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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. 

Related texts in this blog

¿21st century education?




 Texto en español: ¿Cuál educación del siglo 21?

Everyone talks about 'Education for the 21st Century' or 'Education in the 21st Century':

- 21st century knowledge
- 21st century skills
- 21st century students
- 21st century educators
- 21st century schools
- 21st century classrooms

Strictly speaking, however, there is no 'Education in the 21st Century'.

The century is just beginning

We can hardly visualize one or two decades ahead. The world could not anticipate, and prepare for, the 2020 deadly global pandemia. Who can tell what the planet, human life and education will be like in 2050? Nobody can anticipate what can happen in 100 years, and in this century in particular, characterized as one of big uncertainties, rapid changes, major crises and catastrophes.

What 21st century?

- About 1 in 4 people live in multidimensional poverty or are vulnerable to it.
- More than 40% of the global population does not have any social protection.
- 840 million people live without electricity.

- Over one thousand million people has no drinking water and 2 in 5 people have no facilities for hand-washing. 
- 43% of schools worldwide have no facilities to wash hands with water and soap (UNICEF, 2019)
- 6.5 billion people – 85.5% of the global population – don’t have access to reliable broadband internet.
Source: UN/UNDP 2020

The 21st century is not the same for everyone. Millions of people do not enjoy the benefits of modernity and comfort, do not have running water, toilets, electricity, decent work and housing, reading and writing, good education opportunities, basic services and basic citizenship rights.

Inequalities - within each country, between countries, between the global North and the global South - become structural: extreme poverty and extreme wealth, hyper-consumption and misery, overinformation for some and zero information for others, the illiterate and the overqualified, the connected and the disconnected.

Home-based virtual education, recommended by UNESCO and others while schools are closed because of the covit-19 pandemia and the confinement, remains out of reach for half of the world's population who lack access to the Internet.

Evidently, life in the 21st century is very different for those living with less than 1 or 2 dollars a day (those living in extreme poverty) and for those participating fully in the Information Society, the Knowledge Society, the Digital Society.

What education?

There is no education in singular, as a universal fact and as a homogeneous experience. There are educations, in plural, diverse in nature, purposes and qualities, because realities, cultures, ideologies, aspirations and needs of concrete social groups are highly diverse. And because education is not confined to the education system; there is education in the family, in the community, at the workplace, through the media, participation, social service, etc.

Education and learning needs and experiences are shaped by specific economic, social and cultural contexts and conditions. Community and family education models shaped historically by indigenous populations, many of which continue to operate in many countries worldwide, have different logics and epistemologies.

There are no one-size-fits-all education formulas for all.

Education in the 21st century? 

Education in the 21st century is diverse, placed historically in this century and geographically in each specific context, and does not necessarily correspond to the '21st century' vision coming from the 'developed world'.

Millions of children and youth have never seen a computer and don't know what can be found behind a screen. Millions of children and youth don't know where food comes from, how to grow a potato, a lemmon, a tomato. Different types of ignorance.

21st century skills? 

World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs, 2016

Skills needed are different or have different priorities for different people in different places, cultures and circumstances. Lists of "21st century skills" circulated by international organizations are generally conceived and proposed from the North, for eminently urban realities. Childre, young people and adults living in poverty, need and develop skills than enable them to survive in very difficult circumstances, help and take care of their families, learn and share in their communities. The 'top 10 21st century skills' circulated worldwide in 2016 by the World Economic Forum and adopted by millions of people in the North and in the South, have little to do with the skills real people need in 2020 to deal with the global covid-19 pandemia.

Related texts in this blog (English)
» Basic Learning Needs: Different Frameworks

Girls' education: Lessons from BRAC (Bangladesh)




I learned about BRAC and got in contact with its education programme while working as a senior education adviser at UNICEF's Education Cluster in New York, in the early 1990s. From the start, I became fascinated with BRAC's 'non-formal primary school' concept. This programme, initiated in 1985 with 22 schools, attempted to address the needs of the poorest sectors in Bangladesh, especially in rural areas. The specific aim was to attract girls, who were mostly absent from schools.

I visited Bangladesh twice, in 1993 and in 1995, and had the opportunity to see BRAC's non-formal primary schools in action. Together with Manzoor Ahmed, UNICEF Programme Director at the time, we wrote a dossier called Reaching the Unreached: Non-formal approaches and universal primary education, (UNICEF, 1993). BRAC's non-formal education programme was one of the experiences included in the dossier. BRAC's programme was also included in Education for All: Making It Work - Innovation Series organized jointly by UNICEF and UNESCO right after the Jomtien Conference on Education for All (1990). Dieter Berstecher (UNESCO Paris) and I (UNICEF New York) coordinated the project. (In 2000, 10 years after the Jomtien conference, the series was transferred from UNESCO Headquarters to PROAP, in Bangkok. See issue No.14 dedicated to Lok Jumbish, in India).

