Girls’ and Women’ Right to Education

Girls’ and Women’ Right to Education

  • Posted: Mar 08, 2017 -
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Gender inequality has been present thoughtout history, and it continues to be a major barrier to human development today. Since 1990, girls and women have taken major steps, but they have not yet achieved the expected gender equity. Too often, women and girls are discriminated against in health, education, political representation, labor market, and so on. The Gender Inequality Index (GII) is used to measure gender inequalities in three important aspects of human development:

  • reproductive health, measured by maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rates;
  • empowerment, measured by proportion of parliamentary seats occupied by females and proportion of adult females and males over 25 years of age with at least some secondary education;
  • economic status, measured by labor force participation rate of female and male populations aged over 15 years of age.

Nevertheless, in this post we will focus on the importance of an equal education for both genders, as well as on learning about the differences not only between “Gender parity” and “Gender equality”, but also between “schooling” and “education”.

According to the World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education, participants of the World Conference on Education for All in 1990, and of subsequent international assemblies, embraced an ambitious vision of a world in which “all children would have access to an education that would enable them to realize their highest potential as individuals, parents, citizens and workers”.  In discussing education and gender it is important to distinguish between “gender parity” and “gender equality”. Gender parity intends to achieve equal participation for girls and boys in education, but this does not mean that the education they have access to is one of quality. As we have seen in many occasions, schooling targets alone won´t reach learning objectives. As said by the CGD Policy Paper 104 February 2017, in Uganda, 45 percent of 12 year olds that are in grade 6, were still functionally illiterate.

Furthermore, in Nigeria, approximately 80 percent of people aged between 15 to 24 years of age, who left school after completing five to six years, are unable to read a full sentence. On the other hand , gender equality is understood more broadly, not only as the right to gain access and participate in education, but to achieve benefits from gender-sensitive educational environments and to obtain meaningful education outcomes that ensure that  the benefits of education translate into greater participation in social, economic and political development of their societies.


Many of the educational global statements about global goals have conflated “schooling” and “education” by treating them as synonymous or equating them by definition, so that someone who attended school was by definition, educated. Nonetheless, this statement is false, as in many countries around the world, even though many factors have contributed to the increase in women´s participation in education, statistics proved that this education won’t translate into greater participation in their social, economic and political environment, as many of the students  get out of school without knowing how to read.

It is true that the situation has improved in the recent years; whereas enrolments have been increasing since 1970 for both sexes, girls’ enrolment has been rising faster at both primary and secondary levels. Moreover, today women that enroll in higher levels of the educational system are less likely than men to drop out of school, and they exceed men in grades. Nevertheless, despite the progress achieved in recent years, girls continue to suffer severe disadvantage and exclusion in education systems throughout their lives. An estimated 31 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013. Sub-Saharan Africa has the lowest proportion of countries with gender parity: only two out of 35 countries. South and West Asia has the widest gender gap in its out-of-school population – 80 percent of its out-of-school girls are unlikely to ever start school compared to 16 percent of its out-of-school boys. Furthermore, a better education often does not translate into better employment opportunities. Even though women outperform men in education, they still face significant discrimination in the labor market and end up in jobs where they don’t use any of their skills.

The lack of gender parity and gender equality is an issue all around the world, as almost all countries face gender disparities of some kind, although the challenges vary widely between different regions, and even at different levels within a country. Consequently, we can affirm that gender disparities and inequalities are prevalent within schooling process in both rich and poor countries. For this reason, women empowerment should be a worldwide priority. Girls’ and women’ education is both an intrinsic right and a latter to help them reach other development objectives. Providing girls and women with a quality education helps break the cycle of poverty: educated women are less likely to get married early and against their will; less likely to die in childbirth; more likely to have healthy babies; and are more likely to send their children to school. Therefore, even though education may not be the only input into women´s empowerment, it is a central one.



