Editorial: Linking education with governance

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


WHICH comes first: universal education or good governance?

According to a paper posted online by the Brookings Center for Universal Education on June 25, a more dynamic relationship exists than was assumed to be between the two.

It had been assumed that good governance must be in place before investments in education can pay off. Thus, overseas development assistance (ODA) prioritized countries with a proven track record in governance.

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Countries regarded as “settings of fragility,” which faced several challenges to meet Education for All (EFA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), find it hard to attract ODA.

However, in this week’s Global Partnership for Education (GPE) meeting in Brussels to raise $3.5 million for the world’s marginalized children, investment has shifted to support “fragile economies,” revealed the paper posted on www.brookings.edu.

Educated citizens

Investing in education strengthens go­vernance. The connection is “cyclical” and “mutually reinforcing,” argues the Brookings Center.

Through three me­chanisms, education promotes three elements identified by the World Bank as Good Governance Indicators: voice and accountability, control of corruption, and political instability and violence.

First, education promotes voice and accountability. Literacy gives citizens access to information and guides them in acting responsibly. The Brookings Center cites math skills and knowledge of government processes as essential for monitoring how public funds are spent.

Secondly, education socializes citizens by orienting them to norms of right and wrong, creating loyalty to the nation state, and lowering tolerance for dishonesty. However, education can also build mistrust in institutions or create discrimination against classes, ethnicities, and other groups.

Lastly, education increases productivity and helps achieve economic equality. The Brookings Center paper argues that economic equality creates greater demand for education and more political stability.

Inclusive education

For education to promote good governance, it must be inclusive and relevant, argues the Brookings Center.

Education must include and relate to the marginalized. Thus, education must extend beyond enrollment and survival rates but also cover nontraditional modes to improve literacy.

Civil society contributes to nurturing and sustaining aspirations for learning among those with less in material goods and opportunities. Last June 28, a group of volunteers launched their “Project I Love to Read MORE (Moving Onward to Reading Empowerment)” at the Cebu City Public Library.

The Basadours (“basa” means reading in Cebuano) use Facebook to promote their advocacy to spread the love of reading and storytelling among youths in varied settings, from classrooms and public libraries to streets and even shelters after typhoon Yolanda.

The group also produced a storytelling guide to enable teachers, mothers and others to tap the power of invention and imagination in stimulating youths, raising their aspirations and articulating their fears.

Through storytelling, the Basadours launched their first advocacy, which was to promote two activities threatened by obsolescence: reading and the use of the Cebu City Public Library. Since their start in February 2012, the Basadour volunteers partner with local governments, non-government organizations and other institutions.

Another civil society initiative to pro­mote literacy is the Beep Beep Books Mobile Lib­rary. Through Facebook, IT Matters, a group of Filipinos and expatriates residing in Cebu, invited the public to attend the June 29 live painting of a jeepney that the team will convert into a mobile library to bring reading to communities with limited means in Cebu.

A simultaneous booksale and donation will be for the mobile library and five partner schools in Bantayan, posted volunteer coordinator Eva Marie Gamboa.

According to their website, IT Matters aims to share best practices in teaching with teachers, and involve education students in their projects.

Aimed at children aged five to seven, one program taps creative, interactive activities to teach early reading and learning as a stepping stone to formal studies. For preteens, there are after-school classes in English, art and leadership, and excursions at a community center in Kasambagan, Mabolo.

Rather than be defeated by students barely able to read or dropouts begging on the street, citizens like the Basadours and IT Matters focus on creating a space in settings of fragility so that children can aspire to be everything they can be.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 30, 2014.

Opinion

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