Safe, Inclusive Participative Pedagogy: Improving early childhood education

Listen to your children Rocinha! Project Bulletin no. 9

Aug 2023

This bulletin is the last in the series on the Project that focuses on the interviews carried out in Rocinha. It examines the struggles and opportunities for improving the educational and development conditions for young children growing up in contexts of violence and poverty.

In Brazil, this multi-national study uses as an example of the on-the-ground issues the Rocinha community in Rio de Janeiro. While low-income communities in Brazil differ in some respects from each other, the issues raised in Rocinha are likely reflected in other such communities and so this research contributes to national debates on policies and practices for early childhood. The bulletin, written by CIESPI staff members Leandro Castro, Renata Brasil and Eliane Gomes, is based on interviews with sixteen key actors from public, non-profit and private organizations that operate in the community. The entire project was coordinated by the Moray House School of Education and Sport at the University of Edinburgh, UK and funded by the UK Global Challenges Research Fund of the United Kingdom.

The key challenges the community actors identified for improving the quality of life of young children are the serious shortfalls in public policies and services available. So too are the shortage of early childhood places in early childhood educational centers and the difficulties children had in maintaining their attendance when they had a place. The community has basic health care services but specialized care, including mental health professionals, audiologists, and optometrists, were lacking. The impact of poverty on child development has been aggravated by the COVID-19 epidemic. The various police forces’ aggressive reaction to public safety (and dominance of drug trafficking gangs) constantly exposes the children to gunfire. There is a vital need for providing safe places to play outside of the home for young children, given the virtual absence of such opportunities.

Any improvements in these conditions will need major public sector investment.

But our respondents pointed out the importance of early childhood centers in providing food, hygiene, and attentive and safe educationally-focused care, and how the very few public and private extra-curriculum activities geared for young children had a big impact on educational opportunities. They also pointed out that the children’s homes were generally safe places for the children to be.

Our respondents also pointed to the need for the institutional actors to figure out better ways to cooperate with each other and, together, to advocate for more resources for young children. They argued the strong need for a local network devoted to mutual support and actions for improving the lives of their youngest co-residents. We shall follow and help this movement.

English translation

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