A study of early education for values in Brazil: fostering human development?
Macedo de Jesus, Anderson (2016). 'A study of early education for values in Brazil: fostering human development?' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.
In 2008, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP - Brazil) started a very unusual process to define the subject of the Brazilian Human Development Report (launched in November 2010), a nationwide consultation inspired by the campaign Brazil Point-by-Point in which many segments of society participated, resulting in over half-a-million responses from which human values such as respect, responsibility, tolerance and understanding stood out as key for a better life, and that human values are important for the promotion of human development.
This people-centred perspective stemmed from Sen’s attempt to explore how people could take full advantage of their abilities by doing valuable things, shows how effective this evaluative approach can be through its combination of ‘doings and beings’ that can be translated into a set of different opportunities a human being has in life (capabilities) and his/her achievements (functionings) as result of those opportunities. However, opportunities are all about having equitable access to the means for a ‘fair life’, such as the elementary access to good education, health care, security etc. In addition to that, the outcome of this access is dependent fully on individual’s freedom to value whatever he/she wants to achieve (Sen 1997a, Biggeri et al. 2011) and at this stage, it is possible to claim that individual’s principles/values start playing a role and choices are made accordingly.
As can be seen, the human development paradigm draws attention to the enlargement of people’s valuable choices by providing an enabling environment for them to enjoy long, healthy and creative lives in all areas. Moreover, according to Sen (1999 p. 53), “people have to be seen (...) as being actively involved – given the opportunity – in shaping their own destiny, and not just as passive recipients of the fruits of cunning development programs”. A real life example of bringing together people’s voice as active beings was the Brazilian HDR (2010) that proved how simple, however not so easy, was to make a proper use of human development approach by bringing together the Brazilian population to decide what they need to a better life.
In addition to that, in order to foster and enable people to fully live their lives, education is essential for the development of their capabilities. As Martha Nusbbaum (2010 p.152) claims, education is important to prepare people to effectively participate in their every day life as it shapes “people’s existing capacities into developed internal capabilities of many kinds”, and therefore is “a fertile functioning of the highest importance in addressing disadvantage and inequality”. Having said that and considering the importance of human values on individual’s freedom to value whatever he/she wants to achieve, this paper aims to assess how relevant a specific value-driven education programme focused on critical pedagogy might be in influencing value formation towards a more humanized society.
For this purpose, I chose a relatively renowned programme, so-called Turma de Valor (TdV), which has been implemented in over 154 schools throughout Brazil and has reached more than 15,000 children so far. Furthermore, this programme is supported by important institutions such as the UNDP Brazil and the National Confederation of Municipalities, showing its relevance to society. Its general objective is to enable children to think deeply about their values, and reflect upon their own behaviours, encouraging them to contribute positively to society through value change.
Now, regarding value change, even though recent studies in psychology have shown that values change over long-term span (Tulviste and Tamm 2014) or by means of major life events (Bardi and Goodwin 2011), other studies also show that temporary change is also possible (Ralston et al. 1995; Gouveia et al. forthcoming). Thus, considering that TdV is a short-term intervention with a 6-month implementation period, I expect a simple temporary change in pupil’s human values towards a more pro-social characteristic.
In order to accomplish this task, this study carried out a clarificatory evaluation to (i) understand the programme in terms of its logic, (ii) consistency between its design and implementation to then provide basis for an impact evaluation/outcome evaluation.
The evaluation employed on the beneficiaries of TdV was comprised of a two period panel data through implementation of difference-in-difference strategy. They are from a small municipality in Parana/Brazil (Itaperuçu) and they were divided into control (N=308) and treatment (N=306) groups randomly distributed. Another important feature of this design is the possibility to deal with the phenomenon with the closest unit of analysis possible, since a very sophisticated social-economic survey was also answered by parents, allowing gender- social- and economic-related analysis. In addition, the Functional Theory Value Survey was administered both to control and treatment groups and a parenting style survey was also administered to know the parenting style of the beneficiaries to then have a grasp on the role of parents in transferring their own values to their children.
This is an ongoing PhD thesis and the findings will be available at the end of march. I believe that the importance in understanding whether a value-driven education programme focused on critical pedagogy works or not as an important tool for the promotion of the human development paradigm, helping then individuals make their choices based on a more humanized view point.