Youth, education and migration: the case of young Nepalese in North India


Start date: 31 December, 2006 End date: 31 December, 2010 Project type: Smaller projects: Postdoc Project code: 719-AU Countries: India Nepal Thematic areas: State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Aarhus University (AU), Denmark Project coordinator: Karen Valentin Total grant: 761,384 DKK

Project summary

This study has contributed to fill out a gap in the existing theoretical debate by bringing to the fore the social processes through which migration and education interact to shape people’s lives, identities and statuses. Firstly, the results of the project cast light on the agentive nature of migrants. Migrants do not arrive in new locations as “education-less,” but incorporate previous educational experiences in their everyday life. They keep engaging in various forms of education not just intentionally as a strategy to move on, but also unintentionally by developing new life skills needed to survive in new and unfamiliar contexts. Secondly, while the move to India necessarily implies that young people cannot continue their school life in Nepal, given they ever went to school, the ethnographic material illustrates that there is a tendency to engage in practice-oriented learning acquired at work places in India. Showing how different forms of education, often referred to as “formal” and “informal learning,” intersect during the life course of a migrant, this insight compels us to reconsider dominant ideas of education as being limited primarily to schooling only. Thirdly, acknowledging that mobility involves a shift both in physical location and in social positioning, it is crucial to focus on the importance of education in these processes, partly because physical mobility often compels people to re-evaluate and re-orient their educational strategies, partly because ideas of social mobility are often linked to the potentially transformative capacities of both education and migration. A focus on the role of education in migration processes helps us to bridge the field of migration and education analytically and to enhance our understanding of the social processes through which migrants engage in acquiring new forms of knowledge and skills during different phases of the migration process.

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