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WISE Prize for Education Laureates: Bottom-up Innovators


Rosa María Torres


(Texto en español: Los Laureados con el Premio WISE a la Educación)


2011 WISE Prize for Education Laureate:
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed (Bangladesh)

2012 WISE Prize Laureate:

Dr. Madhav Chavan (India). Interview.
 
2013 WISE Prize for Education Laureate:

Vicky Colbert (Colombia)
. Interview.

2014 WISE Prize for Education Laureate:
Ann Cotton (UK) - Interview

"The WISE Prize for Education is the first distinction of its kind to recognize an individual or a team of up to six people working together for an outstanding, world-class contribution to education. Established in 2011 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, the WISE Prize for Education sets the standard for excellence in education, giving it similar status to other areas for which international prizes already exist, such as literature, peace and economics. The Laureate receives a monetary prize of $500,000 (US) and a gold medal. The WISE Prize for Education Laureate is honored as a global role model and ambassador for education."


What are the educational innovations that draw the attention of the global education community at this point in time? The first four winners of the WISE Prize for Education (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014) and their respective education programs share several common characteristics. One of them: they are bottom-up innovators and innovations, that have started small and local, have become national and later expanded internationally over a long and sustained period of time. My personal knowledge of two of them, BRAC and Escuela Nueva, through study visits, research and follow up over many years, provides some insights into the specific nature and process of these inspiring educational models and experiences.   


BRAC - Bangladesh

The 2011 WISE Prize for Education was awarded to Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairman of BRAC, "the largest development organization in the world." Created in 1972 in a remote rural village, BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) reaches today nearly 135 million people in 11 countries in Asia and Africa, and also in Haiti in the Caribbean.

BRAC is not only an education-related NGO. Its holistic and multifaceted approach to development covers various areas and issues: microfinance, education, healthcare, legal services, community empowerment, and social enterprises. Education has been one of its key and most successful areas.

So-called BRAC Non-Formal Primary Schools, which became internationally renowned in the 1990s, have spread as a viable and replicable primary school model. Starting with ver modest primary schools, BRAC has developed a whole education system, that includes today BRAC University.

WISE Jury and Committee
 

Pratham - India

The 2012 WISE Prize for Education was awarded to Dr. Madhav Chavan, Co-founder and CEO of Pratham, the largest education NGO in India. Pratham's mission is "Every child in school and learning well". It was created in 1994 to provide pre-school education to children living in the slums of Mumbai. Community volunteers were recruited, trained, provided basic teaching-learning materials, and encouraged to organize classes in any space available in the communities (temples, offices, people’s houses, etc.).

Pratham Balwadis
(pre-school classes) multiplied in other locations. Today Pratham reaches millions of children in rural and urban areas in 19 of the country’s 28 states, through early childhood education, learning support to in-school and out-of-school children, mainstreaming of out-of-school children, computer literacy, vocational training for youth and special programs for vulnerable and working children.


An area approach (whole community interventions) was adopted in 2002-2003. Pratham’s Learn to Read (L2R) technique is an accelerated learning technique targeted at teaching both in-school and out-of-school children how to read in 4- 8 weeks. Facilitated by Pratham, The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) is the largest survey undertaken in India by people outside the government. It measures the enrollment as well as the reading and arithmetic levels of children in the age group of 6-14 years.

WISE Jury and Committee


Escuela Nueva - Colombia

The 2013 WISE Prize for Education
was awarded to Vicky Colbert, founder and director of Fundación Escuela Nueva, and co-creator (together with Prof. Oscar Mogollón) of the Escuela Nueva (EN) model from its start.


EN was initiated as a local project in 1975, covering a few public schools in rural areas, and grew as a regular program within Colombia's Ministry of Education. In 1985, EN was adopted by the Colombian government as a national policy to universalize quality primary education in rural areas.

EN has shown that the multigrade school (one or two teachers in charge of all levels in a single classroom), if given appropriate conditions and treated as a multigrade system, can become a quality alternative rather than a "poor temporary solution for the poor". In fact, Colombia has been the only country in Latin America where students in rural areas have shown higher learning achievements than children in urban areas when UNESCO's LLECE tests were applied. EN has also shown that, even with many problems and ups and downs, radical and meaningful innovation can be developed within government structures and within formal, mainstream education.

The Escuela Nueva Foundation was created in 1987 in order to help strengthen the program, adapt it to urban areas, and expand it to other countries (the EN model has been experimented in 16 countries). Over the years, EN has received numerous international awards, including a WISE Award in 2009.

WISE Jury and Committee


CAMFED - Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi

The 2014 WISE Prize for Education was awarded to Ann Cotton, a UK citizen founder of CAMFED.
"When you educate a girl in Africa, everything changes. She’ll be three times less likely to get HIV/AIDS, earn 25 percent more income and have a smaller, healthier family."
Camfed is an international non-profit organisation that works in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. It wants to break the cycle of poverty and disease in rural areas by supporting girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as agents of change. Since 1993, Camfed has been working in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi, supporting over 1,202,000 students to attend primary and secondary school. Over 3 million children have been benefited. They are selected by the community as being the most in need. Camfed supports them throughout their development, from primary school until adulthood.

In every country, Camfed works through national and local systems - with parents, teachers, government officials, and traditional authorities. It does not set up a parallel system. Programs are devised, managed, and monitored by the community, and all of Africa offices are staffed by nationals of that country.

The Camfed Alumnae Association (CAMA) is a pan-African network of Camfed graduates, currently with 24,436-members. They receive training in health, financial literacy and ICT, as well as business development and entrepreneurship. They, in turn, support vulnerable children to stay in school, and deliver health and financial literacy training to over 150,000 students and community members in their own countries.

Camfed's values are: 1. Focus on the Girl, 2. Involve the community, 3. Operate transparent, accountable programs. Camfed’s model has been recognised as best practice by the OECD for setting the standard for governance, sustainability and development innovation at scale.

WISE Jury and Committee

What do these four education programs have in common? 

Two of them are located in Asia, in two of the "nine most populous countries" on earth, where education issues and problems are massive and extremely complex. One is located in Latin America, in comparatively small Colombia, affected by long-term violence, social inequity and conflict. One works in Sub-Saharan Africa - Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi - where social and education challenges are extremely big. Very different "developing countries", each of them unique and specific within their own regions.

The four programs:

» Have a long history and process behind: BRAC started in 1972, Escuela Nueva in 1975, Camfed in 1993, Pratham in 1994.

» Started local and small
, before expanding and becoming national and later international models. This bottom-up approach, plus the long term effort, have been key to their sustainability and success.


»
Emerged as educational alternatives for the poor and some of the most disadvantaged groups in their respective societies. BRAC, Escuela Nueva and Camfed were rooted in rural areas. Their respective education models were tailored for the specific conditions of rural areas.


» Serve children, through primary education in the case of BRAC and Escuela Nueva, early childhood and pre-school education in the case of Pratham, and primary and secondary education in the case of Camfed. BRAC started targetting girls, given the huge gender gap in primary education enrollment and attendance in Bangladesh at that time. Camfed is devoted to girls and women.

» Expanded gradually
beyond their original visions, missions and scopes, paying attention to the needs revealed by reality and by the learning process itself. They ventured into new areas, covered new ages and levels. All of them were aware of the importance of involving parents, families and communities, and have worked consistently in that direction.


» Focus on ensuring the basics: reading, writing and numeracy, survival, life and social skills, family and community empowerment.

» Give great importance to pedagogy and to pedagogical transformation,
much more than to infrastructure, administration or technologies. They all adopt learner-centered pedagogies.

»
Have been developed by NGOs, with the exception of Escuela Nueva, which was built within the existing ministry of education structure. In this case, the NGO has played an indispensable role in accompanying, sustaining and promoting the innovation. Camfed is an international NGO.

» Are low cost
: they take advantage of all human and material resources available in the school, the family and the community.

»
Have been supported by several international agencies, especially from the United Nations as well as from the World Bank and other regional banks and organizations. Also by the private sector.

