A Summary and Critique of “Educating Women for Development” an by Evelina M. Orteza Y Miranda Essay

The author summarizes and comments on the philosophical musings of Professor Evelina Orteza, Professor Emeritus of the University of Calgary, on the phrase “educating women for development”. Keywords: Educating Women, Development, Education of the Person Introduction Professor Orteza raises the question whether the expression ‘educating women for development ‘ is clear right at the start of the essay. She points out the vagueness and ambiguity of the expression by asking these questions: Why is education used as a means for securing such an end? 1] Is there a relationship between education and development? (p. 271).

To answer these questions, first she explicates the meaning of each of the two terms and came up with a commonality in change as a necessary part of the meaning of both words. Since using the two terms together would be redundant, she points out that there is something central to the concept ‘development’ that distinguishes it from ‘education’. The author points out another area of ambiguity with the question ‘whose development?

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Their (women’s) development as individuals or for the development of their country? ’ In this regard, she argues that the adequate expression should be ‘training women for development’ since education, strictly speaking, does not have predetermined/specified ends, unlike training which is connected with specific skills, activities and ends (p. 272)[2]. Professor Orteza further finds the expression interesting in that women are identified to be in need of training for development and wonders whether men ought to be trained for the same end (p. 73)[3]. Although the author has started to clarify the terms ‘education’ and development’ in the Introduction, she states that her task in this essay is to clarify the meaning of the two terms and rid ‘development’ of misunderstandings in order to establish clarity in the expression ‘educating women for development’.

Misunderstandings of the Concept ‘Development’ Several definitions are presented by the author to point out that ‘development’ is one of those concepts that does not respond to a strict definition (pp. 274-275): a process of moving toward, rather than arriving at, a state that in general characterizes certain countries we agree among ourselves to call ‘more developed” (Lauchlin, 1978)[4] “…covering the entire gamut of changes by which a social system moves away … toward some conditions regarded as humanely better” “ development embraces the abolition of all human ills and the solution of all problems” (United Nations Declaration) All of the above are dismissed by Professor Orteza as value statements ,and not definitions.

In the absence of a public agreement on what constitutes ‘development’, the author proposes a set of conditions/criteria to judge whether or not a given use of the term is valid. The Necessary Conditions of ‘Development’ There are two functions of ‘development’: descriptive and evaluative. The descriptive or empirical aspect of the term describes what changes are occurring, what stages have been passed through, etc. The evaluative aspect judges whether or not development is what is going on and is what ought to be going on, and in the right and approved manner .

Both functions depend on formal conditions of ‘development’: existing structures, sequential stages (irreversible), and end-state (p. 277). According to the author, it is necessary to involve all these conditions when talking about ‘development’, although not in identical ways, given its application to various contexts. One such context is of biology/botany wherein the concept of stages is necessary for development . However, it is not always applicable to contexts of human development.

The condition of irreversibility is applicable to societal development, mental and moral development, only if the substance of an end-state of a process is shown to be necessarily the end of development, that is, the absolute Ultimate Good (p. 282). When an individual/society holds on to a state/quality which is considered the Ultimate Good, then it is also being said that development is a state. Based on the preformationist theory of development, it is the end of development since no matter what society will do, no state beyond that will unfold.

In the next paragraph, the author rejects the statement above, regarding irreversibility of process (p. 283). Citing the interactionist theory of development she explains that the end-state continues to develop or to give rise to an emergent stage. [5] Again, the problem arises as to what constitutes the highest good for all , thus compounding the complexity of development problems. ‘Development’ and its Complexities One way of approaching the complexity of development problems, according to the author, is to direct one’s attention to the concept of ‘development’ itself.

As she previously expounded on, there are complexities attached to the term, such as ambiguity and vagueness, its dual functions of being both a descriptive and evaluative term, and the fact that it is a concept which cannot be encapsulated in a definition (p. 285). What is important is to employ clear and precise terms when discussing development problems, since it would, as the author believes, render such problems understandable.

When, on the other hand, development problems are talked about in nonspecific and unclear ways, what comes out is an “amalgam of interrelated human problems, enormous in quantity, unwieldy in their diversity and complexity, all happening at the same time”[6] . At this point, the objective of the essay is articulated: mainly, to contribute to a clarification of development problems, to, hopefully, reduce suggestions of their complexity. In development work ,to accept the complexity of development problems and knowing that valuations will always be in conflict, is to realize that there are many challenges to be faced and conquered.

