More than a decade after the initial onset of conflict in their homeland, Darfuri refugees remain in twelve refugee camps near the Chadian border with Sudan. In these twelve settlements, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) runs its largest education project worldwide, and for the past few years, this project focused on supporting students and educators transition to a new curriculum.
The success of these students, teachers, and the JRS staff involved in this initiative is evident in the results of this year’s Baccalaureate exam (BAC), a Chadian government exam mandatory to certify secondary education. In 2017, more Darfuri students from eastern Chad registered to take the exam than ever before, most those who sat for the exam were approved, and more young women participated than in the years previous.
As in many refugee communities, education remains an essential part of everyday life and an important priority for Darfuri refugees. “When a population moves to a place, due to emergency situations (and particularly after conflict), education is key to restoring child protection standards and promoting well-being, as well as restoring the community,” explains Nadezhna Castellano, JRS’s International Education Specialist.
Since 2003, schools in the twelve camps housing Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad were still following the Sudanese education system. In 2014, the UNHCR and Chadian Government resolved to begin transitioning the academic curriculum used in these schools to the standard Chadian curriculum used throughout the country.
The transition was not easy, and challenges were met at pedagogical, organisational, and political levels: teachers remained unfamiliar with the new curriculum, differing educational structures struggled to be mediated, and textbooks did not exist at many levels. For refugees and other vulnerable communities, a change like this is also difficult on a societal level, “Curriculum represents communal and national identities. We study our geography, our language, and our history…and when you have lost everything, sometimes education is the only heritage you can provide to your children,” says Nadezhna about the difficulties of curriculum transitions within a context of displacement and humanitarian emergency.
In response to these challenges, JRS focused their programs in eastern Chad on educational initiatives that included developing greater teacher capacity. This was done in part through a mentorship program in which Chadian education professionals tutored Sudanese teachers. Equally important was empowering young students with sufficient preparation and encouragement to take the BAC. Some of the educational programming was also specifically geared towards helping to engage, support, and empower young women.
Now, a few years later, the benefit of the transition is coming full circle, and JRS is proud of the accomplishments of the Darfuri students involved in this project. In the next few years, opportunities for successful higher and professional education will only continue to expand in eastern Chad, as JRS education programs focus on supplying additional student scholarships, school kits, continued teacher training, and education advocacy.
As an organisation, JRS prioritises the need of education for displaced populations living in contexts of uncertainty. For Darfuri students living in eastern Chad, the future of education is bright and more certain than ever before.
The Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education interviews Carlos Fritzen, General Coordinator of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría, a regional network that has just joined the network. During this talk, Fritzen discusses the main challenges and opportunities for the realization of the human right to education in Latin America and the Caribbean, and explains how to join the CLADE network can strengthen the activities that Fe y Alegría has been promoting at regional level.
What are the main activities in defense of the right to education that Fe y Alegría has promoted at a regional level?
The International Federation of Fe y Alegría, contributes as a movement of more than one million people, among students, educators, mothers and fathers, in 17 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. We speak of a total of 2,000 educational centers, from kindergarten through high school, technical and second chance programs. Our greatest commitment is with the strengthening of public education systems. Therefore, we have strong roots and presence in vulnerable communities that fight and demand their right to education.
When it comes to issues such as the right to a quality public education, we join with other organizations, from the local level, where educational activities are located beyond what can be a center, a school, where we are impacting and participating. This is also reflected when there are actions that spread regionally, when we articulate with networks that work for the right to education, such as CEAAL and ALER, in all the countries in which we are present.
In many of these spaces we are members of advisory councils, such as the Central American Integration System (CC-SICA) and UNESCO, which provide various levels of reflection. They are local and regional alliances with different organizations that drive initiatives for a quality public education.
We also lean on with regional agencies that drive advocacy initiatives for “quality education, as a right” such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Glasswing, Feed the Children, the Association of Colleges and Universities of the Jesus, among others
Thus we have a basis of work, which is the incidence of the communities, and always articulates a state, country or international level. There is the strength of Fe y Alegría, because there are people who are at the root of the problem, where the lack of public policies, resources, funding and respect for teachers and education professionals is impacting.