»
Have received much recognition both at national and international levels.

»
Curiously enough and worth noticing: all of them have a rather low technological profile. Technologies are not the driving force. Human beings, participation, volunteering, school-community relationship, pedagogical transformation, are the key.



See also:
Rosa María Torres and Manzoor Ahmed, Reaching the Unreached: Non-formal Approaches and Universal Primary Education  
Rosa María Torres, Escuela Nueva: An innovation within formal education (Colombia)
Rosa María Torres, "Antes, aquí era Escuela Vieja" (Colombia)
Rosa María Torres, On Innovation and Change in Education 
Rosa María Torres, The Green, the Blue, the Red and the Pink Schools
Rosa María Torres, On Learning Anytime, Anywhere (WISE 2011)
Rosa María Torres, Knowldedge-based international aid: Do we want it? Do we need it?

Escuela Nueva: An innovation within formal education (Colombia)


Rosa María Torres




This article was published by IBE-UNESCO Prospects (second issue of 1993). I wrote it while working as a Senior Education Adviser at UNICEF Headquarters in New York, and following a study visit (1991) to the Escuela Nueva (EN) Program with an official delegation from the Ecuadorian government. The article looks at the evolution of EN from its creation in 1975 to the early 1990s, period in which it expanded in Colombia, became a national policy for the rural areas, and a regular program within Colombia's Ministry of Education. We also discuss topics related to the survival, scaling up and replicability of the innovation.
In 1987, the Escuela Nueva Foundation was created by the team that developed EN in the 1970s, in order to help strengthen the program, diversify and adapt it to urban areas (Escuela Activa Urbana), and promote its expansion to other countries. The EN model has been experimented in 16 countries. Over the years, it has received numerous international awards, including a WISE Award in 2009 and the 2013 WISE Prize for Education given to Vicky Colbert, co-creator of the EN model together with Prof. Oscar Mogollón.


INTRODUCTION


Colombia's Escuela Nueva (EN) 'New School' Program has become an international reference. UNESCO, the World Bank and UNICEF have lent their support to the program and promoted it. UNESCO described it as "an experience of unquestionable international value." The World Bank recommends disseminating its lessons among education planners and policy-makers. Study missions visit Colombia to find out more about it. Several countries are interested in replicating it.

What makes EN so special? 1) the fact that it is an innovation within the formal school system; 2) the long time over which it has evolved; 3) the system approach adopted; 4) the focus on the curriculum and pedagogy; and 5) its results.

We examine here these five points and conclude with some considerations about the program's survival and potential for replicability in other contexts.

1. ESCUELA NUEVA: AN ALTERNATIVE WITHIN FORMAL EDUCATION

It is common to associate educational innovation with NGOs, grassroot organizations, out-of-school or non-formal education. Many people think Escuela Nueva is a NGO program, like other primary or basic education programs highlighted by international organizations (such as BRAC's non-formal primary schools in Bangladesh). However, perhaps EN's greatest merit is that it is a transformative innovation within the formal, public, mainstream education system. Colombia's EN shows that systemic innovation is possible within government structures.  

2. ESCUELA NUEVA: FROM LOCAL PROJECT TO NATIONAL POLICY

"Pilot projects" have lost credibility. Many pilot projects remain local experiments. At the same time, we also see massive-scale programs rushing without going through a gradual process. Escuela Nueva has grown from a micro experiment to a national education policy.

UNESCO's Unitary School model (1960s)

EN emerged from the Unitary School model promoted by UNESCO in 1961 at a Ministers of Education meeting held in Geneva and adopted in several "developing countries". The Unitary School was characterized by:

a) presence of one teacher in the school,
b) automatic promotion,
c) active learning, enabling children to learn at their own pace,
d) instructional cards ("fichas") for the teacher to work with various groups at the same time,
e) provision of a complete primary education cycle, and
f) application in disperse areas, with low population density.


In Colombia, the first Unitary School was set up at the Instituto Superior de Educación Rural (ISER) in Pamplona, department of Santander, under UNESCO Project 1 for Primary Education. The teacher in charge of that school was Oscar Mogollón, a public school teacher who would later become Escuela Nueva's National Coordinator at the Ministry of Education (See Note below)
- By the mid-1960s, the small unitary school had multiplied into 150 schools. 
- In 1967, the government adopted the Unitary School methodology for all single-teacher (multigrade) schools in the country. A Manual was published and Departments of Education started to train rural teachers in this methodology.
- In 1975, the Escuela Nueva Program was created on the basis of the Unitary School model and experience.
Oscar Mogollón, together with Vicky Colbert and Beryl Levinger, from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), worked on the EN model.
-
Between 1975 and 1978, with USAID support, EN was implemented in 500 schools in three departments. Later, with the support of the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB),
private Colombian organizations such as the Coffee Growers Association, and FES (Foundation for Higher Education), the program expanded to 3,000 schools. 
- Between 1982 and 1986 EN expanded to the Pacific Coast. Learning Guides were adapted for this region, with UNICEF technical and financial co-operation.

- In 1985, the Colombian Government adopted EN as a strategy to achieve universal rural primary education. By then, there were 8,000 EN schools in the country.
- In the late 1970s and early 1980s the government negotiated a loan with the World Bank in order to expand and improve basic education in rural areas. In 1987, a second loan assisted the Universalization Plan. The EN program received educational materials, teacher training, sanitary installations, furniture and school improvements (Ministry of Education-UNICEF, 1990). Investments were expanded until the mid 1990s.
- Since 1987 there was a rapid expansion. The program reached 17,984 schools by 1989.
- In 1990 EN received the Simón Bolívar national award. Internationally, it was chosen by the World Bank as one of the three most important basic education models for rural areas.

- In 1991, 20,000 of the 27,000 rural schools were involved in the program, with an estimated coverage of one million children. 
3. ESCUELA NUEVA: A SYSTEM APPROACH

Escuela Nueva is not a methodology. It is an integrated system that combines four components: (a) curriculum, (b) training, (c) administration, and (d) community. None of these components stands on its own. Their interrelationship is what makes the model both coherent and feasible.

(a) The curriculum
Emphasis is placed on the curriculum. Key features include: active learning, learning materials known as "Learning Guides", Study Corners, School Library, School Government, and Flexible Promotion.

The EN Program was devised for rural areas, primary education (five years in Colombia), and multigrade teaching (one or two teachers in charge of all grades). Children study in small groups using Learning Guides, supplied by the State free of charge. The Guides are organized by subjects (mathematics, natural science, social studies, and language) and by grade (from second to fifth grade; there are no guides for the first grade). They are designed for self-instruction, with graded activities and detailed instructions, so that students can work to a large extent on their own, helping one another. This saves teachers' time, reduces their burden, lessens the need for highly qualified teaching staff, and enables students to progress at their own pace. Teachers are trained to adapt the Guides to the specific characteristics of the children and the local environment -- although they seldom do it.

The Study Corners are arranged by field of study and comprise objects collected or made by the children or provided by the parents and the community.

Each school has a small Library: the idea is to encourage reading among children, teachers, families and the community. The school libraries have a stock of about 70 books, including reference books by subject, reference works (encyclopedias, dictionaries, atlases), literature, and materials on community-related topics.

The School Government is a student council responsible for organizing children's school activities. Its purpose is to involve children in school management, initiate them in civic and democratic behavior, and foster attitudes of cooperation and solidarity. The School Government comprises a President, Vice-President, Secretary, Committee Leaders and Assistants for each grade, is elected by the students following democratic procedures, and is renewed periodically to enable all children to gain leadership experience.

Assessment and grade promotion differ substantially from the conventional school system. Its main role is making teachers and students aware of areas needing reinforcement. There is Flexible (not automatic) Promotion. Each child moves on to the next grade when he/she achieves the educational objectives set. This can take more (or less) time than a regular academic year. Any children temporarily absent from school can resume their studies without having to drop out.

