We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Educating 'surplus population': uses and abuses of aspiration in the rural peripheries of a globalising world

Ansell, Nicola and Froerer, Peggy and Huijsmans, Roy and *Dungey, Claire and Dost, Arshima and Piti, (2020) 'Educating 'surplus population': uses and abuses of aspiration in the rural peripheries of a globalising world.', Fennia - International Journal of Geography, 198 (1-2). pp. 17-38.


Increasing school enrolment has been a focus of investment, even in remote rural areas whose populations are surplus to the requirements of the global economy. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in primary schools and their neighbouring communities in rural areas of Lesotho, India and Laos, we explore how young people, their parents and teachers experience schooling in places where the prospects of incorporation into professional employment (or any well rewarded economic activity) are slim. We show how schooling uses aspiration, holding out a promise of a 'better future' remote from the lives of rural children. However, children’s attachment to such promises is tenuous, boosted yet troubled by the small minority who defy the odds and succeed. We question why education systems continue to promote occupational aspirations that are unattainable by most, and why donors and governments invest so heavily in increasing human capital that cannot be absorbed.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
Download PDF (Advance online version)
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:21 September 2021
Date of first online publication:04 December 2020
Date first made open access:21 September 2021

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar