Title

Occupations, school readiness and the educational transition in neoliberal Guatemala: A critical occupational science perspective

Location

Room C

Start Time

18-10-2013 1:30 PM

End Time

18-10-2013 2:00 PM

Session Type

Research Paper

Abstract

Guatemala is undergoing an educational transition, part of the reconstruction of civil society in the wake of a 36 year long civil war. The Peace Accords of 1996 promised educational opportunities and improved outcomes for Guatemala’s poor, rural, and predominantly indigenous population. According to the UN Human Development Reports, while Guatemalans now average 4.1 years of schooling (an increase of 1.7 years between 1980 and 2012), the country lags significantly behind its neighbors Nicaragua (5.8), Honduras (6.5), and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean (7.8) (UNDP, 2013). Guatemala is also one of the most unequal countries in the world with respect to the distribution of wealth and power. Almost 40% of Guatemalan students in first grade are not promoted to the second grade due to poor educational performance and must repeat.

Common Hope, a non-governmental organization (NGO) located near Antigua, Guatemala, offers sponsorship to individual children in 8,000 low-income Guatemalan families as a point of entry for social transformation. Common Hope has launched a new initiative to target the problem of high first grade failure rates by monitoring and supporting first graders’ academic progress through social work home visits. The authors, as members of the 2012 NAPA-OT Field School (www.napaotguatemala.org), completed a four-week study of social workers’ home visits to 44 mainly Ladino families in seven villages. Occupational science theory was used critically to analyze data from a rapid ethnographic assessment of occupations, environments, routines and verbal interactions.

Common Hope is using the study report to discuss best practices with its social workers (Frank, Angell, Bartzen, Florindez, & Martinez, 2012). A quantitative analysis demonstrated that the occupation of talking dominated the social work visits, versus doing things as shared activity, doing things as demonstrations, or doing things casually while talking. Observations of the preschool-aged children, however, indicated active and curious play behaviors (despite having few toys or play materials) and interest in social engagement with the researchers. Their play revealed motor, cognitive, sensory, and social capacities deemed important for school readiness but actively discouraged in Guatemalan schools. Further, observed differences in the organization of home environments, family occupations and routines offered clues to disparities in the school performance of older siblings.

Expansion of neoliberal global governance means that resources needed to expand access and educational outcomes are unlikely to come from Guatemala’s public sector. Following hard on the civil war, neoliberal models of educational reform must be critically evaluated if the promise of the Peace Accords to expand educational access and outcomes is to have meaning (Mulot 2004; Poppema, 2009). Guatemala depends heavily on a transnational, civil sector of NGOs to expand educational opportunities, school attendance, and graduation rates. This paper explores: (1) How, in a resource-restricted situation such Guatemala’s, occupational science perspectives may help to make a difference for education; and (2) What the idea of a “critical occupational science” might mean.

  • Learning Objectives: To explore the idea of a critical occupational science, through the example of Guatemala’s transition to literacy and education for its majority poor population
  • To understand how ethnographic methods were utilized within the context of a 4-week, interdisciplinary field school to bring an occupational science lens to social work home visits
  • To explore how an occupational science analysis is
  • contributing to best practices of a US-Guatemala NGO that sponsors educational opportunities for Guatemalan children To understand how an occupational science perspective can be utilized in resource-restricted contexts in low-income countries such as Guatemala to contribute to an education reform agenda

References

Frank, G. (2013). 21st century pragmatism and social justice: Problematic situations and occupational reconstructions in post civil-war Guatemala. In M. P. Cutchin & V. A. Dickie (Eds.), Rethinking occupation: Transactional perspectives on doing. New York: Springer.

