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Webinars: Identity Politics and the Challenges of Cultural Diversity across Contemporary Asia – Education, international relations and popular culture

Identity Politics and the Challenges of Cultural Diversity Across Contemporary Asia: Education, international relations and popular culture.

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Session 3 – Multilateral Organisations, Assessment and the Politics of the Global Governance of Education
Chair: Paul MORRIS, University College London


Multilateral Organisations, Assessment and the Politics of the Global Governance of Education. Chair Paul Morris (IOE, UCL)

Since the start of this Century educational policymaking within nations has shifted from a primarily domestic matter to one increasingly located within a system of global educational governance. That system primarily operates through a range of cross and multilateral organisations which include the World Bank, UNESCO and the OECD. This session focusses on the OECD which claims that its PISA test is able to measure and compare the quality of schooling across nations and that high levels of performance on the test have a powerful influence on economic growth. Initially, that test was used to measure basic cognitive competencies required of the workforce in more affluent nations. Now it is moving to expand its measurements into low-income nations and to focus on non-cognitive dimensions.  The speakers in this session will critically interrogate various aspects of the OECD’s work and responses to it.


 Tracing the OECD’s evolving narratives of order, progress and control. Euan Auld (EDUHK)

This paper applies insights from narrative theory to analyse the OECD’s expansion into the field of international development under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The paper takes its starting point from recent scholarship in international relations that has applied narrative to the study of international organisations, highlighting the central role of strategic narratives in forging world order and establishing organisational legitimacy. The analysis explores both the OECD’s changing positions and capacities in the global field and the theories, ideas and styles of reasoning it has employed (as well as how they operate). The core narrative is portrayed as akin to a Three-Act Play (with five stages) which is used as a heuristic schema to trace the entwined stories of PISA, international development and the idea of global governance.

PISA’s assessment of global competence: A grounded critique. Heela Goren. (IOE, UCL)


In 2015 ‘Global citizenship’ was identified as one of the sustainable development goals education should promote. The 2018 round of OECDs PISA included a measure of global competence, which claimed to assess the extent to which students around the world are prepared to engage with global society and its challenges. In this presentation, I briefly introduce the purported aims of the measure; present some critiques voiced by others regarding the framework; and discuss findings from focus group discussions with Israeli students, highlighting their distinct interpretations of some of the items from the measure. I show how these findings, combined with the broader critiques of the framework, undermine the validity of the measure.


Moving PISA into low- and middle-income countries: challenges, solutions, and problems. Li Xiaomin. (IOE, UCL)

Initially, this presentation maps out the major challenges that low- and middle-income countries face in engaging in cross-national assessments, especially PISA. Against this background, I show how the OECD introduced PISA for Development (PISA-D) to try to resolve these challenges through three technical strands. Specifically, Strand A composed test items to target at the lower end of the performance spectrum; Strand B adjusted the contextual questionnaires to capture the situations in low- and middle-income countries; and Strand C developed methods to include the out-of-school youth into the assessment. After detailing OECD’s work on each strand, I then point out the major problems inherent in these strands, including the lower rungs added on the PISA ladder, the symbolic use of the Educational Prosperity framework, and the misrepresentation of out-of-school youth in the surveys.

How did they do that? Explaining Hong Kong’s high performance in international studies of educational achievement.  Bob Adamson. (IOE,UCL)

This presentation examines responses to the strong performance of Hong Kong in international studies of educational achievement. While results attract admiration from policymakers and consultants from elsewhere, and efforts to identify good practices of Hong Kong’s education system for policy transfer, the local reaction has tended to be more circumspect. Research (e.g., Adamson, Forestier, Morris & Han, 2017) indicates a considerable discrepancy between external and internal explanations for Hong Kong’s high performance.  I outline various explanations and suggest that circumspection is a merited and wise approach. 




Session 1 – Citizenship and Social Justice Education in Asia

Chair : Sicong CHEN, Kyushu University

This webinar draws attention to the construction and promotion of citizenship and social justice in and through education in contemporary Asian societies. It contains four presentations, which examine the post-pandemic curricular challenges in education for citizenship and social justice in India, the experience of multicultural citizenship education for social justice in Taiwan, the differentiating urban citizenship affecting rural migrant children’s education in China, and the discursive construction of social justice in official citizenship education in Japan and China.