The learning environment expands beyond the classroom. EN schools have a vegetable patch and a garden; sports grounds and community facilities form part of the wider school environment. Inside the school, there is space for the study corners, library, kitchen, dining-room and washroom facilities. Teachers often have living facilities for them and their families on the school premises. The natural environment is the main object of study and provides most of the resources for teaching and learning.

(b) Teacher training
EN teachers have a role of facilitators - guiding, directing and evaluating learning - and of  community leaders and organizers. These roles imply major attitudinal changes. Therefore, attitude changes - pedagogical and social - are given emphasis in teacher training.

Initial training (for new teachers) includes three sequential workshops - 
initiation, methodology and organization - each of one week's duration, and use of the library. After the first and second workshops, there is a six-month and a three-month interval, respectively, so that teachers put in practice what they learned. Attending the first workshop is a requisite for including the school in the EN program and for teachers to start working with it. The idea is to reproduce in teacher training the methods and real-life situations that the teachers will encounter in their classrooms and in their relations with the students.

In-service training takes place through so-called Rural Micro-Centers, where teachers can exchange, update and upgrade their knowledge and experience on an ongoing basis. They operate with groups of 10 to 15 teachers from neighboring areas.


(c) The administrative component
This is the one that has received least attention. It is a crucial and complex area, involving political and institutional factors that go beyond administrative issues. Administration "has more to do with giving direction than with controlling" (Ministry of Education-UNICEF, 1990), which means that administrative officials, too, must familiarize themselves with the program's objectives and components, and especially with its pedagogical aspects.

EN is a decentralized program. A coordinator and a small team (ten persons in 1991, most of them involved with EN in leadership positions since its inception) are responsible for co-ordinating and designing policies and strategies, and evaluating implementation. At the departmental level, the structure comprises a representative committee, a coordinator and a team of multiplier agents. From 1987 onwards - when the Plan for the Universalization of Rural Primary Education was launched and the EN expansion process began - several changes were introduced in the administrative structure with emphasis on decentralization. Two new structures were created: a universalization committee at national and departmental levels, and educational units (Ministry of Education-UNICEF, 1990).

(d) The school-community relationship
The EN school is expected to operate as an information center and a focal point for community integration. The school-community relationship is one of mutual benefit, with parents and the community joining in school activities, and the school promoting activities to foster local development and improve the quality of life of the population.

In order to facilitate teachers' understanding of the community and the local conditions, EN uses various tools: the Family Record (information about the agricultural activities of the area and its seasons), the Neighborhood Map and the District Monograph. Students, parents and the community participate in their elaboration.

EN tries various ways of involving parents in their children's activities and stimulating children's interest in learning more about their parents and their lives. The library, the school premises and cultural and recreational activities are open to the community. Achievement Days - days when academic results are announced and the school government reports on its activities - are opportunities for sharing school and community activities.

Demonstration Schools, organized in each department where the program operates, are schools in which the four components can be "seen" operating in exemplary conditions. Visiting a Demonstration School is a key strategy for teacher motivation and training.

4. ESCUELA NUEVA: A PEDAGOGICAL INNOVATION

Educational innovations often give prominence to organizational aspects and neglect the pedagogical ones. Many innovative experiences are recognized as such for the changes they introduce in management, planning and evaluation, infrastructure, and/or curriculum content. Teaching and learning relationships, approaches and methodologies, the corner-stone of educational change, are often overlooked. The central role of pedagogy and of pedagogical change is one of EN's most remarkable features.

EN combines features of progressive educational theory. The program is based on the philosophy of the Unitary School (derived from the Active School): multigrade teaching, individualized instruction, active learning, educational materials that enable the teacher to work with several groups at once, and automatic promotion.

EN's methodology includes learning by doing, linking theory and practice, individual and group work, study and play, guidance and self-instruction. Children learn to think for themselves, to analyze, investigate and apply what they have learned. Active learning principles are also applied to teachers in their own training and in their daily work in schools. The conventional duties of the teacher-instructor are shared the learning guides (contents and methods), the library (an additional reference source), the study corners (observation and experiment areas), the group of students (who work together and help each another) and the school government (where children learn democratic values and procedures).

Teacher training emphasizes teaching and the capacity to innovate. The micro-centers promote team work, experience sharing and critical analysis of teachers' practice.

EN's slogan "More and better primary education for rural children in rural areas", describes this attempt to reconcile quantity and quality. It is not just a matter of providing children in rural areas with access to education: they deserve and need good education. Departing from conventional teaching practice -- top-down, authoritarian, rote and passive learning -- is a crucial element in EN's development and achievements.

5. ESCUELA NUEVA RESULTS

Comprehensive evaluations of the EN program have been conducted so far by Psacharopoulos et al. (1992), and Rojas and Castillo (1988). Both utilize data collected in 1987 in 11 Colombian departments. 

Psacharopoulos found that EN students achieve higher scores than their counterparts in conventional rural schools (except in fifth grade Mathematics) as well as improved self-esteem, creativity and civic behavior -- co-operation, responsibility and solidarity. EN has increased community participation in school-related activities and has reduced drop-out rate among children completing fifth grade (however, not third grade). Rojas and Castillo found that EN has had a significant impact on adult education, agricultural extension, athletic competitions, health campaigns, and community celebrations.

EN has changed the face of rural education in Colombia. It is proving that it is possible  to design an educational model tailored to the rural context, that includes both quality and efficiency. EN is showing that some of the traditional disadvantages of rural areas can be turned into advantages - ample space, linkages with nature, natural resources, contact with the community, central role played by the school and the teacher in community life, etc.

6. SOME CONCERNS 

As with other acclaimed innovative experiences, there is a tendency to deny or minimize problems and limitations. However, we know there are always discrepancies between the ideal, desired model and its implementation.

A study trip (1991) to see EN operating in the field allowed me first-hand contact with the many EN strengths and also with some of its weaknesses (Torres, 1991). So far I have referred to the former; I shall now refer to the latter.

There is room for improvement in all the components and elements described. In fact, the EN coordinating team is not satisfied with any of them. The Guides require thorough revision (three revisions have been carried out to date), especially in Mathematics and Language. Many contents and activities need to be better adjusted to the circumstances and needs of a rural child. Not many teachers are using the adaptation mechanism built into the Guides. There are limitations in the instructional design, too formal and inflexible for the requirements of do-it-yourself learning materials such as these.

There are shortcomings in teacher training -- coverage and quality. The rural micro-center strategy is not yet fully understood or established in all areas. School governments are not always set up or, where they are, not always as planned. A controlling or paternalistic approach by teachers and adherence to form and ritual may defeat the objective of the school government. The school-community relationship depends to a great extent on the teachers' initiative; their characteristics, training and personal motivation determine the quality of that relationship, which often replicates conventional school patterns.

The teaching of reading and writing - basic skills and the factor which largely determines children's academic future - is still one of EN's main shortcomings. As indicated, there are no Guides for first grade, leaving teachers free to choose the literacy methods and techniques they deem most appropriate. This is an open invitation to the conventional teaching approaches and outdated methods that prevail in literacy education. One of the major challenges facing EN is coming up with new ideas in this area, drawing on the important knowledge and experience gained in the region and internationally.

The teacher-student relationship proposed by EN has yet to be fully owned and applied. While some teachers are moving towards a new teaching role, others continue to apply conventional teaching approaches. Translating EN principles and strategies into practice implies a long and complex process.

EN demands two main roles from teachers: a teaching role and a community role. It is not easy to strike a balance between the two. Demonstration Schools seem to be placing more emphasis on the community relationship than on teaching. 


There is a conflictual institutional issue. Although EN is a government program framed within the Ministry of Education, the relationship is difficult and never fully clarified. From open boycott to passive resistance, EN has often had to swim against the tide or operate on the fringes of the system, looking for the support of international organizations and private Colombian organizations. Its precarious situation within the government structure weakens the program's capacity to consolidate and expand.

A long evolutionary process such as the one EN has witnessed can lead to development and progress, but also to stagnation. Efforts are necessary to rejuvenate it continually. The aging of Escuela Nueva is a recurrent concern among those involved in the program. 

