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Colección:
La Educación
Número: (117) I
Año: 1994

12. Robert MYERS. The Twelve Who Survive: Strengthening Programmes of Early Childhood Development in the Third World. London: Routledge, 1992. 468p., notes, tables, bibliography, index.

Myers offers a powerful and innovative perspective on the issue of early childhood development in the Third World. While most studies and reports target infant mortality rates, Myers focuses on those who survive in spite of poverty and difficult conditions. The focus is not on the deficiencies of these children at risk; but on their resilience and strengths.

The author advocates childhood programs based on a perspective that integrates the physical, social, intellectual and emotional aspects of development—generally not reflected in Third World countries. Most programs, especially those designed for the poor and disadvantaged, focus on the protective and custodial aspects of development, such as providing food and shelter. While these programs fulfill basic needs, they are not necessarily the best intervention. This focus on physical aspects, while neglecting other areas of development, deprives these children of an opportunity to develop to their full potential.

Community participation is another essential requirement. Myers stresses the importance of empowering caregivers and communities with knowledge and structure to provide interventions that target the needs of the children in terms of survival and development. The author is also critical of foreign programs imposed on Third World countries. These programs are ethnocentric and based on standards that do not take into account the different cultural values and beliefs held in Third World countries. Myers is a believer in reinforcing practices that are part of the culture which have had positive results. He also favors improving to traditional practices through education and support.

Other important contributions of his book are its multidisciplinary approach and its focus on prevention and proactive work. This valuable and comprehensive volume should be read by policy-makers, governmental officials, members of institutions and organizations that plan childhood development programs, and those that provide funding for the implementation of these programs. By focusing on the children that survived and giving them the opportunity to develop to their full potential, they will be able to not only improve their lives, but also to benefit society and have a better chance of changing inequalities based on poverty and disadvantage.

Angela E. Radan