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8 social innovation initiatives in Latin America and the Caribbean
Zachariah, Mathew. Zhamm, V. The opportunities or constraints imposed by the sector in which the learning is delivered. The duration and quality of access to the learner. For example, the difference in learning outcomes possible in a one-off workshop and a one year course. Or the contrast between an over-crowded classroom and a small, participative group. The quality of resources available to the teacher and learner.
For example, the availability of resources that support critical thinking as opposed to those that reinforce damaging stereotypes and myths about development and the global South. The quality of teacher training both for practicing and trainee teachers. For example, are teachers given opportunities to experience development education methodologies and supported in their use in the classroom?
The institutional approach to learning within an educational sector. Does the school, youth group, community association, university etc. The level of community engagement in the learning experience. For example, is the local school actively involved in community development through extra-curricular activities? Or is the school isolated from the local community and any movements for social change? The connections made between the local and the global. Is the learner given the opportunity to understand the concept of interdependence and develop a sense of solidarity with people in struggle for social justice in other societies?
The pedagogical approach. Is the teacher willing to facilitate a dialogical exchange with the learner in which all experience is valid? Within these challenging contexts what kind of actions are possible and how do development educators support citizen engagement? As part of his research on citizen engagement with the global justice movement in the UK, James Trewby identified five continuum lines see Figure 2 which should capture most forms of active citizenship. Clearly, development education can play an important role in creating the pre-conditions for engagement through its awareness raising activities, critical thinking skills, capacity for attitudinal change and promotion of positive social values such as respect, diversity and interdependence.
However, within the DE sector there are different conceptions of action including the idea that the learning process itself is an acceptable learning outcome. For some educators, their role is one of providing critical thinking skills and promoting action rather than supporting the learner in taking action.
It is concerned with sustainable development, and seeks to influence political, economic, social and environmental decision-making. The complexity of the issues involved, particularly in regard to systemic change, makes it difficult to effect transformation. Focusing on activism with young people, Temple and Laycock take the view that educators should be very open and clear about their agenda for change and actively support children in taking action on global issues.
Therefore, rather than hedging on the issue of action outcomes why not bring it front and centre of the learning process and structure it within the planning and delivery process?
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This more positive and foundational approach to active citizenship would appear to be urgently needed given the increasing difficulties experienced by the development sector as a whole in creating the pre-conditions necessary for sustaining citizen engagement with the structural causes of poverty and injustice both locally and globally. There have been important and influential recent research studies on public awareness of international development issues and the extent to which the development sector is failing to engage and sustain citizen involvement in poverty eradication efforts.
Another influential research report commissioned by BOND called Finding Frames Darnton and Kirk, , also questioned how development NGOs elicit public support and, in particular, the values and frames used to appeal for civic engagement.
It suggests that development NGOs in the main have appealed to transactional frames rooted in consumerist values in their engagement with the public. It argues that Make Poverty History resulted in an ephemeral engagement with the issues based upon transactional frames that were an unwelcome throwback to the Band Aid initiative of the s.
Development educators will undoubtedly concur with the Finding Frames analysis of public engagement and share the view that sustained civic engagement with development issues is dependent upon a greater investment by the sector in the pre-conditions for action identified above. Therefore a large part of the equation in civic engagement is the approach adopted by the messenger as much as the message itself.
The level of civic engagement with development issues that we can expect from the public is, to a large extent, determined by the strategies, policies and education programmes implemented by NGOs and civil society movements. Critical voices from within the sector have argued that in return for marginal traction with governments and statutory bodies, development NGOs have narrowed their policy engagement to the issue of overseas development aid at the expense of deeper public understanding of the root causes of global poverty Hilary, This depoliticisation of the development sector has arguably resulted in the soft rather than critical forms of public education that have accompanied initiatives such as Make Poverty History.
The mass mobilisation generated by these initiatives has quickly evaporated and resulted in questionable policy outcomes McCloskey, This view chimed with that of Andy Storey who drew attention to the muted response from the development sector in Ireland to the spectacular collapse of the Celtic Tiger economy in and subsequent imposition of severe austerity measures by the International Monetary Fund IMF and its European Union partners.
Here was an opportunity, suggested Storey, to learn from the structural adjustment programmes disastrously imposed by the IMF and World Bank in the global South. This wider sectoral consideration has in turn a significant bearing on the potential outcomes that can arise from the practice of development NGOs. Abstract The Latin American experience of popular education is rightly renowned for its approach towards the educational dimension of participatory community development. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this article.
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