The Intractable Dominant Educational Paradigm

  • John N. Hawkins
Part of the CERC Studies in Comparative Education book series (CERC, volume 20)

On a recent research project in Ethiopia I was often reminded by proud Ethiopian educators that they were one of the only African nations never (other than a brief occupation by the Italians) to have been colonized by the West, and that they therefore did not suffer from many of the postcolonial educational legacies found in other African and Third World nations. Yet, visits to pre-collegiate schools and universities in Ethiopia revealed little that one could call specifically ‘Ethiopian.’ In fact, they appeared remarkably like schools one would visit almost anywhere else in the world, only poorer. Of the few traditional features that were notable, most were being dismantled in favor of more contemporary and readily familiar arrangements. The globally dominant “grammar of schooling” (Tyack&Cuban, 1995) was everywhere in evidence and, more to the point, there were clear commitments actively to emulate schools in the West, especially those of the United States (although one prominent educator expressed interest in learning more from China’s educational experiences). When pressed as to the rationale for this emulation of models from the West (or global North), the answer almost invariably was, “so we can develop like them.” Education in Ethiopia – in spite of the country’s rich and distinctive cultures and history –is an actively pursued variant of what I will refer to here as the globally dominant educational paradigm.


Human Capital Social Change Educational System Formal System Formal School 
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Copyright information

© Comparative Education Research Centre 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • John N. Hawkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School of Education and Information StudiesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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