NEW UNESCO REPORT | Education for people and planet

NEW UNESCO REPORT | Education for people and planet

  • Posted: Feb 16, 2017 -
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Education has a key role to play in moving towards environmentally sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO, displays the importance education has to push the progress needed in order to achieve all global goals outlined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs). It also shows that education needs a major transformation with the intention of meeting the current challenges humanity and the planet are facing. Education has the power of transforming lives and it is at the heart of UNESCO’s mission to build peace, eradicate poverty and drive sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development unites global development goals in one framework. However once again, the fourth global goal on education (SDG4) plays a key role in moving towards environmentally sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The SDG 4 and its 10 targets advance a model where learning, in all its shapes and forms, has the power to influence people’s choices to create more just, peaceful, inclusive and sustainable societies. One of the main characteristics of education is not only that it is a fundamental human right, but an enabling right, as it facilitates other human  rights.

What kind of education is necessary

Education and lifelong learning processes are needed to make production and consumption sustainable. Moreover, these two key elements can support the SDGs with at least two approaches; the first scenario focuses on literacy acquisition and retention or on specific knowledge to generate behavioral change, as it is proved that education can facilitate changes in values, world views and behavior at the level of the individual, the community and society as a whole. The second approach focuses on the idea that education can facilitate reflective or critical learning, knowledge and skills acquisition, and greater agency to address complex sustainability issues.

In order to obtain a cleaner and greener planet; integrative, innovative and creative thinking is required, and according to UNESCO, it should be cultivated jointly by schools, universities, governments, civil society organizations and companies. Furthermore, creating green industries relies on high-skill workers with specific training; therefore, the sooner this training arrives the better and faster we will achieve our goals. Regarding the greening of industries that already exist, continuing training and education for low- and medium-skill workers, often on the job will be required, so that workers can learn how they can change their working techniques towards a sustainable method.

Furthermore, education can help to create a more sustainable food production process. Nowadays agriculture urgently needs to be transformed to meet environmental and global needs, as today agriculture contributes one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions. In order to do so, governments must focus on improving primary and secondary education, as it can give future farmers the foundation skills that will be required as well as critical knowledge about sustainability challenges in agriculture, increase land efficiency management and reduce food waste. Moreover, it is proved that literacy and non-formal education in the form of extension programs can increase farmer productivity.

Another reason that explains why education is a key element when talking about progress and positive changes around the world is because, as said by the latest UNESCO Education Report, education is directly linked with economic growth. The knowledge and skills workers acquire through education and training make them more productive. Nonetheless, education must keep up with the changing face of work and produce more high-skill workers; therefore, a quality education system must be assured.

According to the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report, if only 10% of the EU member states meet by 2020 the targets of decreasing early school-leaving and increase tertiary participation, they could reduce the numbers of those at risk of poverty by 3.7 million. Consequently, we can affirm that education reduces poverty and helps close wage gaps. Furthermore, education helps people find work: In South Africa, less than 45% of those with less than upper secondary education were employed in 2005 compared to roughly 60% who completed upper secondary. Therefore, UNESCO has highlighted that secondary and tertiary education is far more effective than just primary for helping people access decent work and earnings.

In order to create a green and inclusive world, with sustainable models of production and consumption, many elements need to change and improve worldwide; therefore, it is hard to know precisely how the situation in going to vary in the next couple of years. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that education will play a critical role in helping to achieve the 2030 goals and in supporting the transition to a new model of sustainable development.

3 Jesuit organisations analyse and advocate for education cooperation for development funds

3 Jesuit organisations analyse and advocate for education cooperation for development funds

  • Posted: Feb 08, 2017 -
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2016 has meant the beginning of a new period in the international development agenda. The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals draws up a route to determine the cooperation policies for the next 15 years. Therefore, we are in a crucial period where the national ODA policies must be adjusted to the new international agenda and aware of new objectives that also mean engagement for our country – even those that referred to education. In order to advocate for the right funding to be allocated to assist the International Cooperation for education, three Jesuit organisations, two NGOs and a Studies Fundation, have examined the Spanish Official Development Assistance for over thirteen years now.

