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Transnational Research Group – Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: Education Policy in India since the Nineteenth Century


Despite the breakneck pace of its economic development, India remains the country with the largest number of poor worldwide. The Transnational Research Group (TRG) focuses on one aspect of poverty reduction and policy for the poor in particular: education and schools policy as well as vocational training. Like the provision of food, housing and health services, access to education is a central subject of concern in all policies aimed at the reduction of poverty. The present rapid changes in the educational systems and the emergence of global private companies in this field make this an innovative topic for interdisciplinary research linking historical experience and present developments in India, Europe and in other parts of the world. The TRG has brought together various research traditions and perspectives in this field and will contribute to a fruitful exchange between history, educational and social sciences in the three countries involved, but also worldwide. While concentrating primarily on India, the TRG also encourages comparative research and will draw on the expertise of colleagues working on similar topics in other areas of the world through conferences and visiting fellowships.

The Transnational Research Group is funded by the Max Weber Foundation - German Humanities Institutes Abroad.


In order to generate innovative results within a time frame of five years, the TRG has concentrated primarily on a series of specific projects within the wider framework of its overall topic of Poverty Reduction and Policy for the Poor between the State and Private Actors: School Systems and Mass Education in Colonial and Post-Colonial Contexts. The sub-projects of the TRG have adopted a multi-perspective and interdisciplinary approach. Inter- and transdisciplinary discussions will also be pursued through joint workshops and conferences. The expertise of the TRG –partners lies primarily in disciplines such as educational sociology and economics, educational history, and cultural, religious and social history.

The TRG has designated seven research areas for which PhD and postdoctoral grants have been awarded and for which postdoctoral applications for funding or research collaboration in any other form are invite

  1. Nineteenth and twentieth-century global educational reform movements and their impact on universal schooling in India.
  2. The quest for universal elementary/school education, the private sector and edu-business.
  3. Caste discrimination and education policy.
  4. Industrial restructuring, informalization, and their consequences for access to elementary education.
  5. Adult education and the popularisation of practical scientific knowledge.
  6. Industrial and technical institutions and the resignification of manual labour.
  7. The impact of schooling on life histories.