Yours HumanlyJuly 16, 2018
Supporting Children Early on for a Sustainable Impact
When it comes to questioning what we know it is easy to forget how we first came to know it. Education, or rather the act of educating, has long been given the access to practice its intent, yet, when we begin to question how, why, or by whom we are taught, the questions quickly surmount far beyond the frameworks of our education systems alone. Rabindranath Tagore stated over a century ago “Don’t limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time,” and yet, this is precisely what continues to enable perpetual cycles of inequity and misguided efforts in our institutions and classrooms today. That we continue to teach in ways we always have, to only those that are demanded a right to it, is a problem that requires an array of advocates to change. The Yours Humanly vision of servicing students otherwise not being serviced, provides an opportunity for unheard perspectives to be nurtured and grown, fostering the idea of education as not only a human right, but as a tangible means towards a brighter more inclusive future.
The 2018 World Development Report entitled “Learning to Realize Education’s Promise” outlines the tremendous imbalance in our efforts of providing schooling vs. learning and finds that although there is nothing inevitable about low learning in low and middle-income countries, many education systems conspire against learning. In every context where inequity prevails, learning is not only not happening, but aiding in the continued struggle of marginalized students by stunting academic growth and doing little thereafter to amend it. The report highlights slow progress of incremental gains found by cross examination of national learning assessments and concludes that more than 60% of primary school children in developing countries fail to achieve minimum proficiency in learning. One ASER Center study found that in rural India in 2015 over 80% of second grade students could not read a single word of a short text, or perform two digit subtraction.
And although the data clearly shows the learning crisis in low and middle-income countries, the United States, which spends on average 6.2% of its GDP on education, has a greater learning gap between its top and bottom quarters of PISA test takers than the median scores between Algeria and the United States. All this to say, that even though we may meet and/or exceed minimum proficiencies as a nation, it is happening in pockets and in communities non-representative of disadvantaged students.
Early learning deficiencies augment over time, so regardless of dollars spent, it is when and how we address struggling students that will make the most impact. Schooling is sold as a means towards a higher end and requires sacrifices that affect the livelihoods of families, if a school is perceived as low quality to struggling families, and their communities, the likelihood of continued educational support will be extremely low. This is a direct consequence of our tendency to measure educational progress quantitatively rather than qualitatively. Knowing this, Yours Humanly has begun to focus more of its efforts on primary aged school children attending Title 1 schools across the nation. Addressing inequities when they start, by providing supplementary resources to challenge low learning environments, is our way of ensuring the youngest students have an opportunity to learn at one of the most crucial times in their academic careers.
National Center for Education Statistics- The Condition of Education
Programme for International Student Assessment
The World Bank- Learning to Realize Education’s Promise