We have an integrated approach to community development that focuses upon improving the education, health, environment, and human rights of marginalised communities. This is drawn from internationally agreed charters including the Declaration of Alma Ata and the Jakarta Declaration (both health), Agenda 21 (environment) the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Education for All.
The World Declaration on Education for All focuses on meeting basic learning needs, and states that:
Every person – child, youth and adult – shall be able to benefit from educational opportunities designed to meet their basic learning needs.
These needs comprise both essential learning tools (such as literacy, oral expression, numeracy, and problem solving) and the basic learning content (such as knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes) required by human beings to be able to survive, to develop their full capacities, to live and work in dignity, to participate fully in development, to improve the quality of their lives, to make informed decisions, and to continue learning.
The scope of basic learning needs and how they should be met varies with individual countries and cultures, and inevitably, changes with the passage of time.
The satisfaction of these needs empowers individuals in any society and confers upon them a responsibility to respect and build upon their collective cultural, linguistic and spiritual heritage, to promote the education of others, to further the cause of social justice, to achieve environmental protection, to be tolerant towards social, political and religious systems which differ from their own, ensuring that commonly accepted humanistic values and human rights are upheld, and to work for international peace and solidarity in an interdependent world.
Another and no less fundamental aim of educational development is the transmission and enrichment of common cultural and moral values. It is in these values that the individual and society find their identity and worth. Basic education is more than an end in itself. It is the foundation for lifelong learning and human development on which countries may build, systematically, further levels and types of education and training.
To serve the basic learning needs of all requires more than a recommitment to basic education as it now exists. What is needed is an Expanded Vision that surpasses present resource levels, institutional structures, curricula, and conventional delivery systems while building on the best in current practices. New possibilities exist today which result from the convergence of the increase in information and the unprecedented capacity to communicate. We must seize them with creativity and a determination for increased effectiveness.
The Expanded Vision encompasses:
- Universalizing access and promoting equity;
- Focusing on learning;
- Broadening the means and scope of basic education;
- Enhancing the environment for learning;
- Strengthening partnerships.
The realization of an enormous potential for human progress and empowerment is contingent upon whether people can be enabled to acquire the education and the start needed to tap into the ever-expanding pool of relevant knowledge and the new means for sharing this knowledge.
The Declaration of Alma-Ata was made at the International Conference of Primary Health Care in Alma-Ata in 1978. Key features of the declaration include:
- a focus on health as a fundamental human right;
- recognition of people’s right to participate in planning and implementation of their health care;
- a need to address the inequalities in the health status of people particularly between developed and developing countries; and
- promotion of a primary health care approach (PHC) as the key to attaining health for all.
Health is the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Primary Health Care (PHC) includes at minimum, education concerning prevailing health problems and the methods of preventing and controlling them; promotion of food supply and proper nutrition; an adequate supply of safe water and basic sanitation; maternal and child health care including family planning; immunization against major infectious diseases; prevention and control of locally endemic diseases; appropriate treatment of common diseases and injuries; and the provision of essential drugs.
PHC must recognise the multi-sectoral nature of health; it requires maximum community and individual self reliance and participation; is the first level of contact; and should be provided as close as possible to where people live and work.
The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion was developed from the first international conference on health promotion, held in Ottawa in 1986. The Charter lists five strategies for successful health promotion:
- building healthy public policy (multi-sectoral);
- creating supportive environments (health cannot be separated from the environment);
- strengthening community action (the empowerment of communities is the key);
- developing personal skills (enable people to exercise more control over their own health); and
- reorienting health services (beyond the clinical and curative).
Other features include:
- a focus on women and men as equal partners;
- identification of prerequisites for health, these are: peace, shelter, education, food, income, a stable ecosystem, sustainable resources, social justice and equity; and
- promoting the community as being the essential voice in matters of its health.
Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health. Health promotion focuses on achieving equity in health.
The Jakarta Declaration on Leading Health Promotion into the 21st Century was developed at the fourth international conference on health promotion, in Jakarta, 1997. It was the first health promotion conference to be held in a developing country and the first to involve the private sector. The Declaration offers a vision for health promotion into the 21st century. Importantly, the Jakarta Declaration adds the following requirements as prerequisites for health:
- social security;
- social relations;
- the empowerment of women; and
- respect for human rights.
Above all, it recognises that poverty is the greatest threat to health. It recognises the five strategies set out in the Ottawa Charter as core strategies for health promotion and advocates for new responses to address emerging threats to health. Its stated priorities for health promotion in the 21st century are:
- promotion of social responsibility for health (decision-makers must be firmly committed to healthy policy);
- increasing investments in health development;
- consolidating and expanding partnerships for health;
- increasing community capacity and empower the individual; and
- securing infrastructure for health promotion.
The ultimate goal of health promotion is identified as increasing health expectancy and narrowing the gap in health expectancy between countries and groups. The Declaration endorsed the formation of a global health promotion alliance to speed progress. The World Health Organisation is to take the lead in building this alliance.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) spells out individual rights and freedoms centred on the fundamental principle that human rights are based on the ‘inherent dignity’ of every person. This document remains the cornerstone of the universal human rights movement.
There have been many important human rights documents since then, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (both adopted in 1966). They take the Universal Declaration a step further by adding so-call ‘third generation’ rights in social and economic sphere and in attempting to make provisions legally binding.
In 1986, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Right to Development, it states that: “the human person is the central subject of development and should be the participant and beneficiary of the right to development”. Important elements of this Declaration include:
- development is defined as “a comprehensive economic, social, cultural and political process, which aims at the constant improvement of the well-being of the entire population and of all individuals”, “in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized”; and
- it recognises rights related to development including: rights of participation; the right to “fair distribution” of the benefits from development; the right to non-discrimination in development; and the right to self-determination.
In 1993, the UN convened the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna resulting in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. Key features include:
- a renewed commitment to the universal nature of human rights being beyond doubt;
- strong emphasis on the rights of women, children, minorities and indigenous people;
- acceptance of the equality and indivisibility of all human rights;
- recognition of the interdependence between democracy, development and human rights;
- strengthening of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development by stating that “the right to development is an inalienable human right and an integral part of fundamental human freedoms.” This view was confirmed at the UN Global Conferences on Population and Development (Cairo) and Women (Beijing) and at the World Summit on Social Development (Copenhagen).