We are concerned with strategic thinking, as given by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, from the localization of the problem to the regionalization of the problem and now the globalization of the problem.
What, in your eyes, are the challenges and opportunities for the realization of the human right to education in Latin America and the Caribbean?
A fundamental issue that is pointed out is the growing privatization of education, the conception of education as a business, as a market product. That impacts a lot on what we have for purpose.
Privatization goes hand in hand with a focus on education and educational work as a technical job. There is an ideology of “quality of education” in some areas, with a perspective of integrality in the formation of the person. Arts, values, humanities, health, are out. When everything focuses on what the market requires, pedagogical ideology holds the privatizing interest.
On the other hand, we are also concerned about the crisis of international cooperation and the cuts in educational investment. We know that there is a wider crisis and that this impacts the available resources to strengthen the educational processes. We also have a scenario of absence of State policies that responds to major social pacts.
Another major challenge is the increasing inequality in educational quality. It is necessary to develop educational policies that guarantee equity and relevance by giving more and better education to those who have less, in order to compensate for the disadvantages of their starting situation.
The necessary dignification and qualification of the teaching profession is another great challenge for our region, as well as the inclusion of people with special educational needs. However, we have a great opportunity to change everything. The Agenda 2030 is a framework that commits us all and offers the opportunity to work together to achieve it.
How did the idea of joining the CLADE network and the importance of this alliance awakened?
Fe y Alegría has always been committed to defending and promoting the right to education and we have been a part of the Global Campaign for Education (CME) since its inception. On the other hand, many of our national organizations are part of the national CLADE and CME coalitions or forums.
Being a member of CLADE allows us to join regional efforts with different organizations in the different advocacy processes, strengthening our struggle for the right to education. This alliance also allows us to access a privileged and reciprocal space to share learning; and avoid duplication of efforts, by establishing regional and global synergies.
The original interview in Spanish was published here.
The Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education has launched this week a campaign for the correct financing of Sustainable Development Goal 4 on the occasion of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, that is taking place this week too. Fe y Alegría, a movement present in 22 countries of popular education and social promotion, 17 of them in Latin America and the Caribbean, joins this mobilization to underscore the importance of tax justice for guaranteeing the human right to education.
A new paper released this month by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report moves this debate beyond politics. It shows that the global poverty rate could be more than halved if all adults completed secondary school.
The paper, Reducing global poverty through universal primary and secondary education, demonstrates the importance of education as a lever for ending poverty and helping improve the lot of adults currently living under the threshold of $1.90 a day. By confirming the links between the two, the paper is welcome news for those working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal on poverty eradication by 2030 (SDG 1) while reinforcing the investment case for universal secondary education – an education target under SDG 4.
The new paper builds on the average impact of education on growth and poverty reduction from 1965 to 2010 in developing countries to reveal that nearly 60 million people could avoid poverty if all adults had just two more years of schooling. If all adults completed secondary education that number would increase seven-fold, and 420 million people could be lifted above the poverty threshold. That is enough to cut the total number of poor people in half worldwide, and by almost two-thirds in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The numbers would fall because education provides people with the skills they need to boost their employment prospects and their incomes, while helping people to protect themselves from the worst impacts of poverty during hard times. And a more equitable expansion of education is likely to reduce inequality, lifting the poorest people from the bottom of the ladder.
The good news is that ensuring that every adult completes a good quality secondary education is a perfectly feasible and achievable ambition, with the right choices and the right levels of well-targeted investment. The bad news, as the paper shows, is that the number of children and youth out of school remains high in many countries, making it unlikely, if current trends continue, to meet the global education targets for generations to come.
There has been virtually no progress in reducing out-of-school rates in recent years for both primary and secondary age groups. The world has yet to make good on its promise to achieve universal primary education, which was supposed to occur by 2015. Globally, 9% of all children of primary school age are not in the classroom. And the gaps get bigger as children get older, with 16% of youth of lower-secondary school age missing out on education, rising to 37% for those who should be in upper secondary school. In total, 264 million children and youth were out of school in 2015.
One of the regions where universal secondary education could have the greatest impact on poverty, sub-Saharan Africa, remains the region with the highest out-of-school rates for all age groups. More than one-fifth (21%) of children aged 6 to 11 are out of school, rising to more than more than one-third (36%) of adolescents aged 12 to 14 and half (57%) of all youth aged 15 to 17.
