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OTRA∃DUCACION - Texts in English

Poetic and Dreamlike Paper Cut Artworks - Fubiz

This is a bilingual blog. Most texts are published in Spanish. Here is a compilation of texts written in English (alphabetical order).

10 false ideas on education in Finland


12 Theses on Educational Change

1990-2015: Education for All Educación para Todos (compilation)

1990-2030: Global education goals

25 Years of Education for All

About 'good practice' in international co-operation in education

Adult Literacy in Latin America and the Caribbean: Plans and Goals 1980-2015

Basic learning needs: Different frameworks

Beautiful letters

Child learning and adult learning revisited

Children of the Basarwa (Botswana)

Children's right to basic education

Children's rights: A community learning experience in Senegal

Cuba and Finland

Ecuador's literacy fiasco

Education First

Ecuador: Good Bye to Community and Alternative Education

Education for adaptation?

Education for All 2000-2015 - How did Latin America and the Caribbean do? 

Education in the Information Society

Escuela Nueva: An innovation within formal education (Colombia)


Finland Study Visit

Finland's education compared

Formal, non-formal and informal learning

From literacy to lifelong learning: Trends, Issues and Challenges of Youth and Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribbean

From school community to learning community

Goal 4: Education - Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG: Translation issues

Girls' education: Lessons from BRAC (Bangladesh)

Giving up to a literate world?

GLEACE: Letter to UNESCO on the Literacy Decade (2003-2012)

Kazi, the Graceless

Knowledge-based international aid: Do we want it? Do we need it?

Latin America over-satisfied with public education

Latin America: Six decades of education goals

Lifelong Learning: moving beyond Education for All

Lifelong Learning for the North, Primary Education for the South?

Lifelong Learning in the South: Critical Issues and Opportunities for Adult Education, Sida Studies 11, Stockholm, 2004

Literacy and Lifelong Learning: The linkages

Literacy for All: A renewed vision

Literacy for All: A United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012): Base Document for the Literacy Decade (2000)

Military spending in education

Now comes PISA for 'developing countries'

On education in Finland
On innovation and change in education

On Learning Anytime, Anywhere (WISE 2011)

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen

One Decade of 'Education for All': The Challenge Ahead (IIEP-UNESCO Buenos Aires, 2000, PDF) 

Open letter to school children 

OTRA∃DUCACION: Lo más visitado ▸ Most visited

Public gym stations in Beijing and Quito

Reaching the Unreached: Non-Formal Approaches and Universal Primary Education

"Rethinking education" and adult education

Six 'Education for All' Goals

South Africa 1993: A moment with Mandela

Stop PISA!

The 4 As as criteria to identify 'good practices' in education 

The green, the blue, the red and the pink schools

There is no "education for the 21st century"

The million Paulo Freires

The oldest and the youngest

The virtuous C (Keys for a renewed learning culture)

The World Economic Forum and education quality

Transforming formal education from a lifelong learning perspective

We are Latin America

What did the MDGs achieve?

What Happened at the World Education Forum in Dakar (2000)?

What is 'basic education'?

What is youth and adult education - today?

WISE Prize for Education Laureates: Bottom-up Innovators

On Learning Anytime, Anywhere

Jaume Piensa

Rosa María Torres
"Learning Anytime, Anywhere"
session held at the World Summit on Innovation in Education (WISE 2011)
Doha, Qatar, 1-3 Nov. 2011

The format adopted for the debates required no presentations by the speakers but individual questions posed by the Chair of the session and questions coming from the audience and through Twitter. This format favors flexibility and dynamism, but it also limits a more contextualized and holistic understanding of the speakers' viewpoints and backgrounds.

The text below is a reconstruction of my intervention.

Four people participated in this #WISED34 debate:

▸ Graham Brown-Martin, Chair (Learning Without Frontiers, UK) @GrahamBM
▸ François Taddei (Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity at Paris Descartes University, France) @FrancoisTaddei
▸ Rosa-María Torres del Castillo (Fronesis, Ecuador) @rosamariatorres
▸ Ruth Wallace (Centre for Social Partnerships in Lifelong Learning, Charles Darwin University, Northern Territory, Australia) @RuthwallaceNT

What is Lifelong Learning (LLL)

Most people continue to associate LLL with adult education or to use it as equivalent to lifelong education or continuing education. The term, however, is selfdescriptive and should provide no room for confusion: Lifelong Learning means learning throughout life, "from cradle to grave." This is a fact of life in the first place: learning is a continuum, lifelong and lifewide. Adopting LLL as a principle for policy formulation implies introducing major changes to the conventional education and training paradigms.

Awareness on LLL challenges the school-centered mentality. It looks beyond the school system and acknowledges the other learning systems where we learn throughout life: home, community, media, play, work, arts, sports, social participation, the Internet and the virtual world, etc.

LLL also challenges the traditional focus on education and on teaching. Learning is the main concern, in and out of school. The main failure of the school system is precisely that there is lots of teaching but little learning taking place.

