||Edward Vickers, Celebrating the Humane Superpower
China, the Holocaust and Transnational Heritage Politics - the case of Shanghai’s Jewish Refugees Museum, Association of Asian Studies, 2021.03, This article examines the portrayal of the Nazi Holocaust in Chinese public culture today, focusing on the case of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum (SJRM). It begins by critiquing the overarching official narrative of Chinese victimhood at the hands of foreign 'colonialists' and ‘imperialists’. It is argued that a more balanced understanding of the history and politics of race and colonialism in China is essential to an analysis of the Communist Party's efforts to project power and influence abroad, and reinforce its legitimacy at home. The case of the SJRM shows how these efforts extend to fierce competition with Japan for UNESCO recognition of war-related heritage, as each country seeks to trumpet its role in saving Jews from Nazi terror during World War Two. The paper analyses the representation of the history of the Jewish Refugee Zone in the SJRM, looking at how the exhibition there has evolved, and interpreting its emphases and omissions in the light of recent shifts in official historiography and heritage diplomacy. It concludes that the Chinese state's interest in the Holocaust as heritage has remained overwhelmingly instrumental, focused on enhancing Shanghai's civic profile, and burnishing China's international image..
||Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong; Edward Vickers, Professor of Comparative Education at Kyushu University, Japan; Yoko Mochizuki, Head of Rethinking Curricula Programme of UNESCO MGIEP and a specialist in comparative education; while the discussants included HE Ton Sa Im, Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport of Cambodia; Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development and former Vice-chancellor at National University of Educational Planning and Administration, India; Jeremy Rappleye, Associate Professor at Kyoto University, Graduate School of Education., A Plenary Panel Discussion on the UNESCO Report 'Rethinking Schooling for the 21st Century - the State of Education for Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship in Asia', Comparative Education Society of Asia, 2018.05, On 12 May, a plenary panel discussion was dedicated to UNESCO MGIEP’s seminal report Rethinking Schooling: The State of Education for Peace, Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship in Asia. Dr Yoko Mochizuki, Head of Rethinking Curricula Programme of UNESCO MGIEP, presented the key findings.
The report is based on the analysis of 172 official documents in 18 languages based on a common coding scheme and extensive literature review on Asian schooling. It seeks to assess how far the aims and values encapsulated in SDG 4.7 have been incorporated into the educational policies and officially-mandated curricula of 22 Asian countries. By analysing current policies, curricular frameworks, subject syllabi, and textbooks, it aims to create a baseline against which further progress towards SDG 4.7 can be monitored. At the same time, it sets out to change the way we talk about and act upon SDG 4.7 and argues that a broader vision of education’s nature and social role is essential to our chances of achieving a peaceful and sustainable future for Asia and the world.
Panellists for the session included Mark Bray, UNESCO Chair Professor in Comparative Education at the University of Hong Kong; Edward Vickers, Professor of Comparative Education at Kyushu University, Japan; Yoko Mochizuki, Head of Rethinking Curricula Programme of UNESCO MGIEP and a specialist in comparative education; while the discussants included HE Ton Sa Im, Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport of Cambodia; Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development and former Vice-chancellor at National University of Educational Planning and Administration, India; Jeremy Rappleye, Associate Professor at Kyoto University, Graduate School of Education..
||Yoko Mochizuki, Edward Vickers (Kyudai), Lorna Down, Eleni Christadoulou, Is UNESCO still ‘the conscience of the United Nations’? Sustaining a role for UNESCO in the ‘sustainable development’agenda, Comparative and International Education Society, 2019.04, In 2015, 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its accompanying set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Education for peace, sustainable development and global citizenship is enshrined in SDG Target 4.7, which focuses on equipping learners with “knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development”. While SDG 4.7 has been characterized by UNESCO as an important target pertinent to “the social, humanistic and moral purposes of education” (UNESCO, 2016, p.288), discussions surrounding its monitoring and implementation have been limited to technical issues such as the lack of baselines, and have largely avoided raising critical questions about fundamental challenges to promoting peace and sustainability through education.
In this panel, we will argue that central to these challenges is the fact that, today, UNESCO finds itself compelled to pursue its humanistic agenda in the context of an increasingly influential movement for the ‘global governance’ of education, promoted by the OECD and World Bank. This subjects policymaking in education, as in other areas, to what Muller calls ‘the tyranny of metrics’ (2018), whereby ‘accountability’ demands assessment of ‘performance’ by reference to measurable, quantitative benchmarks. As Muller and others observe (see, for example, Morris, 2016; Wolf, 2002), this approach tends to skew the emphasis in policymaking and curriculum development towards ‘skills’ that are readily measurable and comparable. It is also informed by a largely economistic approach to the goals of education, prioritising its role in ‘human capital’ generation, on the questionable assumption that measurable ‘performance’ in ‘key skills’ translates into enhanced economic growth (Komatsu and Rappleye, 2017).