The paper confirms that education must reach the poorest to enable them and their families to lift themselves out of poverty. But this is yet another story of inequalities. Children from the poorest 20% of families are eight times as likely to be out of school as children from the richest 20% in lower-middle-income countries. And in the world’s poorest countries, children are nine times as likely to be out of primary and secondary school as children in the richest countries.
While calling on countries to improve the quality of education as part of efforts to get all children into school and learning, the paper also stresses the need to reduce the direct and indirect costs of education for families, including school fees, and costs of textbooks and uniforms. UIS data confirm that out-of-pocket expenses for families remain high even at the primary level in many countries. In Ghana, for example, households spend about $87 each year for every child in primary education – a figure that rises to $151 in Côte d’Ivoire and to $680 in El Salvador. Such costs, particularly for the poorest families, can be simply too heavy to bear.
To reduce the financial burden on families, the paper highlights policy solutions to keep children in school, including school-feeding programmes, cash transfers, and complementary health interventions. It also calls for more targeted efforts to safeguard the right to free education among all marginalized groups, such as children with disabilities, refugee and migrant children, and those affected by gender discrimination (whether girls or boys).
Could there be a more cost-effective (and non-political) way to make a dent in global poverty than education? We hope this can be on the table at next month’s High-Level Political Forum at the UN. If the delegates cannot agree on everything, they can surely agree on investment in secondary education as a practical way to ensure that people no longer have to survive on barely two dollars each day.
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The new policy paper from the report Global Education Monitoring (GEM) of UNESCO starts by noting that the national expenditure in the countries of low rent and medium low can´t cover the costs to reach the Objective of Sustainable Development (OSD) 4, by which the exterior aid should compensate the deficit. But the help to educacion is stagnated since 2010, and the one that is granted doesn´t go to the countries that need it the most, worsening the perspective to achieve the objectives of global education. Next, reference is made to the main content of this report.
The global total of the official help to the development (AOD) increased in 2015 a 5% in real terms (cumulatively increased a 24% between 2010 and 2015). This increment can be partially explained by the immigration crisis and refugees in Europe. However, even when the global ODA increases, the help to educacion stagnates. In 2015, it situated itself 4% less than in 2010, which represents a much more inferior significant quantity of the necessary one to achieve the SDG 4. According to the report, there are few indications that can suggest that the stagnation of the help to education is connected with the immigration crisis and refugees in Europe; simply happens that the donors change their priorities at the expense of education. For example, the transportation sector, that recently would only receive two thirds of what it provided to education, now receives the same or more.
The help to basic education must be better allocated
Even though the general help for basic education increased an 8% in a year, it still is 6% below than in 2010. The bilateral donors (whether or not they are members of the CAD) still play a prominent role (62% of the total), but the multilaterals are each time more important.
The report shows that there are different ways to supervise the part of the total help to education given to the countries with low rent, which is an tematic indicator for the SDG 4.5. . An approach would be to focus in the countries with the lowest incomes classified by the World Bank, the majority of them in Sub Saharan Africa. With this measure, the countries of low income received in 2015 the 19% of total help to education and a 23% of help to basic education. Both parts were kept constant during 10 years, but abruptly fell in 2015 with the 13% decrease of the global help to education and a 16% of the help to basic education in the countries with low incomes. Another standpoint would be to examine the classified countries by the United Nations as the least developed, where there would enter 48 countries in front of the 32 countries classified by the World Bank. Finally, another standpoint would be to examine the distribution of the help to basic education by religion. The report concludes that the help to basic education should be alienated with the costs that would involve to educate all the kids that are not attending school.
In this way, for example, the cost to provide schooling thr 49% of kids not educated in Burkina Faso would be near 182 million dollars, but this country only received 17 million dollars in 2012. In contrast, the cost to provide schooling to a 2% of kids not educated in Zimbabwe would be of 11 million dollars but the country received 31 million in 2012. This means that the donors must rationalize the money in base of the necessity level of each country.