The report, La Ayuda en Educación a Examen”, (Aid on Education to Test) checks what has been done in Spain in terms of international cooperation, especially of educational cooperation in the last 15 years, and also calls for place the education in the centre of all the national and international policies, because  the official development assistance in Spain has plummet down so dramatically to small percentages seen 30 years ago. According to Ana Hernández, researcher in ETEA Foundation for Development and Cooperation, “between 2008 and 2015 the Spanish net aid suffered a decline of more than 65%, dropping from EUR 4 762 million to EUR 1 627 million. These numbers means only the 0,13% of the Gross National Income (GNI), what places the Spanish cooperation very far of the rest of donor countries and the proposed target of 0,7%, endorsed by Spain in various agreements and international commitments. In other words, Spain has falling from the peak of the 6th position among the most supplier countries to the 22nd position”.

The reductions aforesaid, has seriously affected the Spanish cooperation in the education sector, which has been reduced to more than 90% in the same period. In 2008, the Spanish assistance to education amounted 5,6% for the countries of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), and it was the equivalent to only the 0,6% in 2014. The situation of the commitment with the basic education is similar. The funds set aside for the basic education has been reduced between 2008 and 2011 in an 81% continue decreasing the following years. In 2015 the assistance meant less than EUR 5 million, what represented only 0,7% of the bilateral aid, instead of the aid committed of 8% for the Spanish Official Development Assistance . Taking a stand for basic education is not still a priority, neither in the international agenda. According to the UNESCO, the financing gap in terms of education at international scale is estimated at USD 22 million for a quality basic education in 2030, and it would raise to USD 39 000 million if the globalization of the secondary education is required, according to the SDG number 4.

In this context, and according to Ramón Almansa, chief executive of Entreculturas (Jesuit Spanish NGO), “education cannot be confined to a specific objective, but is the way that we have to follow for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals”. Education is an incomparable agent of social changes, it allows the achievement of other rights, and it facilitates the poverty reduction, the social inclusion or the improvement of professional opportunities, among other benefits. María del Mar Magallón, director of ALBOAN (Jesuit NGO) and moderator in the presentation of the report, also affirms “we won’t achieve the Sustainable Development Goals without the fulfillment of other educative objectives”. Development and Educational Cooperation are an inseparable binomial, as it is resumed in the video attached to the report (in Spanish).

In the same way, Ramón Almansa (Spanish NGO- Entreculturas) pointed out that “we won’t change the world if we don’t understand the education as the motor of change, of social transformation or as the instrument to construct values and abilities and as a key element to strengthen more equal, peaceful and democratic societies”. Besides, he also suggested some of the recommendations collected in the document “10 conclusiones y 20 recomendaciones para la cooperación española en educación” with the purpose of making some proposals for the construction of a more solid, coherent and effective Spanish cooperation policy. “We consider necessary the promotion of a speech supporting the main role played by the education, through the decisions-makers, in the development agenda and fulfill the economic commitments and the guidelines laid down in Education for All Iniative and the Framework of Action of the World Education Forum.”


“Recovering the investment of the Spanish Cooperation is indispensible, by prioritizing the aid to education as a key sector and also by increasing the funds for the basic education to the 8% of the Official Development Assistance. In the same way, it is necessary to promote a wide concept of educational quality linked to equality, inclusion and participation of the different agents, as well as a proper system of indicators. The Spanish Cooperation must detect and assist the most vulnerable populations and the homogeneity of countries and realities.”

Javier Gavilanes, head of the Sectorial Cooperation Department of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID in Spanish), has participated in this event. The SAIDC faced the challenges of the cooperation in terms of education based on three main lines: the promotion of a quality education, the assistance to the most vulnerable and affected people by difficult and particular circumstances and the encouragement of alliances with other actors for the achievement of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal.

U.S. Takes Steps to Prioritize Global Education

U.S. Takes Steps to Prioritize Global Education

  • Posted: Feb 01, 2017 -
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By: Giulia McPherson, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

While the world watches as a new Congress and Administration assume power in the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives recently took an important step forward in prioritizing global access to education.

The Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development Act, or READ Act, formerly known as the Education for All Act, came close to passage in 2016. Yet, lawmakers ran out of time and the bill did not become law under the Obama Administration. With the start of a new Congress, champions for global education quickly reintroduced the bill on January 23 and the House of Representatives passed it the following day.

The READ Act was developed to help address the need for access to education for the globally displaced by ensuring that the U.S. has a comprehensive, integrated strategy that improves global educational opportunities for vulnerable children, including those affected by conflict and other emergencies; and facilitates improved coordination within the U.S. government via a Senior Coordinator of U.S. International Basic Education Assistance.

Of the six million primary and secondary school-age refugees under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 3.7 million are not in school. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, as the obstacles to full access to education are considerable. Yet, during emergencies and in protracted crises, schools are essential for healing and health and provide opportunity and hope for the future.

I was recently in Chad, home to more than 300,000 refugees from the Darfur region of Sudan who fled war and violence over a decade ago. With no hope in sight of return to Darfur as the region remains unstable, education is one of the only long-term solutions for refugees unsure of their futures.

In the midst of a global refugee crisis and funding stretched thin, I saw students eager to learn even without buildings, desks or books. Teachers are doing their best, with meager resources, to ensure that the next generation at least have access to education, but quality is not guaranteed. Jesuit Refugee Service is working to address this challenge by educating nearly 33,000 refugee students through preschool and primary schools in eight camps, and secondary schools in five camps.


Over the past year, JRS/USA has mobilized thousands of people across the U.S. to express their support for refugee education and continued U.S. engagement in ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to a quality education. With passage in the House of Representatives, we now look forward passage in the Senate and working with Congress and the Administration to fully realize the benefits of the READ Act, which will move us one step closer to ensuring that no one is denied the right to an education.


Giulia McPherson is the Director of Advocacy & Operations at Jesuit Refugee Service/USA, based in Washington, DC. She can be reached at or @GiuliaMcPherson.


Actions of the CPAL’s Education Sector towards “Right to education, Right to Hope” Campaign in 2017

Actions of the CPAL’s Education Sector towards “Right to education, Right to Hope” Campaign in 2017

  • Posted: Jan 27, 2017 -
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Ensuring the right to a quality education is a prior issue for the education sector in the Conference of Jesuits Provincials in Latin America (CPAL) and in the common work agenda of the belonging networks. Due to some aspects such as the impact of education in poverty reduction and income and gender inequalities, as well as the promotion of social justice and care of the planet, for example, the aforesaid right has become the main challenge for the Latin America educational apostolate.

In April 2016, the CPAL’s Delegate of Education joined to the International Federation of Fe y Alegría Coordinator, presidents of the Latin America Federation of Jesuits schools (FLACSI) and the Association of Universities Entrusted to the Society of Jesus in Latin America (AUSJAL), agreed to create a Networking Group (GT).

The aim of this group is to improve the coordination among the different areas of the sector and with this, to promote shared activities oriented to make an impact in the wide educational community of the continent. Among the fields where the actions should be implemented in, the right to a quality education is the main priority.

In this context, GT proposed to face this challenge by contributing jointly in the “Right to Education, Right to Hope” campaign, promoted by the Global Ignatian Advocacy Network (GIAN). Accordingly, the enhancement of this initiative in Latin America will contribute to the globalization of the actions that support the right to a quality education for everyone.

In order to make it possible, the CPAL’s education sector as a whole, with the support of the coordinators of the campaign, will develop a set of actions that stimulate awareness, discussion and knowledge production throughout 2017, with a view to spreading the call for taking concrete measures to ensure this right. Last September, the initiative that gathered all these actions was officially endorsed by the managers of the CPAL’s education sector and its implementation is being defined right now.

The planned activities will be published in all the different means available of the sector, expecting to have a wide participation towards the contribution in this central issue for the welfare of Latin America and the whole world.

