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IV. Moving Forward: Debates, Challenges and Lessons from Good Practice
"Nothing short of a renewed and massive political will at the national and international levels to invest in people and their well-being will achieve the objectives of social development" (WSSD, Para 82)
1. Debates
Nor will anything less achieve the objectives of Education For All. The basic question of exclusion is simple enough: "why is it that schools throughout the world fail to teach so many children successfully?" (MONEE:52). Beyond saying that societies are not trying hard enough, the answers are not so simple. Exclusion is a layered phenomenon. Underlying conditions keep children out: poverty, discrimination, communal violence. Systemic factors push them out: unsafe and insecure schools, unqualified or unmotivated teachers, inflexible schedules and irrelevant curriculum. Individual and family situations hold them back: values or other priorities which push formal education aside. .
While there has been progress since Jomtien in extending the quality and scope of education to many children, progress for excluded children would seem only marginal. The questions at least are clearer, and by extending the decade the world has given itself more time to try to answer them. Four of the more persistent threads of debate include:
1-i) Focusing directly on excluded children and/or more broadly on the disabling causal conditions.
Programmes enabling participation by specific at-risk children or making specific schools child-friendly reduce exclusion. While important, however, impact is limited in numbers and durability. Action to strengthen tertiary education "to absorb and exploit global knowledge and new technologies" (DFID:16) might lead to countries reducing poverty levels, but is likely to miss those outside the development paradigm. Strengthening meso-level education bureaucracies, teacher training and curriculum development can improve the quality of schools and promote public support for education-of-all goals. Helping schools become more effectively "ready" to reach out to and welcome children of all backgrounds and to work collaboratively with parents is critical. Such actions, however, require major commitments of resources; they also take time which excluded children do not really have. The three levels are on a continuum, of course. All points along it must be held accountable and action needs to be simultaneous and system.
1-ii) Creating higher quality and accessible formal school systems and/or broadening the framework to recognize early childhood and nonformal programmes as integral parts of an expanded vision.
Better schools with better teaching and more relevant content will draw in and retain more students who will be more successful. They will not, however, reach all children. Indigenous children, those living in absolute poverty or working, children affected by HIV/AIDS -- all of these will continue to find it difficult or undesirable to participate. The CRC confirms their right to an effective education, but neither family nor national budgets, professional expertise or system flexibility are limitless. Priorities need to be negotiated and equitable alternatives developed. There are conditions. It means promoting and sustaining multiple linkages between out-of-school education and the formal system; children in nonformal programmes cannot be left as also-rans, disconnected from the chance to benefit from and contribute to their society. This means ensuring equity in the status of each type of provision, and rationalizing the use of the overall resources available to these.
1-iii) Intervening through national-level advocacy and/or through direct context-specific action with families and communities.
International and national advocacy, strongly, coherently and consistently expressed, are critical to getting the education rights of excluded children onto national agendas; they sometimes prompt action. Experience is very clear, however. No substantive or sustainable change in the vulnerability of children, in their protection, development or learning, is possible without their and their families' genuine participation in defining and acting on the matter as they see it. Ending exclusionary education requires education to end exclusion: providing opportunities, resources and communication channels for families and communities to learn and, through that learning, to develop the knowledge, skills and self-confidence to push for a change in the quality of education available to their children. The causes of exclusion are systemic and interdependent; so too must be efforts to address them. The two sides must come together.
1-iv) Working within closely-controlled, well-resourced pilot programme and/or venturing directly onto the level of open-ended, real-life "scale".
Pilot programmes test strategies and build models to sell proven products to national application. This aim is rarely realized in the context of exclusion, however, because systemic causes are rarely confronted. Shifting the paradigm, to apply facilitated and participatory processes "at scale" from the outset, challenges project-based traditions and may better address the social and institutional barriers to inclusion. It is also high in risk, time and labour. Education systems and donors need to learn to accommodate the pace and irregular trajectory of genuine, systemic change through long-term and flexible human and financial resource commitments. Piloting should be short-term; catalytic. Plans must be made and steps taken from the outset to integrate the new approaches into the mainstream for the long term. Current attempts by national governments and donors to use sector-wide approaches (SWAPs) are one means of combining pilots with more permanent interventions. Gradual and often frustrating as these are, they are in principle the way to go as strategies sensitive and responsive enough to reach the hard-to-reach.
