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Marieke Hopman


29 januari 2017

Recht op onderwijs en de autoriteit van een CAR dorpshoofd

29 januari 2017 | By | One Comment

Transcribing interviews today, and came across this conversation where I was discussing authority and the possibility to create a school in the village with a village chief. The question: can he tell the literate parents of the village to all teach a few hours a week, so that the children will have education?
Resp:       They cannot accept to teach if we don’t pay them.
MH:          But what if they would just teach half a day a month?
Resp:       That would be good, but it is not possible. They have to go fishing. If they don’t go, how                      will they feed their children?
MH:          I have trouble believing that teaching for only 4 hours a week will make the difference                          between eating and not eating.
Resp:       I cannot command them. If they don’t want to, can you force them?
MH:         You are the chief, do you not have that power?
Resp:       I have power, but I cannot force people.
MH:         So what kind of power do you have in relation to education?
Resp:       If I command someone, who wants to go fishing, to teach and to force them to teach?
MH:          I am just curious to see how it works in the village, the relation of power, authority and                         autonomy…
Resp:      Before, the young people were receiving the village chief. Nowadays, after the arrival of                       human rights [a relatively new concept in the village, apparently], if you ask them to do                      something, they don’t accept it. When they don’t accept it, you have no right to take it by                    force.


  1. Rachel Wickert

    The debunking assumptions about the various power source and the meaning of education to be “forced” on people may be interesting here. Human rights norms hijacking indigenous hierarchy or is it just a useful proxi to dismiss a chief that is not able to lead and navigate a complex interplay of norms and circumstances? Can’t learning how to fish be part of the teaching you are talking about? What kind of education does the two of you have in mind here? Imposed curriculum or something developed by and for the members of the village. What would be there for them (the parents, the chief, the children in their eyes as well as yours), if not money, that could convince them to make space for that “education”?

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