English and marginalisation

By Ram Ashish Giri
The children, their parents and teachers selected to take part in the ReMaLIC project in the four target countries – Bangladesh, Nepal, Senegal and Sudan – all expressed the view that English is indispensable for education, employment and better lives. They affirmed its key role in their social mobility and survival in the globalised and interconnected world. For them, English in their respective societies plays a number of crucial roles. English is one of the de facto languages of communication in formal and academic settings and a prerequisite for education and professional jobs. It is seen as a source of self-improvement and as a means of career success domestically as well as globally.

Participants in the target countries consider English superior to other local languages, however, its use in basic level education is limited. The data does not conclusively demonstrate its role in marginalisation, however, not having adequate English was seen as a barrier and a source of failure for many ordinary people. For example, English was used as a control mechanism to play a gate-keeping role in access to higher education and key social positions. English in these countries was perceived to be prestigious but it created additional problems for low socioeconomic status students who often had limited access to English.

Teachers interviewed for the project supported the views of the children and parents that English plays a significant role in the lives of individuals, and it enhances their access to resources and learning. As the excerpt below demonstrates, they also believe that for a successful life, a functional knowledge of English is extremely important:

We gave a class for the examinees on why they should learn English, speak English always. They understand the importance. 80% information nowadays are in English. As English is the international language, without knowing English we can’t communicate with foreign countries. Good job or good salary is not possible without it (BD-T01).

Attitudes towards English
Students’ attitude towards English has been largely positive. They expressed the view that English would help them have a better life and increase their opportunities for better education and employment domestically as well as internationally. They also suggested, as the excerpt below shows, that the language facilitates communication with those who speak English:

Suppose, I don’t understand an English word, I can’t pronounce or write it. If I pronounce it or write it then, I can find out with google search. Now if I don’t understand the thing or it is difficult to understand then I will not be able to understand it in this case. Secondly, suppose a foreigner comes to visit Bangladesh. They want to talk to us. We need to communicate with him in English. No matter wherever you go, whether is it a senior employee or a relative , it is a pity if someone asks you something in English and you can’t answer it or in the case of technology: mobile, computer, laptop whatever you say, now everything is in English, and if I don’t know English, I can’t use them, and if I can’t use those, you won’t get a good job (NP-S03).

English and technology are closely connected. The functional knowledge of English is important because most digital devices today use English as their language. English has become the language of technology. Most participants expressed the view that functional knowledge of English is essential for the sake of using technology. Not knowing English at all can hamper using technology:

The language of computers is English –and I’m not good at English — so it’ll be difficult for me to use technology [because] if you want to use the device and you don’t know English you won’t be able to write the words like “book” because the keyboard is in English (SD-R-S02).

I was using my sister’s phone and I pressed something by mistake and there was a message in English that I didn’t understand. I was scared I’ll ruin her phone so I waited until she comes back. It was then that I wished if I knew English then maybe I could’ve understood the message and fixed my mistake before my sister comes (BD-P04).

I think that English has become essential in the acquisition of knowledge today. New technologies are very important to keep up with the world today. English is a useful tool to facilitate the appropriation of technologies, especially those related to education. It is better to master English than not to master it (SN-P04).

Inability in the English language is viewed as a barrier to having life opportunities. For example, not having a functional literacy in English puts people in a disadvantageous position, even jeopardises their chances of getting a job.

The main barrier for a decent life is [not knowing the] English language (SN -P04).

Anyone who knows about technology and English language, he will make progress in life. Thus, we won’t be marginalized and depressed (SD -P03).

English language is very important to us not only for children. I applied for a job in some company as private driver but I could not get the job because of my knowledge of English (SD- P03).

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Technology for supporting education: uses and challenges for marginalised communities

By Mark Gaved
Marginalised communities in low- and medium -income countries are limited in their access to technology to support their education. The key barrier is cost, though there are other significant challenges, including linguistic, social and cultural barriers. Families and teachers are aware of how technology might improve children’s education and there is widespread enthusiasm to engage with tools that will make a difference. However, there are also concerns of potential ill-effects. ReMaLIC has carried out interviews with children, parents, and teachers and as the project continues we will be sharing our insights.

‘Technology’ in this context should be understood in a broad sense. More recent developments like smartphones and the internet may be harder to access for poorer, more marginalised communities. Established technologies like radio, television, and basic phones are more available, and also used to improve children’s education.

“At home, we do not have technological devices. […] I watch T.V for learning my lessons” (Male student, Sudan)

Internet and telecommunications infrastructure is more limited in poorer countries and marginalised communities are particularly affected. These communities are more likely to live in remote and rural areas or poorly connected urban areas (like informal settlements), and they are least likely to be reliably connected to digital networks (Dawadi et al. 2020). This can have the effect of institutionalising and reinforcing digital divides along existing lines of marginalisation. Families from these communities are also less likely to have disposable income to purchase technologies or mobile data plans to support their children’s education.

“I feel so sorry that I could not buy a mobile phone for his study. The school asked me several times but I could not.” (Parent, Nepal)

Teachers may be discouraged from integrating ICT in education because of issues around the lack of ICT infrastructure in schools (Laudari and Mahar 2019). Lack of training can also affect the levels of digital literacy among teachers, which in turn affects their confidence or ability to effectively teach children. Access can be seen as the first level of ‘digital divide’, but literature and ReMaLIC’s experiences show that further levels of inequality, such as training, and the ability and support to put training and access into practice to enhance educational opportunities, are significant challenges to be overcome.

“…we are not using technology in our school […] The authority of this school is not taking any steps to do it and I don’t think that can be happening….” (Teacher, Bangladesh)

Government and NGO initiatives can help bridge divides by implementing innovative approaches to access, and providing support using more widely available technologies. In Eastern Sudan, for example, an initiative has supported conflict-affected children, girls and children with disabilities currently excluded from the traditional education model by providing community workers with solar powered equipment and tablets. This overcomes the lack of electrical infrastructure in schools, and by using portable devices enables tutors’ flexibility in where they teach. Facilitators are trained in pedagogical techniques, as well as digital skills.

