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The findings > Thematic Studies> Excluded>Part 3
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(i) On the plus side, the decade has laid a solid groundwork for action against the exclusion of children, in terms both of education as a defined sector, and of learning as a cross-cutting process necessary to all aspects of survival and development. The World Conference on Education For All (EFA) was a watershed, a critical juncture in global thinking about the legitimate place of learning and education as core to all human and social development. Jomtien established an unarguable link between poverty and exclusion, for the individual and the society; exposed the failure of most nations to provide adequate basic education for all their citizens; and confirmed the inevitability of future exclusion for those children and their families who are denied access to such education. Critically, it set a new "expanded vision" for education and declared national and global responsibilities for taking action.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) provided the critical overarching framework for EFA in making the education of all children their right. It committed a global imperative of action to ensure all children an effective education, not simply to a seat in school and not simply for those who turn up. Governments, civil societies and donors are now compelled to give highest priority to an explicit and intensive focus on the chronically excluded: under the CRC umbrella, all children are owed an education which "meets their basic learning needs and enables them to live an individual life in society ... in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity". Responsibility for providing this quality of education-for-all rests with everyone in the world society, at global, national and - by extension - local levels. Ultimately, of course, much of the onus for children's learning and education falls to families and to schools.
The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education further refined and focused the message of EFA, committing the international community to addressing the still large-scale and typically systemic exclusion of those children with special learning needs. This continues to be a problem in all countries to some degree, both by education systems omitting to identify, count or support children's special learning needs, and by their committing actively against them, declaring children who are "different" as incapable of learning or participating. For children in either context, Salamanca was important in putting more explicitly onto the global EFA agenda the imperative of recognizing, valuing and managing their learning; and doing so in ways which ensure their full participation in education, the successful realization of their learning goals and, ultimately, their independence as adults able to sustain themselves as parents, workers and citizens.
Salamanca was also key in reinforcing and extending the EFA principle of an expanded vision of education, one in which "ordinary schools should accommodate all children, regardless of their physical, intellectual, emotional, social, linguistic or other conditions" (UNESCO/d/:1). "Inclusive" schools give particular attention to enabling the learning of each child, serving to integrate all and not to segregate any. They serve to bring all children into the education mainstream. Salamanca recognized that "regular schools, with this inclusive orientation, are the most effective means of combating discriminatory attitudes, creating welcoming communities, building an inclusive society and achieving education for all" (Article 2)
Less a formal international commitment than a global re-declaration of the central place of learning and education for all, the Delors Commission served further to underscore the role of education as a basic element of individual and societal development and peaceful co-existence. In confirming the capacity to learn as the "treasure" everyone has within them, the task of education is to ensure all children (and adults) the right to life-long learning along four core dimensions or pillars: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together. There is now a fifth: learning to transform oneself and the world around one.
In both general and specific terms, all of these initiatives put education in the centre of action in support of the children who are most excluded, as both a tool for their development and a place for their protection. Stockholm, Oslo, Cairo, Amsterdam, Beijing and other international actions have, through the remainder of the decade, made substantive contributions to the EFA framework. Their discussions and commitments have taken a harder look at the realities of the especially vulnerable and forgotten child and, within this framework, the special protection and development rights of girls and women.
The World Summit for Social Development (WSSD) was especially important in looking specifically across all groups and sectors to consider the interactive nature of socio-economic exclusion and development. In consequence, it stressed the need for integrative strategies and collaborative actions by domestic institutions, NGOs and international agencies to deal with them. Suffering to some degree in not having a clear constituency to keep its Action Framework on the table, the WSSD nevertheless presented a significant opportunity to push the critical role of learning as the enabling dimension of all organizational and social change aimed at social integration "....the capacity of people to live together with full respect for the dignity of each individual, the common good, pluralism and diversity, non-violence and solidarity as well as their ability to participate in social, cultural, economic and political life .... It requires the protection of the weak, as well as the right to differ, to create and to innovate" (Part II, para2).
The WSSD thus made critical distinctions between inclusion and conformity and between diversity and exclusion, distinctions and implied directives central to realizing effective and equitable education.
It went further, urging specific actions to mobilize funding of the "Agenda for Development" to which Summit members had committed: reduced military spending; enhanced transparency and accountability at all levels; better focusing on basic human needs; recognition and support to alternate financing mechanisms; open exchange of technology, knowledge and skills; application of the "7%" ODA commitment, debt relief, and action on the 20/20 initiative. All of these, if coupled with concerted action to address the professional quality of teachers and curriculum, would clearly have gone far to ending education exclusion. The UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), though not yet as far as along as it needs to be in mobilizing and ensuring effective collaborative and consistent action on children's exclusion, is clearly the way to go. Multilateral agencies, NGOs and bilaterals each have their own areas of comparative advantage, mandates and partners. Each, however, shares a common constituency of people who are excluded, marginalized and living in poverty, and to whom it owes action that is relevant, sustainable and of high quality.
(ii) On the other side, progress in following up all of these global agreements is far from wholly positive. While enrolments and school spaces have increased, these "have not been matched by gains in ensuring that pupils persist in their schooling and emerge from primary school with the knowledge and skills they need .... (The) expected benefits ... are being undermined by significant levels of drop-out" in both developing and developed countries (EFA - Status and Trends 1998: 9). The Jomtien target of 80% completion for primary school is still a very distant goal in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and much of Latin America. The 80% figure is no longer, of course, tenable under the CRC. In presenting this number as sufficient, Jomtien may have suggested that "the rest" could legitimately be left to fail or not to come at all -- in effect, serving to legitimize exclusion.
In focusing on UPE as an expressed goal, and defining that within the specific context of schooling, Jomtien may also have served ironically to undermine the probability of its own key concept of the "expanded vision" taking root. Education for all has become minimized in too many countries and too many agencies as school for all. The expanded vision of basic education is inclusive of, but clearly greater than, formal schools and traditional classroom methods. Though the WCEFA strongly endorsed the place of alternative education arrangements within the vision (various forms of NFE, ECCD, on-the-job learning etc.), the UPE-cum-schooling emphasis appears to have left them relegated to a second-class, choice-limiting status. The CRC is significant in changing the paradigm. 8/10 children completing primary school is no longer the issue; 2/10 not completing is.
The EFA Declaration was important in establishing the core of what effective education and learning systems should be, the "that" of basic education. Jomtien and the succeeding decade have been less clearly successful, however, in making explicit, and putting into effect, the "how" of mobilizing subsequent action; of stimulating demand and improving supply. The Amman Mid-Decade Meeting provided a useful, albeit justifiably modest, stock-taking of the progress made in the first five years. It, too, was unfortunately vague in analysing the "how" of why the Framework was not being fully implemented. Where and what the implementation gaps were, and how to fill them -- especially with respect to such fundamental issues as the training of teachers and mobilizing of sustained political action -- remained largely unknown.
Nor has the decade finished with strength in terms of tracking the progress of EFA targets. While anecdotal evidence suggests that many innovations are showing good effects, there is little systematic assessment of them. Many of the advances reported are based either on broad averages, or narrowly-focused pilot efforts, both of which have drawbacks in terms of informing wider practice. Monitoring and tracking systems remain universally weak, not well able to determine the real quality and impact of many of the interventions on, or the deeper reasons for, continuing exclusion. Rare also are the comprehensive case studies and implementation analyses which might present the kind of integrated social development picture urged by the WSSD. Instances of serious and interactive exclusion remain without good explanations as to how to disentangle them.
Highlighted throughout the Johannesburg EFA 2000 Conference, for example, were the multiple needs of creating stronger capacities for analysis, of undertaking research, and of using results to inform policy and practice. Data throughout the continent are considered to be weak in quality, narrow in scope and limited in quantity. In particular, too little is known of patterns and trends on such key issues as participation and achievement especially as these concern the children who are at-risk and excluded -- girls, children with disabilities, minority groups. Analysis is often poorly done; not considered sufficiently reliable, and not presented with sufficient assurance, to mobilize, guide or evaluate change. .
School and community-based action research is rare. Teachers, parents and students have little input to assessments which are done within the education sector as it affects them. What is happening in the classroom, what teachers and students are actually doing, is rarely observed let alone analysed. While a wide range of innovations and pilot programmes are being tried through the region and may well be relevant to excluded -- on community and outreach schools, multi-grade classrooms, double-shifting, use of quasi-professional resource teachers -- few are being systematically assessed to determine whether or how they are making a difference, to which children, and under what conditions. Lack of analysis makes it difficult to take corrective action on the unsuccessful ideas; to strengthen and extend those which are effective; or to share lessons.
The types of studies currently being promoted by the UNESCO/UNICEF "monitoring learning achievement" project and by regionally-based ones such as the Southern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality, are steps in the right direction. An important focus for them will be on the more qualitative factors impeding access and successful participation of especially vulnerable children, and on the relevance of what they are learning. These assessments need also to be persistent (to identify patterns) and participatory (to ensure shared ownership of conclusions and follow-up action).
Also meriting closer attention is the use of "pilot" projects as the mechanism for focusing and managing action for the excluded. Pilots are often undertaken because "(it is) difficult for people to agree on the pace of change"; they let small groups of mobilized people do it on their own (Leiberman&Miller:26). Unfortunately, the logic of pilots often fails in application, leaving them "outside the mainstream, threatening people in the rest of the [system] and causing resentment. Eventually, most of these programmes collapse, not from lack of value, but from lack of support" (Ibid:26).
Where they involve marginal communities, those with few resources and little room for experimenting, they are often too demanding to be sustained. Real control over planning, design and implementation of most pilots rests with interveners rather than the schools and communities involved; and efforts to develop local capacity are often too limited to shift the ownership. Sustaining the results of innovation requires serious, long-term attention to the change process, to organizational learning and to participation. These are the necessary conditions of "full scale" implementation which many EFA pilots have tended not to give.
It is an area where Ministries of Education need to assert their strong commitment to the excluded. "Although the educational innovations targeted to various excluded groups are often managed and executed by NGOs, it is essential that the Ministries are involved from the initial (stage) by, for example, assigning ... officials to work with the innovations or by directing some resources; and later adopting the innovation for dissemination. Separate projects which are not well incorporated in the framework of the national education system tend to (be) short-lived." (UNESCO/ Special Needs Education, memo:Nov99).
The first part of this section has touched very generally on where EFA seems to have come in terms of commitments made and directions expected. The rest of the section looks in more detail at some of the advances, lessons learned and dilemmas recognized with respect specifically to those conditions excluding children.