Expansion has brought both an aggravation of old problems and a series of new ones. As stated (Ministry of Education-UNICEF, 1990), the "cost of going for scale" has included "inevitable sacrifices in terms of effectiveness and efficiency" and has resulted in "a reduction in the number of days spent on training workshops or, in some places, a failure to provide the study guides in time for the training sessions. One consequence of these problems is, of course, a weakening of experiential learning in teachers' training, added to teacher apathy and criticism of the program." The new administrative structure that has emerged as a result of the program's expansion has led to conflict with the technical teams, not always consulted, and has caused a sharp rise in the number of administrative officials with training demands that the program has been unable to meet.

Another factor is the proliferation of "demonstration schools" during the expansion phase. Although such schools are considered to be a key strategy to maintain quality, their introduction on a massive scale may have the opposite effect.

6.1. IS ESCUELA NUEVA A MODEL THAT CAN BE REPLICATED?

The combination of innovation and replicability is highly valued, especially by international organizations. Innovative experiences are expected not only to expand, but also to adapt to other contexts.
In fact, many would like to find a magic one-size-fits-all formula for primary education in rural areas in "developing countries". A few comments on EN in this regard.

In the first place, the specific nature of EN as it has developed in Colombia must be born in mind. It is a formal, public, rural, multigrade, primary education program. These characteristics must not be overlooked when considering possible adaptations or variants. Nor must it be forgotten that EN is a system organized around four components (curriculum, training, administration, and community), not an assortment of isolated elements.

There are a number of factors of Colombia's EN Program that are unique and not readily available or easily replicable in other contexts. 


"Rural school"  "Rural schools" are very different in different places. Colombian "rural schools" are generally well endowed with infrastructure and equipment (government loans with the World Bank in the late 1970s and in the 1980s improved the physical infrastructure of rural schools in the country). Many EN schools have housing facilities for the teachers and their families. Many have a kitchen, a dining-room, washrooms, running water, electricity, television. This is not the reality of rural schools in many Latin American countries and in most "developing countries". 


Languages  Colombia is a rather homogenous country in linguistic terms. The EN program has a tremendous advantage in dealing with one language: Spanish. In the majority of Latin American countries and throughout the world, multilingualism is the norm. Introducing the EN model in bilingual or multilingual contexts means venturing into entirely new territory.

Teachers' educational background  According to the World Bank study (Psacharopoulos, 1992), most EN teachers have secondary or higher education. Also, compared with other rural schools in Colombia, EN has more teachers living on the school premises. Both factors - teachers' level of education and teachers living in the school - have a positive impact on students (a university education was associated with better cognitive outcomes; teachers residing in the school was associated with better scores in creativity and civic behavior).
 

A long process  EN has made a long and distinctive process. "In Escuela Nueva, the necessary technical conditions have been met, since the program has been designed and put to the test over a period of 15 years. Furthermore, the present government has fulfilled the necessary political conditions. In addition, adequate financial conditions have been assured through the allocation of government funds, a loan from the World Bank and the cooperation of UNICEF, which has lent its support to maintain the quality of the program as it expands" (Ministry of Education-UNICEF, 1990). How many countries and governments can offer such a combination of technical, political and financial circumstances?

Technical capacities  Let us mention only one crucial component of EN: the Learning Guides. As acknowledged by the World Bank, elaborating good textbooks needs highly specialized technical competence that is not easy to find: "Translating curriculum specifications into good textbooks requires considerable expertise. Textbooks must have the appropriate content and reading level; be consistent in approach, method and exposition; be properly sequenced; motivate the students; and finally, be readily taught by less qualified teachers, yet allow good teachers to expand upon them. Throughout the world, few individuals possess the expertise required for writing good textbooks" (Lockheed and Verspoor, 1991). How many programs can avail themselves of such human and technical expertise?

Financing  In addition to government funds channeled through the Ministry of Education, EN has been receiving regular financial support from various international agencies - USAID, IDB, UNICEF, the World Bank - and from private organizations. The estimated cost of EN is between 5% and 10% higher than that of conventional schools (Schiefelbein, 1991), while teacher training costs at least three times higher (Psacharopoulos, 1992). Can similar financial support be expected in other countries? Can EN itself expect sustained support to enable it to continue to expand while improving its quality?

Survival  In a world where policies and programs are easily discontinued by government changes or international decisions, EN stands out as an exceptional innovative experience. How has EN been able to survive the political and administrative instability characteristic of Latin America and of Colombia specifically? Someone has attributed EN's success to "a mixture of advertisement, strategic support, academic standing of the developers, and simple luck" (Schiefelbein, 1991). The "luck" factor no doubt covers a wide range of unpredictable, inexplicable and non-reproducible factors.

Leadership  Studies show that one of the characteristics of successful programs and effective schools is the role played by specific individuals with drive, vision, leadership, charisma, and perseverance. This is true in the case of EN. The original team remained relatively stable. Individuals in key positions have had a decisive impact on the program's development, locally and nationally. "Even though Escuela Nueva has been institutionalized in the whole country, the support it receives in some provinces largely depends on the personal preferences of local administrators" (Psacharopoulos, 1992, p. 19).

Ten years elapsed between EN's official establishment as a program in 1975 and its adoption as a national education policy in 1985. The process has followed three stages (Ministry of Education-UNICEF, 1990): (a) learning to be effective (1975-1978), (b) learning to be efficient (1979-1986), and (c) learning to expand (since 1987). Even with the time, resources and planning that went into the program's development, everything indicates that EN was not equipped to cope with its rapid expansion, at least not without jeopardizing its quality. If this happens with a resourceful program such as EN, what can be expected of programs that are required to expand and even achieve universal implementation without having gone through the stages and met the requirements essential to their very survival? Pressure from governments and international organizations to reach big numbers, show results and become successful models in record times does not help real, transformative, sustainable innovation in the educational field.

There is a great deal that Colombia and other countries can learn from EN. There is also a great deal that can be done to consolidate and improve the program, while protecting it from the hazards of fashion and the risks of domestic shifts.

Radical changes required in education today takes second place when concerns continue to focus on access rather than on effective learning. Universalizing access to education without universalizing quality education, is delivering more of the same that produces non-learning, frustration, drop-out, repetition, and wastage of resources.

Transforming formal education is a major challenge. Schools must become less formal and more flexible, relevant, useful, creative, enjoyable, responsive to students' and teachers' needs, respectful of diversity, open to participation by parents and the community and accountable to society. EN is showing a way to do it in Colombia. It is important to know the program better and learn from its many lessons.

ADDED NOTES


[1] In 1992, professor Oscar Mogollón joined the Academy for Educational Development (AED) - a US-based non-profit -  to work on the design and implementation of the Active School approach in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru and Equatorial Guinea. He passed away in 2010. See: Oscar Mogollón and Marina Solano de Mogollón, Active Schools: Our Convictions for Improving the Quality of Education, AED, 2011.

REFERENCES

COLBERT, Vicky and Jairo Arboleda, "Universalization of Primary Education in Colombia: The New School Programme", UNESCO-UNICEF-WFP Co-operative Programme, Paris, July 1990. 


COLOMBIA Ministry of Education-UNICEF, El Programa de Escuela Nueva. Más y mejor educación primaria para los niños de las zonas rurales, Bogotá, 1990.

LOCKHEED, M. and VERSPOOR, A., Improving Primary Education in Developing Countries, Oxford University Press, a World Bank publication, Washington, 1991.

PSACHAROPOULOS, George, ROJAS, Carlos, and VELEZ, Eduardo, "Achievement Evaluation of Colombia's Escuela Nueva", in Working Papers, World Bank, Washington, D.C., April 1992.

SCHIEFELBEIN, Ernesto, In search of the school of the XXI century: is the Colombian Escuela the right pathfinder?, UNESCO-UNICEF, Santiago, 1991.

TORRES, Rosa María, Escuela Nueva: Una innovación desde el Estado, Fronesis, Colección Educación Nº 2, Quito, 1991.



