In less than half of Latin America, schools work on concepts such as fraternity, happiness, knowledge of the world and empathy, according to research by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which analyzed the third and sixth grade curricula from 19 countries in the region. The organization is “concerned” about the lack of these “very relevant notions” that “help tackle one of the main challenges of globalization, accentuated by the pandemic: how to live together,” says the report prepared by the Latin American Laboratory of Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE) released this Tuesday in Santiago de Chile, where the regional office is located.
According to UNESCO, these concepts are fundamental for global citizenship education, which “aims to instill in people, throughout their lives, the values, attitudes and behaviors that form the basis of a Responsible global citizenship: creativity, innovation and commitment to peace, human rights and sustainable development ”.
The study titled, What are students in Latin America and the Caribbean expected to learn?, organized the analysis around 39 globalizing concepts linked to education for world citizenship. In the case of Chile, the third and sixth basic curricula incorporate 15 of them, according to the revised documents. In Argentina, 21 of the 39. In Brazil, 22 of the 39. In Colombia, 30 of the 39, while in Mexico, 35 of the 39.
Although the report recognizes that citizenship, identity, respect and diversity are addressed in the curricula of the two courses analyzed in all the countries of the region, it notes the shortcomings. The study indicates that two other substantial concepts such as gender equality and freedom appear in only half of the countries, for which reason the United Nations agency calls for “efforts to continue integrating these issues in the national curricula and that consider them in their processes of reflection, redesign and implementation of curricula and educational policies ”.
Carlos Henríquez, General Coordinator of LLECE, dependent on UNESCO, explains: “It is important to join efforts to strengthen comprehensive education in the region and these concepts are a fundamental part of its consolidation.” The researcher adds that “the school is one of the main socializing agents, which is why opportunities in the curriculum must be guaranteed to develop inclusive behaviors, such as recognizing diversity, acquiring values such as empathy and fraternity, together with knowing global problems” .
This curriculum analysis is part of the large-scale ERCE 2019 study, which assesses the learning achievements of students in Latin America and the Caribbean, the results of which will be published in mid-2021. The data was collected before the pandemic hit hard. in Latin America and analyze the curricula of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela. Although it focuses on what countries expect their students to learn in the areas of Language, Mathematics and Natural Sciences, for the first time UNESCO is exploring the presence of core concepts for the 2030 Education Agenda.
“These are inputs that UNESCO makes available so that each country can analyze its national curriculum from a comparative perspective and assess how it responds to what students need to learn to function academically and socio-emotionally as citizens of the 21st century, in an increasingly diverse society ”, says Claudia Uribe, director of the Regional Office of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC / UNESCO).
Regarding education for sustainable development, the report points out that the concepts of environment and sustainability are present in the curricula of the 19 countries studied, but in less than half concepts such as recycling, reuse, economy or carbon appear. Climate change and critical thinking, meanwhile, are not intentionally integrated into classroom action, according to the research.