One thing that astonished me was the basic and pragmatic wisdom with which BRAC was developing the programme. The first step was conducting a survey to find out why parents were not sending their daughters to school. Three major reasons came out: 1) the school journey was too long (they needed girls to help at home with domestic chores); 2) teachers were mostly men (parents expressed they would feel more comfortable if there were female teachers in the schools); and 3) the school - when available - was too distant from home.

Acknowledging parents' expressed needs, BRAC acted accordingly. The design of the programme adopted three key measures:

1) shortening the school journey (3 hours a day), rethinking the entire school calendar (more months in school, no long holidays), and adjusting the curriculum to fit those time arrangements (the idea is to complete the nation's five-year primary school cycle in four years);

2) identifying women in the local communities and providing them with some basic initial training so that they could act as teachers; and

3) building schools that were closer to home. 

BRAC's non-formal primary schools were the simplest and nicest schools I had seen in poor rural areas. One-room schools built with local materials, with the help of the community. Bright, clean, colorful. Small mats on the floor for the children, a medium-sized chalkboard, posters and visual aids all around.

Children walked shorter distances to school and remained there only for 3 hours a day, so they could continue to help at home.

There were few women in the communities with a teacher certificate, so BRAC selected in each community women with the highest school level (often primary education) and interested in teaching, and trained them. Initially with a 12-day course, later complemented with monthly refresher courses and yearly orientation courses.

This is how BRAC managed to include girls who would otherwise have never attended school. By the time I visited BRAC the NFE programme was already a 'success story' attracting attention not only in Bangladesh but worldwide. Since then BRAC has continued to grow - it is today "the worlds' largest development organization" - and its education programme became a full education system. It remains free of charge. It reached also urban slums, it incorporated e-learning and it includes now a university and a network of mobile libraries. In terms of learning results, BRAC's NFE schools do not lag behind government formal schools; on the contrary, their results are ahead of the country average.
Some data for BRAC's  non-formal primary schools (January 2017):
14,153 schools
389,910 students, of whom 62.17% are girls
5.3 million students completed courses, of which 60.43% are girls
5.55 million students transferred to formal schools to date, of which 60.12% are girls
14,153 teachers
BRAC's education programme has received numerous international awards, one of them the prestigious WISE Prize from the Qatar Foundation in 2011. I was happy to be in Doha, attending the WISE event, when Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, BRAC's founder and director, received the prize.

Girls' education remains a major issue worldwide, starting with early childhood and primary education. The problem continues to pose old and new challenges. Diagnoses and studies multiply, debates and fora repeat often what is already known, there is hunger for more data. In the middle of all that, I often remember BRAC's long and fruitful experience, its pragmatic wisdom, its short, medium and long-term vision, its consultation with families and communities, its permanent interest to connect with local needs and realities.

In times when everything seems to start from scratch and anything can be considered an innovation, it is essential to look back and learn from experience.

Related texts in this blog
» Aprender a lavarse las manos
» WISE Prize for Education Laureates: Bottom-up Innovators
» Kazi, the graceless | Kazi, el sin gracia
 
 

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
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/03/10-false-ideas-on-education-in-finland.html

 

12 Theses on Educational Change
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/12/12-theses-on-educational-change.html

1990-2015: Education for All Educación para Todos (compilation)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/08/1990-2015-education-for-all-educacion.html

1990-2030: Global education goals
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/09/1990-2030-global-education-goals-metas.html

25 Years of Education for All
http://educacion-para-todos.blogspot.com/2013/03/25-anos-de-educacion-para-todos-25.html

About 'good practice' in international co-operation in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-would-be-good-practice-in.html

Adult Literacy in Latin America and the Caribbean: Plans and Goals 1980-2015
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/05/adult-literacy-in-latin-amrica-and.html

Basic learning needs: Different frameworks
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/basic-learning-needs-different.html

Beautiful letters
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/07/lindas-letras-beautiful-letters.html


Child learning and adult learning revisited

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/02/child-learning-and-adult-learning.html

Children of the Basarwa (Botswana)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/09/children-of-basarwa.html

Children's right to basic education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/11/childrens-right-to-basic-education.html

Children's rights: A community learning experience in Senegal
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/01/children-rights-community-learning.html

Cuba and Finland
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/06/cuba-and-finland.html

Ecuador's literacy fiasco
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2017/10/ecuadors-literacy-fiasco.html


