I have in my hands a book that is a real gem. It is called “Small is beautiful” and its author does not need any presentation: Ernst Friedrich Schumacher (1911-1977). Knowing his record, I was sure that in that book I would find pages dedicated to education. Not in vain, “Small is beautiful” is one of the 100 most influential books published after the Second World War.
I have copied the title of this post from Schumacher. In fact, the economist and intellectual includes an entire chapter on education and he called it: “The most important resource: education”. From this chapter I have taken several sentences: “Education is, or should be, the key to everything”.“If the nuclear era carries new dangers, if the advance of genetic engineering opens the door to new abuses, if consumerism brings new temptations, the answer must be more and better education”.
“The first task of education is the transmission of the criteria for added value about what to do with our lives”. “The desire for education is the desire for something that will take us out of this dark forest that is ignorance and into the light of understanding”. “The problems of education are just a reflection of the deeper problems of our time”.
E.F. Schumacher published “Small is beautiful” in 1973. Over 40 years have passed and we find ourselves immerse in the XXI century. However, it is not an overstatement to say that nowadays, we can take the German economist ideas and complete them with the approach of education as a human right, recognised by the United Nations and expressed in many international human rights treaties. We find its longest formulation in article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in which the States claim that education must be directed to the full development of the human personality and the full recognition of its dignity, strengthening the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Many authors today place special emphasis on the transformative power of education, in the necessity of education for people to achieve full development, to encourage respect, cooperation, a critical approach accompanied by alternative proposals based on justice and solidarity. A transformative education that places personal and social compromise over indifference. An indifference that erases any hint of responsibility towards the rest of the people.
Today, the most important resource needs the transformative power so that, in words of our teacher and educator Daniel Jover Torregrosa, “a civic ethos emerges based on human rights and exchanges quantity for quality”. There is no doubt that this is a challenging task.
Mª Teresa de Febrer
Awareness department of the PROSALUS NGO which mission is the respect, protection and assurance of the human right to food, health, water and sanitation.