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It all starts at school? It all starts at home


This graph of the 17 Global Sustainable Goals (SDGs) was circulated by the World Bank on Twitter with the following text:


"It all starts at school. Education is key to achieving SDG Goals. Who else agrees?".


I replied saying I disagree. When referring to education, it is not true that it all starts at school.

It all starts at home.

Despite its fundamental role, especially in early childhood, 'home education' or 'family education' is often ignored or sidelined.

The Lifelong Learning paradigm acknowledges that learning is a continuum that starts at birth. Early Childhood Care and Education officially cover from birth to entry into primary school (UNESCO-GEM Report Glossary 2020). Parents, grandparents and other caregivers play the most important role in this early stage of life. 

Studies and evaluations throughout the world consistently ratify that family conditions and backgrounds are a major factor in children's present and future life prospects. Parental education is a factor with tremendous impact on children's education and learning in school; it is responsible for over 50% of student achievement in various kinds of national and international standardized tests, including PISA.

Millions of children do not attend school or stay in school only for a short period of time. For them, the family and the community are their main education and learning environments.

School is not a starting point in terms of knowledge. When children arrive in school, they are not blank slates; they know a lot. Some of the fundamental and long-lasting learning experiences take place in early childhood. Without tutors, children become fluent speakers of their language. They know many things about the natural and the social world around them, and have learned to interact with them in many ways. Research shows that important values and attitudes are developed in these early years, prior to any school experience.

School age and school entry may be too late for many interventions. Child malnutrition is high in many counties among children between 2 and 5 years of age. Chronic malnutrition, if not dealt with on time, condemns children to physical, emotional and cognitive problems that may affect them for the rest of their lives.

Contrary to popular belief, reading and writing do not begin at school. Abundant research shows that home and the local community play a key role in stimulating the curiosity and the initial contacts with the written world. Differences between children who have rich cultural contexts at home and those who do not often result in important differences in terms of learning achievement in reading and writing in school.

So: when it comes to education and learning, and seen with a Lifelong Learning perspective, it is not true that all starts at school. It all starts at home and we must make sure to provide families with the best conditions possible to raise and educate their children, including dignified living conditions and parental education. 

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