Boston teaches Catalonia a lesson in promoting education outside school
Head of Boston After School & Beyond project tells Aliança Educació 360 conference about initiative that involves over 13,000 children
Aliança Educació 360, which promotes educational opportunities and projects beyond the classroom, and includes 250 councils, education centers and other organizations in Catalonia, is looking to a similar initiative in Boston in the US for inspiration.
A project of the Jaume Bofill Foundation, the alliance this week held a day-long conference in Barcelona reflecting on local educational ecosystems as levers for change, and one of the speakers was Chris Smith, who heads the Boston After School & Beyond project.
Launched in 2010, the public-private initiative in Boston aims to guarantee that all children in the city have the opportunity to develop their potential by providing them with educational programs when the schools are closed, such as during the summer holidays.
According to Smith, the Boston After School & Beyond project's aim is to involve the whole city so as to turn it into an educational space for all children. "We know that learning happens beyond school," he told the Catalan News Agency on Wednesday.
From 5 to 161 activities in 10 years
Since it began 10 years ago, the Boston project has managed to broaden access to its educational programs, which have grown from an initial five to 161, with the number of children taking part in the activities growing from 232 to 13,500.
Asked about the Catalan case, Smith pointed out that there are "many similarities" between what is being done in Boston and in Catalonia, such as bringing together elements of the community with a common aim, such as teachers, educators, politicians and researchers.
The Boston project has been viable, says Smith, because the elements involved were keen to try something new, with the success of the project leading to more public funds. "Now the government leaders have taken charge of the project and its funding," he says.
The head of the Bofill foundation, Ismael Palacín, concurs: "The community needs to be turned into a classroom that connects the different educational elements and strengthens the role of the territory as a space for educational opportunities," he said.