Editorial

In Europe, what is the meaning of Right to Education for everyone?

In Europe, what is the meaning of Right to Education for everyone?

  • Posted: Jan 12, 2016 -
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In 2015 the new development agenda was approved through the new Sustainable Development Goals which are based in seventeen concrete Goals.

The Objective number 4 seeks to “Ensure an inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all”. Realising a quality education is the base to improve people’s lives and enhance sustainable development. In this sense, educational laws help but they do not guarantee the Goal on which, unlike in the previous Millenium Development Agenda, all States, no matter their map location, HDI position or economic situation, must assess to and commit to fulfill towards 2030 with concrete fundings.

So, what about Europe in the Agenda?

A developed Europe in which we could think that this right is guaranteed but data indicates that there still are deficiencies when guaranteeing this right. While it is true that with regard to pre-school and primary education the level of quality schooling is almost at 100%, that is not the case of secondary education ISCED 2 and 3 (International Standard Classification of Education) that corresponds to the levels of basic secondary education (until the age of 15) and upper secondary education (from the age of 15 until the age of 18).

If we take a closer look at the next goal of the SDG we will specially see that an improvement can be made: For 2030, sharply increase the number of young people and adults that have the skills necessary, in particular technical and professional, to access jobs, decent work and entrepreneurship.

One of the truths that is shown in Europe is the wide range of national situations, specially when referring to secondary education.

Generally, there is a 24% of Europeans that only have a basic level of secondary education.  Amongst the young people from ages 20 to 24, the 82% of them have finished their secondary education.

A figure that reflects this diversity is the unequal distribution of the 11% of young people ages 18 to 24 that are not currently studying and only have a basic level of secondary education.  In Croatia they represent a 2.5% of the population while in Spain they represent a 22.5%.

This group is present in every reality but in a very uneven way. The situation in Greece, Italy, Spain or Ireland is not the same as in Slovenia or the Baltic Countries.

This group of young people is entering a world of social exclusion. In some cases they come from environments that have been specially affected by the crisis but also by the inherited structural conditions that existed before it.  They are young people that have recently emancipated themselves and other youngsters that live in socially excluded households. But the group of young people that contains the highest level of vulnerability is the one that combines the decoupling of the educational area and the exclusion from the labour market. In other words, the ones that contain young people without an occupation and out of the educational system. In some places they are called NEET (young person Not in Education, Employment or Training). Even though the term on itself does not imply a specific lack of motivation of the young people, it should be noted that it has a stigmatizing and blame-placing potential to those who only are one of the main victims of the employment crisis.

These are the situations that we have to address as other institutions are doing, including some of the Society of Jesus. They try to offer a secondary education and a quality professional training for young people that are out of the formal educational system and the labour system. The Écoles de Production of AFEP in France or the Nazaret Centre in Spain are examples of this response.

We have to advocate to support and promote initiatives that seek to provide everyone, without exceptions, with a quality secondary education that allows them to be socially integrated in the same conditions as other youngsters.

This editorial has been written by Ricardo Angulo Olozaga, Sociey of Jesus schools coordinator in the Province of Spain and member of the Core Group del GIAN for the Right to Education of Quality for All.

The challenge of the right to education: we are co-responsible

The challenge of the right to education: we are co-responsible

  • Posted: Dec 11, 2015 -
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Just a few weeks ago, the United Nations General Assembly took place, and the new Sustainable Development Agenda was approved. Seventeen major global goals were agreed upon to address the universal challenges we face today such as extreme poverty, the growing inequality of opportunities, and climate change. It is a global agreement for the next fifteen years that demands that every State around the world take certain concrete steps towards the commitment of human rights, peaceful coexistence and environmental sustainability.

According to Goal Number 4 of this important international “agreement”, by the time we reach 2030, every person around the world should enjoy quality education and life-long learning opportunities.

Since 1948, lifelong education for every person has been recognized as a Fundamental Human Right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not an insignificant right, given the fact that it is one that enhances the access to the rest of the human rights and it also enables the practice of fundamental freedoms.  And yet, reality shows us that this right is systematically violated in every corner of the world.