In this line, the World Alliance for Education (GPE) with a 77% of their disbursements assigned to Sub Saharan Africa and almost a 60% to countries affected by fragility or conflicts, reaches the countries that need it the most. Their model of allocation is based on two elements: the necessities of the educative sector of the partner country and the level of rent of the country in question.
The help to secondary education fell almost a tenth part in 2015
In 2015, the total help to secondary education decreased a 9%, dropping to similar levels to the ones in 2009-2010. In accordance with the data of 2015, three of the country from the G7 weren’t between the 10 first donors to secondary education: Canada was in the number 11, United States in the 15 and Italy as number 18. The bilateral help of the donors of the CAD for secondary education was 14% less in 2015 than in 2009. On the other hand, the help of the multilateral donors to secondary education has increased a 25% since 2009, in spite of a decrease of 10% between 2014 and 2015. As a result, the multilateral donors represent the 38% of the total help to basic education in 2015, in comparison with the 32% in 2009.
The humanitarian ODA to education increased in more than half in 2016, but it continues to be completely insufficient.
In the last five years, the financing requests for the education in emergency cases has increased a 21%. Since 2013, the financing in this sector has recovered, in 2016 it increased in a 55% reaching a historical maximum of 303 million dollars. However, this quantities are insufficient. The education in emergency received the 2.7% of the total of the humanitarian help, extremely below the objective of the 4%. In 2016, the sector received the 48% of what it had asked for in terms of humanitarian aid, in comparison with an average of 57% in all the sectors.
The view of the help to education is changing
The actual levels of help to education are very below the necessary quantities to reach the SDG 4. But the existing programs and several emerging financing schemes can help to restore the balance:
Donors should work coordinately so the three initiatives avoid expenses of administration that are unnecessary and the duplication of efforts. However, the new financing facilities aren´t sufficient: the donors must try hard in turn and to substantially increase the revenue of the international funding to education. Moreover, they must increase their commitments (at least the 0.7% of GDP to help and a 10% of this quantity for education) and assure that the help to education goes where it is more necessary.
At the end of last week, the GEM (Global Education Monitoring) Report’s Advisory Board met in Paris to discuss the success of the 2016 GEM Report, hear about the plans for the 2017/8 and 2019 GEM Reports, and decide on the future theme of the 2020 GEM Report. A consensus was reached on the theme: Inclusion and Education.
The desire to leave no one behind permeates the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Two of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) are dedicated to addressing inclusion: A goal on gender equality and empowerment of all girls and women (SDG 5) and one on reducing disparities between and within countries (SDG 10). There is also an unprecedented global commitment to using disaggregated data to monitor gaps and inequalities, in education and other sectors. Disaggregated information is critical to identifying populations who never exercised their right to education, who left school before completing a full cycle, and who did not succeed in acquiring key foundational and transferable skills.
The GEM Report has long taken an equity, pro-inclusive perspective when monitoring progress towards global education goals. Our team has shown that the poorest children are four times more likely to be out of primary school than richest children. An estimated one-third of all out-of-school children at the primary level have a disability. Aggregated analysis from 51 countries found a 10 percentage point gap in primary completion rates between people with and without disability, which is likely an underestimate. About 40% of people around the world are not taught in a language they speak or understand.
In 2010 the GEM Report established the World Inequality Database on Education, WIDE to highlight in countries, who is adversely affected, and through what processes, in order to contribute to policy formulation and resource allocation. Data from this source show the extent to which disadvantage and marginalization undermine success in education progress. They indicate how overlapping disadvantages sometimes create almost unsurmountable barriers for those trying to learn at school or university or through adult training and education programs.
We know that if current policies remain in place, all groups will not enjoy the benefits of education by 2030. New strategies and policies must be adopted to ensure access to the 263 million children, adolescents and youth who are out of primary and secondary school; the 758 million adults lacking basic literacy and numeracy skills; and millions more who, despite having been to school, experienced little improvement in their learning levels and employment prospects.
