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By Marie-Pierre Moreau (eds.)

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Such a disconnect between school and community results in a disenfranchisement of teachers, who see themselves as professionals caught in a generations-old narrative of class resistance that they had little to do with creating, any more than did the children whom they serve. In my research, teachers were uniformly unsettled, if not revolted, by the language and behaviour of low-income White students and their parents. In contrast to this, students from non-White families, mostly Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Indian, were seen as valuing education and respectful not only to teachers but also to their parents (Bhatti, 1999).

However, given the vast economic divide between rural and urban, along with the demand for labour in special economic zones and in preparation for the 2008 Olympics, it was hard to resist the temptation to move east. Parents make this decision knowing that they might be forfeiting their child’s education but, as revealed to me in research conducted in 2007, many took the risk hoping that their child would miraculously have access to an education far superior to that in the village. It is upon this faith that ‘illegal schools’ have been set up and ‘teachers’ garnered from the ranks along with some assistance from NGOs and volunteers from universities.

Thomas, C. and Armento, B. (2000) ‘Cultural diversity is basically a foreign term to me: The challenges of diversity for preservice teacher education’, Teaching and Teacher Education, 16(1), 33–45. Chan, A. K. (2004) ‘Gender, school management and educational reforms: A case study of a primary school in Hong Kong’, Gender and Education, 16(4), 491–510. Clifford, G. (1981) ‘Eve: Redeemed by education and teaching school’, History of Education Quarterly, 21, 479–91. Coleman, M. (2002) Women as headteachers: Striking a balance (Stoke-on-Trent: Trentham Books).

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