Related texts in this blog 
» Rosa María Torres and Manzoor Ahmed, Reaching the Unreached: Non-formal approaches and Universal Primary Education
» Rosa María Torres, Transforming formal education from a Lifelong Learning perspective
» Rosa María Torres, On Innovation and Change in Education
» Rosa María Torres, "Antes, aquí era Escuela Vieja"

Ecuador: Good Bye to Community and Alternative Education


Rosa María Torres
(in progress)

Text in Spanish: Ecuador: Adiós a la educación comunitaria y alternativa



"Inka Samana was a community and alternative center created in 1986, with its own curriculum. It served children and adolescents from various cultures, from pre-primary education to the termination of high school. The high school title provided was trilingual (Kichwa, Spanish and English) in basic sciences. The center is part of the Ilincho Ayllullakta indigenous community, in Saraguro, Loja province, Ecuador, South America.
Until August 28, 2013, each student at Inka Samana received personal attention, at his/her own pace. Since that day, schedules and grades were established at the request of the Ministry of Education, which has adopted UNIFORM measures in this MULTICULTURAL and MULTILINGUAL country."

Taken from: Unidad Educativa Inka Samana
(Facebook page). My translation from Spanish.

(Below a detailed description of the process and desperate requests by Inka Samana authorities and students. Spanish only, for now).



The government of Rafael Correa has decided to eliminate small schools, community schools, multigrade schools, intercultural bilingual schools, alternative schools. "The model" is now the so-called Unidad Educativa del Milenio - UEM (Millennium Education Unit), described by the government as "high level public education institutions, experimental in nature, founded on innovative technical, pedagogical and administrative grounds, a reference of the new public education in the country" (Ministry of Education, 14 Sep. 2013). In fact, the "UEM model" focuses on infrastructure and equipment. Teachers are hardly mentioned in the inventory of school resources. The pedagogical model remains the same. 

The first UEM was built in 2008 in Zumbahua, Cotopaxi province, in the Sierra (highlands). According to the latest information provided by the Ministry of Education (1 Nov. 2013), over these past 5 years 31 UEM have been built, at a cost of USD 69’318.199,30 and reaching 23.282 students; 33 UEM are under construction (“New Education Infraestructure" programme). The same Ministry of Education site has, however, different information: there are currently 24 UEM operating, 28 under construction and 24 planned for 2014 (UEM in operation, 15 Oct. 2013).

At the beginning of Correa's government, in 2007, the goal was building 28 UEMs in the country. Re-election in 2013 opened the appetite for more. Now, the goal is reaching 100 UEMs by 2015. On 31 March, 2012, the Presidency of the Republic @Presidencia_EC estimated that "A Millennium School for 1,000 students, with all services, will cost USD 2,3 million".

Millennium Education Unit in Otavalo, Imbabura
Correa reiterates that "community schools are poor schools for the poor", just like multigrade (single teacher) schools. He wants to close them and to make every single school in the country a Millennium School. We are talking of 5.771 multigrade schools that are at the very heart of rural education in the country - as in most Latin American countries. 44% of the student population study there.


In reality, community education experiences - out of the official school system  - are often a reference for innovation, cultural pertinence and transformation, in Ecuador and in the world.  On the other hand, it is not true that the multigrade school must necessarily be a poor school for the poor; there are quality multigrade policies and programmes, like  Escuela Nueva in Colombia, neighbour country, or BRAC's Non-Formal Primary Schools in Bangladesh, both internationally renowned and awarded with many prizes. There are also highly acclaimed non-graduated schools worldwide. If multigrade schools continue to be poor schools for the poor in Ecuador, it is because the government has decided to abandon them instead than building a quality multigrade system. (See: En el campo, las escuelas siguen con falencias de hace décadas, / In rural areas, schools carry on problems that are decades old, El Universo, 4 May 2013).

"Now it is time for the Millennium Schools", announced Correa in August 2013. “From 18,000 community schools, only 5,500 will be left, and will be improved” (Ecuavisa, 4 Sep. 2013). The government justifies the decision to drill the Yasuní National Park -- one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, located in the Amazon region -- in order to "reduce poverty", investing especially in health and education. In the latter field, the idea is to spread Millennium Education Units throughout the country. (See: La Batalla por el Yasuní ▸ The Battle to Save Yasuní, in Pinterest)

Millennium Education Unit in Macas (Amazon region)
"Millennium Schools will be built with special planning, ending with the building of disperse education units and without the necessary services. At this point there are in the country 21,000 education units for 3 million children and adolescents. But the country needs only approximately 3,000, each reaching over 1,000 students" (Enlace Ciudadano 323 , 25 May, 2013. Summary in the official newspaper El Ciudadano). "Precarious small schools will be closed and will be relocated in Millennium Units" (Presidency of the Republic @Presidencia_Ec, 4 Sep. 2013). This is, in fact, how problems and "solutions" to education, infrastructure and territory may be seen from a bureaucratic office, "expert" knowledge, and a flat map of the country full of lines and dots.

Measures and strategies are in place: accelerated building of infrastructure, merging of schools, urbanization of rural schools, provision of school transportation to bring students from rural and isolated areas, creation of boarding sections in regular schools, organization of several shifts within each UEM, forcing community and alternative schools into the official norm of the Ley Orgánica de Educación Intercultural (LOEI, 2011 - Organic Law for Intercultural Education) and to the decisions of the Ministry of Education. In sum: mega-schools, with numerous students, with various shifts, the same all over the country, as a sign of progress, modernity and education quality. Everything that is NOT recommended in education worldwide, especially from innovative and revolutionary perspectives.
Several simple mathematical questions arise from the official information given:
» if there are currently 31 UEMs, and if they reach 23.282 students, how many more UEMs will be necessary to reach the 3 million students (children and adolescents, mentioned by Correa)?
» if 31 UEMs have been built in 5 years, how many years are needed to build the rest of UEMs planned? (Correa's government ends its second period in 2017).
» if 31 UEMs cost USD 69’318.199,30 (an average of over USD 2 million each), how much money will be needed to build the remaining UEMs?
All this in a country where nearly 25% of the population is officially poor (data: INEC) and where 50% of the population does not have access to basic services  (national TV appearence of Rafael Correa on the Yasuní, 15 August, 2013). According to the National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC data June 2013), the poverty index is 23,69% and the extreme poverty index is 8,51%. "Poor" is someone who lives with less than USD 77,03 a month (USD 2,57 a day) and "extremely poor" is somone who lives with less than USD 43,41 a month. The cost of the basic food basket is currently USD 612.05 (2013, INEC data). (As a reference, a minister's salary is now USD 6,122).   


Impressions of a visit to a Millennium Education Unit
(Fragment of a text I wrote in 2009)
"In Otavalo, North of Quito, I visit "Jatun Kuraka" Millennium Education Unit ("Grand Chief", in kichwa indigenous language) inaugurated a few months before (Apil 2009), with big media coverage y with the presence of the Minister of Education and the President of the Republic, Rafael Correa. Through the media I learned that this is the third UEM built in the country (out of 23 planned), that it cost nearly 2 million dollars (infraestructure and equipment) and that the students - nearly 800 - come mostly from indigenous families. The UEM opened with the first seven years of basic education (in Ecuador, basic education comprises currently 10 years of schooling). Next year it is expected to complete the 10 years. The description indicates that the school has 38 hexagonal classrooms equiped with digital boards, a fully equipped kitchen, a dining room, sports places, green spaces, a science laboratory, a virtual library, a computer room with 30 computers and Internet with bandwidth. 

