26 SES 07 A, Evidence On Educational Leadership From England, India and South Africa, Bangladesh, Finnland and Canada
Globalisation is a term that has stretched across from it economic origins to influence a changing environment in education. This, in turn, has affected the context within which educational leadership must function, as educators seek to support student outcomes across a local and global, or glocal, continuum. English medium schools (EMSs) in Dhaka sit at the intersection of neoliberalism, continued local economic growth, an over-stretched local education system, a rising middle class population, and transparency of information and aspirations. This paper draws on data from an empirical study of leadership in EMSs in Bangladesh, utilising Brooks and Normore’s theoretical framework of leadership literacies in a glocalised context (Brooks & Normore, 2010). The focus of this paper is to outline the findings that emerged from the study in relation to the changing contexts for schools in this education system, and its implications for the way leadership practice perceives and navigates the cultural domain.
The global agenda for education evolved from development goals identified and agreed by nations in 1990 (UNESCO, 1990). IThe Education for All, EFA, agenda set a pathway to progress, within a growing discourse of knowledge-based economies and the commodification of education. Though considerable progress was made globally, the Global Monitoring Report in 2015 identified the gaps remaining (Unesco, 1994, 2000, 2015). While the EFA agenda put education as a political priority for governments, in Bangladesh the public investment in education remains at 2% of GDP, which is one of the lowest of like nations (UNESCO, 2015). Gaps in capacity have arisen due to limited government spending, and documented corruption in matters of resource allocation and utilisation (Ahmed & Del Ninno, 2002; Rose, Steer, Smith, & Zubairi, 2013). Therefore, global expectations have not been met at the local level, with particular challenges being identified in the South and West Asia regions (UNESCO, 2000, 2015).
Increased willingness amongst private households, to spend on education, has driven an increase in demand for private schooling, particularly for English medium schools, EMSs. The EMSs frequently establish themselves in apartment buildings and are being staffed through the appointment of locally trained teachers. They import a foreign curriculum, and place school principals in posts to secure both robust enrolment and educational outcomes. While there are studies of International Schools, neoliberalism and entrepreneurialism (Brown, Lauder, Ashton, & Tholen, 2008; Spring, 2008), empirical research that examines the ways that the local and global enmesh—and school leaders’ pivotal role in negotiating such dynamics—is absent from the literature (Brooks & Normore, 2010).
This paper seeks to use the data, from the empirical study of leadership in EMSs, to address the following questions:
- What does glocalisation, or the global-local interplay, mean in the context of EMSs in Bangladesh?
- How does school leadership navigate the cultural domain of their practice in light of this glocalised context?
Brooks and Normore (2010) argue for the need to contextualize educational leadership within a glocalised world. Furthermore, their theoretical framework contends that effective leadership needs to demonstrate literacy across several domains including political, economic, cultural, and organisational dimensions (Brooks & Normore, 2010). These leadership literacies are inter-connected, and responsive to the glocal shifts. The study applied this theoretical framework to examine the way in which context is glocalised for EMSs in Bangladesh, before exploring the emergent themes of cultural literacy as perceived by educators.
The holistic nature of this single case of EMSs against the backdrop of a changing educational context denotes the qualitative case study (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007; Stake, 2008). The interpretive paradigm for this research is constructivism, as the educators experience the changes, and the researcher presents a specific version of a social reality (Bassey, 1999; Bogdan & Biklen, 2007; Merriam, 2009). Thus the descriptions of human actions, the leadership literacies, emerge from social meanings. The definition of literacies, and the educators’ perceptions of their roles and functions, were held within an interpretive research paradigm (Creswell, Hanson, Clark Plano, & Morales, 2007). Thick description came from data collected in semi-structured interviews. Document analysis and observations were also used to support rigour and depth of analysis (Stake, 1995; Yin, 2008). Participants were invited via a local network for English Medium Schools. Five out of the thirteen schools in the association participated in the study, with a total of fifty-four interviewees contributing to the study. All data was cleaned and time was spent immersed in reading and checking interview transcripts. Following this, data was first coded using the theoretical framework of Brooks and Normore (2010) to sift through data (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The initial apriori coding enabled data to be assembled into tabulated chunks extracted from across all interviews. Once data was assembled, it was then inductively coded to identify emerging themes that established patterns for analysis and interpretation (LeCompte, 2000).
Context requires consideration of how glocalisation is operationalised. The concept if built in scholarship that presents globalisation as a “compression of the world”, rather than insisting on being part of local assertions against global trends (Robertson, 1995, p. 35). This enables us to recognise that locality is produced in global terms. This connecting and compression of localities is what Robertson has termed glocalisation (Robertson, 1995). In the context of EMSs in Dhaka, the international curriculum is the global reinvention that has incorporated the locality of these schools in Dhaka. The findings showed that government records have started to identify EMSs, but they remain outside the local system. However, EMS leadership is comfortable in this position as “other”. They view their own identity as localised within the larger global system of education, and as linked to properties of educational models, such as extra-curricular activities, beyond their immediate site. For educational leadership, cultural literacy is the interaction with the norms, symbols, assumptions and underlying beliefs, that enable leaders to identify and work within macro-cultures, sub-cultures and individualised experiences (Brooks & Normore, 2010; Schein, 1990). The key findings, in relation to cultural literacy, begin with the idea of school as a valued space. This valued space incorporates global expectations. Global expectations is contrasted by emergent themes of local stories and coaching implications for Bangladeshi students. Lastly, findings show leadership perceptions on navigating the sub-culture dynamics of teachers and parents. This case study of leadership, provides an exploration of how leadership practice negotiates the dynamics of a glocalised context, and the implications of this context on the cultural literacy of school leaders. In the case of Bangladesh, it is evident that the emergent themes in cultural practice of leadership are more closely aligned to the local influences despite the glocalised characteristics of their context.
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