▸ Rosa María Torres, Lifelong Learning in the South: Critical Issues and Opportunities for Adult Education, Sida Studies 11, Sida, Stockholm, 2004.

What do international agencies understand as LLL? 

Most of the agencies that use this term continue to associate LLL with adults and adult education, rather than with a life-cycle perspective.

In OECD countries, and specifically in Europe, LLL emerged as an education and training strategy to ensure the necessary "human resources" for economic development.

Beyond definitions and glossaries, it is important to look at the content of policies and programmes labelled LLL. In the case of the European Commission, for example, in spite of the rhetoric on informal learning, four out of the five benchmarks established in the LLL Programme 2000-2010 (see below) were related to formal education, from early childhood to higher education. "The decreasing levels of low-achieving 15-year olds in reading and falling levels of adult participation in learning are among the largest concerns."

The goals were not met, as acknowledged by the
evaluation released in Sep. 2011. Not only "developing" countries (the global South) but also "developed" ones (the global North) have problems to accomplish agreed education and learning agendas.

European Union: Lifelong Learning benchmarks for 2010

1. EU average rate of early school leavers to be no more than 10%;
2. Total number of graduates in mathematics, science and technology in the EU to increase by at least 15% (achieved in 2004), with a decreased gender imbalance in these fields;
3. At least 85% of 22-year-olds to have completed upper secondary education;
4. Percentage of 15-year-olds who are low-achieving in reading to have decreased by at least 20% compared to the year 2000;
5. Average participation in lifelong learning to be at least 12.5% of the adult working age population (age group of 25–64 year).

European Commission: Interim Evaluation of the Lifelong Learning Programme (Sep.18, 2011)
European Report on the Future of Learning by Tony Bates (Nov. 11, 2011)

Poverty, creativity and innovation 

There is lots of talk about innovation, creativity and problem-solving as qualities and skills of the 21st century. Currently, innovation in education tends to be strongly associated with modern technologies -- as if there was no innovation before the emergence of ICTs! Visions of innovation are rather futuristic and sophisticated, requiring specialists, experts, etc.

However, the most creative and innovative people in the world are the poor. They are born problem-solvers. Otherwise, they would not be able to survive. Surprisingly, we do not see this mentioned. If we want to learn about innovation and creativity, we should get out there, observe and live with the poor for a while.

The challenge is how to make schools and other learning institutions places where the poor can enhance - rather than inhibit - their innovativeness, creativity and problem-solving skills and expand them to other domains beyond survival and daily life.

▸ Rosa María Torres, On Innovation and Education

Testing does not necessarily reflect learning

ests and testing are not necessarily the best ways to capture learning. Additionally, standardized tests deny diversity, assume the classical "one-size-fits-all" approach.

(Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, proposed by OECD and for OECD countries, do not match the realities, needs and aspirations of most young people in the South. Often, these and other tests tell us what our children and youth don´t know rather than what they know and are able to do.

"Developing countries" are very diverse and face very different realities than "developed countries", also heterogeneous. If PISA tests were prepared in non-OECD countries, reflecting our cultures and realities, how would 15-year-olds in OECD  countries do in such tests? Underprivileged children and youth develop strong survival skills - essential for life and increasingly important in today's world - that wealthy children and youth often do not need to develop, at least at an early age.

The "global banking education model"

Paulo Freire characterized the conventional school system as "banking education": learners who are considered to know nothing and teachers who think they know everything, and who deposit knowledge in their heads like checks in a bank.

That banking education model has now become global, among others thanks to the expansion of ICTs. Global teachers located in the North and eager learners located in the South, mere consumers of information and knowledge produced elsewhere and whose only knowledge credited is "local wisdom".

Since it decided to become a "Knowledge Bank", the World Bank acts as a global teacher offering ready-to-use knowledge and strategies for "development". All we have to do in the South is get trained and assimilate that information.

The global banking model is such because it reproduces the traditional teaching model at a global scale - the world as a global classroom is a usual metaphor - but also because it is incarnated by a bank and its international partners.

▸ Rosa María Torres, About "good practice" in international co-operation in education

Neuroscience and pro-age education and learning

Over the past years, neuroscience is contributing key new knowledge on topics we had only vague ideas of. A better understanding on how the brain works, at different ages and in different circumstances, shows the need to review many conventional stereotypes on education and learning.

Now we are confirming that all ages are good to learn, and that each age has its own cognitive possibilities and limitations.

Within a LLL framework, and based on ongoing results from neuroscience research, I am developing the concept of "pro-age education and learning": let us allow each person - children, young people, adults, the elderly - to learn according to their age, rather than fighting against their age.

Unfortunately, neuroscience research and results are not reaching the population at large, not even teacher education institutions, policy makers, journalists, etc. 

