University of Mons (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 1144-1153
ISBN: 978-84-616-3847-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Despite a growing human and economic development, the Mauritian society is marked by discriminations that hinder equity opportunities for personal development of members of different communities (UNDP, 2011). Our doctoral research aimed at contributing to the promotion of diversity in the school field, by analyzing and better understanding representations and attitudes of future primary school teachers about the ethnocultural diversity of their society, the cohabitation of different communities and the role of cultural factors in educational pathways. We tried to assess the possibility for them of taking into account the multiculturalism of pupils' population in their teaching practices, and how they would plan to do it. The sociopolitical context fosters the maintenance of cultural differences and specific community identities that remain opportunities of international economic exchanges. "Communalism", "diseases" and "community complexes" are source of mistrust and difficult contacts with other cultures; the different identities are not yet experienced by Mauritians as strengthened (Subramanian, 2001; Boolell, 2008; Carpooran, 2008; Chan Low, 2008; Hanoomanjee, 2008; Mahadeo, 2008). In this context, the educational system, through its competitive functioning, confirms and reproduces these cultural based inequalities (Carpooran, 2003; Prosper, 2006). The recognition of cultural difference is a long and complex psychosocial developmental process (Bredendiek & Krewer, 2003; Lavallée, 2007). Teacher's vocational training, if it is ambitious and realistic, could be an important help to promote intercultural dialogue and therefore more equitable human development. Understanding and description of mutual stereotypes and prejudices, such as representations that teachers have of their job, are necessary for the implementation of an efficient intercultural education policy. In a changing societal context, religion seems to become the main identity factor for the Mauritians. Respectful tolerance of others, but also relational distance, especially between teachers and students, are consequences of this cultural identification. It appears essential to take into account these social transformations and divergent feelings of cultural belonging. The Mauritian interculturality seems to be moving towards a double construction where a religious community membership and a common national citizenship coexist. This citizenship can bring people together but stay emptied of valuable cultural content. The development of a truly recognized common culture seems utopian. The Mauritius Institute of Education is currently working on the preparation of an "intercultural training" program for its students. The contributions of our research, by communicating its findings and recommendations to heads of the institution, could promote efficiency of such training.
Trainee teachers, ethnicity, cultural discriminations, interculturality, social inclusion.