Subjects: Language, Rhetoric And Composition (0681); Education, Language And Literature (0279); Economics, Theory (0511)
ProQuest Document Number: 276295114
UMI Number: AAT 3017651
This study examines the applicability of economic and contextual theories of literacy and education in Bangladesh. Economic theories assert that with literacy and education individuals can obtain employment and socioeconomic mobility and nations can experience development and progress. Contextual theories contend that the political, economic, and social contexts within which literacy and educational activities occur influence the power that literacy and education may or may not have within particular societies. This study describes the historical context of literacy and education in the region known today as Bangladesh. It then describes the language activities, oral and written, as well as the educational policies and systems in Bangladesh in modern times. The study highlights the textbooks and teacher’s guides used to teach the Bengali language to primary school students in formal, government-run schools. It describes the content and exercises of the textbooks and offers illustrative summaries and examples of the instructions given to teachers in the teacher’s guides. The study offers data showing that literacy and education have not necessarily led to employment for the Bangladeshi people or development for the Bangladeshi nation, thus denying economic theories of literacy and education. Instead, the historical, political, economic, and social contexts of Bangladesh have influenced the structure, ideologies, and methodologies of literacy and educational activities in Bangladesh, thus confirming contextual theories of literacy and education. In particular, the study shows the ways by which dominant social groups in Bangladesh have retained and manifested power through the curriculum used to teach the Bengali language to the nation’s students attending formal, government schooling. The study concludes explaining that as the dominant groups’ ideas, attitudes, values, and behaviors form the ideology of school knowledge and procedures, school knowledge and procedures function to stratify students along socioeconomic class lines, privileging students from those dominant classes.