Latika Gupta (University of Delhi, India) – on the case of India

Liu Mei-hui (National Taiwan Normal University) – on the case of Taiwan

Wan Yi (Kyushu University) – on migrant children and education in China

Sicong Chen (Kyushu University) – on a comparison of Japan and China

Latika Gupta (University of Delhi, India)

Citizenship and Social Justice Education in India: Post Pandemic Curricular Challenges

Nurturing an over-riding identity informed by caring concerns within the democratic polity of the country is one of the five guiding principles of the National Curriculum Framework-2005 & 2010, a policy statement in action till now. A major step in this regard was taken under the aegis of NCF-2005 when the subject of ‘civics’ was replaced by a new one called Social and Political Life (SPL). SPL was introduced at the upper-middle level of school education which meant that adolescent school students in the age groups 12 to 15 years study it as a compulsory subject. One major principle of SPL is to encourage critical thinking on social issues among the middle school learners. The subject was conceptualized with an aim that textbook and teaching should create opportunities to train young minds to be critical about the information they receive and the experiences they get in real life. As a result, disciplinary knowledge in the fields of media, gender and subaltern studies informed the text that was written in SPL textbooks and informed it as overarching themes. This implied critical perspectives on the formal institutional structures of democracy, the role of an individual with reference to these institutions and the functioning of the media and government. The critical perspectives resulted into prominent analytical attention to the topics such as discrimination, prejudice, marginalization, inequality, injustice and so on in the text.

Education in a post-COVID world: nine ideas for public action (UNESCO 2020) stress the need for scientific literacy and fight the scourging effects of fake news. This is what I want to use as a context to analyze children’s and adolescents’ time spent away from school in the absence of their peers and teachers. There are various dimensions to what happens at school between a teacher and her students and in the life of children by being at school for eight hours. Covid-19 abruptly closed that possibility in the lives of millions of children and almost locked them in the homes characterized by poverty, ignorance, lack of adult care, space and resources needed for intellectual and physical growth. Schools are ‘social and political spaces’ which serve a greater developmental function in the life of children by protecting them from damaging psychological and physical experiences especially, those who inherit structural deprivation.

    On account of the lockdowns resulting in lack of employment among parents and school closures, the children suffered long spells of hunger, violence, tyranny of fake news and unregulated access to television and internet and acute isolation from their peers. They were away from their teacher’s care and guidance and the safety of school. Several children witnessed real time violence and were subjected to violence on account of a rise in parental frustration and helplessness as a result of loss of income and the fear of infection. As raised in the UNESCO statements, mentioned above, young children were subjected to fake news about people and the virus itself .The television news in India carried lot of non-scientific coverage of the virus-related issues during the entire period and especially, during the first four months. This included bigoted news against Muslims. The media reports of the virus and similar messages on the social media (predominantly WhatsApp) reached children– in most cases– without any critical reflection and analysis through their parents who are either illiterate or barely literate. The fear of virus got compounded by the rumors of conspiracy by a community.

    This poses a serious curricular challenge in addition to the socio-political struggle of becoming a secular society. The Constitutional vision of a secular, tolerant and harmonious existence of different religious remains a major educational goal of SPL text and school classroom was seen as a critical ‘social and political space’ to actualize it. By being together in a space and by collectively thinking about conflicts under the guidance of an able teacher, children were expected to acquire the required knowledge, attitude and the acceptance of the SPL vision. The expected to be critical SPL learner was subjected to the tyranny of heightened religious prejudice during the pandemic. The deprivation from the open space of school and the constant experience of television-based aggression and false news must have affected children in a deep manner. They must have internalized fear, insecurities and a sense of helplessness. There is a need to recognize such experiences of children and adolescents incurred during the pandemic as a monumental challenge to citizenship and social justice education.


Gupta, Latika. 2015. Making reflective citizens: India’s new textbooks for Social and Political Life in Constructing Modern Asian Citizenship (ed) by Edward Vickers and Krishna Kumar. Routledge: London and New York.

