Education and Development: what is to be of education after 2015?
What type of Education? What type of Development?

Twelve years ago the international community gathered in Dakar (Senegal) because
they were concerned about the outlook of Education around the world and motivated by
the need to make political and financial commitments to extend the fundamental right to
access to quality education (EFA, Education For All). Led and encouraged by the
UNESCO, the countries agreed upon a Framework for Action, the aim of which was to
foster six major objectives, which, as a whole, would fulfil such objectives by 2015. In
order to do so, goals and expenditure guidelines were established, to be met by each of
the participants at the aforementioned meeting. The meeting in Dakar in 2000 signified
covert support for a type of alliance between the public and private sectors and civil
society, which would serve as the foundations for the beginning of this process. It
would be appropriate at this juncture to analyse the EFA objectives. Three years from
its completion, it is also time to assess the cooperation model that has been developed
through the EFA strategy and identify the complexities and learning experiences that
have required Civil Society to get involved in these topics, either at world (CCNGO),
regional (CLADE (Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education) and national
(national forums) levels and enter into dialogues, negotiations and agreements with
Government, International Financing Agencies and Private Companies.

The journey has been long and tough, and the Progress reports that are written every
year by the UNESCO monitoring group provide data and figures that demonstrate the
challenge we face in attempting to achieve some of the objectives by 2015 despite an
endless number of initiatives and collaborations that have taken place between
Governments, Cooperation Agencies and Civil Society.

Never before has there been such a widespread consensual discussion in the
international community regarding the need to extend the world population’s
1 Oscar Jara H. (Costa Rica) and Edgardo Álvarez P. (Chile). Educators. Steering Committee Members of
the Council for Popular Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (Consejo de Educación Adultos de
América Latina y El Caribe, or CEAAL in Spanish)
educational rights. However, will it be possible to fulfil the EFA’s objectives? Although
there have been significant advances in areas of our regions with regard to some of the
EFA’s objectives, it is clear that a certain number of goals will not be met.

With 2015 visible on the horizon, the World, Latin America and each of our countries
presents us with a challenging and complex scenario, featuring growing social
mobilisation, active citizenship linked to different types of claims that have revealed the
exhaustion of a development model and a political system incapable of representing the
desires and demands of expansive social groups in our region. We find ourselves in a
period of “social warming”, where the struggle for Education for All has revealed its
political nature and the debate is expressed by street demonstrations, protests and
mobilisations in different countries, bringing the measures that have been taken so far
into question.

It is the citizenship not only questioning the national and international political
establishment, but also a warning shot by Civil Society that has raised its banners in the
defence of Education as a right. The social dynamics and national mobilisation
experienced in the countries is intense and exceeds the proposals and abilities of civil
society, creating significant differences between social mobilisation and the institutions
of civil society.

Political, social, economic and cultural transformations that have taken place on our
continent2, strongly question those who implement and work on matters relating to the
right to Education and the EFA objectives. This brings into question the nature of our
how we collaborate, the viability of our networks, the meaning and utility of our current
work platforms and finally, directs a series of questions at our principles, mandates and
organisational forms. Without doubt, it deals with the question of our meanings as
networks and how we are to define ourselves for the next period. At the present time,
the challenge is to read and understand the reality of Latin American democracies and
question their serious deficiencies within a social and economic context.

In this context, the debate becomes relevant due to the types of development and
education that support our activities’ thinking and proposals. In other words, to remove
2 See text: “Documento hacia la VIII Asamblea y Programa” (Document for the VIII Assembly and
Programme). CEAAL Steering Committee (March 2012 version)
the Political Aspect from the Objectives of Quality Education for All, describing the
concept of development and education behind EFA for 2015. The change processes that
arise require political stances and proposals that the political systems are not providing,
answers that go beyond the traditional, obsolete, westernised and neo-colonial
categories in order to explain the moments of change in our region from another

In this regard, an interesting contribution to this debate is provided by the world of
Popular Education. This world, inspired by the proposals of Paulo Freire and other Latin
American teachers (Falls Borda, de Sousa, etc.), allows us to think that “another”
education is possible, due to a permanent process of creating, learning and establishing
group and individual transformation skills. A liberating and transformative education.
For example, Alfonso Torres proposed it when he questioned the subject of Popular
Education3 and, in particular, when he quoted Marco Raúl Mejia, who proposed that
Popular Education must take into consideration “the subjective level of development of
the group with which you are going to work”, in order to have an impact on the 6 fields
of action of those “participating in the popular education activities” (Mejía, 2009: 47):
- Individuation processes
- Socialisation processes
- Processes that connect to public aspects
- Participation in movements
- Participation in government political projects
- Mass participation