These are not presented as water-tight compartments. Rather, there are recurrent themes and common threads, principles of action which appear to characterize moves toward more effective and sustainable action, not simply against exclusion, but in support of inclusion (as Salamanca used it). These themes are not new: broad participation and synergy, within a holistic framework and using enabling processes to ensure local relevance. These are the concepts and principles underlying all of the international commitments noted above. What must be new for the next decade is that action is taken actually to implement them -- by states, civil societies and the international community.
III-1 Expanded Participation in a Holistic Framework
Perhaps the two most significant advances of the Jomtien decade in reaching excluded children, indeed all children, have been (i) the increasing realization that education, like learning, is a necessarily holistic and integrated system, and (ii) the persistent movement toward greater participation of communities, families and children in matters concerning learning, education and schools. Coincident with both of these has been a more sensitive appreciation of teachers and school as critical actors; a "distinct trend toward focusing the reform efforts at a level nearer to the 'action': the school itself" (Shaeffer/Govinda:1).
None of these developments is revolutionary. All, however, are fundamental and mutually reinforcing in reaching the excluded. They recognize that no education policy will be sustainable by attempting to mandate attitudinal or behavioural change from the centre, or in one narrow aspect of the system. They acknowledge that genuine implementation of change in classrooms, families and communities which are socio-culturally and economically marginalized and at risk requires equity, transparent accountability and joint responsibility.
1-a Expanded Participation
The Family
Participation in the context of excluded children most particularly concerns their families. The concept of the family as a place of security and support for children and as a partner of the school has been slowly emerging over the decade as efforts are made to find better ways to address the rights and needs of all children to education. Facilitating that emergence should be happening more quickly. The CRC in particular recognizes families and parents as the first line of intervention in, and support for, children's emotional, psycho-social and intellectual learning. The capacity, or incapacity, of families to act on behalf of the survival, protection and development of their children is especially critical in the early years, and not much less so as children become adolescents and begin to confront the confusion of uncertain and conflicting choices and demands. Families are key in keeping children out of exploitative working conditions and in school; the opposite is equally true.
Again recognizing exclusion as a cycle, the education level of the family is the "single best predictor of how long children will stay in school and how well they will perform" (EFA Statistics and Trends 1998:36). It is much more difficult for illiterate parents and those who have been harmed by schools to see the value of education for their children, or to help them participate even when they do. Programmes which promote parent literacy, therefore, are also likely to have positive effects on the children's learning. Mobilization campaigns to get girls into school are most successful when they are done in collaboration with the family -- and with community leaders, civic groups and NGOs, the bodies often in closest touch with the values and needs of families and so most able to influence their decisions. The particular importance of the family during times of stress is clear. Conflict, forced migration and economic crisis are periods when family stability and consistency are the child's best link to learning, adaptation and sense of identity, and when the loss of family can be especially devastating. The effectiveness of action such as that by the World and Asian Development Banks in working with Indonesian families to put in place scholarships for the most at-risk children will be critical in this regard.
One area where gains have been made in this respect is in the greater attention being given to early childhood care and development (ECCD) interventions. Most successful where set within the context of their families, ECCD programmes recognize that "only with whole-hearted parental participation can such programmes succeed"(Young:7). They are critical in countries like Lao PDR where, especially among indigenous families, primary school attendance is very low. The village-based early childhood education project (with the Ministry of Education, Lao Women’s Union and UNICEF) is concerned with children's early learning within the framework of support both for their own developing capacities, as well as the capacities of their care-givers, especially mothers. It strengthens the family's knowledge and practice in basic nutrition, hygiene and health and child development, including infant stimulation and ways to increase language ability. It links with WID and basic education interventions "so that there is support for increased income generation, village planning and schooling"; and with the media and early childhood education sub-project to produce educational radio broadcasts, videos and print material on good parenting, nutrition and child development practices.
For seriously at-risk children, and those unlikely to have access to reasonably effective schools, ECCD interventions may be the only quality learning support that they will have. It is, therefore, especially critical that the interventions be of high quality: learning and learner-oriented, interactive and participatory, culturally sensitive and responsive, holistic and engaged with all family members and the community agencies with which they also interact.
Programmes which are able to engage with marginalized families, to work with them in the context of the constraints and strengths of their own setting, and which bring them together to support one another, are the most effective. They impose less risk to vulnerable families, allowing them to find their own "best way" in developing strategies of childcare and learning they are able to sustain in collaboration with neighbouring families and local support agencies. A main difficulty with efforts to engage such families in changing their relationship with the school is, of course, their own negative history with education -- if they have had one at all. Parents who have themselves been excluded from school are less likely to have the knowledge, skills or psychological "margin" for risk-taking which would make them feel naturally comfortable in their children's school.
One example of an attempt to overcome this distance is the school-based education project in Peru. Working through activities aimed at developing a shared vision, breaking down dysfunctional perceptions and creating a partnership among parents, students and teachers, the underlying strategy of the programme has been "... to start a dialogue on the child as a priority for parents and for teachers" in terms of their shared responsibility in the child's education. Parents and teachers work together "... to formulate solutions and alternatives which could help create the 'ideal' school" (Hidalgo:4). At the same time, teachers develop "conversations" with students, on the assumption that they, too, are in a position to have opinions about the quality and content of their learning and have the capacity to contribute (Ibid:5). The task is an evolutionary and open-ended one, attempting to create a culture of inclusion where both community and school are able to bring together their expectations and priorities, evaluate options for "translating them into reality" and developing frameworks of action they can then work to apply (Ibid:6).
Interventions such as this are critical to building on and strengthening the learning which goes on in families in ways which will help them engage with the school. Especially for vulnerable families, it is important that schools themselves reach out to support families in doing better, to encourage them to "... be involved throughout their children's schooling..." (Bamber:1-26). The results of a large-scale study of poor inner city schools in the United States, for example, showed clearly that effective schools were those which were able to help parents change the ways in which they connected to the school and promoted their children's learning as they moved through the system. Beginning when children were very young, these schools helped parents help their children in "building the skills" they needed to do well in school. They "coached" parents in how to talk to teachers, helped them "... to monitor their children's progress" and support them with their school work. Effective schools helped parents learn "how the system works" so they could be better advocates for their children, to "make decisions about how to make the school better", and make sure their children were "learning what they needed to know" (Bamber:1-l1).
The Community
It is important to recognize families per se, their unique role in creating and raising children and the need to take them into one-one partnership. But most excluded families and their children live in the context of a community. Less a geographical construct than a sociological one, communities are important here as the primary reference group for families and their children (especially older ones). Particularly in traditional societies and cultures, communities can play a major role in defining a family's available resources and support structures, its social obligations, and its core values, attitudes and expectations. The community in this sense is especially critical in addressing exclusion. No attempt to create equitable and inclusive education programmes for children and families will succeed independently of their surrounding community.
Using this broad definition of community, the learning and education of excluded children can be enhanced where families and local groups come together to support them in formal and nonformal programmes, with and without government support. Excluded children can also be supported through "communities of interest", networks formed among them as individuals who share a common bond of vulnerability. These are child labourers or street children who form family-type bonds; or support groups formed by adolescents affected by HIV/AIDS. Mutual support and exchange associations of these kinds can constitute significant forms of psycho-social "margin". They provide a sense of belonging, a nurturing role and guidance; often they also provide very pertinent and effective venues for learning information and skills. They can provide critical focal or entry points for education interveners, as interlocutors able to interpret between an NGO or school outreach initiative and children unable to communicate effectively or from a position of equal participation what they want and need to learn.
Communities, whether geographic or interest-based, can also play a critical role in finding and engaging "missing" children. Informal associations of child carpet workers in India, for example, have proven to be much better able to locate other children and convince them that it is safe to get involved in learning programmes than IPEC or government officers.
Somewhat more systematically, lok jumbish in Rajasthan is another example of community-based mapping of the excluded, where and as they are. Working with community members interested in educational improvement, it creates an "inspirational group" which then undertakes to "depict every household in the village visually on a simple map ... indicating the schooling status of every household member 5-14" (PROBE:107) Serving as a an "occasion for interacting with the community", block-based interviews help to show where special help is needed and what priorities families see as barriers to their children attending school. "Leaders of the village and the local community draw up a set of proposals based on the mapping data, where new schools and NFE centres are needed and where present ones need fixing". The methodology is intended to be empowering as well as informative, allowing even non-literate families to be involved in the analysis. The follow-up is also community-based and is critical in fostering "continuous evaluation". Attendance of children is locally monitored and neighbourhood blocks are free to determine and revise appropriate issues and strategies (creating residential study camps for girls, for example).
The Myanmar all children in school (ACIS) project is concerned with fairly broad systemic reform to reduce the severe national-level exclusion. To get there, it focuses on an integration of three levels: the community, engaging them in enrolment surveys and school mapping, local data management and PTA training; teachers, providing decentralized training for multi-grade and learner-centred teaching, in-class supervisory support and materials development; and school structures, through promotion of school clusters and improved monitoring and evaluation. Significant for the potential sustainability of increased student participation, ACIS appears to be having a positive impact on the relationship between community and school: local teachers hired through community donations; a "growing willingness" of teachers to talk with parents about their children's progress; and community-based identification and enrolment of previously 'invisible' children e.g. migrant workers (Bentzen:11)
The Kolondieba district community schools project in Mali (supported principally by SC-US) aims at addressing deep-seated, poverty-based exclusion. It is a particulary cogent example of the dilemmas facing communities and their children as they try to act on the very mixed "causes and consequences" of that exclusion. Poverty is clearly the overarching issue for the community, with very few of its own resources and minimal national support. Families live at subsistence level, speak the local language with limited capacity in French and have little access to the few and distant government schools. At the project's start in 1992, only 12% of the 207 villages in the district were reached by the formal system (Muskin:2) and there was little to indicate that that situation would change. Community schools appear to be succeeding, however, as a way to shift the paradigm -- from one of children trying and failing to accommodate the format of the formal system, to one of the community ensuring a school designed to suit them.
Based on explicit commitments by the community to ensure enrolment, regular attendance and girls participation, and to pay salaries of locally-hired teachers and monitor their work, the project has created learning environments to which children apparently want to come and in which they are, on the whole, succeeding. Teaching is in the local language, of subjects selected by the community as important to their children's current (and likely future) lives. Literacy, mathematics and French (at the higher levels) are also taught, as a base to children who eventually choose to move into the formal system.
