FUNDAEC: Colombia
EDUCATION CREATES A NEW HABITAT

Fundaec

Training program helps the rural population of Colombia with goal-oriented teaching units

Colombia is characterised by high levels of crime, poverty, rural exodus and lack of education. Great difficulties were encountered in developing suitable training programmes. In 1974, professors and students from the University del Valle in Cali tested a different way of imparting knowledge on a group of 20 young people. The NGO Fundaec, Foundación para la Aplicación y Ensenanza de las Ciencias (Foundation for the Application and Teaching of Science) was founded. The aim was to develop, together with the rural population, a knowledge transfer system designed for the local conditions, which imparted skills to the people that would enable them to make a difference in their village or urban environment as “promoters of community well-being”.

Tailor-made educational programme

Fundaec combines the knowledge of the local people with the potential of modern science and education. On this basis it conducts research, trains and promotes projects. Its fields of research and action include agriculture, education, technology, business start-ups and community development.

Example project

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.

Teaching and learning without hierarchies

A network of around 40,000 students assumes
a decentralized training system that enables them to build local projects 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 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. In order to integrate the experience of the village community into the project, group counselling was introduced.

Fundaec has a future

Fundaec has also developed in over 30 years. Today there are three branches. In addition to the school programme, 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 how to process local products and sell them on the market.

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