Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A research agenda

Although there is huge variation in the lives of people who are poor and live in cities around the world (not to mention the difficulties in defining who these people are), I think there are enough common threads to make education and urban poverty a meaningful research topic. In this draft research agenda I try and describe those common threads, explain why urban poverty is increasingly important, and list what I see as some of the most pressing questions. In brief:

  1. What can we say with existing data? Do household surveys like DHS and MICS cover the urban poor, including marginalized groups like those who live in slums and recent migrants? To some extent we can check this by triangulating with other sources, like specific slum surveys.
  2. What access do the urban poor have to education, and what are the barriers? This is fairly obvious but important to answer carefully. Relying on household surveys with limited coverage of marginalized groups may not tell us much.
  3. Is education a path out of poverty? Cities may be centres of economic opportunities, but can the urban poor avail of these, with or without an education?
  4. What happens inside schools? Are urban poor children stigmatized by their backgrounds? Or supported and treated equally?
  5. What type of provision? NGOs often step in where government school provision fails, tailoring their services to the circumstances, such as timetables that allow for children's work. But where are the models of NGO programmes that coordinate well with government services, avoid being cast as second-rate education for the poor, and help young people find better jobs afterwards?

Inevitably this is a very partial list and biased by my own experience and background. I'd love to hear what other people see as the most pressing questions. Respond below or get in touch to write your own post.

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