When we arrive to the place, students are already leaving. At the entrance door I find the school director, who knows me and kindly invites me to visit the premises. In general terms, the infrastructure coincides with what I read and saw in photos and videos and on TV. There is no innovation in the architectural design; it is the traditional, standard school design, without any concession to the environment and to the local culture. In the administrative offices there are still unopened boxes. Several installations, like the dining room or the computer lab, are still dismantled. In one of three classrooms we visit, the director asks the a teacher to explain to me how the digital board works. I ask her, additionally, to explain to me how she uses it in the classroom. In a few minutes it becomes evident that she does not know how to use it. Teacher training has not come yet. As to the computers, they were taken away right after the inaugural ceremony since they were not ready for use yet. A few days later, thieves entered the school and stole other equipments, leaving it clear the high vulnerability of the premises.
Similar situations occur in other UEMs in the country: problems of insecurity, maintenance, underutilization, lack of training, pedagogy. In terms of infrastructure, the UEM is a palace compared with the public and private schools in the city, and with the homes, most probably poor and humble, of most of the students. But infrastructure, in and by itself, does not change pedagogy. Technology, if not properly utilized, is ornament and even noise.

Included in: Rosa María Torres, Proyecto arquitectónico sin proyecto pedagógico
- Architectural project without pedagogical project

(My translation from Spanish).


One of the schools affected by the "education revolution" is Inka Samana, a small school located in an indigenous community in Loja, southern province in Ecuador. The experience gained lots of national and international visibility and attention thanks to the film La Educación Prohibida (Forbidden Education, in Spanish). Inka Samana was one of the innovative experiences featured in the film (list  of experiences includedd in Latin America and in Spain). It is possibly the most documented community and alternative education experience in Ecuador today. In the school's Facebook page, its authorities have been informing about the standardization process imposed by the Ministry of Education. For all these reasons, we give special attention to Inka Samana here (see below).

We also refer to two other small community education experiences - Escuela Ecológica "Samay" ("Samay" Ecological School) and Escuela del Saber - Yachay Huasi (Knowledge School), both in the Pichincha province, central highlands - and to the Sistema de Escuelas Indígenas de Cotopaxi - SEIC (Indigenous School System of Cotopaxi), with a long history in the country and also threatened by the "education revolution", its policies and regulations.

Private schools with innovative and alternative methodologies, like Pachamama in Tumbaco, near Quito, are also being forced to adapt to the regulations of the Ministry of Education (Pachamama is also included and interviewed  in the film La Educación Prohibida).

Many innovative experiences are being closed, or have already closed, given the lack of governmental support and its many obstacles. Free education offered by the State competes with the precarious budgets of community schools, often surviving thanks to volunteer work and small contributions from international NGOs. At the same time, old and new problems linked to the official government school system, related to access, zonification, distances, as well as the traditonal pedagogy, lack of cultural relevance and low quality, lead families to continue looking for communiy schools both in rural and urban areas. 

In any case, government policies advance with many resources, disregarding all claims and protests. Before multigrade, community, alternative schools disappear, it is urgent to contribute to document and disseminate them. In many cases, the information is scarce, outdated, not available in the web or disperse in many sites and blogs, many of them already inactive, and often in several languages (Kichwa and other indigenous languages, Spanish, English, Italian, etc.).

At the end of October-beginning of November 2013 the government announced that it will close the Universidad Comunitaria Intercultural Amawtay Wasi ("Amawtay Wasi" Intercultural Community University, a higher education proposal from the Ecuadorian indigenous organizations and movement), since it did not pass the evaluation standards established by CEAACES, the higher education evaluation body. One more blow to indigenous intercultural education in the country, in the name of technocratic understandings of quality, excellence and meritocracy. While the indigenous university is closed, four new and costly public universities are cretaed  - @UNAEcuador - with international accouncements that seek to attract foreign professors with contracts, salaries and benefits that are unthinkable for a country like Ecuador at this point in time (the four new universities will cost USD 1,100 million, one third of what was expected to receive in compensation for not drilling the Yasuní ITT in the Amazon region). See some references below. In the next few days, I will open a separate post on this topic.

» "Amawtay Wasi" Intercultural Community University website and Facebook page
» (video) Etnosabares, Educação e Resistencia: AMAWTAY WASI, Aug. 2013
» Ecuador: Cronología del proceso evaluatorio a la Universidad Comunitaria Intercultural Amawtay Wasi, Elizabeth Rivera, 23 oct. 2013
» Declaración de Apoyo a la Universidad Intercultural de las Nacionalidades y Pueblos Indígenas Amawtay Wasi, 4 nov. 2013.

The texts below (description of the experiences mentioned above) are in Spanish. 
I will continue to translate them, when I find some time to do it.

Unidad Educativa Experimental Activa Intercultural Trilingüe Inka Samana (UEAITIS)


La siguiente descripción se basa principalmente en el sitio de Facebook de Inka Samana y en la información provista por Reevo-Mapeo Colectivo de la Educación Alternativa, proyecto vinculado a La Educación Prohibida. La complementamos con información encontrada en otros sitios en internet, todos mencionados al pie.

▸ Inka Samana es un centro educativo alternativo ubicado sobre el cerro Puklla de la cordillera de los Andes, en la comunidad indígena Ilincho Totoras del cantón Saraguro, provincia de Loja, en la frontera con el Perú. Aquí se mantienen las raíces culturales andinas. El centro se define como comunitario, sin fines de lucro y tiene reconocimiento oficial. Pretende constituirse en un centro de investigación y valoración cultural, en un modelo de escuela activa e impulsor de un sistema de vida comunitario.
▸ Sus fundadores son José María Vacacela y María Gabriela Albuja. En 1983, Vacacela - indígena saraguro - trabajó como auxiliar docente en el Centro Experimental Pestalozzi, centro privado, de educación alternativa, fundado por Rebeca y Mauricio Wild en el Valle de Tumbaco, cerca de Quito, y el cual funcionó desde 1977 hasta 2005. El Pestalozzi sirvió de gran inspiración para lo que sería el proyecto de Inka Samana. Vacacela cuenta que presenció aquí el progreso significativo de uno de sus sobrinos en cuanto al uso del idioma español. A su vez, María Gabriela Albuja fue entrevistada en julio de 2010 en el marco de la investigación de La Educación Prohibida. Proveniente de un colegio privado prestigioso de Quito, el Colegio Americano, se propuso organizar una educación libre y de calidad para los niños y jóvenes indígenas saraguros. Aquí puede leerse su amplia entrevista.

▸ En 1986, Vacacela y Albuja presentaron a la comunidad indígena Ilincho-Totorasun un proyecto basado en un modelo alternativo de educación: “Una propuesta de armonía y felicidad basada en los principios de: libertad con límites, respeto mutuo, afectividad, autonomía, espontaneidad, seguridad, responsabilidad y creatividad.” La idea fue debatida en la comunidad. La directiva determinó un plazo de seis años para evaluar el proyecto.

▸ Inka Samana se rige por los principios de la escuela activa y de la educación libre. Entre sus fuentes de estudio e inspiración, sus creadores mencionan a María Montessori, Alexander Neill, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Rebeca Wild, José Pacheco

No hay horarios ni uniformes ni espacios formalmente delimitados como aulas. El término usado no es profesor o maestro sino facilitador.

▸ La escuela se inició en una casa alquilada, con 20 niños y una maestra. Con ayuda de la comunidad se construyeron tres aulas en un terreno donado. Actualmente hay cerca de 200 estudiantes de las comunidades indígenas de Ilincho Totoras, Lagunas y San Lucas.

▸ La escuela desarrolló su propio currículo. El título de bachiller que se obtiene es trilingüe (kichwa, castellano e inglés) y polivalente (ciencias básicas).

▸ Según Vacacela, lo más difícil fue “capacitar al personal docente, elaborar materiales didácticos, trabajar con los padres de familia, luchar contra la supervisión hispana, ser el blanco de crítica de padres de familia, comunidad, escuelas centrales, líderes, directivos.” 

▸ “Realizamos estantes y mesas pequeñas acordes a la edad y estatura de los niños...pedimos a cada uno traer un banco pequeño para sentarse. Disponíamos de rincones de muñecas, tienda, títeres, carpintería y música. De esta forma, los niños se sentían muy felices y venían alegres a la escuela, sin la presión de aprender a escribir, leer y calcular. Jamás estaban aburridos...se transformaron en niños muy activos y creativos que realizaban actividades espontáneamente.”