It is hard to believe that in the twenty first century there are still almost 800 million youth and adults who cannot read nor write while at the same time the other part of the world population can access the largest library through an internet connection and just one simple click.

How can we allow the number of children out of school to continue to increase? Currently, 124 million children and youth are still without access to education – 2 million more than in 2011.

This has dramatic consequences because by neglecting the right to education for millions we are condemning them to remain in situations of poverty and exclusion or to resort to violence when faced with conflict. Moreover, their opportunities to find meaningful work diminish. Ultimately, every child, every youth who does not have the chance to access school cannot fully develop him or herself as a person.

Almost 50,000 people, Jesuits and collaborators from around the world work every day so that the right to education becomes a reality for every person and in every society without discrimination of any kind due to race, social class, language, culture, religion or sex. We strive for an education that builds people committed with the transformation of their communities, countries and the world,  with creativity, skills and values.

How do we do it? In the first place, by directly serving more than 3 million children, youth, and adults in 112 countries. More than half of those 3 million belong to the most vulnerable groups, to the most impoverished, to those who live on the margins of society. But we are not content by proclaiming the right to education and providing direct educational services, although these activities are much needed.

Education is a public common good that generates duties for the State, civil society, the private sector, for everyone, including us. Thinking of education as a public good means acknowledging that education benefits all of society.  Education is a matter that concerns all of us. In the first place, it concerns the States, who have the duty to provide financing, drive legislative changes and guarantee the fair distribution of resources, but it also concerns business people, religious bodies, NGOs, unions…we are all co-responsible.

A world where there is no illiteracy and where everyone receives access to quality education will not become a reality if we do not make political and cultural changes. That is why the Society of Jesus wants to go further. We work to defend quality public education for everyone, not only for those that we serve in our institutions. We want to follow through with our responsibility and actively participate in the processes of definition, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the national and international public policies on education.

Quality education is a right for all, not just for a few and we cannot act as if we are not aware of this fact. It is a matter of justice and of dignity. Proclaiming it, defending it, contributing to make it a reality from where we stand, from where each one of us are, it is an act of citizenship, it means committing to the future of the generations to come, it means building opportunities and offering hope for everyone.

Education and health: inseparable companion

Education and health: inseparable companion

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2015 -
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Sometimes, answering a question with another question is not really enlightening; however, on this occasion it is convenient to do so and no special skills are required to answer the following ones: can children or young people see their right to education recognized if they are not healthy? Is good health influenced by education? The answer is that it is difficult to access a minimum level of health without a minimum knowledge about what we understand by health and how we should practice it. In addition, a sick person has little access to education.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly and forcefully stated the close relationship between education and health. His claims are accompanied by multiple indicators and have served to reinforce the arguments of other agencies of the United Nations:

  • Education is a basic tool to break the fateful cycle of disease, poverty, inequality and exclusion.
  • Health problems can undermine investment in education as some diseases keep boys and girls away from school. In other cases, they have to stop their education prematurely to take care of sick relatives.
  • Some tropical parasitic diseases reduce nutrient absorption, affecting the development of mental functions, and compromising educational outcomes.
  • Education and health are mutually reinforced so that people can fully develop their human potential.
  • The education of mothers is key to child survival.

Furthermore, education is one of the main health determinants, i.e., socioeconomic, cultural and environmental conditions in which people are born, grow up and live. Those conditions include education, both formal and informal, since it is a necessary condition for reaching a certain level of physical, individual and collective well-being and, therefore, sustainable human development, in this case, specified in the Sustainable Development Objective (SDO) No. 3 (ensure a healthy lifestyle…) and No. 4 (ensure an inclusive education…).

Indeed, SDO 4 aims to ensure an inclusive, equitable, and quality education and to promote learning opportunities for all persons throughout life. It is therefore necessary to consider the SDO 3, whose aim is to ensure a healthy lifestyle and promote wellness for all people throughout their lives. I would definitely link this SDO with Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which proclaims that people should reach “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health”.

