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The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA, OECD) has become a global ‘benchmark of standards’ in education.It has been instrumental in the development of an assessment system of fundamental cognitive and reflexive processes to enable young people to face the global economic challenges of our time. However, the narrow focus on cognitive processes, assessment and ranking, and the consequent pressure on countries to improve their ranking and move up the league tables, is driving educational authorities and schools to invest more on what is measured by PISA, rather than an education which balances cognitive with social, emotional, and cultural education. Although the oecd has just published a report on social and emotional skills in education, the focus is still on a performance-related, economy-based model of education.

A group of educationalists and researchers from Denmark, Italy, Malta, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, are expressing their concern about the PISA phenomenon by drawing up a declaration on children’s growth and wellbeing. The declaration, originally drafted in Santander, Spain, is thus known as the Santander Declaration. It seeks to broaden the educational agenda being promoted by PISA, by underlining the need to address the physical, cognitive, social, emotional, spiritual and artistic development of the learner. It argues for a humanistic, inclusive, culturally responsive, democratic, equitable, and holistic education across the world, and underlines the need for school communities to have a meaningful say in shaping and adapting the curriculum according to their culture and needs.


Santander Declaration 2014

We believe that every child and young person has the right to a balanced, meaningful, holistic, creative and arts-rich education. In order to advance the above, we commit ourselves to promote the following:

1. That schools and early years settings provide a learning environment where academic, social and emotional education competences are in creative balance;

2. That schools and early years settings operate as learning and caring communities in which all students, teachers and parents have the opportunity to experience sustainability and wellbeing;

3. That educational and learning contexts consciously seek to strengthen students’ connectedness with themselves, others and the environment;

4. That social and emotional education be embedded in all initial teacher education and that practicing teachers and educators can access on-going professional education and support to continuously develop their relational and emotional competences;

5. That schools and early years settings have the autonomy and agency to determine their educational and social agenda according to their own respective cultures and contexts.


We are organising this petition which will be sent to UNICEF and other similar organisations.

Davide Antognazza (University of Applied Science and Arts of Southern Switzerland), Neil Boland (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand), Valeria Cavioni (University of Pavia, Italy), Carmel Cefai (University of Malta, Malta), Christopher Clouder (Alliance for Childhood), Belinda Heys (Future Calling Ltd, UK), Claudia Madrazo (Transformation, Arte y Educacion TAE Foundation, Mexico),Claes Solborgh (UCC, Copenhagen, Denmark).


If you are in agreement with this declaration we are urging you to sign the petition (top right).

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