‘We teach girls to shrink themselves…’


For the last couple of decades, our attitudes on gender roles have been strictly isolated. Women and men have been assigned to do certain roles, a societal belief about how men and women are expected to behave and must be followed. Women are housewives which means they do everything inside the house, from cleaning to cooking and to taking care of the children. Meanwhile, men belong outside, working to provide for the family or getting an education. Believe it or not gender discrimination is still an ongoing issue, as you can tell by the way Beyonce points out how girls and boys are being taught to do certain things and have certain attributes. In one of her lines, she states, “You can have ambition But not too much You should aim to be successful But not too successful”.  Why are girls not allowed to receive an education and be successful as boys?

In the book, Social Psychology mentioned how women are required to show kindness and nurturance while men show strength and smarts. Beyonce speaks on how girls are taught how to be small and how they must follow the gender roles of being a mother, give support and love, and behave normally. Then, she claims how boys should be taught the same way such as give love, support, and behave normally as well. However, her way of trying to break the gender roles is by reminding her fans, specifically women, to not let society dehumanize their identity by being told how women should act. Being ourselves, as a human being and not following any gender roles is what makes us a human. Unfortunately, it is the schemas, the way we organize the world, that makes it difficult for us to break the gender discrimination since we are culturally embedded on how both genders are suppose to behave or act. Although, psychologically speaking, it is hard to break that discrimination, do you think it is possible to do that without erasing or interrupting the countries’ cultural norms?

In the Guardian article, Girl speak out: I want to be a lawyer to take action for pregnant children, couple of girls have stated that in their countries, males are the one who dominant the households and communities. Yuma, 15, who is from Nicaragua, says “It’s hard to be a girl where I live…Men have all the power…” Another girl, Awazi, 15, from Uganda, says “I would live it if Uganda worked on girl-child education introduced programmes to help to make sure girls stay in school. What that means is that we need strict laws to punish those marrying off young girls.” This is only a couple of stories from different countries who has all these wishes and dreams that are difficult to overcome in their home country. Girls in developing countries has the capabilities and skills, but they are being pushed back from furthering their education due to economic and culture constraints. In the article, Making room for girls, C.R. stated that “Some are kept away by the religious qualms of their families…. Other are needed as child labour to prop up household incomes when times are tough, due to the lack of developed insurance or saving systems in these countries.” No matter what are the obstacles within the families, girls are always the one who are pushed back from their dreams or wishes.

Education is one of the most important factor and essential tool. The last blogpost I wrote on HIV/AIDS and education, and the impact it may have if we do not educate our children on it. Mostly the people who do not have any access to education are the girls or females. The girls are at a disadvantage partially because most countries are very traditional, which means they follow the gender norms. Women are the ones who cook, clean, and provide love and care to the family, meanwhile, men are the ones who get the education and get a job to provide the family with food and a home. However, these gender norms do not discuss how significant HIV/AIDS can destroy the family and the individual health. Lesly Wood claims that “More African women than ever before are living with HIV: 59% of the adult population in sub-Saharan Africa and in some countries up to 68%,” (51). These statistics are pretty high especially in sub-Saharan Africa and if we allow this cycle to continue, eventually the spread of disease will become difficult to prevent and slowly this can affect the population will of the country. It is important to incorporate how gender inequalities can play a significant role and how that may negatively impact them. In order to structure the curriculum around gender inequalities, educators must consider that females tend to feel uncomfortable to speak in front of males, so this throughout the practice educators should divide the gender, then later into the activity bring the discussion as whole. Wood claims that “Gender Equality needs to become a reality, in order to beat HIV,” (51). And this is where educators need to make sure that men fully understand what it means to be HIV-Positive and how that can damage their life, partner, and family.  Educators need to break the gender discrimination and emphasis women on their rights to say ‘no’ towards men sexual behaviors. However, the big question is how can we break gender discrimination without interfering in their culture? And is it possible to have break the gender discrimination?



