Plates for slates: The impact of a school feeding programme on community representations of schools

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Abstract

Using the nationwide school-feeding programme—the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS)—in India as its anchor, this paper critically evaluates the use of schools as sites for discharging social policies. Data from semi structured interviews (N = 26) and focus groups (N = 8) conducted in a north Indian village provide evidence that the community distrusts the central and the regional governments and regards state run schools as deficient institutions. In such a social climate, the community perceived the MDMS as an evil governmental design to distract poor people from education. Such representations, the paper argues, further erode the faith of the community in state run schools. Crucially, data from the study indicate that the MDMS has contributed to a shift in community representations of schools from being a site for imparting education to that of an institution providing free meals. It is argued that such a shift in community representations of schools may hinder the agenda of promoting education in disadvantaged settings. The paper concludes by identifying two critical considerations in using schools as the site of social policy: (a) the symbolic environments of meaning making which inform local interpretations of policies; and (b) the local meaning making and representations that communities develop of new or existing social policies. The theory of social representation informs the arguments made in this paper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-300
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Development
Volume41
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Policy
  • policy implementation
  • school-based interventions
  • social representation theory
  • Education
  • Developing countries

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