Education and health are inseparable companions, as well as the implementation of the right to education and the right to health, without misleading priorities among human rights. Nowadays, there are no longer first generation or second generation human rights and they, (whether civil, political, economic, social or cultural) must be respected, protected and guaranteed by the States.

Reality, however, presents cases in which we insist on establishing certain “competition” in the recognition of human rights. That’s a big mistake that leads to very negative consequences, especially for the most vulnerable people since usually they do not know they also have rights they don’t know about either. Thus an evil circle is established, and education can and must break it in order to educate and inform about human rights, which are the cornerstone of human society, because not only education and health are inseparable, but also the access to food, water and sanitation or the access to decent housing, for example, are.

Opinion article by Mª Teresa de Febrer, member of the Spanish NGO Prosalus, working since 1985 to promote health care in several countries of Africa and Latin America.

The Girl Child Education in India

The Girl Child Education in India

  • Posted: Oct 09, 2015 -
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In India girls have also been treated differently from boys.  Boys have always been the preferred child. The girl’s deprivation begins from birth and continues thorough out her life.  Female foeticide or ‘murder in the womb’ still continues.  This has resulted in the declining sex ratio.  In the State of Haryana in the North of India it is 879 females to 1000 males.

Girls are always treated as second class citizens.  They are deprived of many privileges which their brothers can enjoy and take for granted.  For instance, when it comes to education, it is the boys in the family who would be sent to school and the girls would be required to look after the siblings, to look after the cattle and do domestic work.  The girls were seldom sent to school.  And if they are sent to school, they would go only up the primary level and then pulled out for domestic work and the next thing is early marriage.  Till today this trend continues in the rural areas.

It is a truism that when a girl is educated a whole family is educated.  The government too has come up with a campaign called, ‘Save the girl child, teach the girl child’.  It is true that girl child education has come a long way since India gained her Independence in 1947.  At that time the national female literacy rate was a mere 8.9 percent.  The gross enrolment ratio for girls was 24.8 percent at the primary level and a negligible 4.6 percent at the upper primary level.  According to the 2011 decennial census, there is wide gender disparity in the literacy rate in India: effective literacy rates (age 7 and above) in 2011 were 82.14 per cent for males and 65.46 per cent for females.

That means that 35 percent of females in India are still illiterate despite 68 years of Independence.  It is girls, and marginalized groups such as the very poor and the disabled, who are often left behind. While girls attend primary school in roughly equal numbers to boys, the gap widens as they get older and more are forced to drop out to help with work at home or get married.

Of the out-of-school children in 2008, 62% were girls; they make up two-thirds of illiterate 15- to 24-year-olds. And two-thirds of that not in school was from those lowest in the caste system, tribal groups and Muslim communities, despite those historically oppressed groups making up only 43% of India’s children.

Students begin their classes with oral recitation at Savad Z.P. School in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra, India.

Students begin their classes with oral recitation at Savad Z.P. School in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra, India.

We have another category of children of construction workers.  Millions of people are employed in the construction sector and there are thousands of children born at construction sites and therefore have no birth certificates and therefore not on the records of the government.  These children are seldom sent to school as the parents migrate from place to place in search of work.  An overwhelming majority of these children do not get proper education.  They will end up as maids, child laborers and construction workers themselves.  Among them, the worst sufferers are the girls.  We have now the Right to Education (2009), most of these children would be unaware that such a right to compulsory education exists.  Only a small percentage complete high school and even a smaller number enroll for university education.

The government has been doing its best to bring girls within mainstream education.  The private sector has been largely successful.  In this the Christian missionary schools have played a significant role.  In fact, most congregations have made girl child education their priority.  In the REAP programme (Mumbai) for instance girls now out-number the boys in the classes.  A separate boarding has been started in one of the remote villages to encourage tribal girls to complete high school.  Most Jesuit and religious, especially sister congregations run boarding’s for underprivileged and tribal (indigenous people) children.  This has given a great boost to girl’s education.  For one thing, it helps them to pursue their education with economic factors at home affecting them and most importantly they are in a secure environment.  Besides in the boarding they are given an all round grooming and sometimes they do better than the boys in studies and overall progress.  Thanks to this programme, underprivileged girls from slums, villages and now studying and can dream of a better future.  We hope we can make this slogan, ‘Save the Girl Child, Teach the Girl Child’ a reality and ensure they are treated as equals with dignity and self-respect.

