Development Education in France

Development Education


Evolution of the concept of Development Education: the messages

The evolution of the concept of Development Education (DE) is linked closely to the way in which its two components evolved during the last thirty years, in particular the `Development' part. The term also has different meanings depending on the ideological, political or cultural references of the institutions or countries where it is used. We could almost say that there are as many concepts of DE as possible activities.

In France, however, DE (also called Education for International Solidarity) went through three successive stages:

In 1974, a study from IRFED (Institut de Recherche et de Formation a l'Education et au Développement- Institute of Research and Training for Education and Development) emphasised in its conclusion the difficulty to find a common definition for `Development', and noticed two main perspectives, which often combine to various degrees: For the first one, it is only possible to raise awareness of Third World problems when awareness has already been raised about conflicts and antagonisms existing in every society. The second perspective takes less note of socio-economic problems, but underlines the necessity to eliminate, at all levels, prejudice and discrimination, to encourage Peace and Solidarity and to fight against injustice.
Throughout the 70s, the terms `Development' and `Under-development' were not only referring to dependence and dominant relationships, but also to the inter-dependence existing between and within nations, in both the South and the North. Development was about changing these relationships and about the rights of the countries, the peoples, the different social groups within the countries, to justice, equality and participation in development. Focus was on the political and economic analysis, and on a global and participative approach of Development: It was the decade of the 'New International Economic Order'.

For École et Tiers-Monde (School and Third World), ' in 1980, "under-development is the loss of control of one's own development; but first it is the product of economic and cultural dependence. . . Development works through promoting solidarity between peoples, setting up relationships based on justice and peace - and on through changing mentalities and structures, on a ! world scale, here and there".
Around the second half of the decade, extending from the inter-dependence analysis and the participation of the people in development, appeared the concepts of 'maldevelopment' and 'self-centered development'.
In 1980, in its general Charter, the Fréres des Hommes (Brothers of Man) NGO analysed the situation as follows:
"We notice a world maldevelopment characterised by minorities monopolising wealth and power, and by increasing subordination of all values to dominant groups' economy and ideologies. This ` maldevelopment affects all fields: cultural, economic, political, social. . . The Third World reveals some features of maldevelopment: hunger, of course, but also inequalities, repression,- violence. Europe, which also covers a great variety of countries and people, shows other aspects of the same maldevelopment: pollution, waste, injustices, violence..."
In its 1983 platform, CRID (Centre de Recherche et d'Information sur le Développement - Centre for Research and Information about Development) underlined the importance of a "self-centered development of the most disadvantaged populations starting from their real needs and leaning on local initiatives and popular organisations".
The 80s were marked by the worsening of the economic crisis, the acknowledgement of failure of the second Development decade and a growing debt problem for the Southern countries. They were also marked by the emergence of a neo-liberal trend emphasising the merits of the market economy. It was the period when the Third World orientated N GOs were violently attacked and criticised (accused among other things of ideological drift. . .), when Humanitarian Aid was increasingly media covered (notably with the `Band Aid' operation) anc when advertising and marketing people entered organisations. Moreover, the contradiction between fundraising and DE became urgent.

Organisations are more and more aware of the complexity of the development process and are increasingly focusing on the notion of partnership. They now want first to listen to their Southern partners and to define with them development objectives and practices. At the same time, they keep on emphasising North-South inter-dependence and interfaces, particularly in the North about immigration and poverty. Methods and means of Development Education in France
Following a recent evaluation of DE projects in the formal sector, French NGOs were asked whether they made any distinction between providing information, awareness-raising and DE. For some of them, all this is synonymous, but for most, however, a distinction arises:

For some people, DE concerns only young people and formal schools education, while most organisations currently use this term to designate any action of information, awareness-raising and education in France. It is partly for this reason that the term is often contested, and that some people would prefer to use 'Education for International Solidarity' or 'Citizenship Education'. In the same way, the term International Solidarity Organisation (ISO) tends to be substituted for Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO).

