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Education Reform for the knowledge economy in the Middle East: a study of education policy making and enactment in the Kingdom of Bahrain

Lightfoot, Michael D (2014) Education Reform for the knowledge economy in the Middle East: a study of education policy making and enactment in the Kingdom of Bahrain. PhD thesis, UCL Institute of Education.

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Abstract

The knowledge economy is a construct of a neo-liberal imaginary that is linked closely to the promotion of educational technology use in schools. In the belief that educational technology can assist in the rapid development and modernisation of the education systems in the Middle East, over the last 20 years, donor agencies, international conglomerates and supra-national organisations have encouraged governments in the region to embed information and communication technology into the policies for the reform and development of their education systems. Taking Michael Peters’ assertion that there are three elements to the knowledge economy – learning, creativity and openness, the study points to the paradox of promoting these concepts within the context of the deeply conservative authoritarian regimes in the Arabian Gulf. By way of an ethnographic case study into the formulation and subsequent enactment of education policy reforms in the small kingdom of Bahrain in the Arabian Gulf, this account analyses the historical context together with political and social conditions giving rise to the education reforms in this region and the conflicting pressures experienced by those in schools that are tasked with enacting the reforms. Comparisons are made with the situation in Jordan from whence much of the regional impetus for technology-led education reforms arose. The analysis of the findings uses the lens of New Institutional Economics as a way of focusing upon the conflicting cultural, social and political factors that influence the policy enactment. In this way a more satisfactory narrative is achieved than one simply centred upon a neo-liberal analysis or upon conventional models of technology adoption. Ultimately, the study concludes that it is only through a rebalancing of the conflicting forces of structure and agency that successful social reform and policy enactment can take place in this part of the world where autonomy and selfactualisation are novel concepts for the great majority of the population.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Controlled Keywords: ICT, neo-liberalism, policy enactment, structure, agency, Middle East, knowledge economy, learning, creativity, openness, Bahrain, Dubal, Jordan
Subjects: Departments > Culture, Communication and Media
Depositing User: Mr Julian Zerfahs
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2015 12:38
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2015 15:18
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