It appears to be specifically in these efforts to localize the content, process and ownership of the school that its success lies; but so, too, lie its core dilemmas. Teachers can be hired locally because they are minimally trained, and paid locally because they are paid very little. Curriculum can be relevant because it is developed locally, but it has little reference to the national system. All of these are characteristics consistent with fundamentals of creating inclusive learning, but not necessarily with inclusion beyond the community.
There are, thus, critical questions to be asked of all such community-based programmes. Whether the approaches are sustainable, and whether they should be: whether they risk confining excluded children to further exclusion in "pockets of learning", positive but inevitably isolating. Children are learning in their community schools; in the Mali case, they are even laying a basis of French language competency and there appears to be interest at the national level for extending the approach. Nevertheless, these communities and their supporters need continually to explore matters of children's long-term "best interest": if the structures and methodologies of the education can be adapted and sustained; whether eventually the students must move out of the community to move up in the education system, and whether that system can somehow come into the community without undermining the latter's coherence and culture.
1-b Holistic and Synergistic Action
At the Local Level
One example of a community-based programme which has gone a considerable way in answering some of these questions has done so because it has also gone a long way in developing an integrative programme for excluded children and their families. Based in a slum area of Jaipur (India), the bodh shiksha samiti is a good example -- in the extent to which it has become part of the very fabric of the community, in the long time-line it has allowed itself in getting there, and its forging of a genuine two-way link to the formal system.
The effective owners of the Bodh schools are the migrant and landless labourers, disadvantaged castes and traditional artisans who live in the community. Previously with no access to schools sufficiently affordable, flexible or "welcoming" for them, the community agreed in the late 1980s to engage with a small group of social activists to create a school as a form of "collective endeavour" for their children's education (Bodh Shiksha Samiti:3). Seven schools have been built by the community over the decade. Also built have been a "sense of ownership" and a bridge between school and community (Ibid:5). The Bodh has ensured children's inclusion by becoming part of the community itself. It has been a process through which people in "an organized framework pool their ideas, concerns, aspirations and resources, and develop a dynamic networking of communication among students, parents teachers and Bodh organizers" (Ibid:5).
Together, they have worked through many of the core issues of exclusion: dealt with the absenteeism of working children and appropriate forms of discipline; negotiated teaching methodologies, balancing the benefits of active versus rote learning; selected curriculum topics appropriate to the life of the community; created relevant and affordable teaching materials; and jointly assessed children's on-going progress. Confronting many of the barriers to the inclusion of socially marginalized children, the Bodh programme is holistic. It includes all aspects of community education, from pre-school through to adult literacy. Mothers and older children are trained as part-time resource teachers, creating another tie between school and community.
At the same time, emphasis is put on the continuous training of the fulltime teachers in methodologies stressing participatory learning. The entire primary curriculum is divided into three broad ability groups, among which children can easily move as appropriate to their competencies rather than being fixed by age. Curriculum topics are flexible, but ensure coverage of basic issues, such as hygiene and nutrition, which are immediately useful to children and their families. A core of community-agreed generic skills training (language and math, analysis and reasoning) and attitude development (independence, cooperation, motivation for learning) aims at building children's capacities for future learning.
All of this is intended to give the act of learning, and the process of education, a more valued place in the community, encouraging parents and children to pursue further study in the formal system. Toward preparing for this end, textbooks and written exams are eventually introduced and, important to realizing that "seamlessness" which is key to inclusive education, an "adoption programme" has recently been begun to work with and train teachers from the formal system in the main principles and teaching approaches of the Bodh programme. The aim is systematically to integrate aspects of the two education approaches.
Within Schools
Reaching excluded children and encouraging their participation requires making education, and especially schools, easily accessible, physically and emotionally welcoming and oriented to each child's learning capacities and needs. A self-evident point, it is one both the international community and national education systems have taken a long time in coming to. In the broadest sense, it means a much greater attention to conceiving and organizing schools holistically.
More specifically, it means assessing, and acting to improve, schools on the same dimensions along which they have been keeping and pushing the most vulnerable children out: on the quality of their environment, to create safe and girl-friendly physical facilities, policies and practices of non-violence and mutual respect; on their modes of delivery, to explore use of school clusters, multi-grade teaching, double-shifting and distance technologies; on their methods of facilitating learning, to use interactive small-group arrangements, peer and child-child tutoring, teacher-generated curriculum; on the role of their teachers, to encourage teacher-teacher support groups, peer counselling, in-service mentoring; and on their partnerships with families, to develop school linkages, school-based ECCD, parent literacy and work-related programmes, PTA and school councils.
Such actions imply major shifts in thinking, in perspectives, in relationships and in ways of working. They require that those designing the innovations, and especially those delivering them, be open and ready for change, for taking risks and for reflective experimentation. Support for learning of this extent is, unfortunately, not often provided for in education reform efforts, especially when the targeted community is of low status or politically invisible. However, while application of change may not have gone very far since Jomtien, and the traditional top-down, information transfer model of schooling remains the norm, serious efforts are continuing to be made to cast the efficacy of that traditional model into doubt and create a new one.
The nomenclature for identifying these more holistic approaches varies among agencies and organizations. However, while problematic for the outsider trying to sort through the terminological stew, there are common threads evident across most of them. DFID's latest education policy framework, for example, speaks of a whole school development approach, "designed to bring together and integrate the many inputs and processes which constitute the learning environment and the learning experience of children" (DFID:24-5). The approach includes inter alia a focus on school-based planning, on motivating and supporting teachers, on creating safe and secure school environments, on partnerships with families and community agencies, and on setting and monitoring reachable learning goals.
The wholesome education school programme in Bhutan, supported by SC-US, has a similar point of departure. Set within the broader context of an education reform effort with community-based change as its base, it includes aspects of community development education, PRA and skill-development for out-of-school youth, and children's clubs. The programme's goal of increased inclusiveness is reflected in its integrative schools-based management and teacher-focused orientation. Considering "the needs and rights of the whole child, (it) bridges health and education", encouraging schools to "come up with their own plans" and helping them develop "a self-assessment tool (to) help sensitize teachers to the concept, and show them that there are things they can do and ... concrete steps (they) can take ..." (Rights-Based Approaches: 23)
One of the potentially most influential initiatives in this regard is the concept of the child-friendly school (CFS). Perhaps most energetically promoted by UNICEF, the concept is becoming increasingly reflected in similar approaches of agencies such as WHO, Save the Children and Radda Barnen, bilateral donors and a number of national governments. In essence, the CFS framework aims at creating education systems and school settings which are inclusive, effective, equitable and secure for all children. The child-friendly school seeks to engage children and their parents in all aspects of the learning event; to be more welcoming of the diversity of children, and to keep them longer in the education environment. It seeks to be more nurturing, academically professional and programmatically flexible. The underlying premise of the CFS is that all children must be provided positive learning opportunities, and that all must be expected to succeed no matter what their background and whether in or outside the formal school setting.
The child-friendly concept thus widens the framework. It assumes that learning, and society's commitment to supporting it, encompass children from birth through adolescence, whatever capacities they bring and whatever their learning needs. It assumes the need for partnerships with families and communities in developing facilities and programmes which are physically safe, foster a sense of security, well-being and self-confidence, and help children to respect themselves and others. It aims at promoting responsible and collaborative citizenship through abuse-free schools, codes of conduct, anti-bullying policies and training in peer mediation for "peaceful playgrounds". For teachers as well as children, it includes norms against all forms of harassment, no-tolerance policies against violence, and development of positive disciplinary alternatives to corporal punishment which are clear, consistent and provide support to teachers in their fair application.
By engaging with families, the CF school seeks to become a place where children and adults can have conversations about issues of immediate concern to them (HIV/AIDS, drugs, sex, work and conflict) and about the values, attitudes and behaviours underlying them.
While certainly applicable to all children, then, the flexibility and responsiveness inherent in the concept is especially important for reaching the excluded in the "especially difficult circumstances" where children, adolescents and families are particularly at risk. They are important when normative social controls are breaking down -- due to the rapid and unmanaged social change of communal conflict, urban stress or rural dislocation; and when families are not able to support their children because they are themselves fighting fragmentation or alienation.
Two programmes currently underway in Thailand reflect different approaches and emphases to the child-friendly concept and give a sense of its scope. Working under the auspices of the Office of National Primary Education, the children's integrated learning and development (CHILD) initiative in the Northeast (with input from UNICEF) and the child-friendly schools programme (CFS) in the North (supported by SC-US) are both intended as fairly holistic interventions. Each involves several layers of activity, various strategies for engaging with schools and their communities and different types of content. Both deal with a range of schools and children, confronting problems of exclusion to varying degrees.
Situated in the poorest region of the country, CHILD takes a broad-brush approach to the child-friendliness concept, aiming to create a "constructive context" in which children's learning is enhanced through the school, in collaboration with the community and in a holistic way. It begins with a "futures search", to mobilize teachers, parents and students in thinking and talking about children's protection and development rights and agreeing to take action. The first most concrete action, offered as an enabling incentive, is on the micro-level, introducing for the school's consideration a relatively simple computer-based MIS technology. Including computer and training, the technology helps teachers organize and track data related to students' academic and health status.
The innovation at this level is not dramatic. It is easily accessible to teachers of even the most resource-poor schools and is, for the most part, manageable in its first stages by the expertise available. It moves previously scattered pieces of hand-noted data on each child into more visible patterns, "whole pictures" of a student's developmental progress. In this, the key strength of the intervention is the tool it provides teachers to do more easily and effectively what they already do. At the same time, the project allows for growth. Teachers and schools are becoming increasingly more interested and expert in analytical manipulation and in thinking and talking together about students in more holistic and integrative ways. Some are looking for ways to add new and more locally important data to the MIS -- on drug use, absenteeism, nutrition, and are working with students and parents on ways to address problems revealed by their analyses.
The Child-Friendly School/CFS project operates on the other side of the country, in a region characterized by relative wealth, the persistent social inequities and social trauma of marginalized Hilltribe communities, high rates of drug abuse and child prostitution and epidemic levels of HIV/AIDS. The project is framed explicitly within the core themes of survival, protection and development, equity and participation. It begins with a relatively intensive Self-Assessment Process asking parents, teachers and students to define their ideal of a child-friendly school, and to contrast that with what they perceive to be the current situation. It then pursues a broadly-focused intervention strategy based on a negotiation of the perceived gaps and creation of an agreed "school charter". Specific activities aim at strengthening home-community-school links, promoting the safe and secure psycho-social development of children, and introducing the notion of participatory active-learning into classroom practice.