It is worth noting that all associations refuse to see in DE a means to `sell their ISO', but it is not unusual to see confusion settling within messages, between the desire to have the organisation known, and the objective to help public opinion to have another look at the world.
For one-off events or extended DE campaigns, the bulk of the activities are carried out at a local level by the voluntary members nf local groups or associations belonging to an umbrella organisation. This grassroots multiplication is a constituent feature nf DE activity.
What is clear today is that DE implies a broader approach to the society in which we are living, putting into perspective problems of developing countries and problems of our own societies. In this context, economic inter-dependence, environment or immigration problems are often mentioned. This approach is a factor of inter- cultural integration for young people, school students and adults. It facilitates meetings of groups from different socio-cultural and linguistic origins, at the everyday level as well as at a more global level of understanding different social, economic, cultural and political situations. That is why linking is a privileged form of DE, and many ISOs focus on welcoming Southern partners in their localities, as well as on trips, workcamps, twinnings, cultural groups' tours, etc. In this sense, the inter-action between DE and inter- cultural pedagogy becomes obvious.

DE in the formal sector is a particular variant of organisations' activities. Since the late 70s, a growing number of ISOs have been interested in formal sector education, and the `Third World Day' at school, instituted in 198 l, reflects the interest that the authorities have also demonstrated towards this issue.

More generally, the interest of the authorities materialised by the introduction in 1983 of the Commission Coopération -Développement (COCODEV; Cooperation-Development Commission- joint commission between ISOs and the authorities) which comprises, among others, a specific DE working group, and enables a sustained dialogue between government people and civil society dealing with Cooperation.

The institution of big awareness-raising campaigns in the early 80s (`Eat better here, defeat hunger there' or `For peoples' right to feed themselves'), with the powerful media coverage they got, definitely established ISOs as central actors for Third World information and North-South problems. Today, these media operations have become less common, however the issue of the images circulated by the media (TV in particular) was raised by the ISOs and the authorities in a round table organised by COCODEV in October 1989. This questioning gave rise to the publication of a report, called Barosud (shortened from `barometer of the South'), analysing the message disseminated by the media on Southern countries and the issue of images of the South remains a priority for almost all ISOs and grassroots groups.
We can say that, in these early 90s, French ISOs have accumulated a rich and varied experience in DE. All of the following is undertaken in one form or another: activists' training, production of learning materials, games, competitions handbooks' analyses, audio-visual productions, publications, organisation of seminars, tours with partners, evenings of debate, exhibitions, big national campaigns as well as local actions. This work is, to a large extent, carried out by the grassroots and is not well known outside their locality or at the national level. For several years French ISOs have been trying to develop information, exchanges, collaborations on DE. They tend to build dialogue,- to seek complementarities, to carry out common projects, either between themselves, or within the framework of existing activity. To do so, they begin and encourage initial assessments and evaluations.

Organisations, Networks Working at the Grassroots Level and Local Groups
The consortia of French ISOs

French ISOs have a complex history which has resulted in today 's structure of seven consortia: In order to have a better dialogue and to form a sole interlocutor for the authorities, these seven consortia grouped themselves together into the CLOSI, Comite de Liaison des Organisations de Solidarite Internationale (Liaison Committee of International Solidarity Organisations)
Besides these consortia, there are also: Many ISOs, not quoted in this chapter, would say that they are working on DE. There are, indeed, many local groups which are not affiliated to any national umbrella organisation nor to any association and whose work to raise awareness locally is not well known to the big' ISOs. The ISOs Directory, published every year by the Ministry of Cooperation, shows how much the associative phenomenon around the Third World is vast, diverse and dense (almost 1,000 associations listed, most of them considering that they work on DE). Mentioned here are only the main ISOs, which carry out projects on a large scale leaning on federated grassroots groups or networks. The other organisations refer most nf the time to projects and documents produced by these main ISOs grouped into consortia.