In Bangladesh, widespread ownership of basic mobile phones has enabled innovative approaches to tuition, particularly during the pandemic lockdown when schools were closed. While only 44% of rural households own a television, 94% own a basic mobile phone. In one recent initiative, families were given a free number to call to access remote tutoring, and also to access Interactive Radio Instruction (Islam and Wang 2021). Interactive radio instruction (IRI) combines radio broadcasts with active learning, requiring teachers and students to react to questions and exercises posed by radio characters and to participate in group work, experiments, and other activities. It can be accessed by FM radios, delivered by CDs, and increasingly, accessed via phones.

ReMaLIC has come across several examples of creative sharing of technologies, for example where groups of children have sat together sharing one phone to take part in lessons. Sharing of educational technology is a common strategy to widen access and distance learning programmes can affectively use television, national radio and community radio, as well as online and via mobile phones (Upadhyay, 2020).

Linguistic minorities may not be as well provided for both in terms of educational content, as well as digital tools. In Senegal, for example many children may speak a mother tongue such as Wolof that is transmitted mainly orally, while tuition and educational materials may be in French. Digital interfaces and web browsers may require competency in national and international languages such as French or English, leaving speakers of local languages further marginalised. For example in Nepal, a word processor might only be able to be used in English or Nepali, but not Tharu.

Cultural issues may also come into play around use of access to ICT. There is sometimes a gendered disparity in access to ICT, sometimes due to traditional cultural norms of giving educational preference to boys, but also the social and parental perception of its abuse: the concern that children, and particularly girls will be exposed to risk and bad influences.

“We have the opportunity to buy the mobile phone but we don’t buy it. Because we are very careful with the girl.” (Parent, Bangladesh)

“They do not allow us to use mobile more [than just studies] because we’ll become addicted to mobile so that we’ll pay less attention to our studies” (Female student, Nepal)

ReMaLIC has discovered interesting examples that we had not expected. For example, in an urban school we visited in Senegal, children were forbidden from using their mobile phones at school and there was no WiFi, whereas a rural school had WiFi as part of their infrastructure and could be used by teachers to support teaching. Children here were seen in the school playgrounds between lessons searching for educational material. ReMaLIC is shedding new light on current practices and challenges around the use of technology to support education and we will update on our findings as analysis continues.


Dawadi, S., Giri, R. and Simkhada, P. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on the education sector in Nepal – challenges and coping strategies. Sage Preprint. Available at: https://advance.sagepub.com/articles/preprint/Impact_of_COVID-19_on_the_Education_Sector_in_Nepal_-_Challenges_and_Coping_Strategies/12344336

Islam, A. and Wang, C. L. (2021). Impact of IRI based mobile lessons on educational outcome of primary graders: A randomized controlled trial in rural Bangladesh. Monash University, Australia.

Laudari, S. and Maher, D. (2019). Barriers of ICT use in EFL teacher education courses in Nepal: An activity-theory perspective. Journal of NELTA, 24(1). 77-94. https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NELTA/article/view/27681

Loh, Y.A. C. and Chib, A. (2021). Reconsidering the digital divide: An analytical framework from access to appropriation. Information Technology & People, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-09-2019-0505 Available from : https://www.researchgate.net/publication/349052141_Reconsidering_the_Digital_Divide_An_analytical_framework_from_access_to_appropriation

Upadhyay, A. (2020). EdTech in Senegal: A rapid scan. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.3936687. Available at: https://docs.edtechhub.org/lib/XI5PXVB3

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Challenges faced by researchers when working with marginalised people

By Saraswati Dawadi
A recent surge in the use of technology in education is deemed to have a positive impact on how students learn, and teachers are enabled to achieve pedagogical change. However, differential access to technologies, along geographic (rural/urban), socio-economic (rich/poor) and gender divides, is well documented (Soomro et al., 2020; Shreshta, et al. 2021; Dawadi et al., 2020), hence not everyone can reap the benefits. Furthermore, studies on marginalised children’s and their parents’ and teachers’ experiences of using technology for student learning are conspicuously absent. ReMaLIC aims to fill this gap in research. It looks at the roles of technology and the English language in promoting or reducing marginalisation from marginalisedpeople’s perspectives, giving them a voice rather than making assumptions about them.
ReMaLIC team members have visited different locations in the four countries involved in the project to collect experiences of the people that are hard to reach and/or are left behind. For instance, in Bangladesh, we studied marginalised communities in Banderban – one of the remotest parts of the country. In the context of Nepal, children from Thauru community and Squatter families were invited to take part in the study, and in Sudan, Nomadic and war displaced communities. However, we faced a number of challenges in working with marginalised people:
a. Most participants were not familiar with research culture and initially they did not seem comfortable in taking part in the study. So, we had to spend a number of days establishing a rapport and building trust among participants.
b. Participants’ low level of education was another challenge for us. Many parents were not able to read our consent forms and information sheets. So, we had to read the documents for them and provide oral information. Additionally, we had to be very mindful of how we communicated with them. We tried our best to make interview questions as simple and direct as possible, avoiding jargon.
c. We faced a difficulty in obtaining parents’ written consent by signing a form. Many parents, particularly from Bangladesh and Nepal, did not seem to be comfortable putting their signatures on the consent forms though they seemed happy to provide oral consent. Furthermore, some parents were not able to put their written signature on the consent forms. So, we had to ask them just to put a cross (x) on the form, in place of their signature.
d. Participants’ hesitation to express themselves was another big challenge for us. During interviews and focus groups many participants provided very brief responses as they did not seem to feel comfortable talking about their experiences. For instance, in the context of Sudan, girls particularly hesitated to express their views freely. In many cases, they would just repeat what their friends mentioned. To address this issue, we used some key strategies such as using every child’s name whenever possible as it conveys that the researcher is interested in them; praising the children often for their contributions and not dismissing their opinions or cutting across their conversations; and asking them some probing questions.
e. Another challenge was concerned with the researchers’ identity as an academic/ researcher. Some participants said that they did not consider themselves knowledgeable enough to talk about any of the issues that we were interested in. So, we tried our best to underplay our identity as a researcher in such a way that the social and knowledge gaps between us and our participants were minimized. Hence, a friendly relationship with the participants was developed and conversation was kept more informal with them, so as not to lose their naturalness of expression.
f. Parents’ busy schedule was another challenge for us. Parents were fully occupied with household and farming activities (particularly women) and manual jobs (mostly men). So, they hardly had any time for our interviews. We had to visit most of them at home in the mornings and evenings; some were available only on Saturdays and/or on public holidays. In some cases, we had to even cancel our planned visits.
As Sapkota (2016) rightly points out, conducting research in marginalised communities is not only difficult but also ethically challenging. Such research requires careful planning, a flexible time schedule, and expertise to deal with the issues of researching marginalised communities.