Kumar, Anuj. April, 02 2020. TablighiJamaat episode | Muslims fear more ‘social distancing’The Hindu.

Sharma, Milan. July 2020. Parents switching to affordable schools amid coronavirus crisis: StudyIndia Today

United Nations (2020). ‘COVID‑19 Amplifying Threats to Migrant Workers, Religious Minorities, Experts Tell Third Committee, as Delegates Debate Questions of Bias in Their Findings’, Meetings and Press Releases (General Assembly, Third Committee), October 20. www.un.org (accessed January 22, 2021).

LIU, Meihui (National Taiwan Normal University)


Multicultural Citizenship Education for Social Justice in Taiwan

—The Case Studies of Two Indigenous Elementary Schools



Multicultural citizenship education has been emphasized in Taiwan for more than 20 years because of the emerging rights for social justice for different ethnic groups. The indigenous schools have more freedom and space to implement their school-based curriculum based on students’ needs and culture. The purpose of this study is to understand how indigenous schools implemented multicultural citizenship education for social justice through school-based curriculum. This study analyzed two successful cases in Taiwan: one is the first Amis experimental school, the other is the first international experimental school for Amis. These two schools both regards social justice as the most important civic principle for indigenous students but they adopted different approach for curriculum reform. The former school applied culturally responsive approach for curriculum reform, while the other applied global approach for school innovation. They both regarded curriculum as changeable field which connecting knowledge and experiences through local and global context. The teachers regarded themselves as cultural workers and they expanded teaching and learning in an unlimited space. Their engagement reflects the theory of boarder pedagogy which indicates that cultural workers should show their influences of reconstructing society and regard school as the field for promoting democracy.






WAN Yi (PhD student, Kyushu University)


Urban citizenship of rural migrants in reform era: from hukou to a merit-based segregation



Previous studies have verified that rural to urban migrant workers are excluded from China’s urban hukou system, therefore they did not share in the benefits of urban citizenship. However, recent reforms invoke a ‘differentiating citizenship’ regime might have arisen from local jurisdictions. This study takes the rural migrant children’s education as a case study, analyzing their access to public schools in urban China by focusing on implications of the introduction of points systems apportioning school places. This was first piloted by Zhongshan City in Guangdong Province in 2010, and soon spread to other coastal provinces. It now extends to 10 provinces and 4 municipalities nationwide. Here I compare the qualifications, required documentation, and scoring methods of points systems in various provinces and cities, and discusses the reasons for the spread of this practice and regional divergence. Despite variations, the general pattern that emerges suggests a privileging in access to school places (and other public goods) of migrants with high academic and professional qualifications, taxable capacity, and whose residence and employment status indicates a stable and ‘civilized’ lifestyle. My analysis suggests that its main effect may be to shift the basis for determining access to citizenship entitlements from ‘residency ‘to measures of individual or familial ‘suzhi’ (or ‘quality’). In terms of the overall rate of access for migrant families to urban public schooling, on a basis of equality with bona fide urban residents, the net effect of this change may ultimately be negligible – or even


Keywords: hukou reform; points system; migrant children; urban public schools



CHEN, Sicong (Kyushu University)

Deconstructing the Discourse of Social Justice in Japanese and Chinese Citizenship Education


This presentation introduces the findings from a discursive examination and comparison of the subject, aim and extent of social justice in citizenship education behind official rhetorics in Japan and China. It is found that the Japanese discourse tends to be constructed as recognitive injustice eliminable through identical treatment towards one another by individuals, while social justice in the Chinese discourse tends to be constructed as distributive justice achievable through differential treatment by the party-state. Common to the two cases is that both pay scant attention to collective actions for and the global bearing of social justice. I argue that the two cases similarly stop short of promoting comprehensive, transformative and global social justice education. The presentation is based on my article titled The Official Discourse of Social Justice in Citizenship Education: A Comparison between Japan and China (Education, Citizenship and Social Justice, 2020).

Session 2 : Schooling, political socialization and identity politics across Asia
Chair : Caroline ROSE, Leeds University

This session will consider aspects of the curriculum and textbook content across a broad time span in East Asia, with the main focus on China. The papers range from women’s education in Manchukuo, pre-war history textbooks in China, moral education relating to ethnic minorities in contemporary China, and multicultural education in contemporary Malaysia. Despite the broad coverage of the session, the papers all highlight themes relating to identities (national, ethnic, gender and multi-cultural) and raise questions about the nature of political socialization through history and moral education.