Education First

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/09/educacion-primero-education-first.html


Ecuador: Good Bye to Community and Alternative Education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/ecuador-good-bye-to-community-and.html

Education for adaptation?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/10/educacion-adaptarse-un-mundo-cambiante.html

Education for All 2000-2015 - How did Latin America and the Caribbean do?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/04/education-for-all-2000-2015-how-did.html 

Education in the Information Society
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/05/education-in-information-society.html

Escuela Nueva: An innovation within formal education (Colombia)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/escuela-nueva-innovation-within-formal.html

Farewells
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/06/despedidas-farewells.html


Finland Study Visit

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.fi/2015/10/visita-de-estudio-finlandia-finland-study-visit.html


Finland's education compared

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/07/finlands-education-compared-la.html


Formal, non-formal and informal learning

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/08/formal-non-formal-and-informal-learning_21.html


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

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/05/from-literacy-to-lifelong-learning-de.html

From school community to learning community
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/03/from-school-community-to-learning.html

Goal 4: Education - Sustainable Development Goals
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/09/on-goal-4-education-sustainable.html
- SDG: Translation issues
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/09/sdg-translation-issues-ods-problemas-de.html

Girls' education: Lessons from BRAC (Bangladesh)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2017/01/girls-education-lessons-from-brac.html


Giving up to a literate world?

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/giving-up-to-literate-world.html

GLEACE: Letter to UNESCO on the Literacy Decade (2003-2012)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/01/letter-to-unesco-on-literacy-decade.html

Kazi, the Graceless
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/09/kazi-el-sin-gracia.html

Knowledge-based international aid: Do we want it? Do we need it?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/10/knowldedge-based-international-aid-do.html

Latin America over-satisfied with public education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/06/latin-america-oversatisfied-with-public.html

Latin America: Six decades of education goals http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/09/latin-america-six-decades-of-education-goals.html

Lifelong Learning: moving beyond Education for All
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/02/lifelong-learning-moving-beyond.html

Lifelong Learning for the North, Primary Education for the South?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/lifelong-learning-for-north-primary.html

Lifelong Learning in the South: Critical Issues and Opportunities for Adult Education, Sida Studies 11, Stockholm, 2004
http://www.sida.se/English/publications/Publication_database/publications-by-year1/2004/november/lifelong-learning-in-the-south-critical-issues-and-opportunities-for-adult-education/ 
http://www.sida.se/contentassets/d60c67d64bf947b1b147419f7751a466/lifelong-learning-in-the-south-critical-issues-and-opportunities-for-adult-education_1614.pdf

Literacy and Lifelong Learning: The linkages
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/01/literacy-and-lifelong-learning-linkages.html

Literacy for All: A renewed vision
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/02/literacy-for-all-renewed-vision.html

Literacy for All: A United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012): Base Document for the Literacy Decade (2000)
http://www.slideshare.net/RosaMariaTorres2015/base-document-united-nations-literacy-decade-20032012


Military spending in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/03/military-spending-and-education-gasto.html

Now comes PISA for 'developing countries'
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/05/now-comes-pisa-for-developing-countries.html

On education in Finland
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/06/on-education-in-finland-sobre-la.html
 
On innovation and change in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/03/on-innovation-and-change-in-education.html

On Learning Anytime, Anywhere (WISE 2011)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-learning-anytime-anywhere.html

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/10/one-child-one-teacher-one-book-and-one-pen-one.html

One Decade of 'Education for All': The Challenge Ahead (IIEP-UNESCO Buenos Aires, 2000, PDF)
http://www.iipe-buenosaires.org.ar/publicaciones/one-decade-education-all-challenge-ahead
http://www.buenosaires.iipe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/education.pdf 

Open letter to school children
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-letter-to-school-children.html 

OTRA∃DUCACION: Lo más visitado ▸ Most visited
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/12/otraducacion-lo-mas-visitado-most.html

Public gym stations in Beijing and Quito
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/10/chinas-public-gym-stations-in-beijing-and-quito.html


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

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/06/reaching-unreached-non-formal.html

"Rethinking education" and adult education

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/08/rethinking-education-and-adult-education.html


Six 'Education for All' Goals

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/01/six-education-for-all-goals-seis-metas.html

South Africa 1993: A moment with Mandela
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/12/south-africa-1993-moment-with-mandela.html

Stop PISA!
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/05/stop-pisa-paren-pisa.html

The 4 As as criteria to identify 'good practices' in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/10/4-as-as-criteria-to-identify-good.html 

The green, the blue, the red and the pink schools
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/10/green-blue-red-and-pink-schools.html