About the authors: Education Sector Team Work of the Conference of Jesuits Provincials in Latin America (CPAL) composed by: Susana Ditrolio – Exectuve Secretary, AUSJAL, Felipe Crudele – Project Director, AUSJAL, Martha Liliana Nieto – Project Officer, Fe y Alegría, Maritza Barrios – Education Sector, CPAL, Juan Felipe Carrillo – Executive Secretary, FLACSI. 


JRS USA advocates to ensure refugeed children education

JRS USA advocates to ensure refugeed children education

  • Posted: Jan 19, 2017 -
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Pending for update
(Washington, D.C.) December 5, 2016 — With only days to go before Congress concludes its current session, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on the Education for All Act (H.R.4481) on Tuesday, December 6. Approved by the House of Representatives in July, this is one of the final steps needed before this legislation can be signed into law. Please contact your Senator today!
Of the six million primary and secondary school-age refugees under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 3.7 million have no school to go to. Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non-refugee children, as the obstacles to full access to education are considerable. Yet, amid destruction, violence, and instability, school is a place of learning and opportunity, a sanctuary for healing and health, and provides a sense of normalcy and hope for the future.

The Education for All Act will ensure that the U.S. government effectively contributes to realizing quality education for children around the world, including those caught in conflict and crisis. This bipartisan legislation will reinforce the work of organizations like Jesuit Refugee Service by helping to ensure that individuals affected by conflict and other emergencies are not denied the opportunity to heal, learn and thrive.

International Children’s Rights day

International Children’s Rights day

  • Posted: Nov 16, 2016 -
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The United Nations General Assembly gathered, on November 20th 1952, with the objective of reaffirming children’s universal rights, rights that would be later adopted on the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959. Among its articles we could highlight number 7, in which it is stated that “The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory, at least in the elementary stages.”.

However, according to the latest data published by UNESCO, this is far from reality, as there are 61 million children of primary school age (between six and eleven years old) that are not enrolled in any educational program. This is equivalent to one out of eleven children around the world. This worldwide total number has not varied during the past five years; therefore, once again we can assert that education is still one of the matters where governments should focus their efforts.

Even though not every country celebrates the International Children’s Right day during the same date, this celebration has become an essential day for numerous countries around the world. Every year on November 20th the progresses achieved in this field is cherished, but above all, it is a day that works as an attention grabber in order to draw attention towards the situation of the most disadvantaged children worldwide, raise awareness about the children’s rights, and educate people about the importance of working everyday on the children’s wellbeing and development.

According to the Director-General, Irina Bokova, world leaders have promised to provide every child with a primary and secondary education by 2030. Nonetheless, the latest data from the UNESCO report shows the difficulty we are going to face if we are to really reach this goal. Moreover, she added that the main focus today should be on inclusion from the earliest age, try to overcome every obstacle that develops/shows up in their countries and pay special attention to girls, as they are still the ones who face the greatest disadvantage in many countries.

It is true that gender disparities in education participation have decreased significantly since 2000 and that the world shows a rapid convergence towards parity at the global level. Nevertheless, in 2014, among children of primary school age, about 1 out of 10 girls and 1 out of 12 boys were out of school. As stated by the latest UNESCO report regarding children not enrolled in any educational program, 15 million girls of primary-school age will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school, compared to about 10 million boys who are in the same situation.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the largest gender disparities; here, girls represent 54% of all out-of-school children and 53% of all out-of-school adolescents.

Another alarming fact published by this report shows that, worldwide, 41% of all out-of-school children (about 25 million children) have never attended school and will probably never go if current trends continue as we know them today. While the United Nations member States and donors work on widening the access to the higher education levels, they cannot set aside the millions of children who will never have the chance to go to a school.

In order to approach and try to understand the whole of these numbers and the situation of inequality that in the right to education is registered all over the world as well as the responsibility and the tasks in which each of us have in its enforceability, the materials of the campaign “Right to education, right to hope”  are available here and in four languages.