▸ El espacio interior es amplio y luminoso. Cada nivel - preescolar, primario, medio - tiene salones de trabajo. También hay biblioteca, cocina, cancha deportiva, salón de arte y manualidades, computadoras. En las aulas hay juguetes, juegos didácticos, libros, un espacio de manualidades y materiales confeccionados por los facilitadores.

▸ Los lunes los estudiantes tienen un espacio de debate obligatorio. Los temas los deciden los propios estudiantes. Se pone énfasis en aspectos culturales y comunitarios. Por ejemplo, la celebración del Kapak Raymi (fiesta indígena en honor al dios sol).

▸ En el taller de manualidades, los niños pueden optar por dibujo, tejido o confección. Trabajan con el material didáctico elaborado por los propios facilitadores.

▸ En sesiones de trabajo, padres de familia y facilitadores elaboran el pénsum de estudios. Parta del currículo es extender la labor escolar fuera de la escuela, involucrándose en la organización de mingas (trabajo colectivo) y de seminarios para la comunidad. 


▸ Padres y madres de familia, abuelos y otras personas de la comunidad son invitados regularmente a enseñar sus saberes y oficios. Mama Carmen enseña a hacer y pulir las tradicionales ollas de barro.

▸ Hay paseos semanales en primaria, pasantías de una o dos semanas en secundaria, pasantías de trabajo, trabajos culturales anuales, investigaciones libres. A través de las pasantías los estudiantes conocen el país, sus culturas, su diversidad natural.

▸ Hay servicio gratuito de alimentación organizado por la junta de padres de familia. La preparación de la comida está a cargo de las madres. Los gastos son asumidos por la coordinación comunal.
En febrero de 2009 recibieron la visita del entonces ministro de Educación, Raúl Vallejo. Ante la queja de profesores y padres de familia de que la Dirección Nacional de Educación Intercultural Bilingüe no colaboraba, Vallejo ofreció ocuparse de los problemas, a la vez que felicitó el trabajo y la propuesta pedagógica de la escuela, ofreciendo todo el apoyo ministerial.
(Ver Ministro de Educación Raúl Vallejo visitó Unidad “Inka Samana” de Saraguro, El Ciudadano, 12 febrero 2009). 
El 5 de septiembre de 2013 Inka Samana recibió la visita del conocido educador e investigador indio Sugata Mitra, ganador del premio TED 2013, quien se hiciera internacionalmente conocido a partir de 1999 por el experimento conocido como “el agujero en la pared” en la India.







El proceso de estandarización siguiendo los lineamientos del Ministerio de Educación

Inka Samana viene registrando el proceso de estandarización impuesto por el Ministerio de Educación a partir de agosto 2013. Se ha creado una comisión encargada de terminar la "adaptación de este proyecto educativo alternativo a la ley", entre otros estableciendo horarios y calificaciones. Copiamos aquí algunos textos incluidos en el sitio de Facebook, conservando la escritura original.
13 agosto 2013
APRENDER EN LIBERTAD, CON UNA ENSEÑANZA BASADA EN EL AMOR, LA SOLIDARIDAD, LA EMPATÍA, LA CREATIVIDAD. QUEREMOS UNA POLITICA EDUCATIVA QUE NOS PERMITA CREAR EL MUNDO QUE QUEREMOS Y NO COARTE NUESTROS SUEÑOS
13 agosto 2013
AUXILIO... ¿ALGUIEN SABE CÓMO HACERLO RESPETANDO LA ALEGRIA DEL SER Y EL RITMO DE APRENDIZAJE DE CADA UNO? ¿ALGUIEN TIENE LA EXPERIENCIA DE PONER CALIFICACIONES Y QUE EL ESTUDIANTE NO SE SIENTA PRESIONADO? ¿ALGUIEN ME PUEDE DECIR COMO MIS ESTUDIANTES VAN A CONTINUAR SIENDO RELAJADOS, FELICES, HONESTOS Y TRANSPARENTES SI... TIENEN QUE "GANARSE" UNA NOTA CADA MES?
13 agosto 2013
A U X I L I O...
EL MINISTERIO DE EDUCACION DE ECUADOR NOS EXIGE QUE PONGAMOS CUATRO CALIFICACIONES CADA QUIMESTRE.
ESO SIGNIFICA QUE LOS ESTUDIANTES TIENEN APENAS UN PLAZO DE UN MES Y ALGO MÁS PARA TERMINAR UN SEXTO DEL AÑO ESCOLAR. "NOS DIVIDIERON EN SEIS EL CHOCOLATE". ANTES ELL@S APRENDIAN A SU RITMO. HABIAMOS DESAPRENDIDO POR 26 AÑOS EL COLOCAR NÚMEROS, LETRAS O ADJETIVOS. AHORA NOS OBLIGAN A PONERLOS!!!
14 agosto 2013.
ESTO ES LO QUE VENIA HACIENDO INKA SAMANA DESDE HACE 26 AÑOS Y QUE AHORA EL MINEDUC NOS NIEGA AL IMPONER QUE SE COLOQUEN CALIFICACIONES. ¿QUIEN PUEDE JUGAR, CAMINAR O DIALOGAR TRANQUILAMENTE SI ESTA BAJO LA PRESIÓN DE LAS CALIFICACIONES?
28 agosto 2013.
ACABA DE CONCLUIR LA REUNIÓN DE QUE PIDIÓ EL MINISTERIO DE EDUCACIÓN CON LA DIRECCIÓN ZONAL. LAS RESOLUCIONES SON LAS SIGUIENTES:
Los estudiantes serán ubicados en el año que les corresponde según la edad.
Se trabajará CON HORARIOS.
Se planificará por destrezas con criterio de desempeño.
Se DARÁN LAS CALIFICACIONES CONFORME A LA LEY.
6 septiembre 2013.
"Hola amigos de la paz y la libertad: El gobierno del Ecuador no permitió que Inka Samana, la escuela pública libre, pueda seguir siendo LIBRE. NOS IMPUSIERON TRABAJAR POR CURSOS, DAR CALIFICACIONES Y TENER HORARIO. Eso es para ellos "Adaptar el proyecto a la ley". ¿Qué puede quedar de un proyecto libre si los estudiantes tienen que correr de un área a otra y ganarse una nota? Algunos de nuestros estudiantes que estudiaban por aprender se están retirando... Agotamos esfuerzos en las instancias superiores. Nos visitaron la asesora del Minsitro y la Asesora del Subsecretario, tuvimos una reunión con el ViceMinistro y demás... La Ley de Educación Intercultural en Ecuador nos mete a todos en un saco. Al Ministro... le impactó positivamente el documetal "La Educación Prohibida"... pero LA MISIÓN de hacer cumplir la LEY ES INAPELABLE".
Finalmente, el testimonio de un graduado de Inka Samana, Amawta Jatari Vacacela Albuja, hijo de los coordinadores del colegio, joven indígena estudiante de Derecho en una prestigiosa universidad de la capital, consternado con que "su institución educativa está siendo cuestionada y que se pretende tradicionalizar el sistema educativo de Inka Samana sosteniendo que dicho proyecto no trae resultados, lo cual no encuentro lógico desde mi punto de vista porque cuando miro a un estudiante o a un exestudiante e incluso a un retirado lo único que miro son resultados". "Este centro educativo genera personas felices, líderes, capaces de solucionar sus problemas sin necesidad de psicólogos como gran porcentaje de la sociedad, jóvenes con visiones claras, jóvenes que saben hacia donde van y a donde van a llegar sin jamás haberse olvidado de donde partieron ni cuales son sus raíces y principios, Jóvenes unidos y de gran valentía, jóvenes que nunca dejarán luchar solo a un compañero por miedo a ser pisoteados". "Ahora quieren imponernos una educación tradicional, del sistema, con exámenes y notas, lo que alentara la competencia, la deslealtad y las trampas para tener mejor notas que otros, destruirá nuestro compañerismo y nos convertirá en máquinas que pelean con sus compañeros por un puntaje y por un guiño del profesor. Y dónde queda el cambio, a dónde van las personas honestas, a dónde va el compañerismo, a dónde van nuestros principios ancestrales".
Fuentes:

» Unidad Educativa Inka Samana en Facebook
» Inka Samana, por Elena López Nieto, Blog Aprender viajando, Madrid, mayo 2013
»  Estudio: Inka Samana: Un proyecto alternativo de educación multicultural, de Fernanda Tusa fer.etg.1@gmail.com (PDF)
» Unidad educativa experimental activa intercultural trilingue Inka Samana, Saraguro, Ecuador, en: Reevo, Mapeo Colectivo de la Educación Alernativa
» Blog Pedagogía de la Alegría

Escuela Ecológica Samay


La Escuela Ecológica "Samay" es un centro educativo comunitario-público ubicado a los pies del cerro sagrado Ilaló, Comuna Tola Chica, en Tumbaco, a 30 minutos de Quito. Samay es una palabra kichwa que designa el aliento o la energía que da la vida.