This entry has been written by Trevor Miranda SJ Chaplain of the Shrine of Infant Jesus and former core group GIAN member.

 

The new international development agenda: rights and duties for everyone

The new international development agenda: rights and duties for everyone

  • Posted: Sep 29, 2015 -
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The new international development commitments to build the future of the planet from now to 2030 have been finally approved by 193 heads of state and 17 Sustainable Development Goals have born. This new agenda pursues to overcome the Millennium Development Goals and compromises all States of the world for the first time, no matter its development levels; it is not a North-South relationship anymore and it is not a about a set of certain goals that wealthy countries must promote in less developed countries but these global challenges involving everyone, including the private sector and civil society along with States, but, above all, it starts and counts with people, people in every part of the world and with no discrimination neither for gender nor due to social-economic reasons.

According to these big 17 Goals, in 2030 every person would have access to a decent productive job, quality health services, to complete primary and secondary education program with quality and gratuity. Women and men would access to drinking water, sanitation, modern energy means, internet, public green areas, justice, birth certificate, legal identity and full participation in public decision making processes. By 2030 extreme poverty, child labour, hunger and gender disparities would be eradicated and the world would see the end of preventable diseases deaths of new born children and the end of diseases like malaria, aids and tuberculosis.

This is an ambitious and urgent agenda with goals that will not be fulfilled without a severe change of laws and national and international public policies in the fields of economy, natural resources management or democratic governance among others that implies more than words or good wishes from the policy makers and political leaders. Moreover, governments, the business sector and homes must change our habits and behavior, adopting sustainable consumer standards and education in a responsible way the future generations.

Goal 4 makes a straight reference to education compromising the whole international community to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The Goal gathers the work made by States, multilateral organizations and the educative community met in Korea last may in the World Education Forum, where the Final Declaration set the international commitments that should be made for the next fifteen years.

Assuring long-life education opportunities for everyone and promoting their potential as individuals to carry on a full and productive life with no discrimination for race, religion or social economic reasons is the first and most important responsibility of any society but it is also a fundamental human right and a catalyzer for the rest of the Goals of this ambitious agenda. It is the national States duty to guarantee a quality, inclusive, equitable educative system assuring opportunities for everyone. Besides this changes in global educative policies, it is mandatory to make some structural changes in the laws and public policies to fulfill this and the other 16 Sustainable Development Goals dealing with economy, natural resources management and democratic governance, among others.

In the economic field, one of the main priorities must be to avoid new financial crisis through the establishment of a strong regulatory framework that discourages speculation and enhances a fair management load of external debt. It becomes essential to set a real commitment to allocate the 0,7% of the GNP of the most advantaged countries to development cooperation, a fair body tax system, efficient and progressive that will enable the right public policy financing to guarantee the rights of everyone, decrease inequality and finance the sustainable development that fights against tax evasion, tax secrecy or the existence of tax havens along with a decided fight of the States against corruption. Trade agreements must be fair and transparent and producer countries must be protected that enter the market in a disadvantaged position in the international trade markets.

Along with these public policies destined to fight against inequality, poverty and environmental degradation must be supervised by democratic institutions national and internationally with accountability mechanisms for each one of the goals but also by the civil society and a world active population concerned by its surroundings.

It becomes indispensable to rethink and remake the contract that the human being has stablished with the environment and his/her relationship with it through consumer habits and resources exploitation and this will only be changed if we examine the type of development we pursue and therefore the education we must pass on to future generations from now to 2030.

The 17 Goals set the roadmap that the international community must face in order to deal with the great problems of the planet in the net fifteen years. Education plays a very important role in this shared agenda since it acts as a backbone to the rest of the Development Goals the agenda compromises us. Education promotes food safety and improves nutrition, it contributes to the effective eradication of gender disparities and it encourages peace culture and the non-violent resolution of conflicts, among others.