Recommendations to Advocate for the Right to Education: GIAN’s Declaration

Recommendations to Advocate for the Right to Education: GIAN’s Declaration

  • Posted: Nov 15, 2016 -
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The 36th General Congregation concluded last Saturday and, although we still don’t know the exact contents of the decrees, we are certain that the delegates have made decisions that will concern the modus operandi of all the people who work nowadays on Jesuit works in order to offer a quality education for millions of people.

How do the educative centers beyond the Society of Jesus  reach work? Nowadays 758 million of adults don’t know either to write or to read and 263 children and teenagers don’t go to school. The Final Document of the GIAN network’s meeting on the right of education – which took place last October at Madrid – reports this violation of the right to education that occurs in most countries.

The aim of this Document from the network is to draw attention to our commitment duty to a quality education for everyone, which means “we must allocate more and better resources for the most marginalized, including the extreme poor, women and girls, the displaced, indigenous communities and those with special needs”, among other things.

Furthermore it reminds us that education is a public good and that the Society of Jesus assumes a joint responsibility from its educational practice with different countries and multilateral bodies when it comes to turn this right into reality. According to the document “the Society of Jesus manages a public good from our educational networks (through both formal and non-formal programs) and plays a critical role in ensuring this right.”

The Document concludes with a list of recommendations for action addressed to the new Governance Body of the Society, to the Provincials and the Jesuit Conferences and to the Jesuit Institutions overall.

The Document is available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish clicking here.

Strenghten GIAN Right to Education core group meet in Madrid

Strenghten GIAN Right to Education core group meet in Madrid

  • Posted: Oct 27, 2016 -
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The Core Group of GIAN (Global Ignatian Advocacy Network) for the Right to Education comprised of representatives from different Conferences (CPAL, Europe, JESAM, South Asia, and Canada/USA) and international organisations (Fe y Alegría and JRS) working within the schools, universities and social organisations of the Society of Jesus met from 10 to 13 October 2016 in Madrid (Spain).

Throughout four days of work, the group reflected on the current state of global education and discussed how to encourage a more concrete commitment among Jesuit institutions to support the right to a quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all.

For this purpose, one of the first tasks were to update the positioning document on the right to education that was developed by a group of Jesuit organizations collectively committed with the education in 2008.

One of the aims of this network is to raise awareness at the inner Society about this essential right. Accordingly, some impact data, additional challenges, and the latest communicative outcomes were shared from the coordinating team. One of these outcomes was the video which was launched on June, 2016 as a tool to communicate the “Right of Education, Right to Hope Campaign”.

The Network is based on the urgent need of the access to the education of quality and in the priority of the Company to positively contribute to the greatest good. Due to this reason, it seems to be important to gradually increase the need of enhancing the group networking in support of the justice. In accordance, we could appreciate this issue in the international meeting, with Networking for Justice gathering, which took place in Loyola and where the global Jesuit networks that dedicate to the social apostleship got together.

In this sense, one of the major announcements has been the incorporation of new members to the core group coming from the United States and Latin America. As a result, the core group is actually formed by: Giulia McPherson (JRS USA), Jorge Cardoso (Europe – Social), Ricardo Angulo (JECSE – Europe), Luis Ugalde SJ (CPAL), Mª Eugenia Ocampo (CPAL-AUSJAL); William Muller SJ (USA- Canada Jesuit Schools Network), John Chathanatt SJ (South Asia), Augustin Kalubi SJ (JESAM) Carlos Fritzen SJ y Lucía Rodriguez (Fe y Alegría).

With this global perspective and in a participatory approach, we came up with the idea of how to work together in a network for the subsequent years. As a result, the first lines of action and planification of work were elaborated. In order to carry out this task, we completed a final document with the conclusions and requests which will be sent to the new Superior General, Arturo Sosa SJ and to his government group. The network addresses him with the hope of contribute to what it seems to be impossible in the current days, where there are 263 millions of children who are receiving no schooling education. More than half of this children are located in the South of Asia and Sub Saharan Africa and 61,9 millions of this children live in countries involved in conflict.

