Tuesday, March 15, 2005

What goes around...

Things seem to be happening in cycles at the moment. The end of term on Friday is in sight and whereas this time last week I was wondering how I was going to fit several essays, presentations, additional readings and complete my PhD proposals in before the end of this week, things now appear more manageable. Only one more essay to do: ‘Participation is a potential, not a panacea. Discuss.’

Any takers?

In addition to the everyday matter of studies, I was down at Oxford’s Brazilian Centre on Friday. There was a workshop taking place on ‘Education as a human right’ which was organised by Sérgio Haddad, a visiting professor from São Paulo, whose interest it was.

Some extremely interesting observations were made and for those who lasted to the end of the day, it was frustrating that the former rapporteur to the UN Human Rights commission, Katerina Tomaševski, wasn’t able to stay longer. She made a robust defence as a human right, including the assumption that all children should be in school. But as we know in the developing world, there are other pressures on children, especially work. Her disappearance meant we were unable to enter into any detailed debate about her points.

But it was during the discussion when Maria Malta Campos, a researcher at the Carlos Chagas Foundation, made a comment that I had a eureka moment. “There’s not much written about the politics of education reform and management,” she said, setting a light bulb off in my head. That comment encapsulated what I was trying to do with both my dissertation and my PhD proposal: assess the political opportunities and limitations faced by social democrats in developing and implementing education (and employment) policies. Maria Malta’s words crystallised what I had been trying to articulate for the last two months.

So imagine my disappointment yesterday afternoon when I discovered I wouldn’t be receiving funding from the Institute to do fieldwork later this summer. What if the workshop had been last week, before the application deadline? What if I had used the language which came so easily from Maria Malta?

Needless to say, I’m asking for feedback, especially since my PhD proposal was contingent on the work I had planned to do for my dissertation. So it looks like I will be going back to the sense of panic I felt at the beginning of last week.

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