Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

'South-South' Borrowing: Lessons from the Caribbean and Implications for Post 2015 agenda/Emprunt 'Sud-Sud' : Leçons De la Caraïbes et Implications Pour Un Agenda Post-2015

Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

'South-South' Borrowing: Lessons from the Caribbean and Implications for Post 2015 agenda/Emprunt 'Sud-Sud' : Leçons De la Caraïbes et Implications Pour Un Agenda Post-2015

Article excerpt

Although the notion of 'sharing best practices' is used by UNESCO (2002), other terms such as 'education borrowing' (Phillips & Ochs, 2003; Steiner-Khamsi, 2004) are recognized in the field of education, denoting the process of identifying practices that resulted in positive outcomes elsewhere and applying them to policy development in the home context. One purpose of education borrowing is to advance the Education or All agenda in developing countries to aim to meet the learning needs of all children, youth and adults by 2015. Originally set in 1990, EFA's timelines have been extended twice and the time is ripe to discuss new paradigms to support the Global South in reaching their own education and development goals. The six goals of EFA are as follows:

* Goal 1: Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children

* Goal 2: Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to, and complete, free and compulsory primary education of good quality.

* Goal 3: Ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes

* Goal 4: Achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.

* Goal 5: Eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2005, and achieving gender equality in education by 2015, with a focus on ensuring girls' full and equal access to and achievement in basic education of good quality.

* Goal 6: Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.

For the Caribbean region, the central concern is quality education as articulated in Goal 6. Quality education is emphasized in strategic plans developed by the Government of Trinidad & Tobago (2002, 2004 and 2007). Improvements to teaching and learning are outlined throughout planning documents developed by the Government of Barbados. For example, authentic learning is stressed over automatic promotion: "Children will be promoted in the main only after they have demonstrated satisfactory performance in their subject disciplines" (Government of Barbados, 2000, p.13, bold and underlined letters in original).This was echoed in the qualitative research undertaken by the author. One respondent who worked for an international organization was critical of teachers' agenda to push the curriculum along: "[The] teacher is knowledge, needs to push class along... Not child centred, not participatory, not very experimental". A Barbadian teacher acknowledged the limitations of 'chalk and talk': "One of the drawbacks is that it usually pigeonholes the students into adopting specific approaches to particular problems.... We are directing the course of the lesson instead of students having their input to the lesson".

The failure to reach these goals by the original target date of 2000 and the anticipated failure of reaching the extended end date of 2010 have been due to several key reasons as outlined by UNESCO: "...weak political will, insufficient financial resources and the inefficient use of those available, the burden of debt, inadequate attention to the learning needs of the poor and the excluded, a lack of attention to the quality of learning and an absence of commitment to overcoming gender disparities" (UNESCO, 2000: 12). While Jules (2008) agrees that EFA focuses on the problem of illiteracy and the social exclusion of children from education, he argues that EFA can become "...a hegemonic construct that constitutes the measure of all educational advancement in developing countries and on the basis of which international aid and lending will be prioritized". …

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