ENHANCING COGNITIVE COMPETENCE: LITERACY RESEARCH WITH WOMEN AND CHILDREN IN TURKEY
Kagitcibasi, C., Koc University, Turkey
Accumulated psychological knowledge has the potential to enhance human competence through the life span. This is of crucial importance particularly in the "Majority World". Human resources, seen as "human capital", are often the main resources for national development, which is currently understood as "Human Development" beyond economic and technological advancement. However, this potential of psychology is not well understood, and promoting human competence ranks rather low in the research agenda of psychologists. This type of agenda often involves intervention research in the field that many psychologists shy away from, being more comfortable in the well-controlled laboratory context. Much can be accomplished if psychologists take the initiative to make a "niche" for themselves in national development efforts in enhancing "human capital". Early childhood development and education, an important component of "Family Literacy", and adult literacy, focusing on women's literacy, are examples of areas where psychological research can inform programs and policies. These are at the same time global problem areas where the majority world lags far behind the minority world. Scientifically based and culturally sensitive early childhood education enhances early cognitive development of children and prepares them for school. Women's literacy and education, likewise, has significant multiple effects ranging from higher self efficacy to lower fertility and child mortality. Research from Turkey provides evidence that both go a long way in enhancing cognitive competence. There are significant implications of the findings for far reaching global applications.