At last, Secretary- General of the United Nations Ban Ki- Moon declared “education is a fundamental right and the base for progress of any country. […] The challenges of poverty eradication, the climate change fight and the achievement of a truthful sustainable development in the next decades blend us to act together. In collaboration, leadership and some right investments in education we can transform the lives of people, the economy of the countries and our world in general”

 

 

3 contradictions of the education in conflict situations

3 contradictions of the education in conflict situations

  • Posted: Aug 05, 2015 -
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This post has been written by Valeria Méndez de Vigo, (@vmendezdevigo) from the Advocacy Dpt of Entreculturas, Spanish education NGO.

“Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”                                                                                                          Article 26.2 of the Declaration of Human Rights.

This post is about the three contradiction that, in my opinion, faces education in conflict. The first contradiction is that, despite the recognition of education as a fundamental right for achieving social justice and peace, as beautifully expresses the Declaration of Human Rights, more and more attacks, more violence, more virulent, against educational institutions, against students and against teachers. Last February, 89 children were abducted from a school in South Sudan and last year, more than 200 students were murdered at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan. It is also a year now from the abduction of 200 girls and young people at a school in Nigeria by Boko Haram, but we have just heard from again them. Also in Syria, Gaza, Afghanistan, and Iraq, to ​​mention just a few examples, violence against education occurs almost daily basis. In fact, on Saturday they killed nine people-five of them children- by a bombing in Aleppo, without having just come out in the media.
In fact,  the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack highlights, in recent years, there have been more than 10,000 attacks on education. They are deliberate, against soft targets. And, among other reasons, many of these attacks are motivated by the role of education as a catalyst for social change. Therefore, in addition to attacks against specific individuals or institutions, they are also against the right to education, freedom, stability, equality or democracy or against any hint of individual and collective transformation. Then perhaps, more than a contradiction, attacks on education are a consequence of its transforming individual and collective potential.


Furthermore, as UNESCO says in its monitoring report on Education for All (EFA), over a third (36%) of children and youth out of school live in countries affected by conflict. Clearly, armed conflict and violence against students and teachers have devastating short and long term impacts.
In the short term, because, besides the terrible cost in human lives, cause fear, insecurity, student or teacher absenteeism, disruption of classes or loss or destruction of equipment and infrastructure. In the long run, because they damage the educational system of a country as a whole and because almost entire generations are at risk of not accessing quality education.

The third contradiction is that when a terrible event happens to those mentioned, immediately speak rightly of the need to combat violence and terrorism. Some voices point out the dangerous breeding ground for violence involving poverty, unemployment, resentment and lack of alternatives for employment. However, the answer is not usually investment in education- an education that promotes a culture of peace, values ​​and coexistence- but rather conflict countries often devote much of their budgets to security and armament. The decline also arms spending budgets that donor countries could devote to education in countries in conflict. In fact, UNESCO denounces as four and a half days of military spending by donor countries cover the annual deficit of external financing of EFA Goals, estimated at 22,000 million dollars.
What can you do in conflict situations to confront the contradictions in education?
As UNESCO points out, it is essential to protect the right to education of children in case of conflict and schools as safe spaces, giving them the same protection as the Geneva Convention provides hospitals. We must also strengthen systems for monitoring and reporting on human rights violations affecting education and impose appropriate sentences on the culprits. States should endorse the principles called Lucens, to prevent the use of schools in areas of conflict and ensure the protection of educational infrastructure.
We must recognize the fundamental role of education in conflict-related and allocate at least 4% of humanitarian emergency aid to basic education. Furthermore, in subsequent phases, support for education must be predictable and long term to build quality education systems, it is necessary to invest in education that allows rebuild damaged by the conflict educational systems. It is also necessary to recognize the role of education in building peace, creating inclusive education systems, in which values ​​of tolerance, mutual respect and the ability to live peacefully.

 

A human right denied to many… we work towards it

A human right denied to many… we work towards it

  • Posted: Jul 10, 2015 -
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This post has been written by Maritza Barrios, from Fe y Alegría Venezuela.

