ITS Workshop: “Policed and Punished: Borrowing of Neoliberal Ideologies, Social Injustice and Language Policing in Nepal’s Public Education”
Policed and Punished: Borrowing of Neoliberal Ideologies, Social Injustice and Language Policing in Nepal’s Public Education
Dr. Prem Phyak
Thursday, October 26, 2023, 1:00-2:00pm
279 Grace Dodge Hall
Equity and social justice have become key words in the discourses and policies of education reform. International development programs (e.g., Sustainable Development Goals) reiterate the need for creating and implementing inclusive and equitable education policies and plans, mainly in low-income countries. However, what is not much discussed in the field of international education is how language policy plays a critical role in creating (in)equitable school policies and practices. Drawing on the case of the ‘model school’ plan in NepaI, this study critically examines how the plan, supported by multilateral development agencies, as a major school reform project reproduces neoliberal ideologies that exacerbate social injustice. Using ‘critical language policy’ (Davis & Phyak, 2017; Tollefson, 2013), ‘critical policy sociology’ (Gale, 2001) and ‘policing’ (Foucault, 1977), I discuss how the modeling of public schools reproduces neoliberal ideologies that support the ‘erasure’ (Irvine & Gal, 2000) of multilingualism while promoting the symbolic capital’ (Bourdieu, 1991) of English. The analysis of ethnographic data shows that ‘model schools’ borrow English medium of instruction (EMI) policy from private schools and use both panoptic and post-panoptic surveillance strategies to police students’ language behaviors and punish them for speaking the languages other than English. Such language policing strategies not only violate students’ right to speak but also reproduce social injustices on the basis of epistemology, social class, and linguistic ability. Overall, I argue that education reform and development policies need to address local systemic inequalities to translate the rhetoric of equity and social justice into reality.
About the speaker:
Dr. Prem Phyak is an Associate Professor at the Department of International and Transcultural Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. His research areas include language policy, multilingual education, teacher education, Indigenous and decolonial education, and social justice. He has co-authored the book Engaged Language Policy and Practices (Routledge) and co-edited two books, Innovative Technologies and Pedagogical Shifts in Nepalese Higher Education (Brill) and Multilingual Education in South Asia: At the Intersection of Policy and Practice (Routledge). He has co-edited a special issue Decolonial Struggles in Indigenous Language Education in Neoliberal Times: Identities, Ideologies, and Activism for the Journal of Language, Identity and Education and published papers in various journals such as Language Policy, Language in Society, The Modern Language Journal, Applied Linguistics Review, RELC Journal, International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Multilingua, Critical Inquiry in Language Studies, L2 Journal and Current Issues in Language Planning.