There is no "education for the 21st century"
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/10/there-is-no-education-for-21st-century.html

The million Paulo Freires
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/02/million-paulo-freires.html

The oldest and the youngest

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-oldest-and-youngest-los-mas-viejos.html


The virtuous C (Keys for a renewed learning culture)

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/01/la-virtuosa-c-virtuous-c.html

The World Economic Forum and education quality

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-world-economic-forum-and.html

Transforming formal education from a lifelong learning perspective
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/10/transforming-formal-education-from.html

We are Latin America
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/05/somos-america-latina-we-are-latin.html

What did the MDGs achieve?  
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-did-millennium-development-goals-achieve.html


What Happened at the World Education Forum in Dakar (2000)?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/05/what-happened-at-world-education-forum.html

What is 'basic education'?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-happened-to-expanded-vision-of.html

What is youth and adult education - today? http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2017/01/what-is-youth-and-adult-education-today.html

WISE Prize for Education Laureates: Bottom-up Innovators
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/wise-prize-for-education-laureates.html



From School Community to Learning Community



It is important to differentiate school community, education community and learning community, and the corresponding differences between school/school system, education/education system, and learning/learning system.

Education is not limited to school education (schooling). Even if they are regularly used as equivalent, education system and school system are not the same thing. The school system is one, of many, education and learning systems, such as the family, the media, work, sports, etc.

Education is not necessarily equivalent to learning. Not all that we learn is a product of education (education involves teaching, someone occupying this role, in presence or at a distance).
- On one hand, much of what is taught in the school system is not learned.

- On the other hand, much of what we learn in life, from birth to death, takes place out of the school system. Nobody teaches it to us; we learn it informally while playing, talking, listening, doing, observing, reading, writing, working, watching TV, listening to the radio, navigating on the Internet, traveling, etc.  


Therefore:

The school community comprises those engaged in the school life, at local or national level: students, parents, teachers, administrators. 

Education community is a broader concept. It includes all those who are related to education in a broader sense, not restricted to the school system: the family, mass media, the workplace, sports, churches, etc. 

A learning community refers to a community of learners, people of all ages engaged in different types of learning activities and processes, in and out of the school system.
- A learning community can be a classroom or a school: learning is placed at the center rather than academic achievement as measured by tests; teachers and students learn together and from each other.

- A learning community can be a local community, a territory - urban or rural, small or large - that decides to motivate and engage everyone in learning - children, youth and adults. For that purpose, the community gets organized in order to identify,  activate, and co-ordinate the various learning spaces and resources available in that community, whatever they are: child care center,  school, university, library, park, plaza, market, atelier, health center, museum, sports yard, music club, movies, theater, local radio or newspaper, zoo, internet cafe, community house, etc.
The table below summarizes some important differences between a School Community and a Learning Community.


FROM
TO

School Community

Learning Community


▸ Children and youn people learning 
▸ Children, young people and adults learning 
▸ Adults teaching children and youth 
▸ Inter-generational and peer-to-peer learning
▸ School education 
▸ School and out-of-school education
▸ Formal education
▸ Learning in formal, non-formal and informal environments
▸ School agents (headteachers, teachers, administrators)
▸ Education agents (school agents and other social agents assuming education roles)
▸ School agents as change agents 
▸ Education agents as change agents 
▸ Students as learning agents
▸ Students and teachers and learning agents 
▸ Fragmented vision of the school system (pre-school, primary or basic, high school, higher education)
▸ Systemic and unified vision of the school system (a continuum from initial to higher education) 
▸ Institutional plans
▸ Inter-institutional plans
▸ Isolated innovations
▸ Networked innovations
▸ Network of schools
▸ Network of education institutions
▸ School project
▸ Community education project. Each one is different, unique. It responds to the community's needs, desires, aspirations, and conditions.
▸ Sector approach to education  (education as a "sector")
I
ntra-school approach to education
▸ Inter-sectoral approach to education and learning
T
erritorial approach to education and learning (the territory as learning ecosystem)
▸ Ministry of Education in charge
▸ Various Ministries engaged
▸ State/government
▸ Local community, national community, State/government
 
 Education
 
Lifelong Learning 

Related texts in this blog  
- Comunidad de Aprendizaje
- Comunidad de Aprendizaje: Educación, territorio y aprendizaje comunitario
- Aprendizaje a lo Largo de la Vida
- Sobre Aprendizaje a lo Largo de la VidaOn Lifelong Learning
- Lifelong Learning in the South: Critical issues and opportunities for adult education
- Transforming formal education from a lifelong learning perspective
- Lifelong Learning: Moving Beyond Education for All (EFA)

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