Scholars have begun ratifying what some practitioners have long seen:
social and economic development is about values and virtues, and
schools are vital for transmitting them. Alive to the World / AW,
a character development program based on universally honored values,
can make a huge impact on development, worldwide. It is unique in that
it is intensive (1 hr/wk, 35 wks), extensive (grades 1-12), and based on
an ongoing story of friends who grow up as the reader does and who get
in and out of situations that the student identifies with.
program is successful. Since 2001, ALAFA has sold—with discounts for needy schools—260,000 copies of the books
that AW is centered on. In 11 countries of Latin America, 65,000 young people
now follow the program, almost all of them during school hours. In the
U.K., a test phase has 1,000 students. The story methodology lends
itself to transmitting all the universally accepted values and showing
that they form a logical, coherent whole. It is also made for class
discussion, for which we have to train the teachers because it is not
common in their schools.
A third-party evaluation of AW funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development indicates that AW improves children’s attitudes toward values that AFF calls “democratic”
for short: fair play,
teamwork, personal responsibility, as well as
respect for others’ opinions, for the fundamental equality of all, and
for the differences that make each of us unique. There are 3 years of
data from 8,000 Peruvian and Venezuelan 3rd to 7th graders.
have so far analyzed 6,000 sets of answers to questionnaires
administered before and after they participated in AW for one year, finding “strong initial evidence” that the program
transmits democratic values. (In addition, school principals credit AW for dramatic declines in misbehavior and violence in their classrooms and hallways.) An article about this study is at Our Program / Evaluations and Testimonials.
is a need to digitize and analyze the remaining data sets—most of the
children filled out surveys online, but many had to use pencil and
paper. It is expected that there will be time-series data from a
sufficient number so that the researchers can evaluate the cumulative
effect of two or three years of following AW.
They will compare the two countries and perform other analyses. The
cost of completing this Democracy Project will be $19,000. AFF invites
individuals, companies, and other institutions to join this effort to
document and publicize an effective way to transmit universal values to