There is no one "right" answer to any of these debates. There are, however, some clear directions. Experience since Jomtien has shown that no single policy, strategy or design can effectively address so complex an issue as exclusion. What is necessary, however, are: an unambiguous and persistent policy commitment to ending exclusion, in all sectors directly and indirectly touching family and child security; continuous, relevant and sufficient support to meeting the learning needs and matching the learning capacities of at-risk children and their families, over the long-term; and flexible application and adaptation of programmes and resources, based on locally-set priorities. Another key word in all if this is focus: to concentrate resources, research and advocacy directly on the most at risk and vulnerable children, in the most marginalized and poverty-burdened families, and in the most fragile socio-economic regions and countries.
2. Challenges
The Jomtien decade has made some notable progress in realizing the goals of 2000. But results are "very mixed globally .... (In) many of the most under-enrolled countries, the barriers against school attendance have not been breached" and there have been both reverses in poorer African countries and diminished advancements in others (McGrath:69-70). Children continue to be pushed out of "dilapidated classrooms (with) gloomy looking teachers" with no resources. The involvement and participation of communities" is not a frequent sight". Little "dynamism" is being shown for bringing about "drastic changes" implied by the "visions of Jomtien to reduce inequality and to emphasize student learning and teaching interaction" (Habte: 53-4)
In extending the EFA dead-line another 15 years, Amman gave the world more time. It also acknowledged the world's failure to respect the right of all children to an education. In effect, the new deadline of 2015 legitimizes the loss of another generation. In addition to debates, then, there are challenges:
2-i) Deal seriously with poverty. There is no escaping the fact that, wherever and whoever else they are, the vast majority of chronically and inter-generationally excluded children are those living in poverty. They are children whose families live without the minimum resources necessary to meet their basic needs or to exercise "investment choices" (e.g. for health and education). They struggle to survive without the political influence to change the situation. Where other exclusionary conditions obtain -- disability, cultural and linguistic difference, migration or inadequate school quality -- families without resources cannot create, find or move to educational alternatives.
Poverty precludes options. It is an all-encompassing social, economic and health phenomenon. It is one of personal and community disempowerment. Families and communities living in poverty can work to make the education available to their children better. These improvements will remain fragile and short-lived, however, until the surrounding conditions of endemic poverty are addressed. Inequitable distribution of development benefits and the rights of governance are at the core of education exclusion. So-called "soft solutions"-- nonformal programmes, NGO mechanisms, allowance for private schools -- can be useful. They will never be more than transitory adjustments unless there is structural change.
2-ii) Make the affected children visible. When children are simply "missing" from the system, there is no pressure to take action. When their absence is known, but the causes and consequences are not, there is little to ensure that effective actions are taken. Maps of exclusion need to be created and maintained. These are "moving pictures" of the changing incidence and patterns of vulnerable families and children. Poverty is the most consistent predictor of systemic and endemic exclusion, but is rarely used by national education strategies (DFID:4)
Initiatives such as that of the Canadian School Boards Association Poverty Intervention Profile, in providing a formative self-analysis tool for boards and schools to identify where poverty is in their communities and what they are doing about it, suggest ways into generating such cumulative pictures for level-appropriate action. Additionally, exclusion mapping needs to look at patterns of racial and ethnic ghettoizing, the continuum of children's work-labour patterns, disease and disability distributions, environmental pollution etc. All of these are factors or conditions indicating where exclusion is, or will probably be, happening. Both national and local systems need to be proactive in locating, exposing and acting on them -- not simply to fix up the dysfunctional school they produce.
2-iii) Generate better analyses of what is happening in the field. Closely linked to the preceding point, such analyses are key. Actions and results of both government programmes and the various NGO and out-reach initiatives remain essentially black boxes in terms of the difference they are making on exclusion. Little is known about who and how many are being reached, and with what impact; "most reports never tell us how few children the projects reach - as compared with the need" (UNICEF-ESARO note:Nov99). Insufficient is known, too, of where there is need for improvement or revision; or where there might be potential for collaboration with, or adoption by, other systems.
