♣ Intercultural Education Model

"♣": Estrategias específicas empleadas por los estudios de caso para incrementar su nivel de auto-sustentabilidad.Pueden estar en inglés o español. Por favor usa el traductor del menú lateral 

"♣": Specific strategies used by the case studies to increase their degree of self-sustainability.They might be in English or in Spanish. Please use the side menu translator
  • UNESCO Global Geoparks seek to promote the global agenda for sustainable development by:
    • promoting education on the value of biological and cultural diversity by serving as outdoor spaces for the study of nature and the mapping of climate’s activity and change
  • An additional but crucial resource for increasing local ownership seems to be the delivery of pertinent and relevant education to the beneficiaries. As a fertile capability that enhances other capabilities, education can change the informational basis that affects development praxis and enhance local capacity if it is delivered through schemes that, like the Intercultural Education Model, concurrently responds to the interests and needs of the different present and future social systems involved — of the individual, of his community, of his country, of the planet, of its environment, etc.— and recognizes their diverse contributions to knowledge. These models render immediate effects in the community’s life and, as a result, in its involvement in the learning process.  By having education as an important component of broader development models, initiatives can further promote developmental sustainability in the sense of: enhancing educational participation across generations (we know that educated mothers tend to seek ways of educating their children) and, building local capacity to support other development programs.
  • This success has been attributed to the program’s ability to adapt to the particular socio-economic and cultural contexts of the children and their families, which it does by following four main strategies. First, the class schedule will accommodate and change according to the children’s needs — schools operate at night and attendance is flexible. Second, the program integrates the schools within a network of other development programs operated by the organization, that address the diverse necessities of the children and their families, enhancing their capacity to attend school — health services, drinking water, etc. Third, the program has decentralized the decision-making process (it has created Village Education Committees and a Children’s Parliament!), giving schools the ability to keep relevant and effective for the communities — by taking advantage of their inputs. Fourth, the night schools adopt an intercultural education modality that values not only the mainstream curricula but also local knowledge, resources and skills. These has also helped to make education relevant for children and their families, rather than a curriculum that, by focusing only in the former, would encourage migration to the cities (and, possibly, a life in an urban slum).
    • three main principles tend to inform international education dialogue and policy around the world today: access (the latest figures indicate that 57 million children are still out of school [UNESCO, 2014a]); equity (dramatic inequities related to socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity, language, geographic location, and disability still permeate most education systems); and quality (although many more children than was the case in 2000 are now in school, questions about the quality of their learning persist). In this context, India enacted in 2009 the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) to ensure that all children have access to education that is free, compulsory, and of high quality.
    • increasing the number and quality of schooling opportunities. But it was only with the enactment of the RTE that this mandate became legally binding
    • The central government has acknowledged the need for implementing differentiated policies to reach children with particularly complicated contexts; and one of its main goals is to bridge gender and social category gaps. To achieve this, budgets have been allocated for both general and targeted interventions. Among them, school infrastructure is being developed in special focus districts; teaching and learning materials, scholarships, midday meals, and other incentives have been provided; and special training programs have been launched. These interventions, including the National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Level, are based on the premise that flexibility is needed to better address the particular conditions of these children (x). However, their approach is mainly transitional, and ultimately intends to mainstream children into the far less flexible public education system without really addressing, through any form of holistic intervention, the context that put these children in their difficult situations in the first place.

    The[This/the initiative] has also worked with the local government in pilot projects to adapt the program’s model into the mainstream education system to help it attract dropouts and out-of-school children (Siksha Karmi schools), but these efforts were largely disrupted because of tensions with official teachers who feared they might be replaced by local personnel.

    Integrating the schools within a network of development programs

    Besides receiving education, the program’s students benefit from health services, communication resources, toys, and learning materials provided by other development programs operated by the organization. This includes solar-powered lamps that allow the operation of the schools at night in areas in which there is frequently no electricity grid. Another aspect of the integrated development program sees to the building of rainwater harvesting tanks adjacent to each Night School, which helps to ensure that families in semi-desert areas will still be provided with water by their children, even if they attend school during the hours they would otherwise spend collecting it from wells. The fact that the Night Schools are embedded in a mutually supportive network of initiatives grounded in the[This/the initiative] facilitates attention to the children’s and their families’ diverse and specific needs.