For both projects, the logic of the child-friendly and teacher-engaged school appears to be proving intuitively sound in both regions, irrespective of their social, economic and cultural differences. In large part, the positive response is a function of the holistic and non-restrictive nature of the concept which allow each of the projects to be framed and implemented with considerable flexibility and adaptation. Each has been able to base the precise entry point, focus and evolution of its interventions on its respective schools, teachers and students as coherent organizational "systems".
More problematic here, and in "piloting" initiatives generally, the physical and psychological distance of the programmes from each other and from the national education policy centre makes communication and joint action difficult. From the perspective of articulating, managing and sustaining a nationally coherent and integrated "child-friendly reform programme", it is obviously more difficult to promote change in a situation where each reform application and trajectory is different in approach and emphasis. It is more complicated to create and organize training materials and action, to plan inputs, or to track outcomes jointly. If the impact is to be sufficiently national in support and scope, it is especially important for projects like these to create and maintain transparent and regular communication, horizontally between the work in the field and vertically with the policy centre. Underlying principles of action must be openly and regularly discussed and implementation must be monitored and outcomes assessed in co-operation with the communities expected to be benefiting.
Though with limited attention to teaching and learning quality and academic performance, WHO's overlapping health-promoting and healthy school initiatives are conceptually consistent with that of the child-friendly school. They also are concerned with a holistic conception of children, with their lives both inside and outside the school and with building linkages between the school, family and community. Their main emphasis, however, is on mental and social health as the underpinnings of children learning to make sound choices (on things like nutrition, sexual behaviour, interpersonal relationships) and to protect themselves from high-risk behaviours, violence and abuse (to make better judgements, for example, and assess the veracity of advertised information). They aim to foster healthy school environments, deliver appropriate health messages and interventions through the auspices of the school and its curriculum, and promote healthy life-style behaviours. They also project a more activist role for the school in providing input to health-promoting and violence-reducing public policy; re-orienting community health and referral services to ensure effective diagnostic and remedial support for vulnerable children; and mobilizing community participation around child health and protection issues.
A third variation on this same theme is that of inclusive education introduced at Salamanca. Intended to capture the ideals of CRC and EFA commitments through schools which are welcoming of all children, irrespective of capacities, UNESCO in particular is promoting this terminology as direct counterpoint to education which excludes. Inclusive education aims to be "transformative". It includes advocacy (creating public platforms for people with disabilities), capacity development (training teachers, decision-makers, community leaders) and management strengthening activities (guidance for school staff, curriculum developers, supervisory systems). As with child-friendly and health promoting schools, much of the focus of "inclusive schools" has been on networking and professional development -- to spread the idea in principle and ground it in practice. It is concerned with

identifying all forms of exclusion and barriers to learning within national policies, cultures, educational institutions and communities. It has implications for redirecting resources, inter-sectoral collaboration, teacher training, curriculum development, local capacity building and community involvement. It is about developing an education within communities which is relevant to local needs and maximizes the use of community resources to overcome problems. It requires everyone involved in supporting learning at whatever level in identifying and responding to priorities for development as they exist locally. It emphasizes the roles of communities and centres of learning in creating and sustaining each other (UNESCO/d/:16)

All of these programme approaches are, or should be, attempts to create learner-friendly schools; schools with teachers and managers who are able to recognize and build on the differences children bring to school, in gender, age, background and capacities. Simultaneously, they should be schools which actively seek out and remove the barriers to learning which might exist within their own arrangements and resources, barriers which prevent accommodating the mix of children who do come and which serve to keep others out. As a typology, it is critical that these are schools in which ECCD programmes are given high priority, tailored to the specific learner characteristics of the young child and the active inclusion of their primary care-givers. They must be schools which give consideration also to the particular learning styles and priorities of adolescents, as children-in-transition, to provide opportunities for genuine participation and to help them make linkages between the knowledge and skills of the school and those of the world outside.
They must be schools which help students at risk to test the parameters of their values, knowledge and capacities to act by inviting input from, and collaboration with, other youth-oriented institutions and services of the community. The recent efforts to implement a stronger life-skills orientation in and across programmes, to strengthen students' abilities "to translate knowledge, attitudes and values into action" (Baldo& Furniss:1) are especially critical for students in marginal communities who may have no chance other than school for guided exploration. They are important, too, for specific at-risk children and adolescents -- for child workers, young soldiers, teenage parents, those who are HIV/AIDS affected -- who may be able to engage only in nonformal education settings. Again, the priority must be on forging links, on developing a porous education system, one enabling children and young people to move back and forth as their changing situations warrant.
Within Education Systems
An example of an effort to move in the direction of greater synergy among various education development initiatives is beginning in Lao PDR. It is a country with few resources, little bureaucratic capacity and almost no civil society participation. Most of its children are indigenous and most remain vulnerable, excluded from even minimal learning opportunities. Education interventions, however, are beginning to happen in a number of sub-sectors. The overarching framework of all the donor interventions is important in their attempt to be explicitly integrative.
One of the more important structural components of these activities is the cluster school, intended to serve as a way to "increase the participation of parents in the schooling of their children, to improve access to good teaching and learning materials, to increase learning achievement and wastage rates especially among remote and indigenous areas" (Dykstra:7). An arrangement of some half dozen schools linked administratively, the cluster serves to promote common use of materials and interaction among teachers and principals, including extended opportunities for joint training and more regular supervision. Parents are also encouraged to use the facilities of the cluster, and to contribute to its governance.
The administrative clustering of schools, and implementation of joint activities is no doubt a necessary condition of sustainable synergy; it provides the skeleton. Equally important in this case, however, are the apparent commitments to ensuring that all other education interventions also reinforce one another in content, process and community focus; and that all of these are based within an essentially learning-for-implementation paradigm. Thus, clusters are located in the same communities as village-based early childhood programmes, creating and facilitating parent-teacher-student associations to deal with issues of access and retention especially for indigenous children.
Resource centres are built to train teachers from the clusters in materials production and localizing curriculum. These, in turn, complement efforts of the National Teacher Training Programme to upgrade untrained and unqualified indigenous teachers in the use of child-centred methods, increase their knowledge of the new curriculum, and help them work in multi-grade classrooms "which comprise the majority of schools in ethnic areas". None of this is very dramatic in the telling; it is also labour intensive and slow in such a vertically managed and centrally controlled country. Nevertheless, it is an approach suited to institutionalizing an inclusive system.
With Out-of-School-Learners
Holistic education recognizes the fact and critical importance, of learning beyond the school. Unlocked a decade or so earlier by the Faure Report, Jomtien opened wider the door to the legitimacy of nonformal education. In its potential for flexibility of outreach and interactive teaching methodologies, out-of-school learning is not only legitimate. It is necessary if all children and young people are to have access to a comprehensive and truly seamless education. Community, nonformal, literacy and adult education are all terms which, in principle at least, operationalize the EFA "expanded vision" of all people being able to address their basic learning needs at any and all points in their lives. "For basic education to be equitable", and for it to be useful and inclusive, "all children, youth and adults must be given the opportunity to achieve and maintain an acceptable level of learning" (EFA: art 3-2). NFE is intended to do this.
Building on considerable experience from the previous half century, the decade following Jomtien has seen an increasingly positive recognition accorded the right and value of this kind of learning. It is seen often as the basis of marginalized and fragmented communities becoming "empowered". Much of this progress has been realized under the ambit of specific communities of people at risk (women, people affected by HIV/AIDS, subsistence farmers, street children) or of sectors with a strong outreach agenda (primary health care, water and sanitation, Agenda 21).
Although as always evaluations tend to be somewhat anecdotal, many of these programmes appear to have been fairly effective in mobilizing change at the grassroots level, at least for the short-term benefit of those involved. Much of it has involved children's learning, directly and indirectly, through early childhood development programmes and functional literacy or jobs training for youth. Unfortunately, there appears to have been relatively little community-based education aimed specifically at designing NFE programmes for the long-term. Nor do many attempt to strengthen linkages between families and the formal school; PTAs and other such mechanisms remain often little more than channels for eliciting school fees and local services.
One potentially significant impact of the increased status being accorded nonformal education with particular relevance for excluded children, however, are programmes allowing them to come back -- either to formal schools or more informally organized learning activities. Children who for whatever reason have been kept, or put, out of school are being given more opportunities to find appropriate "learning spaces" when and as they are ready, irrespective of age or school history. Such second-chance education is especially positive where it combines curriculum elements of the formal system with more nonformal delivery arrangements; another movement toward the critical criterion of seamlessness.
The Mauritius basic education for adolescents programme on the island of Rodrigues addresses a situation of primary completion rates at less than 50%, with few children who drop out having the knowledge or skills either to manage their lives (problems of early marriage, drugs and alcohol, child labour are growing) or to find productive work. The BEFA programme provides a mix of life- and livelihood skills modules, delivered through a variety a venues, often facilitated by secondary school students. Participants are, in part, drawn to the programme by mobilization and outreach activities; in part also because the community and their families are active supporters of the programme. Unfortunately, while there is some co-operation with the formal school in BEFA management, there is less indication that the strengths of BEFA (learner-centredness, participatory approach, links with the community, peer-peer delivery) are being adopted by the formal side.
Uganda's complementary opportunities for primary education (COPE) project is in a much stronger education environment and, while also concerned with presenting formerly excluded children with "an alternative educational strategy", it has been able to do so with greater expectation of sustainable results. Significantly, COPE takes cognisance of the fact that many of these children have stayed out of school through conscious family decisions based on the logic of their circumstances. Living in poverty, families have considered their children's ability to work to outweigh the vague potential of an education system seen as of low quality. COPE is important in being a strongly "community-based initiative .... the community's choice of teaching times, school year and instructors gives it the power to provide an acceptable alternative to the formal system."
It is important, too, in attempting to de-link age from grade, involving children 8-14 in multi-age groupings and learner-centred methods. Classes are small enough to allow some use of participatory methods, individualized attention and continuous feedback to students on their progress. Significantly, it also emphasises strengthening the capacity of locally-recruited teacher-instructors through community-based in-service training.
COPE is understood to be a temporary solution to the problem of excluded children, one no longer needed once the formal system is able to provide "quality, affordable and accessible opportunities for all children" (UNICEF/Uganda:19). This may be an overly short-sighted perspective in situations of probably fairly chronic poverty. Even once the formal system is better established, it seems likely that significant numbers of children and youth will continue not to enrol or to drop out early. This suggests that permanent action against exclusion requires programmes like COPE to serve in an equally permanent role, extending the parameters of what constitutes "legitimate" education. NFE, functional literacy and training programmes have long provided a recapturing role of a kind, but rarely in ways which allow learners to draw on, or integrate with, the resources and contents of formal education. Even more rarely do they do so in ways which push that system to change. Both are centrally important in ending exclusion.