Aronson, E (et. al) “Social Psychology.” 9TH Edition

Wood, L. “Dealing with HIV and AIDS- Sociocultural Factors.” Chapter 3. 48-65.



Educating without Erasing

At 17 years old, Pedro Zamora was the first Cuban male to open up about his sexual orientation on popular media, The Real World. However, Zamora had very little knowledge on the disadvantages of his sexual orientation. Little did he know his life was close to the end after his visit from Red Cross. He donated blood and within couple of weeks, they stated that his results found a virus that they were unable to disclosed. Zamora went to physician and he was told he was HIV-Positive. His physician educated him on how he caught the disease. After months of devastating news, he was inspired to be an educator on the topics HIV/AIDS. He travelled across the country to educate others, but one of the most difficult part of his journey was cultural barriers and accessibility. People had different practices, believed in certain things, and had very limited access to healthcare. To be effective in change and making sure people are receiving the information needed with disrupting their cultural beliefs especially when we are educating in underdeveloped countries.

Culture beliefs is one barrier that prevents people from educating each other on HIV/AIDS. Culture can be defined in many ways, from race to religion to values etc., it is a very complex term. In some countries, for instance, in Africa their beliefs are negatively powerful and impactful to their health. In the article, Education, Health and HIV/AIDS, Clive Harber states, “… as teachers may also hold religious beliefs concerning sexual practices which they make it difficult for them to teach the topic, and this is particularity so in the case of homosexuality,” (239). Pedro was HIV-Positive because his parents were conservative and homophobic which meant that his parents avoided subjects or topics like gays, lesbian bisexual, transgender, etc. Zamora parents, specifically his father, who did not talk about the advantages and disadvantages was unaware that being homosexual and having unsafe sex leads to HIV/AIDS. To respect people’s opinions, thoughts, and beliefs, meanwhile sharing our views, we should first listen to the people and make sure we understand their side. Then, once we clarify their views, we share our views on the effects of HIV/AIDS and ideas we have to break the cycle through education. In order for the educators to stress the importance of HIV/AIDS, they should structure the educational curriculum where they incorporate the topic on their cultural and religion beliefs and explain the advantage or disadvantage factors that can influence their health. Religiously speaking, in the article, What is HIV/AIDS, and why does education matter?,  Nalini Biggs mentioned that people may think that condoms are a way to encourage youth to have sex (16). We need to talk about the benefits of condoms and allow them to see it is not only for encouragement it is for safety reasons as well.

The lack of education they receive or the limited access to education is another component that prevents them from knowing about HIV/AIDS. In developing countries, it is difficult for people to get an adequate information on how to practice safe sex or ways to minimize the risk of HIV/AIDS. Harber claims that, “…Children who continue to suffer from poor health are still at a major disadvantage educationally in terms of both access to schooling and their ability to take advantage of the education on offer,” (233). Pedro did not have the right access to education in terms of practicing safe sex, because his parents were conservative, did not have sex education, and it was barely discussed in his school. In Africa people are at a disadvantage because they do not have access to education for many reasons; one reason is their parents’ cannot afford the child’s schooling and two, the child need to stay home and work to take care of the family which is mostly are girls. Gathering the students to learn about this topic is challenging, but we need to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS by allowing educators to connect local communities so they can connect to the schools. Although people in the community may have very low level of education, the curriculum can be structure in the level that will allow the people and youth to understand the effects of HIV/AIDS and ways to prevent from being HIV-Positive. Also, educators need to consider the people’s level of education and structure their curriculum in a way that people will be able to understand the importance of HIV/AIDS. However, part of the problem is that educators do not consider the lack of access people have to education or think about the level of education they received. They just plan their program based on jargoned information which losses the people’s attention and motivation. We need to think about both the culture and the level of education people received in order for us educator help.

HIV/AIDS is an important subject to cover to students, especially in underdeveloped countries. To establish an adequate information to people across the country, we need to first consider their views before implementing our views. Once we accomplish that, we can help plan the curriculum that both balances our western views with the country’s views. If the people see this, they will not only begin to trust us, but develop respect and hopefully understanding why we are educating them on this subject-matter. Our goal is not to erase their culture, our goal is help reduce by sharing our thoughts as well.

