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This paper examines the meanings attached to Education for All from the often ignored or misunderstood perspectives of people living in extreme poverty. Allowing people to voice their own understandings of the difficulties they face offers new insights into the essence of the tension between the worlds of reproduction and innovation and the possibilities of achieving harmony between them. Community meanings attached to Education for All were explored by way of a major participatory, action-oriented research project conducted in contexts of poverty in Burkina Faso. The study noted that the experience of poverty and famine influence the value that parents and children attached to formal education, and therefore their interest and ability to engage with it. Community-based education, for example, helped to reproduce knowledge associated with day-to-day living and achieving, at least, a basic livelihood. Formal schooling, on the other hand, was associated with developing new understandings and ambitions, yet also distanced children and young people from local knowledge, social networks and sources of support often needed if the outcomes of school-based education did not lead to improved livelihoods.
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