17 SES 04, Internationalization (Part 2)
Paper Session continued from 17 SES 03 B
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, post-socialist states have gradually become a massive social laboratory for educational researchers, especially, Western scholars focusing on post-Soviet contexts from the perspective of comparative and international education, and history of education. However, despite this growth in educational research in the region, to date, in the context of post-Soviet Central Asian countries, there has been little empirical research highlighting how local education practitioners and university leaders interpret international educational transfer and reception of policy borrowing in their local contexts. Following the works by Weick (1995) and Crossley (2010), this paper examines the role of local agency in adapting educational importation and thus provides critical evaluation of international educational transfer and local adaptation expressing voices of local education stakeholders. Given that recontextualisation represents the ‘fields of contest’ (Muller, 1998, in Ball, 1998, p.127), this paper argues that context matters (Crossley, 2009) and informed awareness of social and cultural differences is of paramount importance in constructing local meaning of international policy borrowing (Weick, 1995).
Over the last two decades or so, research on policy trajectories and practices in the post-socialist bloc has been characterized by a prescriptive pattern of implementing Western educational models as well as active adaptation of “travelling policies” (Bain, 2010; Silova, 2011). Rationales for international policy borrowing – and the processes associated with implementation of borrowed policies and practices - are always complex, triggering serious critiques about the implications of the transfer of Western academic practices for national education development (Heyneman, 2011; Silova, 2010; Merrill, 2012).
Discussing educational transformations in the post-Soviet Central Asia, we have to take into account that “the countries of the region were not a tabula rasa” (Silova and Steiner-Khamsi, 2008, p. 3). It is worth noting that there was a time when education in the Soviet Union had been internationally recognised as progressive and advanced. As Graham (1993, 4) observes, “the history of Soviet science and technology contains impressive achievements, many of them little known in the West”. During the 1960s, education, especially in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) could have claimed itself as ‘best practice’ for the rest of the world community. Academic achievements of the USSR consequently have had a triggering effect on placing education as a national priority among US policy makers of that time (Clowse, 1981).As the findings will show, the nostalgia for the Soviet education still lingers in the minds of the Soviet era’s generation. As Silova states, “travelling policies” have increasingly clashed with a strong desire of education policymakers in the region to maintain Soviet education legacies and, in some cases, revive pre-Soviet traditions” (Silova , 2011: 3)
With the fall of ‘iron curtain’ and the resulting post-Soviet states’ national independence, it was up to every nation to engage with or disregard ‘international circulation of ideas’ (Popkewitz, 1996, as cited in Ball, 1998, p. 123). Newly independent states claimed to develop values of democracy and open society. This triggered countries of the post-socialist bloc to to dismantle the Soviet ideology of education and engage with adapting internationally dominant trends in education that seemed to work in their social contexts, e.g. Bologna Process and decentralisation of higher education.
This paper will present local actors' discussions and opinions from the inside of Kazakhstan’s higher education system. Extensive literature review and qualitative data derived from the interviews with key education stakeholders amplifies that in the polyphony of opinions in the field of comparative education and globalization studies, voices of local actors representing post-socialist societies have remained under-represented in the post-Soviet Kazakhstan.
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