Quality education is a human right which is not fully enjoyed by the entire world. According to the most recent statistical analysis from UNESCO using the reports from the corresponding countries in 2012 (UIS), there are still 121 million children and adolescents in the world who should be in primary education the first three years of secondary school but who are not enrolled.

The global net rate of primary schooling is 91%. This trend reveals that the progress made towards universal primary education for children between 6 and 11 years old has regressed and that the Millennium Goal, set to be reached by 2015, has failed. It also reveals a critical breach in the attention given to the adolescent population between 12 and 15 years old.

While access to education has improved on a global scale, it has provoked little advances in the reduction of the school abandonment rate before entering the final year of primary school teaching, which has stayed at the same level since 2000; 23% of children out of school have attended but gone on to abandon it. (UNESCO: 2014)

Poverty, gender and place of residence are all dominant factors linked to the existing discrepancies in school attendance. Children of primary school age in the poorest 20% of homes in the world are three times more likely to miss out on education than children in the richest 20% of homes. In the poorest homes, young girls have a higher probability of being excluded from education than young boys. Children in rural zones are twice as likely as children from urban zones to not attend school. Furthermore, children in disadvantaged situations, like those with disabilities, also are at risk of lack of schooling. In many developing countries, special education services are deficient or don’t exist at all, which either stops children with disabilities from being educated altogether or makes their advance through school incredibly slow. (Naciones Unidas: 2014).

Reading evaluations and other basic knowledge tests show the existence of large inequalities in the quality of learning. In the  Informe de Seguimiento de la EPT en el mundo 2013/2014 it is estimated that out of 650 million children at primary school age, a minimum of 250 million are not learning basic maths and literacy skills. The study concludes that for all children to be educated properly, quality teachers are urgently needed.

Today, as a consequence of the deficit of quality education, it is estimated that there are 751 million illiterate young people and adults, more than 60% of those being women. (UIS: 2015). Only 86% of the world’s population above 15 is literate.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the UNESCO database shows that 6.6 million children and adolescents are registered as not in school. This figure doesn’t include those children at preschool age nor those youths who can’t attend the final two or three years of secondary school… the number would surely double if these were also included.

LLEGAR JUNTOS:  El derecho a una educación de calidad para todos y todas

LLEGAR JUNTOS: El derecho a una educación de calidad para todos y todas

  • Posted: Jun 12, 2015 -
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Por Jorge Cela SJ, Presidente de la Conferencia de Provinciales de América Latina –CPAL.

El P. José María Vélaz, SJ. Fundador de Fe y Alegría solía decir que la justicia social comienza por la justicia educativa. En el mundo actual, que algunos definen como “la sociedad del conocimiento”, esto es más cierto que nunca. Los años, y sobre todo la calidad, de la educación recibida representan una ventaja inigualable para alcanzar “la vida buena”.

Para los jesuitas, responsables de la educación de millones de personas repartidas por toda la superficie terrestre, esto es parte fundamental de su misión de servicio de la fe y promoción de la justicia en diálogo con las culturas y religiones del mundo.

Pero necesitamos preguntarnos cuál es nuestro objetivo. ¿Queremos tener la mejor escuela, o la mejor educación para todos y todas? ¿Queremos ser los mejores educadores o mejorar la educación de todos y todas?

En el pasado teníamos dos respuestas que nos dejaban tranquilos. La educación era un bien limitado. No todos tenían acceso a ella. Al menos no hasta los niveles superiores. El acceso a los puestos de dirección estaba muy limitado a los pocos que podían acceder a la Educación Superior. Garantizar que un buen grupo de ellos tuvieran una buena educación centrada en valores cristianos, tenía un impacto decisivo en el curso de la historia. Si esto alguna vez fue verdad, ahora ya no lo es. El número de los que acceden a la educación superior es hoy tan masivo que disminuye el impacto de nuestra acción limitada en nuestros centros educativos. Pero además, el impacto de la educación formal se ve cada vez más disminuido por otras formas de organizar el poder como los medios de comunicación o los sistemas económicos. Y si es verdad que el dominio de estos nuevos medios depende en gran medida de habilidades aprendidas, no siempre estas dependen de la educación formal.