Educating for peace, the challenge Colombia must take on

Educating for peace, the challenge Colombia must take on

  • Posted: Sep 21, 2016 -
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The president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, announced on August 25 the definitive ceasefire with FARC after delivering the peace agreement to Congress and request the convening of the plebiscite to endorse the agreements on October 2nd. In this climate of optimism we want to rescue the reflection of Oscar Sanchez, National Coordinator of EDUCAPAZ, National Program of Education for Peace, which focuses on rural education and citizenship education and former Secretary of Education of Bogotá on the role, importance and the challenges of education in these new times.

“Although it is not too difficult to understand that the lack of opportunities for young people is the basis of the reproduction of violence, the” factory of warriors “is wide open. More than 400,000 guerrillas, paramilitaries and above all professional soldiers, have swelled a contingent of boys (and girls lesser extent) as cannon fodder that have waged war for the past 50 years. Their profile is very accurate and well studied: from 11 or 12 years, these peasant children defected from a rural school system with little access and less sense, and almost without exception have suffered abuse in their families. Looking for a job opportunity as children, and be enlisted fighters becomes their life project.

From the rank and file fighters State and illegal armed groups, virtually none finished secondary education and very few went from elementary school. In Colombia overall coverage of secondary education is not particularly high. But these warriors come exactly in the geographical areas where  it is. … ..Allá Teachers do not get to take their places, or when they arrive is mostly unprepared boys without vocation. Right there transport and school meals are almost nonexistent. Pedagogy is very precarious, and models that the Ministry of Education offers little consult the reality, especially from the sixth grade. Schools have no water or energy. The system of protection for children is very precarious, and psychosocial counseling does not exist in schools or in community social promotion. Nor is there greater opportunities or social and labor, sports or cultural background. What most it reaches these areas is public forces (police and army) force illegal armed groups with a political idea (guerrillas and paramilitaries), or force of criminal groups who need young people for their businesses drug trafficking, smuggling or illegal extraction natural resources.

And meanwhile, the urban country continues to focus social policies, including education and child protection policies. Although only some cities reduce the risks of some of the boys end up in a youth gang in which the same fate of rural warriors. …… A highly segregated urban education makes specific groups of very violent schools in marginal areas are the most reproof, desertion and violence occur. In addition schools are under siege by gangs that feed the drug lords.

It is a pity that Colombia has not so far taken seriously initial postulate of the letter of Unesco, which states that since wars begin in the minds of men, is there must be constructed bastions of peace.

The hope is in organized communities, where social grassroots leaders, teachers and restless young people show every day a firm commitment to change reality. These beings are not the majority, but if they are many and they are wonderful. …… Across the country, in the hands of those leaders, to do social-emotional, civic education and for reconciliation. And in the most remote rural areas, a model of strengthening schools with community participation and a pedagogy that respects the context and trust the children and their teachers and teachers.

If that priority was clear, they would be investing some two million additional pesos ($ 700) a year for each of those boys in rural areas of the 150 municipalities most affected by the armed conflict. And if it were clear, while we have understood that knowledge and character formation are the most effective means for institutional stability and economic performance, but above all, are the only possible way to give freedom to people and make us we value each other. And we have understood the prohibitive for everyone to maintain a society where good education is a privilege cost.

A couple of years ago a group of organizations, on which Fe y Alegría Colombia is part, decided to take the road together for the outstanding work described here a reality. Then it created the National Program of Education for Peace -EDUCAPAZ-, which focuses on rural education and citizenship education, and which have begun to partner with some communities and schools to make a demonstrative work and define a strategy impact on education policies in the country and its territories. ”


Oscar Sanchez has worked more than 25 years in social-emotional, civic and political education and improve educational institutions and systems. He currently coordinates the National Program of Education for Peace in Colombia -Educapaz-. He was Secretary of Education of Bogotá between 2012 and 2015. Coordinated the Democratic Governance UNDP in his country. He has been an activist, teacher, official, advisor, social entrepreneur and columnist.

This article was extracted from the International Federation Fe y Alegría Newsletter – July, 2016. You can read the whole article here (in Spanish).

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