Dawadi, S. Giri, R. A & Simkhada, P. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 on the education sector in Nepal: Challenges and coping strategies. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED609894
Sapkota, P. (2016). Community, social marginalisation and adaptation to climate change: An analysis of community forestry system in the middle hills of Nepal. An unpublished PhD thesis. University of Melbourne.
Shrestha, S., Haque, S., Dawadi, S. & Giri, R. A. (2021). Preparations for and practices of online education during the Covid‑19 pandemic: A study of Bangladesh and Nepal. Education and Information Technologies, 27, 243–265. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-021-10659-0
Soomro, K. A., Kale, U., Curtis, R., Akcaoglu, M., & Bernstein, M. (2020). Digital divide among higher education faculty. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 17(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-020-00191-5

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How we ensure participants’ voices are heard: Data collection methods

By Saraswati Dawadi
ReMaLIC explores marginalised children’s, and their parents’ and teachers’ lived experiences of using technology and accessing education, and their perceived value of the English language, in four under-resourced countries: Bangladesh, Nepal, Senegal and Sudan. The main rationale for this study is that it brings the least heard voices to the forefront – so that they can reach educators, policy makers and the public, promoting further discussions on how to provide marginalised children with better access to technology to enhance their learning, improve education systems and reduce marginalisation in the target countries. Hence, the premise of our study is that marginalised children (along with their parents and teachers) have important things to tell us about matters that concern them, and their voices need to be heard. We wanted to give power and voice to our research participants, which may provide insights into their subjective world (i.e., their lived experiences, the way they construct their own identity and perceive themselves, and the ways in which they perceive other members of their society). We believe that giving power and voice to research participants involves issues of research methodology that can create an opportunity for participants “to express their views freely and contribute to research agendas” (Grover, 2004, p.28). We have used a qualitative research design and sought to privilege the voices, experiences, and lives of marginalized children along with their parents and teachers by involving them as active participants in our study.
As Chandler et al. (2015) rightly point out, “one of the tenets of qualitative research is the emphasis and honoring of the participants’ own words as generative of meaning and knowledge” (p.1). We have used semi-structured interviews and focus groups as our main methods of data collection to facilitate conversation and participant engagement. The methods are informed by Creswell (1998), who argues that a qualitative researcher “builds a complex holistic picture, analyzes words, reports detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting” (p. 15).
Furthermore, having considered Lansdown’s (2004) argument that researchers often misjudge children’s voices because “they assess children from an adult perspective and through an adult filtering process which diminishes children’s contribution” (p.5), we wanted to fully understand the situation of the marginalized children and enable their voices to be heard. Moreover, as de Leeuw et al. (2018) rightly point out, we believe that children are experts in their own situation and can contribute to educational research and initiatives. Therefore, we invited marginalised children to take part in this study and we tried as much as we could to give voice to the children.
During the data collection, our focus was on creating an environment that enables children to express their views freely to an adult researcher. For this, following Johnson et al. (2014), we used some key strategies such as: a) building supportive and trustful relationships with the children; b) creating a safe environment in which children feel able to speak in confidence and give their undivided attention; c) using every child’s name whenever possible as it conveys that the researcher is interested in them; d) praising the children often for their contributions and not dismissing their opinions or cutting across their conversations, and e) ensuring that all children are listened to and feel included.
Indeed, we have made every effort not to impose our views on children, but to encourage them to share their lived experiences of using technology and the English language in their learning. We listened to their views and respected each child. We also provided adequate responses to the questions that arose from children. Additionally, we took power dynamics into account that can lead children to respond in particular ways to interview questions. We even allowed some time for the children to lead discussions as it might make them feel that they have some power (Johnson, et al., 2014).
Furthermore, we are aware that research has long been connected with issues of power. As argued by Esterberg (2002), there is often a power inequality between research participants and researchers who often tend to have more power than the research participants. Therefore, we made efforts to address the power relationships that are embedded in our research. For instance, we tried our best to underplay our identity as a researcher in such a way that the social and knowledge gaps between ourselves and our participants are minimised. Additionally, to make participants feel more comfortable, we met them informally a couple of times and maintained a good rapport with them before interviewing them. We also used their own native languages for the data collection, we made interview questions simple and direct, avoiding jargon, and we used prompts to encourage further elaboration. The participants have been interviewed by local researchers who know their language and culture very well. All the researchers received training before they started their data collection.
Chandler, R., Anstey, E. & Ross, H. (2015). Listening to voices and visualizing data in qualitative research: Hypermodal dissemination possibilities. SAGE Open, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244015592166
de Leeuw, R. R., de Boer, A. A., & Minnaert, A. E. M. G. (2018). Student voices on social exclusion in general primary schools. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 33(2), 166-186, DOI: 10.1080/08856257.2018.1424783
Esterberg, K.G. (2002). Qualitative methods in social research. McGraw–Hill.
Grover, S. (2004). Why Won’t they listen to us? On giving power and voice to children participating in social research. SAGE Publications, 11(1), p. 81–93. https://doi.org/10.1177/0907568204040186
Johnson, V., Hart R., & Colwell, J. (2014). Steps to engaging young children in research. Volumnet 1: The Guide. University of Brighton.
Lansdown, G. (2004). Participation and young children. Early Childhood Matters, 103, 4–14.
Tearfund and Christian Aid (2021). Doing research ethically: Principles and practices for international development practitioners and evaluation. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/sd25784/Work%20Folders/Documents/all%20documents/from%20old%20laptop/Documents/KIX/ethics/resources/2021-Tearfund-Consortium-Doing-research-ethically-En.pdf

