The cross-Atlantic knowledge divide, or PISA for Development: Should one size ever fit all?

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In traditional conceptions, the Atlantic divides the New World from the Old, as well as geographically dividing the Americas from the continents of Africa and Europe; it is suggested here that beyond being at the centre of such divisions, the Atlantic itself is a divided space that can act as a microcosm in the analysis of global inequities. This article argues that the Brandt Line as a conceptual division of the Atlantic can help trace global epistemological inequities indicative of a current North-South knowledge divide. The knowledge divide between the Global North and the Global South will be discussed in the context of PISA for Development (PISA-D), an international student assessment developed and implemented by the OECD, which aims to assess education systems, and inform education policies and school curricula in developing countries. It will be suggested that the OECD gives precedence to the epistemological systems of the Global North over those of the Global South, by not including the respective developing countries more closely in the development process of the assessment material, and by failing to incorporate local and indigenous knowledges in the test. A sample question will be discussed in order to highlight some of the epistemological difficulties in developing a universally applicable student assessment. Additionally, it will be argued that the translation of PISA-Development as an assessment instrument plays a key role in the perpetuation of global epistemological inequities, and has therefore arguably the potential to contribute to epistemicide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-364
JournalAtlantic Studies: Global Currents
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2018


  • Global North, Global South, Brandt Line, PISA for Development, knowledges, translation, epistemologies, epistemicide


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