***There are many factors to what prevents other countries from speaking about HIV/AIDS. Gender inequalities also play a role which I barely talk about. In my next blog post I am going to talk about the gender inequalities in education. In the meantime, I would like to leave off with a statistic I found really intriguing; In the article, Dealing with HIV and AIDS-Sociocultural Factors, Lesly Wood claims that “More African women than ever before are living with HIV: 59% of the adult population in sub-Saharan Africa and in some countries up to 68%,” (51).


Biggs, N. A. (2012). What is HIV/AIDS, and why does education matter? In Education and HIV/AIDS: Education as a humanitarian response. London: Continuum. 8 – 32.


Harber, C. (2014). “Education, Health and HIV/AIDS.” Education and International Development: Theory, practice and issues. Oxford: Symposium Books. 231-244.


Wood, L. “Dealing with HIV and AIDS- Sociocultural Factors.” Chapter 3. 48-65.

Erasing Race & Culture


I’ve lost my authenticity, my identity, and my purpose.

Where do I begin?

What do I say?

Why does it matter?

Will it ever change?

I’ve lost what it means to be brown, Latina, and a woman.   

Where do I begin?

What do I say?

Why does it matter?

Will it ever change?

I’ve lost my culture through racial violence, silence, and whiteness.

Where do I begin?

What do I say?

Why does it matter?

Will it ever change?

I’ve lost the meaning of trust, respect, and leadership.

Where do I begin?

What do I say?

Why does it matter?

Will it ever change?

I’ve lost my voice, is it too late to gain?

The United States took away my identity both racially and culturally. Taking this course made me realize how much Western views plays a role to how society is structure and the way we should think. When Professor Anita Fabos asked the class to think about “How does international development thinking currently engage with Race?” The first couple of things that came to my mind was lack of cultural sensitivity, the ideologies the NGO upholds in other countries, and international services like peace corps. Are the development projects making a difference in underdeveloped countries or is it making it worse? I personally think it is making it worse simply because the development projects are ignoring other factors to why poverty, healthcare, education, and the environment is an issue in those countries. The development projects only observe a problem and feel their solutions will work, instead of understanding the problem, their hardships, cultural practices, and so on. to work together to build the solution. These underdeveloped countries are powerless, voiceless, and hopeless because of the lack of communication within the countries communities, and lack of cultural sensitivity.  In general, the development projects ignore the problems, are quick to criticize and find an “ineffective” solution, which means they disregard the countries culture.

In the article Thinking Race, Thinking Development, by Sarah Smith, she discusses the effects of color-blindness and the silence on race in the development projects. Smith stated that in order for us to move forward in the projects, we need to recognize race and acknowledge it. Smith claimed that power is what blinds us from color, which creates injustice, and ignores our privileges. Smith also stated that “…Tswana had to represent themselves in new ways, use new forms of argument an adopt new strategies of engagement, and so found their consciousness irrevocably transformed.” The development projects see that these people live in poverty, but do not see that their culture is being diminished as the development projects force their beliefs and views without considering the countries, in this case Tswana’s views and beliefs.

The World Bank is a good example to how development thinking negatively engages with race. The organization observe that the underdeveloped countries “…are meant to fight poverty or facilitate economic development… Its steps into a gap to make funds available that might not otherwise be within the reach of these countries if there were only to go to the private lending market” according to Professor Loury from Brown University interviewed by NPR-Chideya. In other words, from my understanding, the World Bank believe they are trying to reduce poverty by, one, letting them borrow money, which is a cycle to stay in poverty since they are LENDING. Two, implementing their rules, policies, and western’s views, which the countries must adapt to and engage in, means that the countries own cultural and racial identity are demolish.

