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«Complementary studies by Harbans S. Bhola and Sofía Valdivielso Gómez Joint winners of the 2004-2005 International Award for Literacy Research ...»

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SIGNPOSTS TO LITERACY

FOR

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Complementary studies by

Harbans S. Bhola

and

Sofía Valdivielso Gómez

Joint winners of the 2004-2005 International Award for

Literacy Research

UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL),

Hamburg, Germany

The authors are responsible for the choice and the presentation

of the facts contained in this publication and for the opinions

expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO and represent no commitment on the part of the Organization.

The designations employed and the presentation of material throughout this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

© UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, 2008 Feldbrunnenstrasse 58 20148 Hamburg Germany ISBN 978-92-820-1153-9 Cover design: Christiane Marwecki, cmgrafix media & design Printed by Albert Schnell GmbH, Hamburg

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword by Adama Ouane v

Adult Literacy for Sustainable Development:

Creating a Knowledge-based Discourse for Action by Harbans S. Bhola 1 Introduction 3 1 Understanding Adult Literacy 5 2 Sustainable Development: Emergence of the Concept 13 3 The Consequences of Adult Literacy: the Evidence 27 4 Implementing the Grand Project of Adult Literacy for Sustainable Development: Essential Agendas and Enabling Systems 53 Bibliography 69 Luggage for a Journey: From Functional Literacy and Devel- opment to Integral Literacy and Sustainable Development by Sofía Valdivielso Gómez 79 Introduction 81 1 Views on Literacy and Development 85 2 Incorporating the Concepts of “Gender” and “Consciousness” as Part of the Process of Literacy and Full Development 115 3 Ken Wilber, the Four Quadrants and Integral Literacy 141 4 Conclusion 155 Bibliography 163 The Authors Harbans S. Bhola holds Masters degrees in English Literature and History from Panjab University, and a PhD degree in education from The Ohio State University, USA. Positions held include Acting Director, Literacy House, Lucknow (India), a renowned NGO; Senior Field Expert for UNESCO in the UNESCO-UNDP Pilot Project of Work-Oriented Literacy in Tanzania; and Professor (now Emeritus), IndianaUniversity, USA, where he taught in the graduate programme of policy studies dealing with policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. Areas of scholarship include model building for innovation diffusion, literacy for poverty alleviation, and monitoring and evaluation. He is a widely published author, with more than 350 publications to his credit. His consultations have taken him to developing countries of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America on behalf of UNESCO, UNICEF, The German Foundation for International Development, Swedish SIDA, USAID, and The World Bank. Honours and awards that he has received include: the Education Press Club of USA award for a readable feature on a theoretical subject; the Policy Studies Organization award for the best publication on the subject of policy; and the Gunnar Myrdal Award in Evaluation Practice.

Contact address: 3537 East Nugget Canyon Place, Tucson, Arizona, USA, 85718. E-mail hs3bhola@comcast.net Sofía Valdivielso Gómez is PhD in Psychopedagogy by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. In 1985 she started to work as literacy teacher and developed this activity during fifteen years in combination with research projects. In 1990 she assumed the coordination of a research project on functional literacy on behalf of the Ministry of Education in the Canary Islands, Spain. In 1992 she was a member of the research national team on this issue. From 1992 to 1994 she worked as an associated expert at the Unesco Institute for Lifelonglearning (ULL).

During this period she was co-coordinator of the International Research on Participation in Adult Education. At present she teaches Social Education at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and works as an active member of the Gender and Education Office of the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE) Contact address: Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain. E-mail: svaldivielso@dedu.ulpgc.es FOREWORD The two studies included in this volume, both dealing with the subject of literacy and sustainable development, are joint winners of the 2004International Award for Literacy Research, sponsored jointly by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Hamburg, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Canadian National Literacy Secretariat with the support of its parent ministry, Human Resources Development.

Since the launching of the award in the early 1990s five previous winning studies have been published, dealing with various aspects of literacy and its complex socio-economic and cultural contexts. While the first five cycles of the competition did not delimit the thematic range of the studies, the sixth cycle was thematically linked with two current international education agendas: the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) and United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014). Researchers were invited to undertake and submit studies on the topic of “Adult Literacy for Sustainable Development”.





This is also the first time that two joint winners have been chosen. In judging the entries for 2004-2005, the Governing Board of the Institute, acting as the Selection Committee, found that both studies displayed a focused and reflective approach and developed original insights which could help in the designing of new strategies for sustainable development. The Committee decided that the two studies were of equal merit and should share the award, and that they should be published in shortened versions in one volume.

