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Education for all
Every child should go to school, and anyone who wants to, and who is prepared to commit themselves to the work involved, should be able to study. This principle should apply throughout the world. But is this just a beautiful dream? If implementing this principle is merely left to governments, it seems it might well be. But what would happen if diverse initiatives throughout the world began promoting the view that education for all could indeed become a reality? Would this take us a step closer towards fulfilling this dream?
There are many reasons why people have no access to education. Some people cannot get to the nearest school; others cannot afford to pay the costs of education; in other cases, there are not enough schools or apprenticeships in the area. Sometimes, people have the theoretical opportunity to go to school, but do not do so for various other reasons.
Today, however, there is an obvious way to provide such people with an education: the internet. Anyone who has an internet connection can learn. This possibility is already being used in adult education (although far less in the case of children). Many universities currently use the MOOC framework to provide free courses, and, in some cases, complete study programs. And even though the tests taken and the certificates gained at the end of these courses and programs are not normally free, they can be funded by one of the numerous scholarships that are available.
We need specific solutions instead of diverse theories
on providing people with the skills they need to live independently. Many initiatives have already dedicated themselves to this task. In cases where children live in areas that are difficult to reach, in red-light districts or on the streets, initiatives have been set up under the motto of ‘if the children don’t come to school, then the school will have to go to the children.’ These initiatives are using boats and hand carts to reach children, and are setting up reading initiatives in refugee camps. The education they provide, however, does not usually cover all of the traditional school subjects, rather, it focuses on the skills these children need in their specific environments in order to have a better life or perhaps merely to survive. In these cases, learning how to grow vegetables or how to sew can be more important than studying European history, and learning about women’s rights can be more important than studying physics. Moreover, these initiatives do not always aim to provide a school leaving certificate.
Education for all, therefore, requires adaptability to local conditions and issues. It involves asking questions such as: which specific needs do people have in the region? Which types of infrastructure exist? Which problems need to be prioritised? Which skills do people need most urgently? And, how can education contribute towards the development of a functioning society?
Clearly then, education for all does not necessarily mean providing the same educational content to everyone, but can involve the use of simple, creative means, in the areas in which the people who need these skills live, to develop local solutions to relevant issues.
It is not people who should adapt to education, but education that should be tailored to the needs of individuals and their circumstances.
UNESCO PILLARS OF EDUCATION
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