"la Caixa" Pro-Childhood Programme

Model to foster the comprehensive development of children in situations of poverty and social vulnerability.

Jordi Riera Romaní, Vice Chancellor of Academic Policy. Ramon Llull University

1. Problem

Sometimes, schools alone are not enough to break the cycle of inherited poverty, nor to guarantee equality of opportunities.

Diverse national and international reports confirm the impact that inequality and chronic poverty have on educational and social development during childhood and adolescence. One of these reports, specifically, Low-Performing Students: Why They Fall Behind and How To Help Them Succeed (January 2016), from the OECD, argues that in Spain, 40% of students from disadvantaged families have levels so low in mathematics that they do not achieve basic proficiency, in contrast to 8% of students from more advantaged households. Similar results occurs with reading and science.

In other words, students' family and socioeconomic contexts  determine their performance in the education system, consolidating a vicious circle of low performance that leads to school failure and early school leaving.

2. Approach

"la Caixa" Pro-Childhood Programme adopts a comprehensive approach to the education of children and adolescents both within and outside of the school system.

The methodological axis around which the Pro-Childhood Programme, which serves 60,000 children and adolescents and 40,000 families in situations of poverty and risk of exclusion, revolves, is that education generates opportunities and integrates multiple dimensions and that all educational agents share joint responsibility

The programme provides support to families, children and adolescents based on an interdisciplinary, intersectorial and interprofessional approach, with the aim that the groups it supports to aspire to achieve the highest levels of education and training.

The main objective is to combat school failure, and this is done through educational reinforcement at the group and individual level and both inside and outside the school. The programme organises workshops that help parents develop parenting skills and channel their concerns about the education of their children, which results in an improvement in family coexistence and relations.

3. Results

Recent data indicate that we are heading in the right direction and encourage us to expand this model of local social and educational networks.

If we take into account that 30% of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds do not complete compulsory secondary education (approximately 3 of every 10 of these students leave school before finishing compulsory secondary education), among  students from this group that receive support through networks sponsored by the "la Caixa" Pro-Childhood Programme, the rate declines to 6.3%. Another significant result is that if the average for school success in compulsory secondary education for students from vulnerable situations and low socioeconomic levels is 51%, among those students that benefit from support from the Pro-Childhood Programme, this percentage climbs to 77%.

In short, these are very promising results, which encourage us to continue to strengthen this model of local social and educational networks as an action strategy, with a clear committment to supporting educational and social change in our society.

Source: Own production based on data from the OECD, the National Institute for Educational Assessment (INEE) and the Adsis and Jaume Bofill foundations.