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Bangladesh Context: Marginalisation, ICT and English

By Rubina Khan
In Bangladesh, like elsewhere, marginalisation refers to exclusion, deprivation, inequality, imbalance, and vulnerability and curtailed access to power and resources. There are at least 30 million marginalised people in Bangladesh from diverse categories, cultural identities, races, and ethnicities and “disadvantaged people struggle to gain access to resources and services, and to full participation in social life” (Manusher Jonno Foundation, 2016, p. 6). Educational marginalisation has been a serious problem in the country as large numbers of students are outside mainstream education. In school education, marginalisation particularly affects children from ethnic and religious minorities, children with disabilities and those from hard-to-reach areas. There are several contributing factors that contribute to educational marginalisation in Bangladesh. Three of the major factors are briefly discussed below and we aim to explore the factors further in our fieldwork which is now in progress.

UNESCO states that a complete reliance on technology can “increase the learning divide which disproportionately affects hard-to-reach and marginalised communities” (2021, p.24). Indeed, whereas the widespread use of technology and online resources have opened the door towards innovative practices, some reports (e.g., Khan et al., 2020, 2021; The BMJ Opinion, 2021) suggest that ICT has magnified the digital divide. The ECLAC-UNESCO (2021) report rightly points out, “Unequal access to online learning opportunities widens pre-existing gaps in access to information and knowledge, hindering socialisation and inclusion in general, not to mention the learning process that distance education seeks to provide.” Remote areas with poor internet connection and access face more barriers to using technology in education. We believe that future planning needs to ensure engagement, participation and learning of the most marginalised groups. Provision of alternative methods through a range of online, offline and printed packages along with targeted follow-up support will increase the reach and participation for children of different ages and with a variety of learning needs.

In Bangladesh, English is seen as a language of development, with those who know English having better career opportunities and able to position themselves in the global economy. Having a good command over English is often linked to higher social status in Bangladesh, so a good command of the language can also open possibilities for members of marginalised communities to be heard and have a voice in making decisions. However, the benefits of English are predominately available to urban elites, who have access to a better standard of teaching – mostly delivered through private education – and higher-paid jobs. Marginalised groups in Bangladesh do not have access to quality English education and are therefore becoming further marginalised.

Gender is a key social dimension connected to educational marginalisation in Bangladesh. Girls are particularly marginalised as they suffer from being overburdened with household chores and are exposed to different forms of social inequality issues, gender-based violence, biases, gender stereotypes, and discriminatory gender norms which form barriers to girls’ education. In addition, they are subject to harmful cultural practices like child marriage, male favouritism and child labour. Particularly, girls from poor families, internally displaced families, girls with special needs, and girls who live in remote villages become victims of different kinds of violence. These girls do not only miss an opportunity to get educated but also an opportunity to develop themselves as human beings. Hence, girls are doubly or triply marginalised. Dejaeghere and Kyoung (2011) used a capabilities approach (by drawing on a critical feminist perspective) to understand the causes of marginalisation in education in Bangladesh. They pointed out that “gender discrimination remains deeply entrenched in families and in society, preventing many girls from fulfilling their academic potential and achieving well-being through education” (p.29).

DeJaeghere, J., & Lee, S. K. (2011). What matters for marginalised girls and boys in Bangladesh: A capabilities approach for understanding educational well-being and empowerment? Research in Comparative and International Education, 6(1), 27-42. https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.2304/rcie.2011.6.1.27
ECLAC-UNESCO. (2020, August). Education in the time of COVID-19. Retrieved from https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/45905/1/S2000509_en.pdf

Khan, R., Basu, B. L., Bashir, A. & Uddin, M. E. (2021). Online Instruction during COVID-19 at Public Universities in Bangladesh: Teacher and Student Voices, Teaching English as a Second Language Electronic Journal (TESL-EJ), 25(1). https://tesl-ej.org/pdf/ej97/a19.pdf
Khan, R., Bashir, B. Bijoy L., Basir A. & Uddin Md. E. (2020). Emergency online instruction at higher education in Bangladesh during COVID-19: Challenges and suggestions. The Journal of Asia TEFL 17 (4), 1497-1506. http://dx.doi.org/10.18823/asiatefl.2020.
Manusher Jonno Foundation (2016). Annual report: The state of the marginalized in Bangladesh. Retrieved from http://www.manusherjonno.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Annual-Report_2016.pdf
The BMJ Opinion (2020, 1 September). Covid-19 is magnifying the digital divide. Retrieved from:https://blogs.bmj.com/bmj/2020/09/01/covid-19-is-magnifying-the-digital-divide/
The Guardian (2011, 5 Jul). Research backs English as key to development. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/education/2011/jul/05/research-backs-english-language-delotbiniere

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Educational Marginalisation in Senegal: Role of Gender, ICT and English

By Abdou Niane

Educational marginalisation has become a burning issue in Senegal, one of the poorest countries on the planet. About 34% people in Senegal live on less than US $ 1.25 per day, with an average per capita income of $121 per month (Ibrahima, 2014). The results of the Harmonized Survey on Household Living Conditions (2018/2019) show that the incidence of individual poverty in Senegal is 37.8%. The country is still lagging behind in education. A large part of the population does not have easy access to education and remains marginalized from formal education, with an enrolment rate of 86.4% (ANSD, 2020). Many factors contribute to the exclusion of many young people from the education system including gender and ICT. Furthermore, languages, particularly the English language, play a role in educational marginalisation in Senegal. What comes next is a brief introduction to the roles of gender, ICT and English in promoting or reducing educational marginalisation in Senegal.