To answer the question, how does development thinking engage with race? It engages by diminishing the countries race and culture, and by implementing their ideologies and ignoring the countries ideologies. The development thinking also engages with race by not considering the privileges one has in terms of education, access to healthcare, access to job opportunities and so on. If the development projects really wants to create CHANGE, they should do less criticizing and more listening, understanding, and working together to build a solution to make the countries’ communities more efficient, both economically and environmentally.






Is PISA a good way to measure a student’s success or abilities?

Take a moment to think about how you would describe education—What is your definition on education? Is education a one-way street? Is education measurable? Is education a competition? What does it mean to have a good education? How do you receive a good quality of education? For the last couple of years, I have been pondering on the concept of education. I am trying to understand and figure out how do we receive a “perfect” or a “great” education. Then I begin to think how do the institutions know that they are giving their students a “good” education. Finally, I realized that the way the institutions or the countries know that they are giving their students a good education is through an assessment. The assessment is what determines a child’s ability and the institutions educational quality. We, as a society, depend on these assessments so much, which is a problem. It is problem because we are losing the meaning of education, pushing away students from wanting to enjoy learning, disrupting their confidence, and judging their intelligence abilities.

The first blog, I briefly mentioned an international assessment sponsor by OECD (Organisation Economics Co-corporation) called PISA (Program for International Student Assessment). Pisa is an international assessment that measures 15-year-old students’ intelligence abilities on reading, math, and science every three years. The purpose of this test is to measure the students’ performance, and a way for other countries to see how well they are doing in comparison to their opponents. According to the OECD website, Pisa give the countries an idea on how well is their education system structured and are their students ready for the “real-world”. However, OECD does not consider that PISA should not be an assessment that determines a country’s educational system, especially when comparing underdeveloped countries. If we compared an underdeveloped country to a developed country, we are not considering other factors to why one country education system is better than the other one. We need to take into account that underdeveloped countries limited to resources, the political power, culture, and religion plays a huge role to a child’s education as well. There are so many components that plays a role to how the students perform in their exam and school.

In the OECD policy brief, they give a brief overview on the way the education system is structure internationally, and input their perspective on possible ways to rebuild and help students receive a “good” quality of education. One of the factor they mentioned was inclusion. OECD stated in their policy brief that “… inclusion… ensuring basic minimum standard of education for all—example that everyone should be able to read, write, and do simple arithmetic.” It is challenging to engage and teach students how to read, write, and do math when there are students who have different ways of learning something and are interested in different subjects. I get the whole concept of being inclusive, but we cannot bring all the students together teach something and expect them to do it the way it was taught. In relation to PISA, inclusion involves memorization being able to remember a formula for an exam, in this case, for PISA. The policy brief states their western views without considering the countries views on how their education should be structure or what should be taught. According to OECD, “National testing of individual student performance on basic skill is a fundamental look to measure both individual performance of schools.” The problem with OECD, is that they believe Pisa is the solution to determining if the child is ready to go out in the real world without thinking or considering other factors to why the child is not performing well.

In the theguardian article, OECD and PISA tests are damaging education worldwide-academics, writes to the organization their thoughts and feelings on the PISA assessment. The article mentioned, “In education policy, Pisa, with its three-year assessment cycle, has caused a shift of attention to short-term fixes designed to help country quickly climb the rankings…” Instead of focusing where the students need help in the most, they focus on giving them information to how to pass the assessment, in other words, the educators are pressure to teach students to the test; All this is to simply win that number one spot. Previously, I said that the policy brief stated we need to be inclusive, but my question is how can we be inclusive if our mind is set on the assessment and students are trying to keep up and memorize everything before the three-year mark is due? Inclusive does not mean let’s focus on this and make sure to keep up, inclusive means to understand the student and help the student get better at that particular subject or field.


“OECD and Pisa Tests Are Damaging Education Worldwide – Academics.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 06 May 2014. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.