Deciding on the theme of future GEM Reports is one of the core responsibilities of its Advisory Board. This Board is made up of representatives from UN multilateral agencies, bilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, civil society groups and networks, directors of UNESCO education Institutes and individuals from developing countries in all world regions with an expertise in education issues. It is currently chaired by Jeffrey Sachs, UN Special Advisor on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Along with deciding on the theme of the 2020 Report, the Board also advised on useful partners for the dissemination of the 2016, 2017/8 and 2019 Reports. They advised on effective strategies for outreach around the 2017/8 Report due out this October on Accountability and Education. And they gave constructive input into the content of the 2019 Report on migration and education.
The last point on the agenda was to discuss the Terms of Reference for an independent evaluation of the GEM Report, which will take place at the end of this year. This is a triennial practice, which helps the GEM Report to hold itself to account, and continue to improve itself in its content, outreach, and policy-impact.
About the author: Macarena Romero is a political scientist, Masters in International Cooperation and Public Affairs. She is currently working as public policies and advocacy officer in the jesuit NGO Entreculturas in Spain.
Representatives from numerous national, regional and international non-governmental and civil society organizations and members of the 2030 Education Collective Consultation of Non-Governmental Organizations (CCNGO) from different parts of the world met in Siem Reap, Cambodia, from May 8-9th, 2017.
The main goal of the meetings was to take stock and discuss the progress made in achieving SDG4-Education 2030 from the adoption and formulation of recommendations. It analyzed the initiatives undertaken, the main challenges faced, the opportunities identified and ways to move forward. It also discussed the support that CSOs should provide to SDG4 at the national, regional and global levels, as well as the contributions of the CCNGO in this regard.
Challenges and Opportunities
The statement issued following the meeting indicates that the challenges to education have been exacerbated by external factors in the social and political environment, in particular, by conflicts, war, violence, fundamentalism and insecurity affecting citizens in such situations. “As far as policies are concerned, they either do not yet exist or are not based on the SDG4-Education 2030 perspective and even, in some cases, diverge from it.” With regard to funding, they noted that both national and official development assistance for education had declined.
Another of the major challenges identified during the meeting is the increased privatization and commercialization of education, and the risk of undermining free and public quality education, aggravating inequalities. They consider that there is still a shortage of trained teachers, compounded by insufficient initial and continuing training and poor working conditions.
In addition to identifying the various risks involved in achieving quality, free, inclusive and equitable education, the organizations acknowledged that it is the responsibility of governments to ensure its provision and offer a number of recommendations to do so. The representatives urged those who have not yet done so to formally establish legal frameworks on the right to education.
“We call for intensified efforts to meet the agreed commitments to allocate between 4% and 6% of GDP and/or between 15% and 20% of public spending on education, bearing in mind that more and more resources are needed. Resources for education must be maintained and increased as necessary, even in crisis situations, while respecting the standards of equity and quality.”
In their statement, they strongly recommended that donor countries reverse the decrease in aid and meet the target of allocating 0.7 percent of gross national income to official development assistance to developing countries and 0.15 per cent and 0.2 per cent for least developed countries.
They encouraged Governments to intensify their efforts towards inclusive education, in particular by focusing on gender equality, disability, migrants and refugees, and respect for diversity. They should also remedy the shortage of teachers through the training and recruitment of qualified teachers, and ensure their permanent professional training.
About the Collective Consultation
The Collective Consultation of Non-Governmental Organizations on Education for All (CCNGO/EFA) is UNESCO’s essential mechanism for dialogue, reflection and collaboration with NGOs in the field of education. Since its inception in 1998, the scope of CCNGO/EFA has been changed to become an international network of more than 300 national, regional and international NGOs members of the CCNGO/EFA. The network remains an essential mechanism and a platform that allows civil society organizations to contribute to the collective commitment by 2030 with the aim of ensuring inclusive quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.
May 25th is Africa Day, and we have recopilado some data about the state of the education in the continent. The sub-Saharan region has the highest percentage of non-schooled children: 52% (31 million) don’t go to school. Only 69% reach the last year of primary school, a number that points out the contrast with other world regions, in which at least 90% of scholars end primary school.
“52% of children in scholar age don’t receive an education”
Education is not compulsory in all the countries; on the contrary. In some countries as Botswana, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Gambia, Malawi, Somalia and Zambia an educational law that obliges children to go to school daily doesn’t exist. Kenya is the only country where the school is compulsory until the age of 18. In other countries, secondary education is considered a choice.