  1. The Issue of Anti-Japanese Textbooks in Sino-Japanese Relations, 1914-1932

Guo Hai
Institute of Public Policy (IPP), South China University of Technology
Email: guohai@scut.edu.cn



This article examines the history of the anti-Japanese textbook issue in Sino-Japanese relations between 1914 and 1932. Textbooks were used by Chinese book publishers and the Chinese government to cultivate national consciousness and to contest Japan’s treaty rights in Shandong and Manchuria. Such textbooks were deemed ‘anti-Japanese’ by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Kwantung Army and became a source of diplomatic disputes. This article examines this historical process, locates the anti-Japanese textbook issue within in the discourse of ‘national humiliation’ in China, and discuss, in particular, how the Japanese diplomats interpreted Japan-related passages in Chinese textbooks and responded to the anti-Japanese sentiment in Chinese education.

Bio: Hai Guo is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Public Policy (IPP), South China University of Technology. His research interests fall within the area of psychoanalytic theory in IR (International Relations), Sino-Japanese relations, and Japan’s foreign policy.





  1. Rebuilding the Female Ideologies to Cultivate New National Consciousness

Wenwen Wang
Department of Integrated Sciences for Global Society, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan
Email: wangwenwen213@yahoo.co.jp



When the Japanese first seized Manchuria in 1932, they utilized Chinese traditional thought, including the ideas of Confucianism and the “Kingly Way” to try to win Chinese support (Komagome 1996: 238, Matsuura 1934). Early on, the government instructed schools to use Confucian classics such as the Analects and Mencius as morals textbooks. Eventually, the government began compiling its own moral textbooks, including Xiushen (修身) textbooks in the 1933-1938 period, and Guomin Daode (国民道徳) in the post-1938 period, for both male and female students. The ideas about proper female roles that cultivated by female education were closely related to Japanese colonial rule. There is a shortage of contemporary historical materials about women’s education in colonized Manchuria, and moral textbooks and oral histories help to fill in some of the gaps. Although these testimonies need to be used critically, and cannot be said to be fully representative, they help paint a clearer picture of the nature of women’s education in Manchuria, supplementing and even sometimes reversing our understanding gleaned from textual materials.

This study investigates the Manchukuo state’s policies on the moral education of Chinese girls. It focuses on an analysis of elementary and secondary school textbooks:  ten morals textbooks named Xiushen (修身) and Guomin Daode (國民道徳), and Chinese post-war testimonies about Manchukuo colonial education, gathered by Qi Honghsen. The contents of the textbooks for the girls and boys schools are compared, with an eye for gender differences.

This study also examines the educational practice of female students and teachers as recorded in oral histories to make a double-check the goals and the ways of Manchukuo moral education on women. The testimonies, which include discussion of the official classroom curriculum, as well as private, subversive dissemination of patriotic views Chinese history and culture by Chinese and sometimes Japanese teachers, were examined.

By analyzing textbooks and testimonies, we can find how Manchukuo female education cultivated girls fulfill domestic roles of “good wives and wise mothers,” based on the ideas of national morality and founding spirit of Manchukuo. It demonstrates the attempts by the Manchukuo authorities to insulate the people in Manchukuo national consciousness and specific female roles, as well as the reactions to these attempts by female students. It depicted the government’s difficulties in implementing and supervising Manchukuo education and the lives of colonized Chinese teachers and students.

Japanese officials took advantage of these female ideologies to promote national consciousness. At the same time, national consciousness was used to define and modify female ideologies and the role of women. Moreover, female textbooks and female testimonies restore a more authentic and diverse history than the male-dominated orthodox history.

Bio: Wenwen Wang is a doctoral student at Kyushu University. Her research focuses on women’s thought and education of the puppet Manchukuo. Her research interests are in the field of female thought of Twentieth-Century China, female secondary education, textbook, and journal studies.







