Diversity education, between crises, contestations and reforms
Taking the colonial question seriously
For its fifth International Encounter, the RIED is calling, as it has done for previous Encounters, for any individual or collective contribution (symposia) in line with the RIED's areas of concern. These three days will deal with issues linked to "diversity" in education and training, in its many forms (cultural, social, convictional, linguistic, gender, etc.), from a variety of disciplinary perspectives (social sciences, philosophy, politics, education sciences, social psychology, etc.) and leading to questions or proposals that challenge the training of school staff.
Among other things, we'll be analyzing the political and organizational changes that have taken place in the field of RIED since the last Rencontre, in Brussels in July 2022, and which are currently taking place with regard to the inclusion of diversity in schools. In Quebec, for example, curricular changes (e.g., the replacement of the Ethics and Religious Culture program by the Quebec Culture and Citizenship program), legislative changes (e.g., the amendment of the Charter of the French Language) and institutional changes (e.g., the generalization of EDI programs -Equité, diversité, inclusion) are raising many controversies and highlighting new issues to be analyzed.  In Belgium, the overall reform initiated by the "Pacte pour un Enseignement d'Excellence" (Pact for Excellence in Teaching) makes very little room for diversity issues (apart from the gender prism) and leads to new framing of school problems; it also leads to a series of systemic overhauls (inclusive measures, abolition of special support) which directly or indirectly affect the schooling of newcomer children, for example. In France, the impact of public controversy over the application of the principle of secularism and the consequences of the law "consolidating the principles of the republic" have also had an impact on diversity in education.
In addition to these cross-cutting issues, which constitute the Network's historical approach, the Marseille meeting has chosen to focus on the prism of coloniality in schools, because of its visible place in social conflict around the school scene, in Europe and elsewhere. The aim is to encourage and bring together work that looks at schools and training "through the prism of the colonial". It appears that a wide range of French-speaking countries and regions, with the exception of Switzerland, have had a colonial experience. Most Western European countries are former colonizers, and most southern Mediterranean and sub-Saharan countries are former colonized countries. In Quebec, the colonial prism is mainly used to distinguish between the French-speaking and English-speaking majority groups, who emerged from the colonial occupation as winners or losers from colonial history, and to understand their relationship with the First Peoples, but much less so with regard to other minority groups.  In this sense, the school struggles to consider the various national historical narratives and conceptions of living together that coexist.  This heritage has an impact on mentalities and social relations (Memmi 1972, Belbahri 1988, Mbembé 2000, Hajjat 2005, Lorcerie 2007) and, as a result, can shape educational issues. It is this hypothesis that the Rencontre de Marseille proposes to put to the test. Works on "colonial situations" (Balandier 1951, Copans 2001) and the forms of ethno-racial domination they have established are now classic and form part of what, after Kuhn, can be called "normal science". Those on the resonance of colonial relations in today's societies - the "postcolonial" - or on the purgation of coloniality from today's social systems - the "decolonial" - are more divisive (Khiari 2006, Bayart 2010, Clavreul 2017).
By taking up these issues in Marseille, a city shaped by trans-Mediterranean migration and relations with the South, RIED aims to sketch out the state of play in the field of education and training, while opening up to ex-colonized countries where the question of coloniality is also fuelling research (Chevalier 2023). Debates on the "colonial", the "postcolonial" and the "decolonial" decompartmentalize the analysis of what diversity means in practice at school. They lead us to reinject time and history into the analysis of what is happening here and now. The overall hypothesis is that colonization, in its various forms, has shaped institutional functioning and social relations in today's societies, and that the end of colonization has not put an end to these processes.

But doesn't this hypothesis run the risk of imprisoning social relations within a new hegemonic colonial framework, and of producing or maintaining forms of otherness? In the same way, for example, that the term South, now "global South", tends to encompass different countries in terms of a national standard of development, while there are "Nords in the Suds and Suds in the Nords". Do schools today reflect this colonial perpetuation? How can we spot it? How can we get rid of it? What are the differences between countries?
As the answers are anything but certain, doubts and controversies will have their place in the exploration of these issues at the Rencontre.


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