This framework provides a context that enables an understanding of the educational
processes that permit a convergence of the six Education For All objectives and a
critical interpretation thereof. By understanding that this approach is not linear but
rather dynamic and interdisciplinary, we must ask what Education For All’s current
objectives are and how a development model is created from this stance. Attempting to
3 “El potencial emancipatorio de la Educación Popular, como practica política y pedagógica” (“The
emancipatory potential of Popular Education as a political and teaching practice”) Alfonso Torres. March
focus the debate on the Political Project entails describing the role that Civil Society has
played in this effort and revising the political journey our region has undergone over the
last thirty years. This would suggest that these political processes need to be defined by
the debate again, placing the central focus on the topic of Education and Democracy.

It would appear that in recent years the debate in many areas regarding Civil Society’s
political stance has revolved solely around defining a role of alliance or opposition to
the incumbent government (depending on whether the government ties in with the
concept of “emergent” or “progressive”), a definition that involves directing the
network’s energies towards this political function. This impetus is understood to have
originated due to the deep frustration that we have accumulated decade after decade
upon witnessing the repetition of social injustices, the abuse of power and the
emergence of a common sentiment that appears to naturalise such social dynamics.
The emergence of political projects that promise transformations and suggest a
commitment to democracy and human rights, the defence of public education, in
particular, awaken enthusiasm. Nevertheless, history continues to demonstrate that civil
society must, by definition, create its own space and role that is not clouded by choosing
historical or circumstantial alliances with specific political projects, in particular those
of incumbent governments. This autonomous space would appear to be clouded in a
political sense, and perhaps constitutes the main challenge when we think about the
future. Therefore, we have an urgent need to be able to reconstruct the political
definition of our networks, platforms, forums, in order to reconstruct it with positive,
rather than negative principles, more with regard to the historically marginalized social
subjects than the governments themselves; that is to say, it is civil society that provides
itself with content that raises its vision and proposal regarding how political processes
can or should be organised, in any order and at any level.

The risk of being unable to construct such content is that the locus of definition is
always exogenous. The circumstances would provide the parameters to define our
political stances and activities. Although it should always be this way, these definitions
form their own parameters and arise from an objective and in-depth reading of what is
occurring in the Latin American and world cosmogony.

The debate regarding the type of development and education that we require creates
tension and encourages a redefinition of the relationship and links between social and
political aspects and how this scenario also redefines the concept of civil society and
how we interpret ourselves in this regard. Relocating involves reorganising, paying
attention to the dynamics and development of the Social Movements and placing them
into the context of the national reality. In this regard, respecting the analysis and
diagnoses obtained for the realities themselves.

One approach to a good self-criticism technique is to position ourselves within the
political debates that we have experienced over these years, which cannot be explained
as a whole and provide evidence of the diversity of the group of organisations that form
part of the networks, forums, collaborations, etc. These processes have been diverse
rather than extensive and in many cases they were performed from perspectives and
conceptual frameworks that are more complex than those of the 60s and 70s.

It would appear necessary to go deeper into the debate on Development and Education
and from this perspective read EFA’s world objectives, their relationship with the
popular world, its social and political agents, as well as its role in bringing the social
and political aspects together in the practice thereof, as well as in popular education
itself and its emancipatory, strategic meaning in a present-day context, including and
problematising its relationship with new conceptual and epistemic frameworks. It is also
important to critically analyse the process from the perspective of the tension between
autonomy and integration, transformation and political functionality, with regard to
their social practices, institutional alliances, etc…

The debate highlights what it means to teach in the 21st Century in the midst of the
current political contexts and challenges. When the democratic liberties obtained
through long-standing social struggles are restricted. When economic “tightening”
measures imposed in northern countries copy failed formulas used in southern countries
in previous decades. When high quality free Public Education should already be a
universal right but nevertheless the policies that are implemented clearly go against this.
A debate that allows us to confront Education in which the diversity of its content and
expressions does not consider its political-pedagogical essence and its critical and
emancipatory sense to be relative. In short, casting issues and doubts in a critical light,
so that we have the answers when faced with the question “What is to be of education
after 2015?”