Accepted Paper:

From Elite to Mass Education: where will the elite go to next? What happens at the level below?  


Bert van Pinxteren (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Education (incountry, abroad) has always been key to (re)production of African elites. Its evolution will be analysed by looking at enrolment rates in African countries, comparing them to Europe. How are elites broadening out? What does that mean for education? This will be looked at using Bourdieu.

Paper long abstract:

From Elite to Mass Education: where will the elite go to next? What happens at the level below?

Bourdieu defines education as a field, a system of social positions, structured internally in terms of power relations. Thus, questions of elite (re)production and internationalisation can be analysed using Bourdieu's approach. In addition, his concept of cultural capital is relevant for analysing inequalities in educational opportunity. Education and its habitus can be seen as one mechanism used for class reproduction in Africa. However, education also creates conditions for societal change.

The first part of the paper will briefly outline Bourdieu's framework. The second part examines the evolution in the educational pyramid in three countries of Sub-Saharan Africa: one near the average situation, one negative and one positive outlier, using available UNESCO enrolment statistics. It will touch on the transnational component of elite education, which has always been very relevant in Africa. It will compare data with the same statistics for three European countries. Following Bourdieu and Passeron (the Inheritors, 1979), the paper will argue that the evolution over time of the proportion of the population with access to education at different levels is relevant for analysing the social function of education and its role in elite reproduction.

The paper will end with brief considerations on the role of language in the future of education in Africa.

Panel P006
Africa and Higher Education - A Transnational Perspective