III-2 Enabling Processes
Engaging with Teachers
As suggested elsewhere, the changes required to make education systems and schools inclusive imply new learning, sometimes in a major way, for both organizations and individuals. The common, and perhaps ultimate, thread in any successful such change is the capacity of teachers to become more effective at enabling the participation of children and facilitating their learning. Considerable effort has been made over the decade to improve this capacity, but in order to reach the excluded much more is needed.
Teachers are key because they are, for most children, the main reference to school and the formal processes of learning. For all children, "home and family lives to not simply disappear when they begin schooling. They take with them to school their health and ill-health and their contrastive accumulations of privileges and disadvantages" (Comber:4). How well each child does in school is clearly a function of the repertoire of capacities each brings. It is as equally a function of the teacher's ability to create an environment which allows each child to use and strengthen that repertoire to the fullest extent possible.
For at-risk children especially, it is critical that teachers have the capacity to create a facilitative learning environment. The factors which make children's learning vulnerable in the first place (deprivation in their early years, marginalized culture or language, pressures of poverty or work) cause them to suffer further where teachers are ill-prepared, uncertain or uninterested; or where the curriculum is inflexible. Suggestions on the "that" of inclusion are easy enough to make: child-friendly use of small groups, peer and cross-age tutoring, home-based support. Much more difficult for teachers is the "how". Ultimately, it falls to the teacher to ensure that the life-realities brought by the child are duly recognized. It is the task of the teacher to make the connections between family and school; to "struggle with the connections between curriculum, school organization and the personal learning needs of students and design environments where learning can take place" (Leiberman&Miller:21)
Capable teachers, committed to the well-being and learning of students, will to a significant degree compensate for most factors leading to a child's exclusion. When teachers have the motivation to reach out to each child as an individual learner and to parents as the critical third partners in their children's success at school, children will be included. Where teachers are prepared to build and maintain their professional competence in creating a secure and nurturing learning environment, ask challenging questions, encourage ideas and guide a discovery process, most children will succeed. The key lesson of the past decade, and confirmed by earlier ones, is that good teachers are the bottom-line of any serious or sustained effort to bring vulnerable children into educational programmes and keep them there.
Unfortunately, another major lesson of the decade is that teachers in many countries are also at the bottom of the line when it comes to recognizing their needs as professionals. Large numbers of the countries most in need of a strong teacher base are unable, or disinclined, to put the necessary attention into creating one. Little if any of the potential for child-friendly and inclusive schools will be realized if teachers are not themselves educated with the knowledge and skills of learner-oriented teaching, through training and supervisory approaches using the same methods. Their potential will fail if teachers are not sufficiently remunerated to stay in the classroom rather than seek second or third jobs outside; or if they cannot reach a level of standing and rapport in the community which allows them to work in partnership with parents and other social agencies.
This is not to suggest that progress is not being made. Chile's improving quality and equity in rural basic schools programme is an attempt to break the isolation of rural teachers, enhance their sense of professional quality and strengthen their ability to engage as partners with the wider community. Structurally, this is being done through teacher-managed learning clusters or "micro-centres" (Richards:2). Operating within a conceptual framework of mutual learning, shared problems and professional development, these centres enable "development of conversations and the exchange of tales between teachers". Through joint research and curriculum development activities, the centres are expected to become "practicing, learning communities" for the eventual decentralization of rural school design and development (Ibid:2). Communities are involved. Though parents, social agencies and the private sector, the aim is to broaden the scope of issues with which the teachers and their schools become engaged, developing partnerships in the process and creating a "synergy for action". Joint analyses of the "challenges of poverty" facing communities and their children allow dealing with them in more collaborative ways (Ibid:4).
Even the problems with teacher education in Pakistan noted earlier are at least to some degree being confronted, albeit largely through the auspices of donors, private institutions and NGOs. All are concerned with teachers and teaching issues linked to children at-risk and excluded. Programmes train female teachers in remote rural areas and help them establish primary schools for attracting girls. Associating teacher training with community-based programmes encourages local school management. Rural teachers are trained to guide children in learning from education radio programmes. The diagnostic skills of teachers are strengthened for identifying students with math-related learning problems. Other programmes are designing durable teacher training delivery strategies: in-service coupled with supervised practicum; internship training; and teacher-teacher, in-class mentoring through school clusters (Putting the Child First:22-24).
Many of these programmes are apparently showing some success. It will be important that the teachers involved are supported with regular supervised monitoring and in the long-term, however. Ensuring an explicit focus on excluded children will also be crucial, along with tracking impacts on their learning, changes in their enrolment and retention, and whether there is any kind of "halo" effect resulting from the more narrowly-targeted training of these interventions on teachers' broader knowledge and skills (e.g. do the teachers apply the math-oriented diagnostic methods to more general assessments of children's capacities?)
There are examples, too, of attempts to link the strengthening of teachers' capacities with systemic school reform. Myanmar's school-based healthy living & AIDS prevention in education (SHAPE) has entered the environment of AIDS and child-centred curriculum --difficult to do in that country -- expressly through a "teacher-up" school change process. Student workbooks and written curriculum emphasizing interactive, exploratory and action-oriented learning are being created through in-service teacher training workshops using these same methodologies. Cumulatively, the process provides teachers a hands-on experience in the effective classroom management of important and relevant healthy behaviour matters. In the process, they are building their commitment to, and control over, the content and methods and strengthening their capacity to share that expertise with colleagues, parents and township education officers.
One controversial idea in respect of maintaining a professional teaching body is to give greater control to communities over the hiring, monitoring, paying and firing of teachers. On the one hand, it makes sense. It is important to engaging at-risk families and children in schools that they share in making determinations as to who the teachers will be and how they will behave. Also, "in an increasing number of countries ... parents are becoming worried about teacher absenteeism and are demanding to be more involved..." (Gaynor:16). On the other hand, "... the rights of teachers must be safeguarded" (Ibid:17). Even the Malian community is not always regular in paying its teachers.
As in all other exclusion issues, the answer is one of balance. Continuing dialogue among all parties needs to be coupled with a recognition of system responsibilities. It is unrealistic to expect economically and socially marginal communities fully to cover the costs of the teachers they need or to provide teachers the professionally-informed and consistent monitoring they need. Nor is it equitable. National commitment to the CRC implies national commitment to assuring the means of creating and maintaining good education for all. Central governments must be involved to ensure training and monitoring professionally competent teachers, and to generate and better distribute budgets for doing so.
III-3 Local Relevance
Decentralization, in principle, provides the logistics and structures for enabling education to be more locally relevant. It is intended to provide an environment more likely to encourage parents to be partners and children to participate. The decentralization of education systems has been increasingly recommended and tried over the decade as fundamental to reaching the hard-to-reach. Schools which are able to make decisions at the local level, in partnership with families and students and in collaboration with other child-related agencies, should be able to understand what the needs and capacities of such children are, tailor their programmes accordingly and, together with these others, monitor impacts. Genuine decentralization should also allow schools, together with their communities, to adapt more quickly and flexibly to changing conditions, and to change those conditions, as they engage in joint situation analyses of exclusion and begin to take the actions to remove barriers and open opportunities.
Unfortunately, few educational bureaucracies have yet to allow this level of autonomy. Fewer still provide the human resources or the means of generating income which would enable a community to exercise such a mandate effectively. Decentralization implies new knowledge and behaviour; it requires community members and school staff to learn what the issues are and how to work collaboratively on them.
Toward undoing the extreme exclusion of children created by apartheid, for example, the South African Schools Act aims at almost revolutionary organizational change in moving management of schools to the local level and "opening of school doors to all children" (Luswata:3). The "emphasis on governance implies that the professional management at the school level must incorporate co-operative management and partnership among teachers, the principal, learners and the teacher representatives such as unions, professional associations and other stakeholders .... (It) will have implications for the ethos and management styles .... schools will have to respond to diversity, deal with the disadvantaged and advantaged, and handle children of different race, sex, language and cultural backgrounds". An obviously very serious commitment to decentralization, the programme implies a comprehensive reconsideration of the goals and tasks of education, in the schools themselves and in their relationships with its associated communities. It also implies the need for an on-going and participatory knowledge and skills "mapping" of the match between the capacities required and those available. The levels of learning implied are tremendous.
Decentralization involving such major systemic change is fairly rare. More typically, the strategy is simply to declare a one-off event to deconcentrate. Schools and communities are given the added responsibility of managing the substance and operations of local education, but none of the enabling conditions necessary for doing so: little new money and no new mechanisms for generating it; no framework or facilitated support for the kind of cross-cutting "change process" elements included in the South African case. Because such actions are taken often in already fragile education systems, within poor and politically marginal communities, by failing to include such enabling conditions, many cash-strapped central governments seeking to divest themselves of all unwanted burdens are simply producing more exclusion.
Thus, though research is still limited in this area, there are indications that efforts at school-based management and locally controlled budgets under these conditions are doing little actually to improve school or student performance. In some cases, they are creating obstacles by failing to induce capable teachers to take on stronger leadership roles (Fiske:27); by causing tensions in the schools as staff and leadership struggle to set priorities with no real frame of reference for doing so; and by forcing especially margin students, asked for increasing amounts of special fees, to drop out. Also, decentralized management is a highly political act in a highly political system (Fiske:5). It can threaten fundamental beliefs and values about the role of education; it can change power relations, resource allocations and control. Local exploitation can be as harmful as that from the centre.
There is also the more fundamental suggestion from some research that the basic assumptions underlying decentralization may need to be rethought. Marginalized or traditional communities may not always share the belief that their collective management of schools is a good thing; that either the schooling or the effort they have to make in sharing responsibility for it "will pay off"(Maclure:32). Even where the aim is limited to the development of local materials, there may be little benefit seen by those families which are at risk. From the perspective of marginalized parents who want a broader world for their children, "a locally generated curriculum may well fail to meet that criterion" and risks creating "educational ghettos that end up restricting those who are inside them" (IWGE:56).