El centro basa su filosofía en la Cosmovivencia Andina, en la relación armoniosa y cariñosa con la Pachamama (Madre Tierra) y con lo sagrado y divino, teniendo como horizonte el Sumak Kawsay (Buen Vivir). Parte de una visión de respeto y cariño hacía todo lo vivo del cosmos y, en especial, hacia los niños y niñas.  

Se aprende o se recuerda el kichwa en todos los espacios de la escuela. También se enseña inglés.

El Sumak Kawsay implica:
- Ranti ranti: trabajo en reciprocidad con todo ser viviente.
- Minka: trabajo comunitario
- Paridad: Principio organizador del todo, lo masculino y lo femenino como principios creadores de vida y equilibrio.
- Tinku: complementariedad entre todos los seres vivos.
- Ishkay Yachay: Reconocimiento, valoración, y fortalecimiento de los conocimientos de los pueblos indígenas junto al conocimiento occidental.
- Chakra (huerta): Crianza mutua de la vida. La chakra entendida como la totalidad de la comunidad educativa, donde todos nos criamos, entre niños, adultos, plantas, animales, cerros, etc.

▸ La misión de la escuela se define como: 
-  Crear y sostener un espacio de inter-aprendizaje para los niños y niñas basado en el cariño y el respeto hacia los pequeños y de ellos hacia la Pachamama (la madre tierra) y hacía todo ser viviente, usando y recreando los conocimientos y la sabiduría indígenas.
- Ofrecer un espacio educativo alternativo a los niños y niñas de familias indígenas de la zona de Tumbaco.
- Ofrecer un espacio para las familias de escasos recursos económicos.

La casa de la escuela fue construida en minga (trabajo comunitario) entre niños, adultos y abuelos, con técnicas y materiales nativos, tales como el tapial y el adobe. Es una escuela de Tierra para la Tierra. Cuenta además con dos cocinas solares, donde se ofrece capacitación en el tema de energía solar

La escuela cuida y aprende de un bosque primario de 20 hectáreas, donde vive el árbol de la Huila del Señor que tiene alrededor de 1.800 años. También cuida de un vivero comunal para la crianza de plantas nativas y la reforestación del Ilaló. Tiene un proyecto de jardín botánico en el que se crían plantas nativas. Tiene asimismo una chakra (huerta) que se usa tanto para el aprendizaje como para la alimentación. Se recupera sabidurías y conocimientos ancestrales en torno a la siembra de productos andinos que se han ido perdiendo como el melloco, variedades de papas, etc.

Cosechan agua de lluvia en pozos recolectores que sirve para regar las plantas y demás proyectos. Se cuida y reutiliza el agua.

La escuela es parte de la Red de Guardianes de Semillas. Alumnos y profesores clasifican y cuidan las semillas como parte de la educación.

Clasifican los desechos. Existe un compost que sirve para la huerta. No compran envases ni fundas de plástico. Los materiales son en lo posible reciclados o elaborados por ellos mismos, como el papel, cuadernos, vajilla, etc.

Hay una enfermería con plantas medicinales cultivadas por la escuela y terapias como aromaterapia, curaciones con plantas medicinales y medicina ancestral.

Un observatorio astronómico está en construcción, para aprender de los astros, constelaciones, calendario lunar y su relación con las personas. Se aprende simbología ancestral.

Hay lugares y tiempo especiales para el silencio, la meditación y el autocrecimiento, especialmente en contacto con la naturaleza.

Existen talleres de teatro, cerámica, joyería, carpintería, costura, tejido. El arte, la música, la pintura, el baile, y la literatura están integrados a la escuela.

▸ Se organiza una asamblea escolar cada semana. Allí se planean actividades relacionadas con la escuela, la comunidad, el país y el mundo, y se afianza el compromiso de asistir a las mingas (trabajo comunitario) y a capacitaciones.

La realidad  económica de las familias no es obstáculo para ingresar a la escuela. Existen pensiones mínimas y diferenciadas. Se practica la solidaridad.

Para sostener la escuela se ofrecen:
- Talleres de Filosofia Andina y crianza.
- Talleres de Kichwa
- Talleres a escuelas
- Curso de Kichwa CD en audio

Contacto:
Verónica Durán e Inti Cartuche
veronicamicani@yahoo.com

Fuentes:
Escuela Ecológica Samay en Facebook 
Pedagogía 3000, Boletín No. 20, septiembre 2010

Yachay Wasi – La Casa del Saber  

Ubicada en Quito, la escuela primaria Yachay Wasi (“Casa del Saber”) ofrece a los niños del barrio periférico de San Juan de las Monjas la posibilidad de estudiar dos lenguas y dos culturas (español y kichwa), mediante una educación integral.

El eje del proyecto es la soberanía alimentaria. Se busca mejorar la dieta de los alumnos, implementar un sistema agrícola autosuficiente y recuperar el conocimiento ancestral de los ancianos.

Fuentes:
» La Casa del Sappere, Sensacional.org  (en italiano)


Sistema de Escuelas Indígenas de Cotopaxi (SEIC)



El Sistema de Escuelas Indígenas de Cotopaxi (SEIC) abarca 56 escuelas y el colegio Jatari Unancha, el cual cuenta a su vez con 16 extensiones. El SEIC opera en la provincia de Cotopaxi, en la Sierra central. La enseñanza se hace en lengua materna (kichwa) y se promueve la educación a distancia.

El sistema viene atendiendo desde 1976 a la población indígena kichwa hablante de las zonas de Chugchilán, Zumbahua, el Bajío (Saquisilí, Pujilí, Poaló) y a la de Panyatuc desde 1988. El proceso educativo se orienta hacia el fortalecimiento de la identidad cultural indígena y del protagonismo de los educandos.
 Fuentes:
- SEIC, Sitio en Facebook
- Colegio Intercultural Bilingue "Jatari Unancha", página en Facebook
- Metodología del Colegio (video en kichwa)
- Manangón, 25 años de dejar huellas para los indígenas
- Política Indígena en Cotopaxi. La demanda, la protesta y la participación del MICC (Movimiento Indígena y Campesino de Cotopaxi), José J. Egas, 16 noviembre 2010
- La UPS ante los incidentes con representantes del Colegio Jatari Unancha

Para saber más:

» Proyecto arquitectónico sin proyecto pedagógico, Rosa María Torres
» Ecuador: 4 años de "revolución educativa", Rosa María Torres

» Marchas en defensa de Yasuní y escuelas comunitarias, El Mercurio, Cuenca, 28 ag. 2013.

» Las escuelas correístas de la pobreza cultural, Atahuallpa Oviedo Freire, Multiversidad Yachay Wasi, sep. 2013.

»  "Los chicos no están motivados en la escuela, necesitan que los escuchen", Sandra Majluf, La Capital, Mar del Plata, Argentina, 12 sep 201. Directora del Instituto de Educación Superior Terra Nova de Ushuaia que lleva adelante el sistema de educación experimental, libre.

» Galería gráfica: Schools in the World ▸ Escuelas del Mundo (Pinterest)

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