A year (and a bit) of living dangerously


IRE Special Issue - Adult Literacy, Local Languages and Lifelong Learning in Rural African Contexts
2 August 2021

The new issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning (IRE) considers lifelong learning in the context of a world coming to terms with COVID-19 and challenges some of the educational orthodoxies the unfairness or insufficiency of which have been exposed by the crisis.

The six articles in the issue focus, respectively, on the ranking of higher education institutions in national and international league tables, the impact of ethical leadership on teacher well-being and affective commitment, the understanding and take-up of sustainable development in Ghanaian universities, the need to adapt the national curriculum for nomadic primary schools in Nigeria, the development of the constitutional right to schooling in Africa, and the redefinition of academic success from the perspective of the individual student.

The articles highlight new thinking that, in various ways, challenges conventional thinking about university evaluation, academic success and the value of higher education, education management and leadership, curriculum development and inclusion, and the wider role of universities, and particularly their contribution to sustainability, among other issues.

The editor’s introduction locates the articles in the context of current challenges, particularly the pandemic, noting the unevenness of educational response over the past 15 months and the disproportionate negative impact on poorer, marginalized communities. For the most part, the crisis has replicated and exacerbated existing inequalities, yet while these inequities are now more visible, reimagining the educational space in terms of something better, fairer and more sustainable remains a challenge.

While the promise of the ancien régime seems spent, the introduction argues, no alternative has emerged and there is no sign that ‘the new realism of environmentalism and sustainability’ will prevail over ‘the exhausted realism of excessive consumption and market liberalisation’. It concludes: ‘Whatever the odds – or however unpromising the circumstances – we have to try to invent a future that is just, equitable and democratic, and trust that, by challenging the old, discredited orthodoxies, we are laying stones on the road that leads there.’

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