La segunda respuesta era que crear centros educativos “modelo” incentivábamos a la mejora de la calidad de toda la educación. Pero la entrada del mercado en la oferta educativa ha distorsionado las formas de medir la calidad educativa.

Fascinados por los números, por la evidencia “objetiva”, por la competitividad desatada por un mercado cada vez más agresivo, nos hemos dejado llevar por sistemas de medición de la calidad educativa muy cuestionables. La medición por la capacidad de trasmitir conocimientos, y la competencia por resultados nos ha llevado a descuidar una función básica de la educación, que no sólo busca trasmitir conocimientos útiles, sino, sobre todo, formar personas para una convivencia pacífica y creativa, basada en valores fundamentales.

La educación no sólo busca formar máquinas productivas, sino ciudadanos y ciudadanas que aporten a la construcción de la vida buena para todos. La Competitividad no es el único valor de la vida humana en sociedad. Aunque quizá en los términos del mercado puede llevar la primacía, cuando miramos al conjunto de la vida social nos interesan también otros valores como la solidaridad, la compasión o la sostenibilidad ecológica.

La competitividad académica nos ha llevado a la terrible distorsión de descartar del sistema educativo a quienes presentan dificultades de aprendizaje o no tienen la capacidad de pagar una educación de calidad. Descartamos y convertimos en disfuncionales a ciudadanos y ciudadanas a los que no les concedemos el derecho a una educación de igual cantidad y calidad. Nos engañamos al pensar que llegamos a la calidad educativa por la selección de los alumnos, descartando a los que representan mayor dificultad para el aprendizaje. Sembramos así desde la injusticia educativa la injusticia social.

Pero, peor aún, al hacerlo enseñamos a los privilegiados a competir sin el más mínimo destello de solidaridad, eliminando del campo a los que por una razón u otra no “dan la talla”. Con ellos no queda más que la lástima, ese sentimiento de quien se siente superior y mira por encima del hombro al otro a quien no le concede un derecho en igualdad, sino una ayuda que marca con más fuerza la superioridad de uno sobre el otro. Hacemos escuelas de élite, que tienen derecho exclusivo a una educación de calidad, cuando los más necesitados de ésta son los que, por diversas circunstancias, tienen más dificultad para ésta por sus contextos económicos, afectivos o culturales.

Tenemos que preguntarnos que mide para nosotros la calidad: ¿la acumulación de conocimientos o la calidad de vida humana?, ¿la capacidad para competir o el desarrollo de competencias para una vida solidaria?, ¿la creación de élites sobre-cualificadas o la distribución equitativa de la educación de calidad?

Estas preguntas nos cuestionan en qué frentes educativos debemos estar hoy para contribuir a garantizar lo que es un DERECHO: la educación de calidad para todas las personas.

Free basic education and its accessibility, a challenge for the African continent

Free basic education and its accessibility, a challenge for the African continent

  • Posted: Jun 01, 2015 -
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This entry has been written by Augustin Kalubi SJ, Jesuit education delegate in Central Africa.

Free basic education which is stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the 26th article as a chance of schooling for everyone became a dangerous good in a continent that lacks appropriate  structures to participate in the international competitiveness.

In most of the African educative system there are two kinds of schools. Private schools where both infraestructures and salaries of the teachers are exclusive responsability of the parents of the students. Governments control the quality of the education and consent academic diplomas but they do not give any subsidies. Free basic education becomes a fairy tale.

editorial3

In public schools, teacher salaries and its functionality are partially provided by governments. We say “partially provided” because the salaries paid by governments are neither decent nor fair and it needs parents intervention to accomodate the low teacher salaries. There are many public schools that don’t benefit from government salaries in a lot of African countries. Everything works as in private schools. In both cases, parents pay for their children basic education.