“[Policy Brief].” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 53.3 (2012): 296. Web. PDF:  http://www.oecd.org/education/school/39989494.pdf

OECD (2015). About the OECD. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/education

The Development Power towards Education

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Every time I read this quote, I begin to think about my educational experiences. I was one of those disadvantage kid who was limited to educational opportunities and did not have anyone to guide me through my education. The worse part of my education was the state exam and teachers who showed apathy towards us. My teachers’ curriculum was always based on the exam and most of my teachers did not show any compassion or motivation in their teaching. I can only express so much of my resentment about my education, but people, especially here at Clark, will never understand my story and will never understand what it means to be a disadvantage kid in education. However, at the end of this project, I hope to at least have one person understand what it means to be disadvantaged.

As you just read, I grew resentment towards my education for many reasons, but I am still passionate and interested in learning and understanding the historical concepts, the structures, and policies of education between the United States and South America. However, I am VERY open to learning other countries’ educational system as well. My end goal to this blogpost project is to better understand the policies and structures both developmentally and globally. I plan to use the OECD and USAID website to understand how they “empower” education in different countries, specifically South America, and articles that talks about the political aspect of education.

The OECD (Organization Economic and Co-operation and Development) focuses on comparing different countries education systems and looking at the how their system is preparing the students for the “modern world.” The comparison is done through an assessment called PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) that focus on testing real-life societal situations. The schools randomly pick 15-year old students to take the assessment, and the exam focus on one specific subject each year. However, there have been criticism on PISA such as how it is administered—lack of consistency with questions and language barriers. Also, PISA results is based on aids so OECD does not consider the social inequality and how developing countries are required to get aid upfront to work towards the goals which impacts the students’ education; because they have to teach to get funding to make the improvements which then that means they continue to drown in debt. I would like to read more about the effects it has on the students, institutions, and the country itself and maybe propose my thoughts and possible alternatives.

Another website I would like to use is the USAID. The USAID focus on trying to improve and strengthen the students’ skills academically and personally, help the disadvantaged communities get a job, and talk about the lack of accessibility to education, and ways they give access to education. I want to understand how USAID operates in developing countries and the type of practices they use to “help” give students a good quality of education. I am interested in reading how their practices and policies value the countries’ education both culturally and socially. Is USAID making a difference?

Lastly, I am want to understand how democracy and human capital play a role in the developing countries, more and so in Latin America. I found a study, Democracy and Human Capital Formation Education Spending in Latin America, 1980 to 1997, that talks about the relationship between democracy and public funding, and the effects it has on Latin America. I would like to understand how the government control or allocate their money towards public schools and how human capital play a role in getting funding for the schools. I hope this study will give me an understanding between democracy and human capital.

In conclusion, I would like to have a worldview, specifically Latin America and the United States (again open to learning other countries education system as well), on the structures of education, the policies, and the cultural practices that is used in education, and how these components impact the students learning. Back to Nelson Mandela quote, he once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” But, how can education be powerful when students are being limited to opportunities and accessibilities to education? However, as I go deeper into my topic and gain more knowledge on the education system in various regions, I do not want to be that person who says “I want to change this and this is how.” I just want to propose or question possible alternatives, but most importantly be aware of what is happening globally and developmentally in terms of education. At the end of day, I am going to lay out what is happening and reflect on it, but become more of aware of the issues in education.

Work Cited

Chalabi, M. (2013, December 3). The PISA methodology: do its education claims stack up? The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/news/2013/dec/03/pisa-methodology-education-oecd-student-performance

Bøyum, S. (2014). Fairness in education–a normative analysis of OECD policy documents. Journal of Education Policy29(6), 856-870.

OECD (2014). Programme for International Student Assessment. About PISA. Retrieved from   http://www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa/PISA-trifold-brochure-2014.pdf.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (2015). About PISA. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/aboutpisa

OECD (2015). About the OECD. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/about/

Brown, D. S. “Democracy and Human Capital Formation: Education Spending in Latin America, 1980 to 1997.” Comparative Political Studies 37.7 (2004): 842-64. Web

USAID (2016). About the USAID Education. Retrieved from https://www.usaid.gov/education