Community participation in school management has great potentials for removing mistrust and distance between people and schools by nurturing transparency of information and a culture of mutual respect and by jointly pursuing improvement of school by sharing vision, process, and results. Individual and organizational behavioral changes are critical to increase the level of participation. In countries where the administrative structures are weak, the bottom-up approach to expanding educational opportunity and quality learning may be the only option. Nevertheless, when community participation is implemented with a top-down manner without wider consultation on its aims, processes, and expected results, the consequences are likely to be conflicts between actors, a strong sense of overwhelming obligation, fatigue, inertia, and disparity in the degree and results of community participation between communities. Political aspects of school management and socio-cultural difference among the population require caution, as they are likely to induce partial participation or nonparticipation of the community at large. Community participation in school management will result in a long-term impact only if it involves a wide range of actors who can discuss and practice the possibilities of revisiting the definition of community and the way it should be.
Paula Andrea Echeverri-Sucerquia and Carlos Tobon
The historic agreement signed between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the government, as well as the peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), mark the beginning of an end to decades of raw violence in Colombia. Against all odds, Colombia has found ways to survive the pain, to heal, and to begin anew. The Colombian experience mirrors that of many other Latin American nations, as well as others around the world, where a history built in the midst of war, violence, and resilience has shaped people’s ways of interpreting the world and building knowledge. Evidence of this is the focus of conference papers, theses, and dissertations presented at international conferences by and about Latin Americans. Undeniably, in spite of the particularities that describe the Latin American social experience, the hemispheric North has exerted a great epistemological influence in the South. However, Southerners have imprinted their idiosyncrasies, their own ways of understanding, creating, and transforming. A review of educational qualitative research in Colombia illustrates this tension: on the one hand is the focus on evidence-based research, highly influenced by academic work in the North, and, on the other hand, there is a struggle for research that strives for social justice. Such complex tension entails both challenges and opportunities for qualitative research in education.
Formal and informal online learning spaces have evolved into important sources of knowledge that are accessible to many, require limited mobility, and provide ubiquitous learning opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has led to a major jump in the increase of online learning to make learning available, accessible, and possible to the diverse learner population globally. Reducing the gender divide in access to knowledge and information has been the goal of many initiatives, and understanding how access has evolved and improved women’s opportunities to learn and be empowered is key to analyze the changing society. Women are empowered when they have access to learning and access is enhanced through the use of formal and informal online learning spaces and programs. With the knowledge gained, women’s capability is boosted with informed choices, active roles in the workforce, advancement in academics, and increased participation in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Online learning can encourage and motivate women to actively participate in social or cultural movements as well as modify their roles as childbearers, caregivers, and home managers. Women empowerment and gender equality has been the focus of research for decades, but with the rise and availability of ubiquitous learning possibilities, women empowerment through the utilization of online learning opportunities is becoming an area that has much need for understanding. In the past, women were more passive about their marginalized position in society. However, women in the 21st century are more aware and active, and are disrupting their marginalized status with their increased use of digital spaces and online learning possibilities. They explore different sources of knowledge and information and join in different online education opportunities for formal and informal learning. Women not only empower themselves with the exploration of online resources but also others when they teach online, actively share information on social media, and participate in online discussion forums.