Perspectives and values can change, of course, and effective balances created. But the task is large. Equity will not happen simply by increasing the authority of local leadership to act. It requires support to the development of interactive, transparent and facilitative relationships, within and between the community, the school and the national system. It requires establishing a shared vision, mechanisms for negotiating competing opinions and ways to monitor agreements. Learning is key to all of this, within the school, the education system and the community (Fiske, 1996; Shaeffer, 1994). This includes looking beyond the local leadership to engage directly with the excluded families and providing them professional support and resources. It also implies a certain degree of caution on the part of national policies and donor advocacy. Misplaced assumptions and inadequately conceived change can leave vulnerable children in a worse situation, with no or weaker schools to attend; fewer, less motivated and more often absent teachers from whom to learn; and a lower level of knowledge and skills on which to draw.
III-4 Protecting the Most Vulnerable
The first part of this section has considered themes related to all children excluded from education. The remainder looks more expressly at some of the specific conditions in which children are being put at risk.
4-a) Girls
Within every category of the most seriously excluded, and on all basic human needs dimensions including education, girls continue to be found at the bottom of the equity ladder. EFA and the CRC, backed by all other international conferences, give particular focus to girls' education. In consequence, modest advances have been made in providing relevant education to greater numbers. More is now known about the impact of gender discrimination in different cultures and social groups on levels participation in education: on access, the nature and quality of their learning, and the causes and consequences of their exclusion. There have also been gains in overcoming some of the barriers. Though absolute numbers of girls not enrolled or leaving school before completion are still high and growing in too many countries, there has been a small reduction in the percentages.
While the quantitative gains girls have made in education are important, they have perhaps been especially significant in the efforts to make gender-based interventions integrative. Most attempt to draw together a number of development dimensions -- health, protection, social learning and participation, social equity. Invariably more holistic than many other types of school reform programmes, those for girls' education are finally starting to provide "an appreciation of the web of constraints and barriers to schooling girls", including often deeply-held cultural, religious, social and political values about the roles girls and women should play in society (USAID:10-11). Girls bear a double burden in this, since they also face the barriers of all children living in situations of family poverty, inadequate infrastructure, unenforced child labour laws etc.
In the urgency of dealing with girls' exclusion, some of the traditionally very narrow approaches to promoting effective and equitable education generally are being broken down. Mauritania's newly-begun child-friendly learning environments programme reflects some of this in addressing several exclusionary realities of education in the country: pedagogically weak and physically uncomfortable schools, low participation rates for girls and, one cause of this, parents demands for "higher quality standards" before allowing daughters to enrol. Though the situation for boys in the Caribbean would suggest this is not always the case, the programme makes the not unreasonable assumption that in creating a physical and pedagogical environment welcoming to girls, it will effectively create one which is inclusive of all.
As it defines the girl-friendly school, then, it is one which is "affordable in cost for the parents and in harmony with their cultural habits, with a canteen to feed them and simple but proper sanitary facilities necessary to Moslem girls of a certain age .... A small school garden for teaching pupils to cultivate their own vegetables and diversify their diet, indispensable in this country where malnutrition is nearly always related to a lack in food variety" (PAM/ UNICEF proposal). The programme also recognizes the need for community links, working with parents to encourage their taking "mutual responsibility with teachers" for managing the school, improving its physical environment, supporting the use of child-focused, participatory methods, and creating school cooperatives to generate income.
Another important outcome of such programmes is the confirmation that, while action against the exclusion of girls must be affirmatively emphasized, it cannot be done in isolation. The imperative is for a broadly inclusive and effective education serving all, including girls. Synergy is again key: "the most effective solutions are those that address multiple barriers"; that girls' education programmes work best where they are coherent with their environment and "fit within a country's national development agenda and strategies"; where they are integrated with overall educational reform; and where "efforts to improve girls' education (are) owned by a country's citizens ... by all groups in the society" (USAID:11-13). Corollary to this, intervention strategies work best where they have built "linkages, partnerships and means of collaboration" among all implicated actors: civil, public and private; have encouraged innovation; and focused on making the often hidden life of schools open and available for broad social participation.
Guinea, for example, would appear to be pursuing such a logic in its efforts to turn around the gender gap in its primary schools. Following an analysis of barriers to girls' participation, policies were adopted initiating a national campaign on behalf of girls' education, removing regulations against pregnant girls returning to school and requiring schools to have proper sanitary facilities. While none of these were revolutionary in themselves, when coupled with a general systemic education reform process involving free textbook distribution, teacher training and hiring of more women teachers and school-health interventions, improvements happened. An apparent result has been a rise in girls' enrolment of 16% over the past eight years (World Bank/b/:2). Similarly, the home schools programme for girls, developed on the outskirts of Karachi, is considered in large measure to have succeeded "... by being responsive to their context .... (by) the programme's structure, flexibility, and ability to respond well to the concrete needs of the local community" (Farzanegan:62)
Despite their increasing popularity, the verdict is not yet clearly in with respect to the sustainable value of incentive programmes in encouraging or rewarding families' more positive attitudes and behaviours towards sending girls to school (Prather:3). For the period they are in place, they can be effective in bringing girls into school. There is also potential for social transformation where the benefits persist long enough to enable girls successfully to complete at least one level. A good experience can "open the door" to them sending their own daughters to school and, in this sense, incentives can have durable value in helping break the exclusionary cycle.
As a strategy for inclusion, however, they are less than effective where they simply fill the gap of socio-economic inequity, a financial stop-gap. They need, at the same time, to make the effort actively to change the poor performance of schools; to engage policy-makers in seriously reassessing the conditions keeping families in poverty; and to encourage families to reconsider value systems which keep girls away from school in the first place.
4-b) Working Children and Child Labour
The issues of working children, and most especially in its more malignant manifestations as child labour and sexual exploitation, have been at the centre of concern about excluded children throughout the decade. In the various attempts to balance children's learning with their earning a living, fundamentally different philosophies have emerged. Among children's advocates, educators and child protection services, donors and employers and parents, very different emphases and approaches to intervention have been tried, implicating all sectors and with mixed results.
Underlying all of them runs a culture-based continuum. At one end, the so-called "eurocentric idea of childhood" holds that children should not work at all and thus that street children and child labourers are "victims". At the other, is the position that children's work is "an essential part of community and family membership as well as a means of socialization and education"(African Contexts...:Sect 3.2.3). In the middle, a somewhat more uncertain view that, while "cultural context must be respected", culture cannot be the "trump card" when children need to be protected from harm and their development ensured (Ibid).
The focus is shifting toward this middle, to one aimed less at controlling the problem than at enabling those children and families involved to make better decisions as to what is in the child's best interest. In line with this, compulsory education as a means of ending at least the most excessive forms of child labour, a mainstay of the post-Jomtien discussion, is waning as "the" answer. References to the experience of western countries are proving too muddied by intervening variables to very usefully inform policy. The much quoted case of Kerala is similarly confounded by the fact that in addition to making education compulsory, it made "a long-term commitment politically and socially to place a high premium on (it) and 60% of the State budget to support it. Expansion of the school system and the attainment of universal basic primary education ... to all intents and purposes eliminated child labour ... particularly its abusive forms" (Suvira:54). In other words, it was the application of a synergistic model which made the change possible, not legal dictate.
Compulsory education on its own as a regulation is, in any case, far too simplistic. The Philippines in 1993, for example, had a literacy rate of 94% and still large numbers of working children (Ibid:54). Also, it makes little sense to compel parents legally to send children to schools where facilities are few, teaching is poor and there is no reasonable way to enforce compliance. Making a more enabling environment through the law may be necessary, but needs to be supported by simultaneous and sustained attention to creating public demand for the education of all children, to ensuring quality educational services, and to mobilizing a strong social stigma against work which denies children the chance to learn.
At the most macro level, it is critical that greater and more shared responsibility be taken at national and international policy and action. Review of global trade practices and monetary policies, measures to alleviate endemic poverty, regulations controlling "undocumented" worker migration, action on environmental degradation and socio-political conflict -- all of these are critical to ensuring a limit on children's having to work and, when they do, that their rights to protection and education are maintained.
Misunderstanding and discrimination underlie much of the negative response to working children, especially to those working on the street. Bringing the facts of these children's lives, and why they are there, more forcefully into both national and local discussion is becoming an increasingly important line of action. Where national programmes have been effective, they have reflected strong collaboration among major stakeholders: international agencies, national social, industrial and financial policy-makers; factory owners and unions; educators, families and the children themselves. The media have also been important partners. Making "publicly visible" the incidents, causes and implications of especially exploitative child labour has been a core element for action in Brazil, in conjunction with an "All Children in School" national mobilization process.
Critical, too, is the initiation of systematic and locally-specific processes for remedial and preventative action. One sign of progress in this latter respect has been decentralization, the "devolution downwards from the centre to various administrative levels, particularly the municipality". The idea of African mayors as defenders of children underlies the child-friendly Johannesburg initiative, and provides a good example of mobilizing this type of co-ordinated thinking and action, both to end exploitative child labour and to encourage children into school.
Developed as "metropolitan programmes of action for children", the aim is to give formal recognition of children's rights to participation and protection (The African Contexts...: Sect 3.3). The six action points of the Initiative, developed to implement children's rights at the local level, are equally relevant to an education-based analysis: map vulnerable groups, as part of a situation analysis of children's exclusion; inventory local action toward coordination and augmentation; set 'do-able' goals for children in a local action plan; disaggregate and monitor child-focussed indicators of disparities; evaluate actions to chart progress; establish a local level policy coordination team to follow-up cross-sector impact.
As another example of collaborative mixed-level action, support to schools and multi-agency outreach programmes is beginning to prove effective at finding lost children and helping them rebuild a sense of neighbourhood (IWGE:68). In the context of the economic crisis in Indonesia, a programme in East Java works with local government, schools, NGOs and the community to identify which families have children who are vulnerable to dropping out or have already done so. It takes remedial action to help them back into school and provides alternative education opportunities for 'hard' core children who will never re-enter the formal system (UNICEF/Indonesia: memo note).
Both nonformal and formal approaches clearly need to be at the centre of all such action, and again they need to be linked. Effective programmes have been characterized by their flexibility in breaking down artificial boundaries between formal, nonformal and work-based learning arrangements, and by their creativity in balancing the learning and earning needs of families and children. They have reduced the "territoriality tendencies" of schools in opening options for fluid work-study schedules, relevant and responsive curriculum contents and flexible delivery modes. Children who need or want to work have been able to move back and forth between systems considered equally valid; one not the poor cousin of the other.