This policy of parents intervention in teachers salaries gives justice to teachers offering them acceptable retributions, and therefore giving them motivation to teach quality education. But it also shows the misfortunate exclusion of the families living in poverty from the education system and it impoverishes even more those who are incapable of schooling their children. In large families, there are, above all, girls who don’t attend to school. If we say that basic education starts in families, there is a gap to question about the quality of the education that illiterate girls and women will give to their children to come. In Africa we say that one chicken that has not been warmed when it was an egg it would never develop the impulse to warm its own eggs. This means that with illiterate girls, countries perpetuate illiterate generations for the whole continent.

The economic means of the families in school management become an accesibility rule for schooling. This shifting of rule for schooling threatens the philosophy behind the 26th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the constitutive bill of UNESCO, the Right of the children Convention and the World Declaration of Education For All.

Free basic education that would restore children their chance of schooling, however, stirs the pain of a wound whose seriousness departs every interest in teaching and learning. The declaration of free education mainly pushes teachers to work without remuneration and impoverishes the short motivation that encourages the chance of a certain quality education. Official statements are set out simply to please their Western sponsors , destroy the educational environment by establishing corruption as a survival mode of teaching staff there.This free education Declaration regrettably affects the quality of education and access to basic education , and it introduces corruption in the education sector in many African countries. The future of many African countries is compromised because of this crime against children’s education.

Education Goal 2025

Education Goal 2025

  • Posted: Apr 29, 2015 -
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This editorial is adapted from the article that Trevor Miranda, SJ, Core group representative for India and Nepal  in the GIAN for the Right to Education that published in the cover Feature for ‘Jivan News and Views or Jesuits in India’, January 2015 edition.

 
In the year 2000 global development goals were set for the next 15 years in two international gatherings: the World Education Forum celebrated in Dakar, during which the goal of a quality, free, ‘Education for all’ regardless of gender or background was developed, whilst at the United Nations Millennium Summit the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ goals were subscribed to by the international community, with a quarter of the goals being specifically focussed towards education, specifically a complete primary school education for all children and elimination of gender discrimination in education.

In 2015, the objectives of the goals developed in 2000 were supposed to have been achieved. However the data shows that the world is far away from meeting these targets:

“Only 87 out of 100 children in developing regions complete primary education” (UNDP, 2011).

In our own country (India) millions of children are still out of school, in child labour and deprived of a quality education.

“87% of female youth had basic literacy skills, compared to 92% of males” (UIS Education Database, 2011).

Equal access to education for girls in the early years remains a dream.

Knowing that the Millennium Development Goals and the target of Education for All will not be achieved in 2015, we must ask ourselves ‘What now?’. Shall we just be mute spectators and let others come up with some ideas?

I believe that now it is expedient that Jesuits come up with their own Jesuit Education Goals (SJEG) for the next 10 years and work towards publicising them and achieving them. We need to make a commitment to promote and defend quality education for everyone. We understand that in order to make this a reality in today’s society it is necessary to develop effective advocacy strategies to promote quality public education policies, while also practising these in our own centres and institutions. Our educational communities ought to understand themselves as a small part of the entire global education system.
With our large network of educational institutions across the country, Jesuits can spearhead this movement for a Quality Education for All across India to ensure that these goals are met within the next 10 years. We could network with all Church based institutions to make a deeper impact upon education in our country. The SJEG are based on the fundamental premise that education is central to the promotion of human rights, social equality, democracy and economic growth.

 
There are several simple strategies which have been tried successfully by other organisations, for example: Every Child Counts (ECC), launched initially by Doorstep School in Pune, is a campaign which inspired him with its simplicity and capacity to create change at a low cost. It involves essentially taking the time to find, encourage and inspire children to enrol, utilising the right of every child of 6 years (whether included in the census or not) to receive an education. The method of action is a detailed Survey of parishes and schools to identify children of 6-8 years, Enrolment of the children in the nearest municipal school, and then Follow-up with both the children and the school to ensure regular attendance, with organisation of out of school activities continuing during holidays to instil the importance of continuous education to both students and parents. There are challenges involved of course, there are difficulties involved in making the campaign systematic and consistent, locating out of school children, ensuring availability of places in municipal schools, providing transport etc… however there are ways to overcome this; through the successful implementation of ideas such as this, and through the avocation of the rights of children to a quality education to policy makers.

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