Voices

“Our most important commitment is with the education system strenghtening”

“Our most important commitment is with the education system strenghtening”

  • Posted: Oct 04, 2017 -
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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.

Expedita, 87 years old: “Studying gives me life”

Expedita, 87 years old: “Studying gives me life”

  • Posted: Jul 20, 2016 -
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Expedita, as the relatives call her, whose name is Gregoria Garcia Castellano is 87 years old and she is studying popular culture in Radio ECCA. She lives in a Moya neighbourhood, Fontanales (Canary Islands, Spain), in the suburbs, where the car does not get there. Her daughter Ana and her granddaughter Noelia, who have been Radio ECCA students before, encouraged her to enrol. Expedita said she couldn’t, but her granddaughter knew that studying would make her feel active again and she could, of course she could.
After two years, she is between the 3rd and 4th year and this year she will study 5th of primary she says that she feels good,

“I feel more courageous. After all I thank my granddaughter”.

Expedita is still doing home tasks, but as she ends, she begins to study. She tells that she is studying at the kitchen table and after dinner, she reviews the exercises. She dedicates her free time to study in Radio ECCA.

“I’m entertained and it gives me a lot of encouragement. I like everything”, she confesses.

When she doesn’t know how to do something, her granddaughter, who is studying a more advanced course, explains her. Her tutor, Isabel, said she is an example of will and enthusiasm. She is an example for the youth. Mathematics is the harder for her. She says that the Roman numerals are very difficult; she knew them before from the church but she hadn’t worked them and now she says, now “I know what they are”.

The right to education begins at birth and continues throughout the whole life; therefore, the learning concept throughout the whole life guides to Education 2030. To complement and supplement the formal schooling, must be offered extensive and flexible educational opportunities throughout the whole life through non-formal ways, with appropriate resources and mechanisms and through the stimulation of informal learning, including through the use of ICT (Unesco Framework for Action 2030). There is no age to study. “It gives me life”, says Expedita.

Jaime: the quality of education for Colombia

Jaime: the quality of education for Colombia

  • Posted: Jul 08, 2016 -
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Jaime Benjumea, pedagogical subdirector from Bogotá- Tolima and pedagogical coordinator from concesioned schools to Fe y Alegría Colombia shares with us what quality education implies: learnings for life, fair and dignifying salaries to teachers and curriculum student self centered in their interests.

 

Nothing to celebrate: World Refugee Day 2016 and 65.3 million people on the move

Nothing to celebrate: World Refugee Day 2016 and 65.3 million people on the move

  • Posted: Jun 20, 2016 -
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Today is the World Refugee Day and there is little to celebrate. Numbers tell us the situation is getting worse and worse, as the UNHCR’s latest report released today, found a total 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier,  going record from the highest numbers we have had since Second World War.

Education means protection and quality education promotes opportunities so the people living in conflict areas don’t find as if their lives have stopped. This is why today, we want to insist on the right to education for every refugee person, whatever their age or legal situation may be.

The first step towards universalization of the right to education is becoming aware of the situation and then act to it. Edujesuit.org launches the “Right to education, right to hope” campaign, with which it aims to contribute to build collective awareness on our responsability to defend and enforce this right for everyone.

Eric Goeh-Akue is the Regional Director of the JRS Western Africa and is leaving us a message to support the campaign:

“Education is a right of all children, as you know very well. But when a child becomes a refugee or a displaced person with his family. It looks like his life has stopped completely. It looks like he doesn’t have the right to be educated, but it’s not true. We can stillprovide him access to education, to our program, education in emergencies, we do that. So help us do that. By doing that, you contribute to his growth, the growth of his community. And you transform this world into a safer place for him, for his community and for all of us. Thanks very much”

Today, June 20th JRS invites us to open our minds and hearts to hospitality that 65 million people need. They leave their homes behind to reach peace, a dignified life and greater opportunites and education opens doors to it.

Merci, refugeed girl from DRC finds asylum in education

Merci, refugeed girl from DRC finds asylum in education

  • Posted: Mar 18, 2016 -
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Merci was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to Rwandan parents who fled their country during the genocide. Together with her two brothers, her family returned to Rwanda in 1996 and lived there for 13 years until conflict again forced them to flee, this time to Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi.