Collaboration and integration at local levels also allow the socio-cultural dimensions of working children and child labour to be reflected. The multi-partner alternative basic education programme for children of seasonal migrant workers in Mexico, for example, establishes learning sites in the camps where the children are; tailors its schedule to dates of harvesting; generates curriculum materials based on the specific indigenous languages of the children and life-stories created by them; and involves children in the management of the classroom through student assemblies. To avoid marginalizing children further by being a "second-rate poor school for the poor", the programme links with the formal school system. The curriculum is accredited at the first two grade levels (further levels are planned), enabling graduates to move into the regular system as they can.
The dilemma in all programmes concerned with working children is one of balance. It is important that children who want and need to work be able to do so at levels and in situations where they can still participate in education and be protected from harm. It is also paramount to get children out of labour which is exploitative, dangerous and denies them a future. The design and management of intervention programmes must be at once appropriately comprehensive and at the same time realistically do-able. A goal which includes all possible dimensions -- elimination of child labour, protection of working children, guaranteed primary school enrolment and good quality learning, alternative educational activities and parent involvement -- is important in sorting through the full range of implicating factors and actors and ensuring long-term commitment to a broad vision. But evolving a sustainable and management agreement on how actually to work through all of these is equally critical if those goals are progressively to be realized.
This means developing step-wise plans for identifying resources, ensuring or creating an enabling legal framework and undertaking necessary capacity development for the agencies and individuals involved. It also means ensuring that all of those involved in children's work-related exclusion from education, employers and schools through to parents and children themselves, take ownership of the problem as it affects them and as it is within their purview to address.
Families, again, are core in this regard. They urge, sometimes force, children into work; they can equally encourage them into school. Wherever available, they need to be part of designing and implementing interventions. They should be included as joint learners with their children in programmes for literacy, numeracy and work-skills, and in learning better "family-living" skills. Many -- single parents (especially teenage girls), parents with HIV/AIDS, families involved with drugs or domestic abuse -- may also need support in developing capacities to manage and protect themselves in the face of limited resources and hostile environments. Many street children have support groups beyond their families, often other children. These also count and can be among the strongest bases for peer-managed learning programmes. NGOs, often created from current or former working children as well as social workers and educators, are also critical education delivery channels. Employers, as users of children's services, are similarly necessary as participants, if the fire is to be put out and not just prevented (Tay in IWGE:66). Engaging them in the development (and resource support) of on-site education programmes is sometimes the only way of realizing an effective learning-while-earning balance.
Children themselves must be the central participants in any effort to define the "problem" and determine "solutions". It is important to acknowledge the legitimacy of their motives for being where they are. In terms of education, the interests, needs and availability of these children for learning are issues about which they must also have a say (Lowry:1). Many are already learning and doing so fairly well given their ability to survive in extremely difficult, uncertain and dangerous conditions. The onus is on education systems and schools to encourage them to engage in learning which will help them to live with more stability and safety in the society, to contribute to that society and to gain more of its benefits.
Unfortunately, it appears that mainstream education communities do not know enough about how children in these circumstances would like, or are able, to engage with organized learning. According to the IWGE consultation, many ministries of education, in fact, do not care to know, tending " to disassociate themselves from the problem of disadvantaged groups in general, and street children in particular, simply because they do not regard themselves as responsible for children who are not actually in school" (IWGE:67/italics added). The CRC requires, however, that they do become knowledgeable toward reaching all children, including these. More case studies, longitudinal analyses and programme-based action research are clearly crucial if "seamless education opportunities" are to be created to support working children (and to lessen the pressure on others to start).
"Meet and move" is perhaps the main overall message for programmes aimed at securing the safety and development of all of these children: meet them where they are in terms of their own priorities and capacities and help them to move forward. Educational interventions "must be conceived to arouse a desire for learning .... opportunities for experiential learning embedded in activities which present solutions to concrete needs" (Lowry:8). Brazil's Projeto Axe pedagogy of desire attempts such an approach in encouraging these children "to dream and wish" and offering "concrete opportunities to help the child realize those dreams" (UNICEF/b/:57). Reading and mathematics are coupled with work which is creative and skills-producing. The programme seeks to match the sense of adventure children can often find in the streets, and that which is at the base of most effective learning. "Life on the streets is risky, but also fascinating .... These kids are used to risk. Here, we create positive risks and challenges".
4-c) Children in War
In seeking to create inclusive and enabling learning environments for all children, of particular and increasing importance is the situation of those children and adolescents in conflict and at war. The Johannesburg EFA 2000 Conference was unequivocal in expressing the urgency for African countries to make peace a priority. Communal violence and war, and the policies of exclusion, racism, marginalization, discrimination and militarism which underlie them, are killing people and economies at an alarming pace in the region. Education systems, and children's access to them, are being undermined in equal measure.
In turn, education systems have a central role to play in addressing the crisis in a fundamental way. They need to give immediate and genuine attention to strengthening community, student and teacher capacities for cooperation, inter-cultural communication and conflict resolution. They need to help address "the prevention and resolution of all forms of conflict and violence, whether overt or structural, from the interpersonal level to the societal and global..." (Fountain:3).
Though still rare, various forms of peace education are being developed toward promoting the attitudinal and behavioural change required to realize this end. Helping students develop better awareness and knowledge about the core issues of peace and peacefulness is seen as a way of developing shared values and norms. Internalization of relevant analytical and social skills in areas such as interest negotiation and conflict resolution is being supported through teaching children about their own and others' rights and responsibilities and providing concrete opportunities to test these ideas. A role-play programme in Mauritius, for example, asks students to act as lawyers to resolve conflict on the use of mother-tongue language in the classroom or children wanting to go to work instead of school. A psycho-social healing programme in Croatia trains head teachers and psychologists to support classroom teachers in facilitating rehabilitation and promoting conflict resolution (Ibid:7,12). By helping children develop ways they can deal with discrimination or abuse in their own contexts, peace education programmes aim to strengthen their capacities to prevent, or at least limit, their own exclusion.
In a related way, global education focuses on children's development of knowledge and skills for living peacefully and effectively as "...citizens who demonstrate tolerance of, and respect for, people of other cultures, faiths and world views, and who have an understanding of global issues and trends" (Middle East Global Education Handbook:5). It is concerned with promoting capacity and guiding behaviour change through more learner-oriented curriculum design, school management and teaching methods. It recognizes that "children learn best when encouraged to explore and discover for themselves and when addressed as individuals with a unique cluster of beliefs, experiences and talents" (Ibid:5). There is a clear emphasis on "acquiring the skills, abilities and knowledge needed to cope with life" and presumably to act, where appropriate, to change it. "Learning to learn and thereby learning to solve problems..." is core. (Dall in Pike et al:2). In all of this, global education is also closely related to the child-friendly school concept.
Graca Machel's study in the middle of the decade, under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, was critical in bringing the issue of children as soldiers and their exploitation as victims of war onto the global agenda. While there is clearly a very long way to go in changing the situations causing and sustaining the conflicts, the importance of systematic efforts to link education and child protection within their contexts is becoming much clearer. More, and more effective, strategies and collaboration are critical to mitigate the effects of war and post-war trauma. Principal among these are those which support recovery and reintegration of children into family and community settings in ways which re-establish their self-worth, confidence and ability to learn.
The emerging concept of "permanent emergencies" (IBE:11), basically the idea of enduring conflict as a feature of exclusion, is important here. It suggests a necessary blurring of the line between emergency and development, in situations of pre-, mid- and post- conflict, when considering impact on children. In this perspective, it is related to the position of the peace educators that "peace does not merely imply the absence of overt violence .... but also encompasses the presence of social, economic and political justice" (Fountain:3). Structural violence, reflecting a situation in which such conditions of justice are not available for marginal communities, is a key condition of the wars which eventually follow. In this way, it is one of the critical disabling factors which must be included as a sign of children's exclusion -- from development in general as well as education. It reinforces the idea that inclusion in relation to conflict is not a short-term concept, or goal. Rather it must be set along a continuum of learning which aims at preventing harm, promoting development and enabling sustained integration.
The implications for education systems are significant. Ways need to be found of enabling children and young people in pre, post and mid-war situations to stabilize their social relationships, manage their basic needs and generate resources. It is especially critical in these situations that the barriers between types of education content, delivery methods and facilitators come down. Children and adolescents must be allowed easy and facilitated access to the knowledge and skills they need. They must be provided the "zone-of-peace" necessary to engage in learning. The position of adolescents is especially vulnerable here (Machel:para32). They are the children who have likely experienced the greatest traumas, as child fighters and victims of rape and other abuses. They are the ones who have to deal with the transition not just of war to peace, but from child to adult, creating yet more pressure for high-risk behaviours in terms of work, drugs, sexual behaviour, use of violence. They are also typically the children the least well understood by families or education systems with respect to the "special needs and special strengths" they bring to enabling their own learning and recovery.
Again, wherever possible, education interventions need to be done within the immediate context of children's families or primary care-givers, and the community within which they are most likely to stay through the reintegration period. "Children’s well-being is best ensured through family and community-based solutions .... (based on) local cultures and drawn from an understanding of child development" (Machel:para32). Education interventions must also take into account the needs of these adults for learning as they adapt to an often very different post-conflict situation of work, governance and social relations. This last includes relations with their children, especially where they have been involved with actual fighting; "...families are also worn down by conflict, both physically and emotionally, and face increased impoverishment ... links between education, vocational opportunities for former child combatants and the economic security of their families. These are most often the determinants of successful social reintegration" (Machel:para53).
Education in the context of armed conflict has a clear role in helping children to normalize their lives, maintain and re-establish peer relationships, improve self-esteem and find work (Machel para 54). One example of an integrative programme strategy aimed at doing this is the accelerated learning project in Liberia. Implemented as a component of its overall Back to School Initiative and the broader context of school rebuilding and textbook distribution, teacher training, girls' education and life-skills programming, it seeks to encourage war-excluded children to come to school. The aim is to get them as quickly as possible to their appropriate education level through a "compressed" 6-year primary curriculum done in three. It assumes children will move quickly, given their motivation and readiness, being older and more experienced, and teachers' ability to teach for skills competencies rather than a pre-set curriculum and small class size. It also assumes being able to attract good leadership and mobilize community interest and support. It remains a question as to whether initiating the work through limited pilot projects will provide sufficient perspective for determining the feasibility of these, but there appear to be signs of some progress (despite an unfortunate reluctance among some donors to collaborate).