Development Education organisations

Some of the consortia are organised to coordinate DE activity on a national scale, relayed by their members ' (notably GRID, CNJD, CNAJEP, CLED-ESF and CFCF).
These consortia elaborate information campaigns, produce documents, organise seminars and various events to raise awareness, trying at the same time to reach national media in order to increase their potential public. Case Study 3 (following) describes a campaign organised by CRID on Third World Debt. Among the most active organisations in DE are many of the CRID members: These three organisations have carried out common campaigns over several years to inform an raise awareness of the issues of food self-sufficiency, giving rise to the Afrique Verte (Green Africa) organisation. Their local groups are particularly active in public information (schools or general public) concerning the countries where these organizations have development projects and big national campaigns.
Among the other CRID members it is necessary to mention:

Youth and adult education organisations

Youth and adult education organisations, especially around CNJD, CLED and CNAJEP, are also very active in DE, in another tradition and with methods sometimes different from ISOs' ones, but in a wholly similar spirit. Religious structures must be distinguished from secular adult education organisations.
Among CNJD or CNAJEP members, the Action Catholique des Enfants (Catholic Action for Children) and the Union Chretienne des Jeunes Gens (Christian Union for Youth - I6 local units), the Scouts de France and the Guides de France (30 or so lncal units and more than 100,000 members) provide information and training on International Solidarity through their multiple socio- cultural activities with youth and children, not necessarily in the formal sector. The Secours C.atholique (Catholic Relief) also has a big Third World Department which works on DE with its public, notably thanks to their I 00 local units and their I,000,000 + members.
Among the secular organisations, there are some vast DE networks, wor king through very powerful structures which are not organised around North-South issues, but around training, education, culture sports and leisure. Their international departments are more or less active, but no organisation leaves the South issues aside: Among CLED and/or CNAJEP members, the Francas (25 local units running socio-cultural projects) and the Clubs Léo Lagrange (a vast historical network set up at the time ofthe `Front Populaire of 1936', which consists today of 15 local units) must also be noted as they devote one part of their activities to DE.


French organisations are beginning to acquire good experience of DE: with numerous activists, well-tried activities developed over three decades, targeted projects (eg. formal schools education, trainers, the general public), numerous national campaigns and varied means uf action. This active landscape of DE brought associations to a new awareness in the early 90s, first on the necessity to coordinate themselves, then on the usefulness of evaluation in this field.


ln the past, the lack of coordination and dialogue often led to overlapping or contradictory` action which prejudiced the aim. For example, Action Ecole (collecting and sending food aid) was launched in 84-85 by the singer Bob Geldof with strong media and show- business coverage, whilst other ISOs were developing a long-term and deeper approach towards formal schools education, underlining particularly the necessities of food self-sufficiency in Southern countries. This kind of mismatch contributed to make organisations realise that they had to develop a dialogue with each other to avoid prejudicial contradictions and competition.

The late 80s and, above all, the early 90s, as well as the preparation for the Rio conference on Environment, brought French lSOs to think about their objectives and means, and to facilitate contacts and joint projects to achieve their information and education goals. So, the distinction becomes clearer between DE and fundraising, even if there are still so-called `Development Education' activities intending more to `sell' the association than to practise a real Education for Solidarity.

However, the coordinated national campaigns (in particular the Environment Coordination, led by CLOSI and implemented by CRID with the collaboration of the Ligue de 1'Enseignement and the Association Francaise des Volontaires du Progrés) attests to the fact that ISOs' can work together and break down traditional barriers. In spite of increasing difficulties to get access to media, organisations are achieving their DE objectives thanks to improved dialogue and grassroots coordination. Joint projects are becoming common: an interesting example is that of the 1993 Third World Day in schools. For the first time, the consortia within CLOSI produced together a learning resource on the issue of Health for students and teachers. 430,000 copies were circulated to primary and middle schools through consortia and member associations.

NGDO-EC Liaison Committee: Development Education Group