Through hard work and determination, Merci was able to complete her secondary school education and earn a certificate in computer science through Jesuit Refugee Service programs at Dzaleka Refugee Camp. She was one of 29 students accepted into the Diploma program of Jesuit Commons: Higher Education at the Margins (JC:HEM) at the camp. This unique program provides education to under-served populations through a combination of distance and onsite learning. Merci committed herself to full-time study while engaging in a number of selfless endeavors: she founded a women’s club to empower women in the camp and promote their access to educational opportunities; in her second year she served as the only female peer academic tutor. She applied to and was accepted by the WUSC SRP program that offers resettlement and an academic scholarship in Canada. In order to give herself a leg up from the competition, she studied and learned French so she could submit her application in both English and French.

Merci was resettled to Canada in September, 2015 with a scholarship at the French-language Laval University in Quebec City. She is currently balancing her new life as a Canadian resident and economics student, with the piece of her life – her family – that remains in Malawi.

Original article published in Voices of Faith.

“Let’s start with education and they will find their future”

“Let’s start with education and they will find their future”

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2016 -
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“Let’s start with education and they will find their future” that is how Fe y Alegría was born. It means to give education to the poorest sectors where the pavement ends, where the city loses its name. There with the poorest, to give them a future through education, a dignified future for them that turns into a dignified future for the country.

Asier Bengoa: Vocational training to tackle the current work field

Asier Bengoa: Vocational training to tackle the current work field

  • Posted: Feb 23, 2016 -
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“Education and work are two fundamental rights of every person, and not only fundamental rights, they are also inherent needs of every human being which might be also the case of spirituality. It has been our lot to live in a world of change. With these changes we have moved from an industrial era in which people and labour force were important to a time of automatization, geographic dispersion, the internet… These changes force us to transform ourselves as an organization of the Society of Jesus. In this sense, the network of centers that work with more popular and low income sectors like Fe y Alegría, SJR, ECCA in Spain, Cristo Rey in the United States, the Society of Jesus and its social sector in Mexico we are working together to answer to this reality. Answers that are in favour of the transformation of our own proposals towards general work competencies, in other words, we are moving away from the technical part and the more procedural skills towards another type of organizational, intellectual… skills that allows human beings to adapt to the changes and respond to the modern world of work.”

International Federation Fe y Alegría Coordinator of the Vocational Training Dept, Asier Bengoa, shares some reflections with us on the current work context, the challenges that we are facing and how Fe y Alegría responds to this reality tackling the right to education with the right to work.

Someday I want to become an engineer so I can build roads to schools

Someday I want to become an engineer so I can build roads to schools

  • Posted: Dec 10, 2015 -
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Malith used to live at the Jesuit Refugee Service Amani Centre, a secure place for young boys with protection concerns in Kakuma refugee camp. He has now been resettled to the United States of America.

“I came to Kakuma refugee camp in 2010, and I’m now in my first year of secondary school. Here in Kakuma, the services keep us alive, yet barely surviving. Camp life isn’t a good life, especially for those people who’ve been here for more than 20 years.

 

I live at the Jesuit Refugee Service Amani Centre, a protection centre for unaccompanied minors. We must stay here because we’ve all faced dangers in the camp, and we struggle to study or even survive without parents to take care of us. Since moving to this centre, my performance in school has improved because they take care of my basic needs.

 

Someday, I want to become an engineer so I can build roads that will help children reach school. If Africa can build a good network of roads, then anything is possible. Africans will be able to trade within the continent and poverty will decrease.

 

We won’t need to depend on others. For now, I am happy living here and I feel at peace. Here, we don’t have to suffer. I’ve met guys from different countries and realised we can be strong together.

Luckily, I was chosen to be sent to the United States with my 16-year-old brother. When I reach there, I will then decide where my life is going. I’ll finally have the chance to become independent and self-reliant. Being taken away from Kakuma is a gift from God, but I’ll always remember this place, and I’ll come back to help when I have the chance.”

Voice originally extracted from The Jesuit Refugee Service web.-

 

Accessing to education makes a great difference for youngsters

Accessing to education makes a great difference for youngsters

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2015 -
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I am Alba, coming from +18 group in Murcia delegation (Spain). I bring with me the knowledge of different cultures from Latinamerica and Central America but also with mind opening. I have seen or thought about concepts that I had in mind from a very differetn perspective; I beilieve education is very important because it will encourage and possiblitate you to make decisions, which are fundamental in your every day life. From the moment you wake up till you go to bed you are making decsions so it is essential that we demand and fight for quality education. As youngsters, we must mobilize to get quality education for all, because union makes the strenght and if we all youngsters want quality education, at last, we will make it for all.
Alba Campos, 45th Fe y Alegría International Conference participant

 