Related to the issue of missing children, there is growing evidence to suggest that much of the funding and programming intended to support the poorest families and children does not in fact reach them, or reaches them in forms they cannot effectively use. Interventions conceptualized and delivered in paradigms of the middle class and/or modern sector tend to be appropriated by those who understand those paradigms. To whom and how resources move, and why they miss their intended beneficiaries, are gaps in knowledge about exclusion which mirror gaps in coverage of the excluded. Neither will be effectively closed until evidence of the scope of exclusion is accurately known and displayed, publicly and dramatically.
2-iv) Make analyses participatory. Statistics on national and global enrolment and persistence rates and NGO out-of-school activities are important, but not sufficient. They reveal little about what is happening in classrooms or in the lives of the most vulnerable children. Exclusion will persist as long as children and their families are denied an effective voice in defining and changing it. Action must build from their perspectives, and the speed, direction and evaluation of that action must be determined by them. Interveners have an ethical responsibility for the security and well-being of those whom they seek to change. Participatory assessment of impact is one of the best ways of ensuring this.
2-v) Make the framework wide enough. Causes and consequences of exclusion extend well beyond education systems. They must be sought, understood and acted on beyond these parameters, in the barriers placed in the way of children's access by policies and actions across all sectors. Education must recognize its role as part of the broader policy and governance system to recognize, confront and change conditions which create vulnerability and exclusion. Education systems need to recognize and act on their responsibility both on ending their own exclusionary practices, and on ending the exclusion of children and youth from the wider society through advocacy, sustained and articulate input to public policy, community mobilization. Teachers unions and principals associations have a particular role here. Too often, they organize along narrow lines of their own security, without serving as the voice of systemic and social reform.
2-vi) Focus and co-ordinate action. Exclusion will persist, and vulnerable children will continue to fall through the cracks, as long as education systems are divided among donors, responses are fragmented and interventions remain isolated from each other and from the wider policy and programme environment. Traditional limitations and lines of separation applied between formal and nonformal, classroom-based and out-of-school learning need to be dropped. The same is true for dealing with children's varying learning needs. This last is a core concern of the UNESCO-EFA Forum initiatives to blend inclusive education into the broader EFA framework, for example. This includes the search for fuller partnership with interventions such as UNICEF's "child-friendly schools" and NGO education programmes for youth and adults with special learning needs.
2-vii) Face the challenge - Exhibit the passion. Those with the power to precipitate change are morally liable to take serious stock of their own organizing principles and operational assumptions, and to adapt or replace them as needed. Donors, governments, international NGOs must all ask serious questions about their political will. The comment that "most of the children in Africa could be described as disadvantaged" (IWGE:53) is unacceptable.
The CRC requires policy-makers and interveners in both international and national communities to be dynamic and forthcoming in assessing the quality of work they are doing, the vacuums they are leaving, and the gaps they are filling with respect specifically to excluded children and their families. They need to examine the quality, strength and consistency of the leadership they are showing on behalf of these communities. National governments, in particular, are obligated to look to their spending priorities: to whose agenda are they listening (children rarely rank high among lobbyists); on what are they spending national resources; and to what extent are they using "community empowerment" as simply a euphemism for abdication of responsibility.
3. Lessons from Good Practice
The keys to meeting the challenges of exclusion are to start and sustain change with serious, coherent and comprehensive commitment. Universalizing education access and quality is not a matter of waiting to get it all "right". That position is unrealistic in any development enterprise; it is untenable in situations of exclusion. Just as untenable is declaring the problem unresolvable and doing nothing.
The case of Himachal Pradesh in northern India is perhaps well known. It nonetheless provides a useful benchmark to end on because it is doing what theory and "best practice" experience say must be done to reverse the exclusionary cycle. Against the odds of endemic poverty and socio-geographic marginalization from most of the benefits of India's development, it is succeeding in reducing exclusion. Children are going to school and learning because succeeding at education is a highly interactive process and, in HP, the elements of the interaction are being made to work on behalf of children rather than against them.
It is a situation in which "a sound infrastructure and responsible administration have averted the sense of discouragement and powerlessness so common elsewhere. Parents find that their efforts to educate their children are rewarded and teachers are given the means to teach properly. These favourable conditions tend to feed on each other" (PROBE:126). Adding to this virtuous cycle, other social services in the state appear to be being handled well; inclusion is part of a web reaching beyond just education.
