University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Kazakhstan Programme Research Seminar Series > ‘Lost in translation’? Interpreting the language of international and intra-national education policy transfer

‘Lost in translation’? Interpreting the language of international and intra-national education policy transfer

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In Kazakhstan, as in many parts of the world, educational reform takes the form of (i) an element of ‘policy borrowing’ (Phillips & Ochs 2004) from international policy and practice to national policy and, then, (ii) a centre to periphery model through which this policy and its attendant practices are ‘cascaded’/ ‘disseminated’ / ‘transmitted’ to schools. Of course neither of these stages of the transfer of educational policy and practice is straightforward. If the initial policy or practice does not get entirely ‘lost in translation’, it can certainly get adapted, changed, even transformed—processes variously referred to as ‘indigenisation’ or, less flatteringly, ‘subversion’, ‘hi-jacking’ (Silova 2005) and ‘brand name piracy’ (Steiner-Khamsi & Stolpe 2006). This paper examines these different discourses around the process of policy transfer and the ways in which theoretical frameworks drawn from translation theory and from philosophical pragmatism and social psychological constructivism may illuminate them. It also illustrates from recent project experience the ways in which problems of the translation of language between (in this case) English, Russian and Kazakh adds to the complexities of the transfer of educational policy and practice.

This talk is part of the Kazakhstan Programme Research Seminar Series series.

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