The experience of this Conference has helped me empathise with other realities, different countries; it has helped me to not stay still facing though realitiesand it has given me strenght to keep fighting and supporting from here, from Spain, to try to demand a solution for the problems we face, we have. Without education, a person is very limited; they have many barriers, and accessing to education a person can be free, can have critical thinking, and can act towards this world. I believe that youngsters must articulate and find achievable proposals for future generations to overcome the barriers we have faced due to our education.
Carlos, 45th Fe y Alegría International Conference participant
Volunteering in Bendum: inclusive education in the uplands

Volunteering in Bendum: inclusive education in the uplands

  • Posted: Oct 19, 2015 -
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This is an interview published on September, 30 by ecojesuit the communication tool of the GIAN for ecology of the Society of Jesus.

Lucía Cervilla is a young visitor from Spain who spent four weeks as a volunteer last summer in Bendum, Bukidnon in northern Mindanao, Philippines. During her visit, Lucía took part and contributed to some of the elementary and high school activities at the Apu Palamguwan Cultural Education Center (APC)  that operates an upland school for the indigenous Pulangiyen community and other youth in the area. The main campus is in Bendum that offers Kinder to Grade 7 classes, while four other extension schools offering Kinder to Grade 3 classes are located in other mountain villages.

Lucía spent her time in Bendum supporting capacity development by assisting in the documentation of the youth activities as they regenerate the surrounding forest areas and contributing to several training programs for the indigenous youth that focused on environmental sustainability and protection.

In an interview with Paula Sendín from Ecojesuit upon her return to Brussels, Belgium where Lucía lives and works, she shares her thoughts and reflections of her brief engagement with the students, teachers, and staff at the APC school.

Paula: What contribution can a volunteer coming from the “North” share with a culture-based school in northern Mindanao?

Lucía: I think it depends on the volunteer’s previous experience and background. It is advisable that the local partner offers work that closely matches and can be adapted to the volunteer’s profile while the volunteer should have the flexibility to adapt to local conditions. In my case, my previous experiences of international cooperation work helped a lot in the adjustments I needed to make while in Bendum.

I am not very much in favour of the “North-South” division, but I understand the question. Perhaps we can contribute theoretical knowledge and academic inputs and specific expertise, bearing in mind that in many places, young people cannot attend university or have limited access to technical resources.

Paula: What are the experiences or activities that help to understand the North-South inter-dependence?

Lucía: Due to my previous experiences in international volunteering, I have experienced this “inter-dependence” but in an isolated community such as Bendum, inter-dependence is lived daily. Technical knowledge provided by professionals and practitioners connect with local knowledge and enhance local environmental management.

Paula: How can you describe the learning method of the APC school?

Lucía: APC offers an education for the Pulangiyen community based on indigenous culture and draws from the relations with the land and resources in their ancestral domain (gaup, pronounced ga-oop). It is an education focused on sustainable development and the protection of nature, two crucial concerns for the survival of the community. Their culture and nature have always been in complete harmony, and this is something they want to sustain through the education of their children in a framework that promotes cultural integrity, equity, peace, and sustainability.

Paula: Girls living in remote rural areas, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples are often excluded from education. How can the education in APC be described as an integral education?

Lucía: The APC school’s approach responds to the local educational needs of indigenous youth and integrates with the community activities and concerns. There are many children enrolled in the APC school who come from neighboring villages where the nearest school can take a day and a half of walking through challenging terrain, crossing rivers, and walking through forest areas.

As a response, APC has the dalepaan (pronounced da-lu-pa-an) which is physically a dormitory building where other teachers and staff also stay and serve as older brothers and sisters who supervise and care for the children. In the dalepaan, children learn life skills such as food preparation, food distribution and management, household management, working with production from the land, group skills, vegetable gardening, learning relationships and respect for elder brothers and sisters, how to present their concerns, regular study sessions, formative sessions, and others. The dalepaan is a social and cultural institution that teaches them how to relate with the outside; another classroom that offers a whole learning.

Most families live off from the land and agricultural production, so those parents who cannot pay the minimal tuition fees by cash are asked to contribute monthly whatever farm produce they cultivate such as bananas or sweet potatoes that contribute to the food that is consumed.

Paula: We are in the European Year for Development, what would you say is the essential factor for development in Bendum?

Lucía: The special attraction of Bendum is its over-all the promotion of local growth that is in harmony with nature and the environment. This strengthens the education provided to the youth that is based on local culture and which ensures an inclusive education system.

Click here to read the post on ecojesuit.org

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