14 SES 06 B, Local Organisations/Authorities and Networking in Education
Educational processes have had to deal with the significant changes that have been occurring throughout the world, at different levels, in the last few decades. The Educating Cities' movement, which has been followed by cities from all over the world, is an attempt to deal with such changes, through the deepening of the practice of democratic values, which is seen as one of the greatest challenges of the twenty-first century in urban settings.
According to the Educating Cities movement, a city is said to be ‘educating’ when, alongside what makes it educative (its social, economic, political and historical features, and other features which are likely to be learned), it is possible to recognize, in the way it is managed/organized and in the action of its institutions, an educating purpose. Such an educating purpose has to do not only with traditionally academic contents but also with the promotion of democracy, of citizens’ civic and political participation, of dialogue, of freedom and of social responsibility. In other words: schooling, far from being neutral, has to be plural, placing within the students’ reach all the options, alternatives and possibilities that enable them to carry out their ability to choose, responsibly, whatever suits best their personal, historical and social circumstances (Rodríguez, 2008, p. 4). In this view, then, the education of individuals is something that goes beyond not only the physical boundaries of the school and other traditional socialization institutions (like the family), but also beyond the time frame of the so-called ‘school age’.
This expansion of the concept of education, the emergence of lifelong learning and the pluralization of educational spaces has demanded an increasing articulation between different institutions and people. In this view, locally relevant organizations, which, so far, have not had a widely recognized and valued role in their communities' social and educational development, are called to action, such as citizens' associations and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Public policies progressively take on a bottom-up approach, as opposed to the traditional top-down approach (Ferreira, 2008). This transformation is recurrently mentioned as the passage, at a local level, from a government model to a governance model (Peter, 2001; Geddes, 2005). The governance model entails a reshaping of the relationships between the state, the market and civil society, oriented towards the establishment of networks and partnerships made possible through an increasing participation of actors in the civil society. The local emerges as a crucial arena for structuring social relationships, and the national territory is no longer the measure for regulation processes. The main actors of local action are not only community groups, social movements and local associations, but also companies, churches and public institutions.
The question, then, becomes: how can we foster these organizations' involvement in their communities' social and education development project(s) or initiatives?
- Ferreira, F. Ilídio (2008) A questão social, o estado e o mito redentor da acção local: lógicas e tensões presentes nas políticas e no trabalho social, Sociedade e Estado, 23(3), 555-589. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-69922008000300003 - Geddes, M. (2005) Neoliberalism and Local Governance: cross-national perspectives and speculations, Policy Studies, 26(3/4), 359-377. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01442870500198429 - Morgan, David L. (1998). The Focus Group Guidebook. USA: SAGE Publications. - Peter, J. (2001) Local Governance in Western Europe. London: Sage. - Rodríguez, J. Rodríguez (2008) La participación como un acto educador y constructor de la ciudad educadora, Revista Iberoamericana de Educación, 45(2), 1-22.
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