The first of the two studies is by Harbans S. Bhola, an outstanding scholar who is already widely known for his work in the areas of literacy and adult education and for his many books on these subjects. In the present work he addresses the task of developing a “Knowledge-based Discourse for Action” within the domain of adult literacy for sustainable development. After a broad historical and theoretical survey of both fields, he explores how the adult literacy drive and the promotion of sustainable development can be brought together. In the latter part of his text he makes some eminently practical suggestions, such as: that adult literacy programmes should act in partnership with organizations working in such areas as agriculture, animal husbandry, water development, forestry management and public health; that field workers in literacy and adult education should be trained in ecological awareness; and that systems vi Foreword of monitoring and evaluation in the areas of literacy and sustainable development should be integrated.

Prof. Bhola’s text is therefore a strong combination of theoretical perspectives and practical approaches, which will make his study of great value to researchers, policy-makers and practitioners alike.

The second study in this volume, by Sofía Valdivielso Gómez, a scholar coming from the grassroots movement, complements that of Prof. Bhola. Like Bhola, Dr. Valdivielso takes a holistic approach to the subject of literacy and sustainable development. Her key concept is “integral literacy”, which goes beyond the merely functional approach to embrace the more subjective and cultural dimensions.

“Integral literacy,” she writes in her introduction “can help us to understand that we human beings all share the same fate and that this tiny planet, located in one of the suburbs of the known universe, will be able to survive only if it makes room for each and every one of us and, moreover, manages to do so sustainably”.

Dr. Valdivielso is much inspired by the American thinker Ken Wilber and his philosophy of “universal integralism”, which rests on the view that every phenomenon has four dimensions of reality, which he sets out in the form of a square divided into four quadrants. At the human level, these are: 1. interior-individual (subjective thoughts, ideas, feelings); 2. exterior-individual (measurable neurological and brain processes); 3. interior-collective (cultural factors); 4. exteriorcollective (social, economic and political systems, group infrastructures). Dr. Valdivielso sets out this scheme very clearly in chapter 3, then finally in chapter 4 she discusses how Wilber’s scheme can be applied to literacy for sustainable development. “If integral literacy,” she writes “is to break away from fragmentary thought, to advance in the cultural development of groups, societies, nations and the globe itself, then it must operate within an all-level, all-quadrant system.” These two studies complement each other and thus admirably embody the integral approach that both authors argue for. The word “signposts” in the overall title of the book is well chosen, as both authors point the way to a more holistic form of literacy and a more sustainable form of development.

ADAMA OUANE Director, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning Hamburg

ADULT LITERACY FOR

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT:

Creating a Knowledge-based Discourse for Action

–  –  –

The discourse of “adult literacy for sustainable development” is not new, and yet it is not as widely shared today as it should be.

Even professionals and practitioners who are doing substantial work in the general areas of literacy and socio-economic development around the world are not always very familiar with the language of this discourse.

These professionals and practitioners could indeed benefit from: (1) clarification of the language of the current discourse of adult literacy for sustainable development; (2) analyses of conceptualizations of adult literacy (and other literacies), and of scenarios of sustainable development that might be appropriate in different national, regional, or communal settings, in both developing and developed areas of the world; (3) delineation of processes and consequences generated in the dialectic between literacy and development in general, and between adult literacy and sustainable development in particular, in the lives of both individuals and societies; and (4) drawing on knowledge-based and well tested experiences of the past in the areas of policymaking, institution-building, programme development and measurement of results, onto our future endeavours of adult literacy for sustainable development.

Literacy work with the illiterate and the excluded in today's world of print needs no elaborate justifications. This, however, is not to say that literacy work could not be better programmed, better integrated with other projects of education and extension, better joined with ongoing or imminent structural changes congenial to the interests and needs of the poor and powerless, and more systematically delivered.

Sustainable development itself is not a static concept. It is indeed an expanded and qualified version of development, as we have known it, during the last half century or more. It is based on a recognition of the “limits to growth” – growth in the Western-mode – and a realistic and moral acceptance of lowered expectations relative to today’s artificially inflated needs and recklessly extravagant standards of living. It is a plea for “ethics

4 Introduction

of frugality” and search for a sane and sensible alternative – a different quality of life rather than a reduction of the quality of life of peoples. This will, of course, pose the challenge of minting a definition of sustainable development which is based on a universal consensus, taking into account principles of democracy and justice as well as considerations of production and consumption; and which is at the same time amenable to adaptation to the specificities of locations of human communities.

People do not just read, they always read something.

Hence adult literacy (and adult education) must face the question of the content of literacy programmes covering macro issues of global environment and world peace on the one hand, and concrete problems of health and livelihood on the other hand. In the pages that follow, we will elaborate how the texts we may have developed should be taught and how the consequences of new learning, in life and work, should be assessed. Finally, we will discuss the need for mobilization and action as already identified as part of the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012), and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014), and the need for system building, both real and virtual, for the delivery of adult literacy for sustainable development during the rest of this decade and the next.

Chapter 1

–  –  –

Literacy has many roles. It is the mother of history, midwife of civilizations, “technology of the intellect”, instrument of participation in politics and economy. Without it we cannot pass through the portal of the modern world of print.



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