  1. Ethnic minorities and identity in China:  an analysis of the Minzu Lilun yu Minzu Zhengce (Ethnic Group Theory and Policy)textbook for ethnic minority universities

Christine Han and Tong Yaobin
UCL, Institute of Education
Email: c.han@ucl.ac.uk


Ideological education is mandatory at all levels at university in China.  Minzu Lilun yu Minzu Zhengce is the current official textbook in Ideological Education which is mandatory for ethnic minority universities (minzu daxue), but not other universities, in China.  Some scholars have expressed concern about this textbook because of its ‘sensitivity but, because it is mandatory, many courses at minzu daxue are reportedly based on it.  We will analyse the textbook with reference to how the Han and ‘Han-ness’ are conceptualised and presented, and how the ethnic minorities groups are presented in relation to Han, as well as to the self and the other.  The message in the textbook to ethnic minority groups is that the distinction between minority and majority will eventually and inevitably disappear; however, the form that ‘assimilation (tonghua)’ will take is not ethnocultural in nature, but is rather ideological and economic.  The theoretical framework we will use will be based on Kohn’s categories of the ethnocultural and the civic with a proposed additional category of the ideological-economic.

Bio: [to follow]



  1. Balancing Unity and Diversity: Recent Changes in State Policies in Respect of Ethnic Minorities in China and Their Portrayal in Textbooks

Yan Fei
School of Education, South China Normal University
Email: fei.yan.14@alumni.ucl.ac.uk


This paper reports on recent changes in state policies in respect of ethnic minorities in China and how these changes have themselves led to differences in the way ethnic minorities have been portrayed in recent school history textbooks. Inspired by critical curriculum studies, this paper considers the use of history textbooks as a political tool for the government to implement a highly state-centred vision of national identity. This paper uses Narrative Analysis as a method for exploring how the history of Chinese ethnic minorities is incorporated into the master narrative of national history on one hand, and how their independent histories are excluded or ‘suppressed’ on the other hand.

This paper demonstrates that, the fierce ethnic clashes in the late 2000s (e.g. Tibet in 2008 and Xinjiang in 2009) have led the Chinese government to produce contradictory discourses in its published ethnic policies. This paper also reveals that the contradictions in ethnic policies are clearly reproduced in the most recent version of history textbooks published in 2016: while some new content is accorded extra emphasis in order to encourage a multi-ethnic understanding of Chinese national identity, others areas are highlighted in order to promote the idea of ‘China as a homogeneous entity’; this has the result of further marginalising and discriminating against ethnic minorities.

Bio: Fei Yan is a post-doctoral research fellow at South China Normal University in China. His research focuses on the portrayal of minority ethnic groups in Chinese textbooks. His wider research interest include nationalism in Chinese education systems, citizenship education, education for ethnic minorities in China and textbooks studies.



  1. Malaysian Primary Schools of Three Cultures – Moral Education from a Multicultural Perspective 

Low Ze Han (Mervin)
Graduate School of Human-Environment Studies, Kyushu University, Fukuoka.
Email: mervinlow@kyudai.jp

This paper looks at the Moral Education of Malaysian Primary schools from a multicultural perspective. It forms a part of my doctoral project: ‘A Comparative Study of Malaysia’s Three Cultures of Primary Schooling’, a study that aims to find out to what extent the value systems and cultural understandings of education’s purposes in these three types of schools –  i.e., the Malay-medium schools, the Chinese-medium schools and Tamil-medium schools – are similar and mutually compatible, or dissimilar and potentially irreconcilable. In this article, I look into the formulation and revisions of the Moral Education curriculum in general, discussing the insertion of cultural values perceived as distinct to particular communities into the existing curriculum in Chinese-medium schools and Tamil-medium schools. This article also discusses relevant findings from my focus group studies involving teachers from all three different ethnic groups discussing a set of videos showing a typical day at one of each of the three ethnically segregated types of public-funded primary school.


Mervin is a PhD student at Graduate School of Human-Environment Studies, Kyushu University, Fukuoka. His research focuses on the three types of national primary schools in Malaysia. His research interest falls within the area of multicultural education and mother tongue education.

—— Abstracts and further information will be updated as it becomes available.——

This activity is supported by Kyushu University’s Progress 100 Program.


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