Gender is a major dimension of educational marginalisation in Senegal as 54% of Senegalese, including 62% of women, are illiterate (Quotidien, 2017). Angers-Sall (2009) points out that in Senegal, from an early age, children internalize the sexual division of labour, namely that girls recognize themselves as family helpers and boys as financial supports of the family or agricultural workers to help their fathers. She further mentions the prevailing image of woman as wife, mother and housewife, especially in remote villages. Early marriage of girls is still prevalent in Senegal, and girls living in the poorest, rural areas of Senegal are the most vulnerable. Most mothers, from their daughters’ earliest years, introduce them to good manners that will make them future good wives and mothers. However, this trend is receding. Since 2000, Senegal has formulated many programs (Girls’ Schooling Program, Girls’ Education Support Project, etc.) which aim to promote girls’ education to be in line with the Millennium Development Goals 2 (Achieve universal primary education).

A study carried out by the National Agency for Statistics and Demography of Senegal shows that the gross primary school enrolment rate increased from 86.1% in 2016 to 86.4 % in 2018. Interestingly, analysis of the parity index shows that the intensity of primary schooling is more intense among girls (92.1%), compared to boys (80.4%), in all regions, except the regions of Kedougou, Sédhiou and Ziguinchor.

Senegal is a multilingual country with 38 recognised languages, Wolof being the most widely spoken language. Among them, only French is an official language. Official languages in Africa are languages resulting from colonisation, and although spoken by the educated minorities in these countries, they assume the status of official language, constituting the working languages of the whole state apparatus and all its organs and institutions (Sarr, 2017). As a result, local languages are neither taught in the school system, nor used in administrative exchanges. In the case of Senegal, French is used by the State, the administration, education, the media and the business world, to the detriment of local languages. Half of Senegal’s population cannot read or write in the official language.

The English language is considered a foreign language in Senegal. English Language Teaching (ELT) was introduced in the Senegalese curriculum during colonialism with the French educational system, which was obligatory for all French colonies (Djigo, 2016). At present, knowledge of English is expected to provide better career prospects and choices. Therefore, there has been a high demand for English in Senegalese society. Factors that have contributed to the importance of English in the lives of Senegalese people include: the country’s diplomatic relations with other countries, its heavy dependence on foreign aid and job opportunities. The government has also shown an enduring interest in promoting English language teaching. Therefore, English has been taught as a subject from 6th grade to 12th grade. However, it has been argued that students do not have equal opportunities to learn English.

Senegal, through its highest authorities, has shown a real political will to promote ICT in all sectors of economic and social life. For instance, in 2016, it laid out a national ICT policy document, the ‘Digital Senegal Strategy’ (Ministère des Postes et Télécommunication, 2016) which laid out an aim to make broadband a priority by supporting public–private partnerships for infrastructure sharing and deploying networks in unserved areas. The policy’s ambitious “digital for all” vision seeks to provide broadband access across different areas such as schools, government services, and commerce by 2025 (Upadhyay, 2020). However, people still have limited access to tools such as smartphones, tablets and computers, coupled with weak network coverage, especially in rural areas.

The country has witnessed a big digital divide between the haves and have-nots during the Covid-19 pandemic. A huge number of students nationwide could not attend online classes during the pandemic as they did not have access to any network or could not afford any technology tools such as smartphones or tablets, as they live in dire poverty or in rural areas. Less than 1% were accessing online courses, pointing to the importance of a wider range of educational technologies, particularly to reach poorer children (Le Nestour, Mbaye, Sandefur & Moscoviz, 2020). Hence, the closure of schools and the adoption of e-learning in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the social disparities between children of wealthy parents and children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Angers-Sall, S. (2009). La scolarisation à l’échelle du Sénégal : vers une marginalisation des filles des zones rurales (p. 481-495), Presses universitaires de Rouen et du Havre.

ANSD (2020). Situation économique et sociale du Sénégal : édition 2017-2018 : https://www.ansd.sn/ressources/ses/SES_2017-2018.pdf

Djigo, O. M. (2016). The status of English and other languages in Senegal. https://thewarwickeltezine.wordpress.com/2016/12/31/77/

Ibrahima Sy, (2014). La pauvreté au Sénégal : une évaluation multidimensionnelle de la pauvreté et des disparités interrégionales entre 2001 et 2006 :

Le Nestour, A., Mbaye, S., Sandefur, J. & Moscoviz. L. (2020). Covid-19 Phone survey Senegal, https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/9XE95F/95RW9C, Harvard Dataverse, V3. https://dataverse.harvard.edu/file.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/9XE95F/95RW9C&version=3.0

Ministère des Postes et Télécommunication. (2016). Stratégie Sénégal Numérique 2016 – 2025 https://www.sec.gouv.sn/sites/default/files/Strat%C3%A9gie%20S%C3%A9n%C3%A9gal%20Num%C3%A9rique%202016-2025.pdf

Quotidien, L. (2017, 05 December). CONSTAT – Alphabétisation: 54% de Sénégalais analphabètes dont 62% de femmes. https://lequotidien.sn/constat-alphabetisation-54-de-senegalais-analphabetes-dont-62-de-femmes/

Sarr, B. (2017). Plurilinguisme et traduction au Sénégal : le rôle de la traduction pour la reconnaissance des langues nationales et la promotion d’une politique des échanges linguistiques. https://tel.archives-ouvertes.fr/tel-02391470/document

Upadhyay, A. (2020). EdTech in Senegal: A rapid scan. DOI:10.5281/zenodo.3936687. Available at: https://docs.edtechhub.org/lib/XI5PXVB3

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Context of Sudan: Marginalisation, ICT and English

