From missionary to new middle-class schooling in the era of global capitalism: dilemmas of inclusive education reform in India
This paper draws on a larger institutional ethnography studying inclusive education reforms implemented since the early 1980s by an old Catholic girls’ school in India, built during British colonial times, and their recent sustainability issues. It traces the school’s dilemmas of transition from old style missionary schooling to a new kind of schooling geared towards globalizing standards and trends to meet the competing demands of postcolonial Indian state policy and global development agencies, as well as demands of the new Indian middle class actively seeking to engage in the neoliberal global economy. In doing so, this paper analyzes the role of the new middle-class elites of the local community in posing new challenges for the current school leadership to balance the social justice mission of the institution while managing the existential crisis the institution is facing, now with steep competition from New Age corporate schools in the first decade of the 21st century. Prior to looking at the transition of the institution to meet these competing demands, I will provide some historical background on how missionary schooling operated during the colonial era in India. This will then lead into a discussion on the institutional policy changes that are taking place and how this has clashed with or occurred alongside historic dynamics.