'It's the Economy Stupid...'

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'It's the economy stupid' is a variation on what was said by Bill Clinton in running for the 1992 election against George W Bush. What Clinton focused on was an obvious issue: without economic growth there would be no prosperity and not much could happen.

I was thinking about this and the response to my last post when I was in Buenos Aires a couple of weeks ago at an educational conference. Great people and huge enthusiasm for change. Yet the country struggles in the light of a global economy that can pick and choose centres of production. In Argentina there is some debate about the scale of inflation (19.4% a year say the government; 40% say its critics) but whatever the truth the reality is that the country wrestles with huge difficulties making educational improvements. Around half of secondary age children do not attend school. It is, it seems, a complex problem. Low levels of literacy mean that children are ill prepared for secondary school. But just as significant is the fact that poverty means that education has to wait for many children as they are forced ton focus on earning some meagre amount to help their families.

Of course Argentina is not alone in meeting these challenges. In so many countries the fight with poverty is the norm and education takes a back seat. Of course there have been improvements, but they are not fast enough. Despite improvements in access hundreds of millions will still miss the education bus fuelling the next generation of poverty, higher birth rates and general illiteracy. Within this context project based learning is a self help activity that children engage in every day but not quite in the way their potential teachers might have envisioned. Instead the project might be getting water or food or earning a small amount of money to keep the wolf from the door.

So what can be done? Is it time for ordinary teachers to band together in their home countries and call for more radical change and to pressure politicians to do what is needed?

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