Frank, G., Angell, A. M., Bartzen, P., Florindez, D., & Martinez, A. (2012). Supporting the Education of Common Hope’s Affiliated Students: A Study of Social Work Visits. Family Occupations and Social Transformation in Post-Civil War Guatemala. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/napaotfieldschoolguatemala/home/press/supporting-the-education-of-common-hopes-affiliated-students

Mulot , E. (2004). A historical analysis of the educational modalities of inequalities management in Costa Rica, Cuba and Guatemala. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 34(1), 73-85. doi: 10.1080/0305792032000180479

Poppema, M. (2009). Guatemala, the Peace Accords and education: A post‐conflict struggle for equal opportunities, cultural recognition and participation in education. Globalisation, Societies and Education, 7(4), 383-408. doi: 10.1080/14767720903412218

UNDP. (2013). Human Development Report 2013: The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Explanatory note on 2013 HDR composite indices, Guatemala. Retrieved from http://hdrstats.undp.org/images/explanations/GTM.pdf

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Oct 18th, 1:30 PM Oct 18th, 2:00 PM

Occupations, school readiness and the educational transition in neoliberal Guatemala: A critical occupational science perspective

Room C

Guatemala is undergoing an educational transition, part of the reconstruction of civil society in the wake of a 36 year long civil war. The Peace Accords of 1996 promised educational opportunities and improved outcomes for Guatemala’s poor, rural, and predominantly indigenous population. According to the UN Human Development Reports, while Guatemalans now average 4.1 years of schooling (an increase of 1.7 years between 1980 and 2012), the country lags significantly behind its neighbors Nicaragua (5.8), Honduras (6.5), and the rest of Latin America and the Caribbean (7.8) (UNDP, 2013). Guatemala is also one of the most unequal countries in the world with respect to the distribution of wealth and power. Almost 40% of Guatemalan students in first grade are not promoted to the second grade due to poor educational performance and must repeat.

Common Hope, a non-governmental organization (NGO) located near Antigua, Guatemala, offers sponsorship to individual children in 8,000 low-income Guatemalan families as a point of entry for social transformation. Common Hope has launched a new initiative to target the problem of high first grade failure rates by monitoring and supporting first graders’ academic progress through social work home visits. The authors, as members of the 2012 NAPA-OT Field School (www.napaotguatemala.org), completed a four-week study of social workers’ home visits to 44 mainly Ladino families in seven villages. Occupational science theory was used critically to analyze data from a rapid ethnographic assessment of occupations, environments, routines and verbal interactions.

Common Hope is using the study report to discuss best practices with its social workers (Frank, Angell, Bartzen, Florindez, & Martinez, 2012). A quantitative analysis demonstrated that the occupation of talking dominated the social work visits, versus doing things as shared activity, doing things as demonstrations, or doing things casually while talking. Observations of the preschool-aged children, however, indicated active and curious play behaviors (despite having few toys or play materials) and interest in social engagement with the researchers. Their play revealed motor, cognitive, sensory, and social capacities deemed important for school readiness but actively discouraged in Guatemalan schools. Further, observed differences in the organization of home environments, family occupations and routines offered clues to disparities in the school performance of older siblings.

Expansion of neoliberal global governance means that resources needed to expand access and educational outcomes are unlikely to come from Guatemala’s public sector. Following hard on the civil war, neoliberal models of educational reform must be critically evaluated if the promise of the Peace Accords to expand educational access and outcomes is to have meaning (Mulot 2004; Poppema, 2009). Guatemala depends heavily on a transnational, civil sector of NGOs to expand educational opportunities, school attendance, and graduation rates. This paper explores: (1) How, in a resource-restricted situation such Guatemala’s, occupational science perspectives may help to make a difference for education; and (2) What the idea of a “critical occupational science” might mean.

  • Learning Objectives: To explore the idea of a critical occupational science, through the example of Guatemala’s transition to literacy and education for its majority poor population
  • To understand how ethnographic methods were utilized within the context of a 4-week, interdisciplinary field school to bring an occupational science lens to social work home visits
  • To explore how an occupational science analysis is
  • contributing to best practices of a US-Guatemala NGO that sponsors educational opportunities for Guatemalan children To understand how an occupational science perspective can be utilized in resource-restricted contexts in low-income countries such as Guatemala to contribute to an education reform agenda