By Amna Bedri

Marginalisation exists in all societies, even in the most developed societies, but it is more pronounced in low-income or under-resourced contexts. In Sudan, marginalisation can have many causes. It can affect people who are exposed to hazards such as drought, conflict, violence, poverty, and also to adverse socioeconomic, institutional and environmental conditions. According to UNICEF (2014,p.3), “disadvantaged groups [in Sudan] includes nomads, war-affected populations; youth involvement in the military and internally displaced persons. Children from poor families”. There are also homeless children, children with special needs and working children. Even children living with their families in distant rural villages are deprived of education.
At the top of the list of marginalized children of school age are girls of nomadic families and girls of internally displaced populations. They are triply marginalized because they are girls, because of the conditions of their families and because of the lack of services, which means they are overburdened with household chores such as fetching water and firewood on a daily basis, they may also be required to look after siblings if the mother is working to support the family. In addition, they are subject to such cultural practices as child marriage and male favouritism. For instance, in Nuba mountains, marginalized communities are affected by civil war, an almost–constant state of conflict with the government of Sudan since 1989 which has affected the provision of educational services and international aid, while lack of education has led to lack of skills and means of livelihood.
Access to technology and knowledge of the English language are both means of empowerment and overcoming of marginalization. However, none of the state primary schools uses technology in classrooms. The existing equipment is used for administrative purposes only. “Sudan has launched many initiatives, aimed at implementing ICT in the education system” (Tairab, et al., 2017, p.312), but there are many challenges such as lack of written policy to use ICT for educational purposes in primary schools, lack of technology/equipment and proper training for teachers, lack of contents, and lack of proper skill and awareness of teachers and education managers (Ahmed, 2015). In addition, there are constraints of shortage and cost of electricity and internet connection in most parts of the country.
The digital divide in Sudan is actually between those who are enrolled in state schools and others who are enrolled in private/international schools. State primary schools cover only 50% of the children of school age. This was clear during the Covid-19 crisis when many private schools used different means of technology to continue offering classes online while none of the state schools had such a system. For example, some private schools used ZOOM, others provided iPads for their children and the children use them now even in face-to-face classes. In these schools, gender is not a factor. The private schools also use other forms of technology in classrooms such as smart boards, multimedia and tablets with downloaded syllabus material. An exception in the state schools is the e-learning project implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education, some state ministries and a group of partners and donors, namely: UNICEF, Ahfad University for Women, War Child Holland and Dutch Research Institute TNO. The main objective of the e-learning project is to provide education for out of school children in remote rural villages; for example one project targeted 2000 children in remote areas in Kassala (Eastern Sudan). It is now on hold because of problems in the solar power generators used to charge the laptops.

Generally, English language teaching/ learning has gone downhill in government schools since 1989; these schools lack basic requirements such as English language textbooks, teaching resources and teachers. Most teachers in rural areas come directly from secondary schools without access to any kind of training. In one of our target schools located in an urban setting, there is only one textbook for the whole class of over 60 students. This has created a linguistic gap adding to the existing causes of marginalization of these children. Families prefer sending their children to English medium private and international schools, if they can afford to do so.

Ahmed, A. (2015). Managing information and communication technology in Sudanese secondary school. Journal of Education and Practice, 6 (32), 1-8.

Tairab,A., Huang, R., Chang, T. & Zheng, L. (2019). A framework to promote ICT in K-12 education in developing countries: A case study in Sudan, Conference Paper. Available at: www.researchgate.net/publication

UNICEF (2014). Middle East and North Africa out-of-school children initiative. Sudan Country Report On Out-Of-School Children. Available at: www.unicef.org/mena/reports/out-school-children-sudan

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Context of Nepal: Marginalisation, ICT and English

By Kamal Raj Devkota

Marginalization is a process of forcing a person, a social group or a community to live the life of marginality. It is rooted in “margin” which often underlines “gender, racial, political, cultural or economic oppression” (Hall, Stevens & Meleis 1994, p. 25). Education is another social factor that perpetuates marginalization of those who are ‘ignored’ because of their regional, ecological, economic, social and/or linguistic backgrounds. In this blog article, I will focus on how access or lack of access to English language learning and Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) is connected to marginalization in educational contexts in Nepal.

Education and Marginalization in Nepal
Marginalization has become an undeniable part of the Nepalese society. It is a shocking reality that it shapes the life and identity of a large section of its population. Though the state is often projected as the state of “char jat chhattis varna ko sajha fulbari” [a common garden of four castes and thirty-six ethnicities], the disparities and marginalization sustained on the grounds of regionality, caste, ethnicity, poverty, gender, etc., are at odds with this depiction. The complex intersectionality among these factors has reinforced even ‘double and ‘triple’ marginalization of people from marginalized and disadvantaged communities. Such a condition of marginalization is apparent in educational contexts. ‘Social selection’ of the privileged (Valentin, 2001) and ‘selective exclusion’ of women, so-called lower caste citizens, and linguistic and ethnic minorities (Caddell, 2007) are the prime causes of unceasing marginalization in education in Nepal.

English and ICT: Redefining to challenge marginalization
Modern schooling particularly English-prioritized schooling and its unequal and uneven distribution across the nation have added another tension in the educultural landscape in Nepal (Devkota, 2019). Nepali, the national language, and English, the language more valued for its role in global communication, are foregrounded in every sphere of people’s lives in Nepal. The hundreds of indigenous languages which each give voice to individual culture and identity have still not been integrated into national language policy, language education policy, and pedagogical processes in tangible terms (Phyak & Ojha, 2019; Giri, 2014; Tin, 2014). Therefore, this situation has not only resulted in linguistic marginalization of indigenous languages and their speakers in policy, but also pushed these local tongues into gradual death. In the context of Nepal, English language is charged to promote social marginalization in two senses. Firstly, it perpetuates children’s unequal access to education, institutionalizing the dichotomy of English-as-a-medium-of-instruction (EMI) and non-EMI schools. Students whose parents cannot afford more for EMI schools are obliged to attend non-EMI or English-poor schools. Such an uneven schooling practice in relation to English and EMI has pushed a large section of children especially from economically disadvantaged families as well as those living in remote settings to be further marginalized. Secondly, Nepali schools today are oriented to set up ‘more English exposure’ and EMI, ignoring the children’s mother tongue(s) or the languages that children are more familiar with. However, in the absence of required language resources to facilitate learning, teachers’ attempts fall short of quality instruction. Rather, the strategy has devalued indigenous language skills and knowledge, and hard-pressed children from diverse linguistic communities to experience being ‘disregarded’ in the classroom context.