Reiterating the framing theme of this paper, the various "enabling conditions" of education revealed through the HP case can be divided into three broad categories: characteristics of the families and children in their attitudes about, expectations from and commitment to, learning; characteristics of the school, its teachers and curriculum, and their responsibility for ensuring quality, relevance and a safe/secure environment; and characteristics of the state government in the policies it creates and how it implements them. Advocacy and intervention must build on and promote the creation and strengthening of precisely these factors.
3-i) Families, Children and the Community
Children in HP are enthusiastic about school and their classroom experiences. They "have ambitious plans for the future .... even (the) girls..." (Ibid:119)

Lesson: Children themselves need to be engaged explicitly in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their lives at school and the value of education to them. It cannot be assumed that their priorities will be the same as their adult interlocutors. They are likely to disengage, physically or intellectually, where they feel uncomfortable, lost or that they are wasting their time. The opposite is also true.

"Most parents (in HP) take it for granted that schooling is an essential part of every child's upbringing and have ambitious hopes for their own children's education. Their reasons .... show a broader understanding of the value of education", including its value as a means of enabling participation in social and political issues as well as making a better living (Ibid:117).
"... when schools started springing up in their own village, (HP parents) promptly seized this new opportunity for their children" (Ibid:123).
"... (HP) parents tend to have a responsible and supportive attitude towards their children's schooling. Education ranks up high among their spending priorities .... At home, children's studies receive much attention .... they tend to have a fairly supportive attitude towards teachers .... (there is) mutual co-operation" (Ibid:119)
"One key link in this virtuous circle (of improved schooling) has been parental education" (Ibid:126)

Lesson: Parents must be recognized as capable adults who care for their children and are inclined to try to make the most efficacious decisions for them and the family as a whole. This will usually include seeking an education appropriate to their situation and likelihood of success. Policy and programme interventions need to work directly and collaboratively with parents in ways which take into account their constraints, strengths and aspirations; encourage them to see and seek value in education for all of their children and for themselves; and motivate their engagement with the school in assuring good quality.

Lesson: Ensure corollary attention to adult education, including support to interventions on good parenting, functional literacy and numeracy, work-related skills training, basic education equivalency programmes. Parents who have not experienced success in their own education, or who are preoccupied with their inability to manage the household, care for children and make a decent income, are much less likely to become energetic supporters of their children's education where their own learning needs are not met.
In HP, the "relatively homogeneous nature of the village society (leaves) scope for a sense of village solidarity" and development of social norms for schooling. It "fosters the notion that the local school is everyone's school .... if the school stops functioning, the whole village community has a stake in solving the problem." The sense of solidarity has proven important also in allowing for shared potential of benefit from school; if someone gets a good job, all feel it could happen to them regardless of caste, giving "a sense of possibility" to the whole community (Ibid:124)
In HP, "parental vigilance, as an accountability mechanism, takes a conspicuous form from time to time". Much of this happens informally, and complements other community-based co-operation e.g. women's group discussions of education issues (Ibid:124)
Lesson: Build on the existing communal attitudes and mechanisms available among families and other community agencies. Where these are not strong, it is important to facilitate their development through support to community learning activities -- through focus groups, neighbourhood organizations, parent-school associations etc.
"HP parents ... have ambitious educational goals even for girls .... The gender bias in school attendance is very low at the primary level and rapidly declining at the upper primary level. Educational aspirations for girls are high ...". The reasons are not just for marriage, but also for improving job prospects, "... reflecting the high involvement of Himachal women in employment outside the home" (Ibid:118)
In HP, "... the passion for education ... is widely shared. People consider schooling important not only for their own children but for all children" (Ibid:117)
Lesson: Identify and address especially the attitudinal factors which serve to exclude or diminish participation by specific children within the community. Gender will be key one of these, but also children with disabilities or from minority cultures and linguistic groups. Work broadly with the community to remove barriers, promote action and build social consensus in support of education, including advocacy about the importance of learning and stimulate conditions (such as employment opportunities) which demonstrate its benefits.
