Colombia is characterized by high levels of crime, poverty, rural exodus, and lack of education. Great challenges were encountered in developing suitable education programs.
The Foundation for the Application and Teaching of Science, the Spanish abbreviation FUNDAEC, was founded in 1974. It is a Colombian non-governmental organization (NGO) established by efforts of Dr. Farzam Arbab, professors, and students from the University del Valle in Cali, to examine a different way of imparting knowledge to a group of 20 young people. For more than four decades, FUNDAEC focused on knowledge improvement in different fields such as “education, agriculture, community organization, and the local economy”. The organization aims to work on various programs to develop the rural population with a knowledge transfer system designed for the local conditions. It combines the knowledge of the local people with the potential of modern science to conduct research, train people, and promote programs. The program is divided into two main categories, first the tutorial learning system (SAT) and second the university center for rural well-being (CURB). It has given skills to people and has enabled them to make a difference in their village or urban environment as “promoters of community well-being”.
The focus of the foundation is mainly young people who are prepared, developed, and supported for social action. They follow a learning system for secondary education and achieve the skills of leadership in the communities, caring for the environment, and strengthening the ability of reading and writing. The capacity has been built by its regional population to process all actions and development programs to create their social, cultural, and economic life.
This organization follows some principles that shape the FUNDAEC framework in all activities. For instance, they believe that every human has great potential which can be channeled toward community development by education and training. Each participant is an irreplaceable resource. There is a strong conviction about two aspects of human nature, the Material and the Spiritual Dimension of human nature.
All activities are documented in assorted categories: published books and reports, theses, articles, workbooks, audiovisual production, and study texts in different levels which are collected studies on the effects of FUNDAEC’s programs in Colombia and the world.
Teaching and Learning Without Hierarchies
A network of around 40,000 students assumes a decentralized educating system that enables them to build local programs and structures to improve community life. If there is a need for a school group in a locality, a person with a school-leaving certificate is first chosen; one who is willing to train a group of 10 to 25 tutors. These tutors receive training, teach later, and create a learning atmosphere without hierarchies. The teaching material is interdisciplinary. The students can stay in their home community during the training and use their knowledge in their daily work. Also, group counseling was introduced, to integrate the experience of the village community into the program.
FUNDAEC was praised by Prof. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker as one of the “best educational projects” and is a worldwide EXPO 2000 project. It is based on a positive image of man. The basic prerequisite is the conviction that man himself is the key to the way out of his hopelessness. The state-approved school education comprises three stages. The completion of the third stage is of equal rank with the Abitur.
TwoWings Team in Colombia
Our colleague Anna, visited the FUNDAEC program in Colombia in the summer of 2019. She gained a lot of insights into the people’s world. With enthusiasm and commitment, the participants learn to use their powers in such a way that they can lead a self-determined life. In our “Insights” you can read a comprehensive interview about Anna’s experiences.
FUNDAEC Has a Future
FUNDAEC has also developed in over 30 years. Today there are three branches. In addition to the school program, a university with a six-year course of study was established in 1990. As the third branch, FUNDAEC has established agricultural production facilities. In special courses, the population learns to process local products and sell them on the market.