A French School in Tunisia: teaching sustainability and reproducing socio-ecological hierarchy in Tunisia
Abstract: The explicit sustainability education these students receive gives them narrowly circumscribed ideas about sustainability as recycling and solar panels. At the same time school experience has the implicit lessons about sustaining one’s social position through consumption and display of imported fashion and products associated with France/the west, practices with contradictory implications for sustainability. Implicit lessons are taught by school structure and activities concerning unequal power between French and Arabic languages, between geography and history curricula focused on France vs. Tunisia, and between more French-identified and more Tunisian-identified faculty and staff. I argue that models reproducing these hierarchies are at counter-purposes with efforts toward sustainability of Tunisian lifeways and environments because they encourage students to distance themselves from Tunisian cultural and ecological realities, and to aspire to more highly valued and powered French or “universal” ones.
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