Here we will examine to what extent continuing efforts to pursue UNESCO’s longstanding humanistic goals, now repackaged as SDG 4.7, are conditioned by this global drive towards quantifiability, economistic instrumentalism and ‘skills’. We do this by focusing on the work of UNESCO-MGIEP (the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development), UNESCO’s first ‘Category 1’ Research Institute in the Asia-Pacific region, and the only one focusing on ‘education for peace and sustainable development’ (i.e. the themes encompassed by SDG 4.7). Although MGIEP has a global mandate and is an integral part of UNESCO, its evolution since its inception in 2012 cannot be properly understood without taking into consideration its base in India.
The first paper, by Edward Vickers, will provide an overview of the development of MGIEP itself, analysing the evolution of its mission and agenda, and the factors that have influenced this. It will explain how MGIEP’s agenda has been shaped by a combination of macro-institutional factors (involving both UNESCO’s position in relation to other multilateral organizations, and MGIEP’s positioning vis-a-vis other UNESCO entities); the national context, involving the state of educational debate within India (and the enormous stake national and multinational ‘ed-tech’ companies have in penetrating the Indian market); and micro-level intra-organisational factors.
MGIEP’s evolving agenda has recently led to a research focus on ‘social and emotional learning’ or SEL, and techniques for what amounts to behaviour modification informed by cognitive psychology or ‘learning science’ and neuroscience. Terms such as ‘social and emotional skills’, ‘pro-social behaviour’, ‘mindfulness’, ‘kindness’, ‘empathy- and compassion-building’ are coming to form a new lexicon framing debate over educational ‘transformation’ for the 21st century. The second paper, by Yoko Mochizuki, examines the rise of SEL as a new ‘zeitgeist’, analysing the recent fashion for foregrounding social and emotional skills—sometimes referred to as ‘non-cognitive’ (OECD) or ‘soft’ skills—and delineating some major implications of current efforts to mainstream SEL in schooling, particularly in the context of SDG4.7 implementation. While two MGIEP publications released in 2017 (Rethinking Schooling for the 21st Century and Textbooks for Sustainable Development) focused largely on curricular and pedagogical issues relating to the promotion of civic values encapsulated in SDG 4.7 (including human rights, respect for cultural diversity and appreciation of culture’s contribution to sustainable development), this new work on ‘SEL’ aims to foster a capacity for ‘self-regulation’ on the part of individual learners, with little reference to the broader social or political context. The paper will argue that this marks a potentially significant departure from UNESCO’s traditional approach to education for sustainable development, peace, human rights, and global citizenship.
Finally, Lorna Down will analyse one example of a more conventional capacity-building initiative by MGIEP—a pilot project conducted in 2018 in the State of Sikkim, India, aimed at training textbook authors (including practising teachers) to ‘embed’ ideas relating to sustainable development in teaching materials designed for use in local classrooms. Sikkim became India’s first fully ‘organic’ state in 2016, and is committed to integrating SDGs in all sectors including education. The paper will consider the challenges involved in supporting these practitioners in their efforts to grasp relevant concepts and relate them meaningfully to the experiences of young children, while taking account of the practical and material constraints faced by teachers and schools.
The contributors to the panel will debate what the overarching focus of UNESCO-MGIEP on digital learning and neuroscience means for the various projects the institute pursues, and for the interpretation by UNESCO as a whole of SDG 4 (on ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’). They will seek to engage the audience for this panel in a discussion of the extent to which the trends affecting the work of MGIEP are also at work in the education policy arena in national contexts other than that of India (where MGIEP is located), and within UNESCO at large and other multilateral and civil society organisations. Amongst the questions they will pose are: To what extent is the pursuit of ‘learning science’, ‘evidence-based’ education policymaking and technology-based means for the enhancement of schooling effectiveness crowding out serious reflection on the fundamental purposes of education, and its social and political (as well as economic) functions? And to the extent that this is happening, should it worry us, and why?
||Edward Vickers, ‘History Education, Propaganda and Inter-Ethnic Conflict in Contemporary China’, The Georg Eckert Institute for Textbook Research / ICAS - Metamorphoses of the Political, 2018.10, This presentation discusses the propaganda uses of history to legitimise Chinese rule over 'minority' ethnic regions, looking particularly at the school curriculum, museums and exhibitions..
||Edward Vickers, The politics of war-related heritage in contemporary Hong Kong, Comparative and International Education Society, 2015.06.
||Edward Vickers, Citizenship, identity and education in Greater China: reflections following the 2014 Hong Kong protests
, Harvard China Fund symposium, Cultivating Civic Consciousness in China, 2014.12, Assessing the impact of schooling on civic consciousness is always extremely difficult, especially nowadays, given the range of other influences to which young people are exposed. But whatever its actual impact, the school curriculum remains central to official efforts to shape popular consciousness, and to public arguments over identity and values. Culture and history are invariably key themes in such debates. This paper therefore highlights some of the problems arising from an over-reliance on culture in attempts either to explain, or to shape, civic consciousness. In doing so, it focuses not just on the Chinese mainland, but also on the case of Hong Kong – where the practice of active citizenship has recently been making global headlines..
||Edward Vickers, Capitalists can do no wrong: memories of war and occupation in contemporary Hong Kong, 2014.03.
||Edward Vickers, Identity Politics, Education and the Prospects for Reconciliation: Hong Kong-mainland and Taiwan-mainland relations, British Association of International and Comparative Education, 2014.09.