What can be done is to develop aspects which are deemed crucial not only to the physical and economic survival of society but also to its meaning, self determination and realization of its human significance. Such meaning is derived from the end-state of any process of development. Again, this gives rise to the question on what constitutes the end-state. The author concludes this portion of her essay by pointing out that mere training (the author’s italics) for development, vocational training, basket-weaving, etc. , while laudable, are not sufficient to the task[7].

She suggests that the ‘education of persons’ is what is necessary to the solution of many societal or individual development problems. Education of a Person The author suggests the expression ‘education of person’ for the central idea that ‘person’ means one who takes into account factors necessarily relevant to achieving one’s planned ends. The two features which dominate the concept ‘person’ are exercise of rational will of self-determination and rule-following and minding (p. 286). Professor Orteza further enumerates some specific aspects of ‘person’ as : ntentionality, purpose, responsibility, reason, respect, caring, affection, sympathy, love, delights, etc. The above capacities are in any human being, but they have to be developed/cultivated in order to raise one’s consciousness regarding one’s person. Sometimes, one’s failure to develop the capacities is due to attempts by other human beings to erode the person of others, such as slavery. In this sense, the capacities are in the slave, only he is deprived of the faculties of thinking and feeling by his owner.

If one’s person , however, is not developed, to that extent, one’s person is not fulfilled. The author argues that ‘what he ought to be, he is not’. When some human beings do not cultivate some aspects such as responsibility, reason, etc. , what they turn out to be are judged as reflections on their person. It is not clear, she points out, whether the concept ‘person’ applies to them . ‘Person’ therefore is an evaluative term. Another point pursued by the author refers to the achievement or merit gained by a human being.

Prior to the recognition of merit/achievement, a human being should be recognized for his person. She then goes back to the topic of women, pointing out that that they need not be necessarily limited to one role alone, especially if such a role is predetermined for them by societal norms and traditional beliefs. This violates the concept ‘person’ because any person may aspire to any role and status and claim the right to have aspired to it, if the requirements relevant to the role are appropriately met.

In this regard, women can have a role/ status of her own not because of her sex but because of her achievement as a person[8]. Professor Orteza concludes her essay by saying: “ What is clearly necessary to the development of one’s person is education, not in the sense of training for a specific predetermined end, but as engagement in worthwhile activities that have for their end the autonomy and enhancement of one’s person”(p. 288). Central to the education of persons is the knowledge that one’s conduct in life is set in the context of a network of human/social relationships.

Education of persons, in brief, is mainly concerned with knowing and acknowledging that ‘… a person (is) a whole, master of itself and of its acts, and which consequently is not merely a means to an end, but an end, an end which must be treated as such”. Therefore, to help solve development problems, the greatest need is not to train persons for specific jobs (as doctors, engineers, etc. ) but to educate persons in the conduct of their office of person which necessarily implies relationships.

Development problems are moral problems, hence, the need for moral education, the education of one’s person. Comments Professor Orteza focuses on the terms ‘education’ and ‘development’ in the expression ‘education of women for development’, in the process, clarifying and trying to remove the ambiguity attached to each. Although she does not come up with a descriptive definition of both terms, especially of ‘development’, she initially proposes to change the expression to ‘training women for development’ since education, as she argues, does not have predetermined ends, the way that training has.

This, to my mind, limits the expression to the scope of livelihood training, as in basket weaving, and other similar activities, as she herself would admit in the latter part of the essay. The author proceeds to suggest that a more appropriate term, considering the dimensions of human development, is ‘education of persons’. I believe, if taken in the context of social realities, especially in ‘developing’ countries (for want of a more descriptive and acceptable term), such a change will remove the essence of the term.

I quote the following from a paper prepared by the UNESCO on “Culture and the Economic Role of Women”[9] to put across my point: “…for the Second United Nations Development Decade (1970), the UN altered its approach to development and placed the status of women on the international agenda…At the same time, it recognized that most of these (development) problems could not be solved against the background of the current status of women.

To raise the status of women thus became both an objective and a means of development” This is still consistent with Professor Orteza’s argument that “ What is clearly necessary to the development of one’s person is education, not in the sense of training for a specific predetermined end, but as engagement in worthwhile activities that have for their end the autonomy and enhancement of one’s person”(p. 288).

In the same UNESCO document cited above, it states that the ‘non-integration of women has prevented or retarded progress’. The failure to make use of the abilities and skills of women, which in itself, is a disadvantage that prevents their advancement as individuals, is also an obstacle to development. Therefore, the education of women for development, both as individuals and for their country, is a necessity , more of a priority, in addressing development problems.

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