In this region, another major problem is the lack of teacher training. Less than three-quarters of primary school teachers are educated, while half of secondary educators have had a tertiary education. In 2014, only 8% of the sub-Saharan population began university studies, a figure that is far from the second region with the lowest percentage of university students, South Asia, with 23%.
The right to quality education for everyone still remains to be one of the great challenges of a continent that is full of diversity and complexity and uneven development levels. Today, Africa Day turns out to be a right opportunity to defend the political actions needed to make the right to quality education a real inalienable right for all people.
In light of the latest shifts of violence and oppression and seen how this circumstance negatively affect the fulfilment of the right to education, we share Fe y Alegría Venezuela by the hand of its General Director, Manuel Aristorena.
“Venezuela has been filled with pain, suffering, anguish, violence, fear, repression and death. Yes, a lot of death, and with cruelty.
Every society experiences struggles and conflicts. And it is the manner in which these conflicts are confronted where a country’s democracy is evidenced or denied. The excessive use of force, the characterization of demonstrations as armed insurrection and not seeing in them the fair indignation of the people, the appropriation of ordinary and civil justice by military tribunals, daily violence and death, the vandalism of public or private property and the cruel treatment of detainees are unacceptable for a democratic society. We are losing lives, democracy, the country.
The solution does not involve facing one another until we defeat the adversary. That’s enough. Let’s leave behind intolerance and those who are intolerant. We need to recover democratic institutionality and the validity of Human Rights. We need to rebuild our democracy so that it promotes hope and life, with institutions that serve all Venezuelans, without discrimination or disqualification.
We have made Pope Francis’s words our own:
“Dramatic news continues to reach us regarding the situation in Venezuela and the worsening of clashes there, with many people reported dead, injured and detained. I share in the pain of the families, to whom I ensure my prayers of intercession, and I appeal to the government and all the members of Venezuelan society to avoid any further forms of violence, to respect human rights and to negotiate solutions to the serious humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population. Let us entrust to the Most Holy Virgin Mary a prayer intention for peace, reconciliation and democracy in that dear country”.
Like Pope Francis, we say to all members of society, and especially to the Government: no more violence. No more killed and wounded. No more infusing fear. No more families cornered by tear gas, shotguns and bullets. No more obstacles to the freedom of movement and demonstrations. No more night raids. No more destruction of public and private goods. We reject violence, wherever it comes from.
– Rectors of the National Electoral Council: Follow through with your responsibilities. You can open ways to solutions. Prove that you are an autonomous power. Recognise that a great part of what is happening is because you have not fulfilled your obligations. Be aware that part of this problem is related to the suspension of last year’s consultative referendum.
– Members of the Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela. You vowed to enforce the Constitution and protect the population. You know and suffer this situation. You were not formed to repress the Venezuelan people or to live at war with your brothers and sisters, neighbors and fellow citizens. You are called to think and act strategically. Look beyond individual interests, emotions and reactions to the confrontation. What kind of country do you want for your children and grandchildren? In front of God, your conscience, and the love for your families, ask yourselves: Is it worth what we’re doing?
– Executive power, govern for all of us equally, respect the separation of powers, fight corruption, overcome oil dependence to be an autonomous country, capable of producing food, medicines and services this country deserves and needs. Work hard so that the population can walk safely through the streets and end armed civil groups.
– Attorney General of the Republic, keep being vigilant of the validity of the laws and the Constitution, and sanction whoever violates, breaks or attempts to break constitutionality.
– Members of the opposition, your leadership will be measured by the intelligent movement of the popular mobilizations, overcoming violence in all its demonstrations. You are called to be leaders of the non-violent opposition that can shape the behavior of those who mobilize. The strategy is not violent confrontation. It is about gathering and gaining the support of the largest number of people and social sectors. Be experts in dialogue and negotiation.
Venezuelan society, we need to foster hope, to be firm in our democratic commitment, to positively administer indignation and rage which overcomes the temptation to promote division, hate and revenge.
Let’s act promptly, before anarchy makes us uncontrollable.”
Manuel Aristorena, General Director, Fe y Alegría Venezuela. Caracas, May 20th, 2017