There is no choice to making serious efforts in creating appropriately child-friendly and inclusive education programmes in situations as desperate as these. Traditional approaches will not apply; flexibility, responsiveness, collaboration and effectiveness must be the defining criteria. While Machel correctly cautions about the need to ensure methods are tailored to fit the cultures of the communities involved, active and participatory learning, group discussion and problem-solving, peer support and child-child arrangements have been successful in most cultures. Initiatives like the gardens of peace in countries as diverse as Sri Lanka and the former Yugoslavian countries hold strong potential for facilitating holistic and integrative learning. They need to be more fully analysed and shared.
In Palestine, the Tamer Institute is creating learning environments for children which "emphasize the importance of personal and collective self-expression as a way of transforming their suffering into hope, and developing in them resilience and an ability to come to terms" with their situation (UNICEF/MENARO: presentation by A Nasser). Weekly journals are used by older children as forums of self-expression to raise issues of common concern "and even challenge policy makers to constructive dialogue". Drama helps "alleviate and deal with violence". Dialogue and discussion circles help young children "tolerate and respect each others' views and bridge their differences". Such approaches ensure a focus based directly on the experiences, learning capacity and interests children bring with them. Linkage is again key, and it is important that ways be found to give greater public value to such nonformal activities, and to incorporating them into the formal system.
Other types of innovations are being developed. The UNESCO/UNICEF teacher emergency pack and "school-in-a-box" are examples. These are being used in other programmes, such as UNICEF's child-friendly spaces programme in Kosovo, an attempt to provide returning and displaced children "with a sense of normalcy crucial to their psychological recovery and social integration" (Wulf:5).
Common to all education programmes set within the context of humanitarian emergencies, they must be based on the specifics of their situation; the degree of "structuredness" appropriate to the children involved (their physical, emotional and livelihood needs, their capacities, age and gender); to the physical environment (persistence of the violence or environmental degradation); to the resources available; and to the expected duration and trajectory of the emergency. In all cases, the fundamentals will be the same: teaching which is child-based and, as much as possible, negotiated with families in ways which facilitate re-engagement, nurturing and tolerance; and which is flexible and pedagogically effective, ensuring intellectual development, physical and emotional well-being and viable survival and coping strategies (UNICEF/d/). All of this, of course, makes the training and support of teachers once again a critical matter,"... to reconfirm their own personal safety and professional confidence, including how most effectively to work with children who are suffering trauma" (Machel:para55)
4-d) Indigenous Children
As discussed in the previous section, indigenous communities are particularly fragile within the spectrum of excluded communities. Not only are they excluded by the fact of their history and culture (children of nomadic tribes in Sudan, for example, face exclusion simply by living the traditional life), they are susceptible to further risk by the very interventions intended to support and include them. It is especially important for these communities that the education interventions directed at them seek with vigour to be community-based, interactive and genuinely participatory; that they be based on local culture, development priorities and social context.
The degree of risk posed to these communities by interventions is directly proportional to the extent of exclusion they are already facing. The more they are unique and the greater their isolation, the wider will be the communication gap between them and outside agents; the less their margin for experimentation; and the more limited their capacity or willingness to say 'no' to the innovations -- especially where these are presented as ways to make the life of their children significantly better. Excluding actions are often subtle and unintended, conveyed in projects based on foreign cultural paradigms which, in turn, guide the way questions are asked, problems are defined, and options are identified. The CRC makes it an imperative for governments to take the initiative in bringing education to where such communities are; it is less clear about the best, most protective, route for getting there.
There are, however, some indicators. A decade-long programme of primary school curriculum development in Canada undertaken jointly by an aboriginal community and a university began with the assumption of equity in values and culture, but also with an agreement that one side was more equal than the other. The fundamental goal was for a curriculum which would maintain and strengthen the integrity of the indigenous culture. Professional pedagogical principles, the western cultural input, were necessary, but not sufficient and not first. Partnership began with creating a mutual "vision" statement: "it will be the children who inherit the struggle to retain and enhance the people's culture, language and history; who continue the quest for economic progress for a better quality of life; and who move forward with strengthened resolve to plan their own identity" (Pence:3) Around this core, community elders and leaders, teachers, students and education specialists, "generated" a teacher education and school-based curriculum. Content and methodology blended local and external values, modern sector and traditional knowledge, male and female, young and old. The generative process is to continue; the curriculum will evolve as it is applied, as people and conditions change, and as new learning emerges.
4-e) Children with Disabilities
The conception of an inclusive education is an overarching one, implying a change of mindset and expectations toward opening education to all children. Countries such as Mozambique and Palestine have adopted as a principle the inclusion of excluded groups in their Education Sector Programmes as a whole (UNESCO: Special Needs Education memo:Nov99). As a principle, it needs to become much more prominent, and actively applied, in all countries. Its basic criterion is that schools conform to the characteristics of the child, and not vice-versa. It affirms action on behalf of children in direct correlation to their and their families need for outreach. It gives special attention to child-child strategies: children of different ages, learning styles and capacities working as pairs or in groups to ensure everyone's positive involvement. It includes home-linkages, through visiting teachers, community resource people and portable learning packages. In Saudi Arabia, inclusion is being addressed through the use of special resource rooms, specialist teachers assigned to work with mainstream classrooms, 'mobile teachers' to provide training to schools in ways of managing integration and consultant teachers who give advice and guidance on a referral basis.
Discrimination of any kind is very much a function of culture and individual perspective. Exclusion from education on the basis of disability is less a matter of any actual inability to learn as of a belief that certain types of people cannot learn and need not be helped to try. Action against such exclusion, then, needs to be understood within the context of the professional and community belief systems which maintain it. Actions to include affected children need to work at changing these perceptions from within those systems, through provision of more accurate information, opportunities to test ideas, examples of effective strategies. The matter of labelling is an especially sensitive one in this context. It is important to recognize that children with special needs or disabilities are not all "of a kind" in the needs and capacities they bring to their learning. Social policies and education systems (and especially teachers) need to have sufficiently sensitive ways to know who the children are who need extra support, on what basis they need it and what specifically it should be.
Too broad or nebulous an approach to assessing children leads both to too many children being labelled deficient, and thus denied regular access to school; and to too many with special needs being overlooked, and thus denied access to appropriate support. In both cases, children are without resources appropriate to their effective learning. Slippage in progress made to ensure constructive definitions of children's special learning needs as expressed by the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada are important to note. The Association is concerned about apparent moves by education ministries both to discourage teachers from requesting assessments because systems "cannot provide the services", and to "de-label" students with special needs, to refer not to learning disabilities, but to learning differences. Because only the first is recognized under the Canadian Human Rights Act, it is less easy for parents to make a case of denied access to effective education (Campbell:1,6).
On the other side, attaching a deficit-defining label to children is equally damaging in allowing systems to justify their exclusion. It becomes a particularly dangerous approach when the label, and exclusion from regular school access, are too-loosely applied to children of ethnic minorities, indigenous communities or others who are seen as "different". There is risk in labelling when, what is seen as "adaptive and 'intelligent' in one culture, can be (seen as) maladaptive and even 'unintelligent' in another" (Sternberg in Franklin:116). Exclusion into sometimes lower quality special education risks being used as "the primary solution for ... learners whose cognitive and behavioural patterns are incompatible with schools' monocultural instructional methods" (Franklin:116). Thus, for example, Romany children in some European countries are over-represented in special needs institutions, and noteworthy by their non-participation in regular classrooms where they are culturally and linguistically a minority (Ainscow/Haile-Giorgis:20,24).
In a similar way, child sex workers and war-injured children are often not encouraged to resume their education where their behaviour is seen as disruptive, and emotionally traumatized children are kept away as being unable to learn. What is indisputable is that schools and societies need to accept responsibility for ensuring that there are no children who "do not fit"; that exclusion is understood not as a function of the "impairment of an individual, but ... a socially created barrier to participation" In-service teacher education and specifically tailored curriculum materials can help increase their familiarity with children's different types of learning styles and capacities, strengthen their sense of confidence in being able to work with them and allow them the room they need to manage their own learning (UNESCO/ICF-EFA 1998:7).
4-f) Children affected by HIV/AIDS
As an example of children with special needs, children affected by HIV/AIDS are perhaps uniquely at risk. Either as affected or infected, these children and youth are vulnerable at all points in their lives, including their relationship with the school: how they are treated there and under what conditions they are able to stay. HIV/AIDS creates fear, discrimination and exclusion. Affected children are forced into sporadic or non-attendance by having to assume responsibility for family income and childcare.
In regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, HIV/AIDS is wiping out all education gains. As one participant at the Johannesburg 2000 Conference put it, "the pre- and post- AIDS world are not the same world; they constitute a shift in new paradigm". In areas of Kenya, 52% of children orphaned by AIDS are not in school compared to 2% of non-AIDS orphans. In Malawi, 10% of education personnel had died of AIDS by 1997. More than 30% rates of infection are reported among teachers in three southern Africa countries.
As the socio-economic crisis of HIV/AIDS grows, school and education systems have no option but to become consciously and energetically part of the solution for children. This includes support to the human resource capacities of families of affected children, as well as to the children themselves. Nonformal, community-based and formal education programmes are needed to work together in strengthening the capacity of those affected to adapt to the psycho-social, work and home management changes confronting them. They are needed to help children develop the knowledge and skills to access support networks, those which can give them guidance in dealing with the health aspects of the infection, but also with the human rights and ethical dilemmas related to issues such as expulsion from school or denial of medical care. One clear message coming out of the AIDS crisis is that any justification for the segmentation of education systems is no longer tenable. Countries, communities and children cannot afford it.
Somewhat unique to the widening circle of the HIV/AIDS crisis, one particular "learning group" for such interventions so far largely ignored are the grandparents of AIDS-affected children. As parents become ill and die, their children are increasing being left with older relatives who often know little about the disease, and have limited experience with social services agencies and the school and are less capable or comfortable in dealing with them. Many are not able or willing to counsel or manage these grandchildren, to urge them to go to school or to teach them at home. Adults can, of course, learn and the family focus again matters. It is a question of reaching out to them using methods appropriate to their own educational and work experience, in a language and format they can understand and with which they can engage.
Programmes of continuing in-service teacher support are also critical, both for experienced teachers facing burn-out and for new ones who may have been incompletely prepared in the rush of replacing staff who leave. Curriculum designs and contents need to be flexible and responsive. They need to provide a "basket" of learning opportunities to affected children, to reflect the increasing randomness with which they can participate in school. Ever younger children are needing to have an education which provides basic life and livelihood management capacities. Transition and out-of-school classes; more educative childcare programmes and youth clubs; child-child and peer learning initiatives; collaboration with local private sector agencies to create apprenticeship arrangements are some of the actions being developed to address this widening range of demands on the system.
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