More recently, ICT and its access and use in student learning has drawn people’s attention. Shields (2011) argues that ICT is often attributed as the symbol of modernity and progress in the policy discourses in Nepal. However, the expansion of ICT and its application in student learning is still meager. As evidenced, during the pandemic thousands of students were completely disconnected from learning, nevertheless, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and concerned government bodies appealed to continue teaching and learning through alternative modes including the internet. With a lack of proper ICT facilities across the country, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children is widening (Dawadi, Giri & Simkhada, 2020). Students experience a harsh digital divide when they get disconnected from learning due to poor ICT infrastructure, ICT knowledge, and internet access (Devkota, 2021). Particularly, children from rural settings and from poor family background are all found to have been marginalized. Such a marginalization process may continue further since ICT development is still slow and uneven in the country.

One more argument to highlight here is that seeing English and ICT as the unequivocal forces of marginalization becomes a monolithic and biased judgment. English and ICT are both prerequisites for global citizens today. No matter where the people are born and brought up, they experience (OR aspire to experience) diverse forms of globally circulated information, messages, images, ideas, and ideologies. For access to circulated messages and information, one needs to build up English communication skills and ICT knowledge. However, when there is an inequality in the access to learning English and ICT exposure, there continues to be marginalization of the ones who are deprived of the opportunities. Therefore, to conclude, to reduce marginalization of people in Nepal, use of English needs to be redefined in the multilingual, and even plurilingual framework in
Nepal’s education policy, and ICT needs to be accessible to all students in Nepal, including the ones that are marginalized and disadvantaged.

Caddell, M. (2007). Education and change: A historical perspective on schooling, development and the Nepali nation-state. In: K. Kumar and J. Oesterheld, Education and social change in South Asia. New Delhi: Orient Longman, pp. 251-284.
Dawadi, S.; Giri, R.; Simkhada, P. (2020): Impact of COVID-19 on the education sector in Nepal – Challenges and coping strategies. Sage Submissions. Preprint. https://doi.org/10.31124/advance.12344336.v1
Devkota, K. R. (2019). Unraveling English language space constituted in model school construction in Nepal. Education and Development, 29, 30-44. https://doi.org/10.3126/ed.v29i0.32565
Devkota, K.R. (2021) Inequalities reinforced through online and distance education in the age of COVID-19: The case of higher education in Nepal. International Review of Education, 67, 145–165 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11159-021-09886-x
Giri, R. A. (2014) Changing faces of English: Why English is not a foreign language in Nepal, Journal of World Languages, 1:3, 192-209. https://doi.org/10.1080/21698252.2014.989643
Hall, J. M.; Stevens, P. E. & Meleis, A. I. (1994). Marginalization: A guiding concept for valuing diversity in nursing knowledge development. Advances in Nursing Science, 19 (4): 23-41. http://10.1097/00012272-199406000-00005
Phyak, P. & Ojha, L. P. (2019). Language education policy and inequalities of multilingualism in Nepal: Ideologies, histories and updates. In A. Kirkpatrik and A. J. Liddicoat (Eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of Language Education Policy in Asia, (341-354). New York: Routledge.
Tin, T. B. (2014). A look into the local pedagogy of an English language classroom in Nepal. Language teaching Research, 18(3), 397-417. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1362168813510387
Valentin, K. (2005). Schooled for the future? Education policy and everyday life among urban squatters. Greenwich, Connecticut: Information Age Publishing Inc.

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Marginalisation: our definition, some gaps we have found

By Ram Ashish Giri

Defining Educational marginalisation
As part of the ReMaLIC first phase, the team investigated what educational marginalisation means. Here, we summarise our first findings from the literature. Educational ‘marginalisation’ is defined as an unfair, favoured or biased distribution of access to learning, learning facilities, and resources (Messiou, 2013) based on geography, gender, socio-economic conditions or personal circumstances. For Mowat (2015), it is low participation of disadvantaged or excluded student communities in mainstream education.  The terms ‘under-privileged’ and ‘disadvantaged’ are used interchangeably to refer to the socio-cultural, ethnic, linguistic, economic and skills barriers faced by under-privileged students who consequently only have limited access to basic levels of learning. Marginalisation, thus, may be identified on the basis of poverty (UNICEF, 2014), socio-cultural practice, education, social status and power (Devkota, 2018), race, ethnicity or disability (Slee, 2013), gender or sexual orientation, linguistic, and cultural minorities (Khanal, 2017), religion (Smith & Barr, 2008) and personal circumstances such as being displaced, migrants or refugees (Shapira, 2011; UNCHR, 2018). Marginalisation, in this sense, is a relational and intersectional phenomenon (Pihl, et al., 2018) which is experienced and recognised at different levels in different contexts. Our review of global literature indicates that marginalisation is caused by a combination of a multitude of factors; and that marginalisation in education is pervasive and entrenched in most under-resourced contexts.

Articulating the Gap
After the formulation of United Nation’s Millennium Goals in 2015, countries around the globe have widened representation and participation of students from under-represented and under-privileged social and ethnic groups in education. These groups are socio-culturally minority or displaced students who are unable to complete their basic education. Governments have implemented policies on widening participation and accelerating progress towards fairer educational representation and participation with a focus on making education accessible for all students. Despite the rise in government initiatives, inequity and exclusion remain persistent. Recent research demonstrates that students from under-represented and under-privileged groups continue to fall behind as they do not have the same level of access to the required resources and opportunities. (Devkota, 2018).

