of practice. In particular I consider the connections between social justice and literacy by focusing on the ethical demand of the constitution of different literacy ontologies. This analysis contributes to understandings of the ways in which literacy is constituted through education reform at global level, and points to both continuities and dissonances within global education conversations.
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