Rosa María Torres, Child learning and adult learning revisited 

The Basarwa in Botswana

I would like to tell you a story from Botswana. While working there with the Ministry of Education, back in the 1990s, I heard about an indigenous group called the Basarwa. They were well known because they rejected schooling. I got interested in understanding why. The explanation was simple: the Basarwa have seen or heard that schools punish children. In their culture, children's punishment does not exist. Adults relate to children through dialogue, not through fear. Parents love, take care and respect their children. Basarwa parents may be unschooled, but they are wise.

Rosa María Torres, Children of the Basarwa Niños Basarwa

Related texts
Rosa María Torres, Over two decades of 'Education for All' ▸ Más de dos décadas de 'Educación para Todos'

Children of the Basarwa ▸ Los niños Basarwa

Rosa María Torres

(abajo el texto en español)

In Botswana I learned of the existence of the Basarwa, a nomadic group living in the Kalahari desert and whom the government has been trying to persuade, without much success, to attend school.

Asked why they do not send their children to school, fathers and mothers have basically the same responses: in their culture, adults do not shout at children or hit them; when children do something wrong, adults talk to them. In school, they state, there is no dialogue; mistakes are paid for with punishment.

What do the Basarwa know of school? Some have actually been to school. Others have heard stories of reprimands and punishments, threats and teasing, humiliation and slaps on the hand and the head. The word has spread. Now, neither adults nor children want to go to school.

What kind of people are the Basarwa? What kind of adults and parents are these who neither shout at nor hit their children, who talk to them, respect them and treat them with sensitivity? What kind of children are these exceptional Basarwa children who grow up without fear of punishment, ill-treatment, and physical violence, without fear of telling the truth and admitting to error?

Nomadic, poor, unschooled, in a perpetual struggle for survival, the Basarwa teach us a lesson in ethics, humanity and hope. Their contempt for school, for the type of school they know or of which they have heard, is indeed a sign of mental health, an act of love and protection for their children.

From their hidden retreat in the Kalahari desert, Basarwa children coalesce the hopes of all the children of the world, regardless of race or culture, economic income or social status. Unknowingly, Basarwa parents give life to the utopia so often envisioned and reiterated, signed and ratified, of the right of children to be loved, respected and heard. Through their dignified illiteracy, the Basarwa remind us of the inevitability of a school meant to love and respect children.

* Published originally in: Education News, UNICEF Education Cluster, New York, 1994.

Los niños Basarwa

En Botswana supe de la existencia de los Basarwa, un grupo nómada que habita en el desierto del Kalahari y al que el gobierno viene tratando hace mucho de persuadir, sin éxito, de enviar a sus niños y niñas a la escuela.

Preguntados acerca del por qué se resisten a la escuela, padres y madres tienen básicamente la misma respuesta: en su cultura, los adultos no gritan ni pegan a los niños; cuando los niños se portan mal, las personas adultas hablan con ellos.  En la escuela - dicen - no hay diálogo; los errores se pagan con castigo.

¿Qué saben los Basarwa sobre el sistema escolar? Algunos de ellos han asistido efectivamente a la escuela. Otros han escuchado historias de reprimendas, amenazas y burlas, humillación y golpes en las manos o en la cabeza. Las historias han circulado. Hoy, ni adultos ni niños quieren saber nada de ir a la escuela.

¿Qué clase de personas son los Basarwa? ¿Qué clase de adultos y de padres de familia que no gritan ni pegan a sus hijos, que hablan con ellos, les respetan y les tratan con sensibilidad? ¿Qué clase de niños son estos excepcionales niños Basarwa que crecen sin miedo al castigo, sin maltrato, sin violencia física, sin miedo a decir la verdad y a admitir el error?

Nómadas, pobres, no-escolarizados, en perpetua lucha por la supervivencia, los Basarwa nos enseñan una lección de ética, de humanismo y de esperanza. Su desprecio por la escuela, esa escuela que conocen o de la cual han escuchado, es de hecho un signo de sanidad mental, un acto de amor y de protección hacia su prole.

Desde un lugar remoto en el desierto Kalahari, los niños Basarwa portan la bandera de todos los niños del mundo, independientemente de su raza, cultura, ingreso económico o estatus social. Sin saberlo, los padres y madres Basarwa dan vida a la utopía tanta veces imaginada y reiterada, tantas veces acordada y ratificada, de niños y niñas con derecho a ser queridos, respetados y escuchados. Desde su digno analfabetismo, los Basarwa nos recuerdan la inevitabilidad de una escuela hecha para amar y respetar a los niños.

* Texto en español publicado originalmente en: Página editorial El Comercio, Quito, 21/8/1994.

Some related texts / Textos relacionados en OTRAƎDUCACION
» Children's rights: A community learning experience in Senegal
» Open Letter to School Children
» Carta abierta para niños y niñas que van a la escuela
» Children's Right to Basic Education
» El derecho de niños y niñas a una educación básica
» Escuelas del mundo  |  Schools in the world
» Por qué los maestros están llamados a ser los primeros defensores de los derechos de los niños


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