Marginalisation, thus, can be explained by a two-point conceptual framework – “access to learning” (Spaull & Taylor 2015) and “zones of exclusion” (Lewin & Little 2011). Access to learning, in particular access to quality learning is socio-economically and geographically determined. For example, besides school enrolment rates (or educational attainments), quality learning or learning achievements are considered crucial for future life chances. Thus, simply enrolment rates do not reveal how well the education system is serving the children of the lower strata of the society. (Ahmed, et al., 2019, p. 559).  Similarly, the “zones of exclusion” enables understanding of inequalities in terms of learning opportunities. The model focuses on students who are ‘silently excluded’ (Lewin, 2007) and hence cannot continue learning or achieve the required level of knowledge or competence. For example, at the school level these “zones of exclusion” include students who (a) drop out from school, (b) work as a child labour and have low attendance at school, (c) belong to marginalised group (such as Dalits/ untouchables)  (d) do not have access to technology and digital devices at home, and (e) complete school education but learn very little because of barriers to learning opportunities at home and/or or low attendance at school. In Nepal, for example, if one is born into a dalit or untouchable caste (janajatis ethnicity), s/he is already marginalised. If such a child is female, then she is further marginalised as socially she will not have equal access to education and other opportunities.

Gaps in the literature
Our review of the available literature has identified a number of gaps:

  1. there is a dearth of rigorous studies and reports providing in-depth analysis of educational marginalisation.
  2. most literature takes ‘gender’ as the primary factor in marginalisation. In-depth analysis of other contributory factors such as ICT, language and/or English is almost non-existent in the research countries (Senegal, Sudan, Bangladesh, Nepal).
  3. there are discrepancies between the governments’ policies on combating/managing educational marginalisation and their implementation strategies. As a consequence, the governmental programs have not produced the desired outcomes.
  4. there is a lack of comprehensive educational marginalisation management plans at the government level. As a result, combating educational marginalisation is patchwork and largely donor driven, producing no major impact on managing/combating educational marginalisation.


Ahmed, J. U., Ashikuzzaman, N. & Mahmud, A.S.M. (2017). Social innovation in education: BRAC boat schools in Bangladesh. Journal of Global Entrepreneurship Research, 7(20), 1-14.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s40497-017-0077-z.

Devkota, K. R. (2018). Navigating exclusionary-inclusion: School experience of Dalit EFL learners in rural Nepal. Globe: A Journal of Language, Culture and Communication, 6, 115-133.

Khanal, P. (2017). Falling prey to the dominant culture? Demystifying symbolic violence against ethnic minority students in Nepal. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, https://doi.org/10.1080/14681366.2017.1280841

Lewin, K. M. & Little, A. W. (2011). Access to education revisited: Equity, drop out and transitions to secondary school in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. International Journal of Educational Development, 31, 333-337. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijedudev.2011.01.011

Lewin, K. M. (2007). Improving access, equity and transitions in education: Creating a research agenda CREATE pathways to access monograph 1. Consortium for Research on Educational Access, Transitions and Equity. Sussex. http://www.create-rpc.org/pdf_documents/PTA1.pdf

Missiou, K. (2012). Confronting marginalisation in education: A framework for promoting inclusion. NY:  Routledge.

Mowat, J. (2015). Towards a new conceptualization of marginalisation. European Educational Research Journal, 14(5), 454– 476. https://doi-org.libezproxy.open.ac.uk/10.1177%2F1474904115589864

Pihl, J. Holm G. Riitaoja, A. Kjaran, J. & Carlson, M (2018). Nordic discourses on marginalisation through education. Education Inquiry, 9 (1), 22–39. https://doi.org/10.1080/20004508.2018.1428032

Shapira, M. (2011). An exploration of differences in mathematics attainment among immigrant pupils in 18 OECD countries. European Educational Research Journal, 11(1), 68–95. https://doi.org/10.2304/eerj.2012.11.1.68

Slee, R. (2013). How do we make inclusive education happen when exclusion is a political predisposition?, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 17(8), 895-907, https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2011.602534

Smith, R. & Barr, S. (2008). Towards education inclusion in a contested society: from critical analysis to creative action. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 12(4), 401–422. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110601145775

Spaull, N. & Taylor, S. S. (2015). Access to what? Creating a composite measure of educational quantity and educational quality for 11 African countries. Comparative Education Review, 59 (1), 133-165.

UNICEF. (2014). Middle East and North Africa out-of-school children initiative: Sudan country report On Out-Of-School Children.  https://www.unicef.org/egypt/media/4971/file/Out-of-School-Children-MENA-Out-of-School-Children-Initiative.pdf

UNHCR. (2018). Educate a child programme. Available at: 561e25256.pdf (unhcr.org)

United Nations. (2015). The world’s women 2015: Trends and statistics. The Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).  https://www.un.org/development/desa/publications/the-worlds-women-2015.html


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Welcome to the ReMaLIC project

Welcome! This is the blog site for the  British Council funded ReMaLIC project (“Reaching out to marginalised populations in under-resourced countries”).

We will be collecting first-hand accounts of the educational experiences of marginalised young people aged 13-15, their parents and their teachers in four low-income countries in Asia and Africa (Bangladesh, Nepal, Senegal, Sudan) in order to reflect on the roles of the English language and technology in reinforcing or reducing marginalisation. Our ultimate aim is to make recommendations for policy and practice that will support young people at transitional points in their lives.

We will use this blog to keep you informed of our project’s ambitions and progress.

ReMaLIC is funded through the British Council’s Widening Participation Research Grants and runs from March 2021 to October 2022.

Led by The Open University (UK), the consortium includes Monash University (Australia),  University of Dhaka (Bangladesh), Ahfad University for Women (Sudan), CRFPE Diourbel, Rufisque (Senegal), and Tribhuvan University (Nepal).

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