3-ii) The School and Its Teachers
HP classrooms are visibly active; there is a sense of professionalism evident among staff - of functioning classes, few teacher absences or children left on their own, good student attendance and progress records. Teacher inertia is rare. They show "... a responsible attitude towards school duties"; "an unusual degree of commitment to the progress of their pupils. Genuine interest in pedagogy .... Generally, the organization of a school (is) oriented to the needs of pupils as much as to the convenience of teachers" (Ibid:120)
In HP, commitments by staff and students keep schools well-maintained and utilized, "usually tidy .... (with) much less dilapidation", and female teachers (almost half of the teaching population) feel generally safe/secure (Ibid:121).
Lesson: Give priority in all policy and programme interventions needed to ensure the quality and motivation of teachers. Professionally competent, nurturing and committed teachers are the basis of the child-friendly school; a necessary condition to making education inclusive and effective.
There is good leadership, "... comparatively responsible, efficient and responsive to the needs of teachers and children" (Ibid:126): there are few vacant positions (reducing the load on any one teacher); salaries are paid on time; the school schedule is fitted into main agricultural periods to allow children's and teachers' farm work; supervisors interested in children's general well-being and in helping teachers address their needs. Corruption is not common.
Lesson: Promote and support leadership in the school, by principals, managers and senior teachers which is capable of assuring moral support, technically credible guidance and professional integrity.
3-iii) The State and its Policies
In HP, there has been committed attention to serious, and seriously applied, policies to develop rural infrastructure, "with roads and schools receiving high priority .... Public policy also involves an explicit commitment to the rapid expansion of education .... (with) high level of per-capita expenditure on education, ... about twice the all-India average" (Ibid:123)
"Realistic goals were set and pursued with determination", with the government actually taking advantage of programmes like Operation Blackboard and using all the resources offered where many of the educationally-weak states let them languish. There are at least three teachers in almost all schools and teacher/student ratios are consequently low. There are few "contradictions between official rhetoric and practical action", reducing the sense of disillusionment infecting many education-poor communities (Ibid:123)
Lesson: Encourage local, state and national governments to recognize the interactive effects of policies. Schools will be more regularly attended where there are potential employment opportunities and that these will both be better served where people and products can move easily and safely, where schools are situated within easy access and where there is tangible evidence of political support for education through effective application of public funds directly and indirectly to it.
HP government has pursued concerted policies to reduce inter-regional disparities; "... high investment in the remote tribal districts ... which have caught up remarkably fast with the rest of the state .... there are many incentive schemes for disadvantaged pupils, including free textbooks until class 10 for scheduled caste and scheduled tribe children" (Ibid:123)
Lesson: Acknowledge that trickle-down does not work. If the most excluded communities are going to be reached, polices, programmes and funding must be allocated directly and in sufficient amounts to bringing them in from the fringes of the society through tailored support to their socio-economic development generally, and to their education more specifically within that.

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Benjamin Alvarez, Education Consultant George Attig, CHILD Project, Thailand Kathy Bartlett, Education Programme Officer, Aga Khan Somsak Boonyawiroj, UNICEF/Thailand Peter Buckland/ UNICEF/New York Lizette Burgers, UNICEF/New York Ann Coffey, Consultant "Learning and Landscapes" Margie de Monchy/UNICEF/Asia Regional Lucia D'Emilio/UNICEF/Cambodia Bruce Dick, UNICEF/New York Susan Fountain, UNICEF Consultant/Peace Education Elaine Furniss, UNICEF/New York Alec Fyfe, UNICEF/New York Andres Guerrero, UNICEF/New York Sandy Harkness, Maple Grove School Mohd Waheed Hassan, UNICEF/New York Jim Hopkins, Child Friendly Schools Initiative, Thailand Mariko Kagoshima, UNICEF/Mexico Hazel Lambert (staff and students), Jean Vanier Middle School Neill MacKee, UNICEF/Uganda Graham MacQueen, McMaster University Charles Nabongo, UNICEF/Uganda Alan Pence, University of Victoria Mary Joy Pigozzi, UNICEF/New York Graham Pike, University of Prince Edward Island Sheldon Shaeffer, UNICEF/New York Persy So, UNICEF/Philippines Ann Smith, Canadian Home and School and Parent-Teachers Federation Dominique Tallet, UNICEF/Mauritania Fred Wood, Director of Research, Save the Children/US Jill Zarchin, UNICEF/Burma Data were also supplied by a number of UNICEF country programmes in response to a questionnaire on the types of exclusion and strategies for addressing it in each country context

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