Unpacking success : progressive politics and stalled gender equity at the Mitraniketan People's College (2013)
Repository: Oregon State University: ScholarsArchive@OSU
Graduation date: 2014 ; Founded over fifty years ago by K. Viswanathan, the Mitraniketan educational facility in Kerala, India provides literacy and vocational education to socially marginalized women, men, and children through nursery, elementary, high school and an educational preparatory program for young adults. Viswanathan founded the school on several ideals including Neo-Marxist, Quaker, and Gandhian notions of community participation as well as ones that emphasize the social and personal agency of marginalized peoples. This study focuses largely on the Mitraniketan People's College (MPC) and seeks to identify: 1) that which has contributed to the longevity and success of Mitraniketan; 2) any structural inequities that may or may not exist between educational offerings for women and men learners enrolled at the Mitraniketan People's College; and 3) the extent to which learners (particularly women) contribute to the development of their programs. Study participants included a combination of seventeen current and graduated students, as well as teachers, school administrators and the schools' founder. Ethnographic and feminist methodological approaches including participant observation were employed in data collection and analysis. This work draws upon the theoretical frameworks of progressive pedagogy, as well as transnational and postcolonial feminisms. Research outcomes revealed that 1) the school's longevity is grounded in the reciprocal relationship that the school's founder has established with various communities but that the strength of programming remains tenuous; 2) while female students at MPC are offered equal opportunities for learning, program offerings lack gender equity; and 3) while the ideals for liberatory education are in place, they are not consistently practiced; thus, students do not make holistic contributions to program development.