    This comprehensive model also allows for the sharing of funds among different projects to support one another, and for the shared provision of materials, personnel, training, and infrastructure across the different projects. Some examples of the benefits of this integration are the Field Research Centres’ and Associate Partner Organizations’ roles as meeting points for a Children’s Parliament (a key project in this comprehensive model, which will be shortly introduced), and the fact that many Night Schools’ alumni are incorporated into the[This/the initiative]’s development projects. Alumni work as, for example, solar engineers, coordinators of craft workshops or of the local early childhood education centres, cooks for the[This/the initiative] community, or as cultural workers in the community. Others extend the benefits of the program into the mainstream education system at the Siksha Karmi and Siksha Niketa schools. Further examples of this integration among projects lie in the training offered to teachers by the[This/the initiative]’s Health Centre to identify common health issues in their students, and in the vocational training that the children receive.

    • Offering an intercultural education modality
    • age is not a barrier
    • The program also takes children on day visits to their communities’ local institutions (post offices, banks, police stations, and land records offices) so they learn how they work. Sometimes they organize short trips to nearby cities, but relatively infrequently, not least because the schools operate at night. To complement the curriculum, the program also provides some vocational training. In the words of the organization: “The[This/the initiative] believes that ‘literacy’ is what one acquires in school, but ‘education’ is what one gains from family, traditions, culture, environment, and personal experiences. Both are important for individual growth. At the[This/the initiative], everyone is considered an education resource, the teacher as well as the student and the literate as well as illiterate” (Sx).

    Teachers are prepared in a ten-day training program run annually during the off-season, and they meet monthly to discuss teaching methods and problems, and to improve their teaching skills. Teachers are also taught to repair the solar lamps and, as mentioned earlier, to identify common health issues in their students.

    The communities themselves prepare the teaching and learning materials. Among them, a workshop of disabled people prepares toys made of recyclable materials for the Night Schools, and a carpentry workshop provides them with science toys. Maps and posters displaying the alphabet hang on the walls of the schools. Children frequently need to share the learning materials that are available.

    The mission of the[This/the initiative]’s Communications team is worth noting here. Through puppetry, a traditional means in this cultural context of sharing messages with the community, the[This/the initiative] discusses in an interactive manner some of the problems faced by the Night Schools, such as the need for girls’ attendance, the safety of the children, their relationship with their teachers, and so on. In a related vein, the Night Schools hold the annual Balmela Festival to provide feedback to their communities, to reinforce the value of education, and to thank them for their help and participation.

    In summary, besides following the national curricula, the program puts a special emphasis on providing children with an education that is culturally and linguistically relevant for them and for their families, rather than a curriculum that would serve to encourage migration to the cities (and, possibly, a life in an urban slum)

    • One of the main outcomes of UNESCO’s Expert Meeting on Intercultural Education (UNESCO, 2006a) were the Guidelines on Intercultural Education (UNESCO, 2006b), which set a general overview of the main principles with which to identify an intercultural education model: a model that builds upon the diverse systems of knowledge and experiences of the learners and their communities, and uses methods that are culturally appropriated, that are based on practical, participatory, and contextualized learning techniques; a model whose teachers are familiarized with practical, participatory, and contextualized teaching methods; a model in which there is strong interaction between the school and the community, both involved in the educational processes; and a model in which there is vast participation of learners, parents and other community members, teachers, and administrators in the school management, supervision and control, decision-making, planning and the implementation of education programs, and the development of curricula, and learning and teaching materials.[This/the initiative] is certainly a practical demonstration of such concepts, since it highlights the importance of co-management, relevant education, and strong context integration in order to ensure equal access to quality education.
    • Through the schools program, the[This/the initiative] is advancing a greater agenda of gender and caste equity, not least by the setting of an example: in addressing the particular needs of girls; in inviting individuals from the lower castes to work as Night Schools’ teachers; in seating children from different castes together; and in defending the right of everyone to drink from the same water source. Although prejudices are being overcome, traditional attitudes remain a challenge – particularly beyond the school, where other sectors of the community continue to impose traditional practices in which caste and gender influence children’s social relations and futures. Teachers deliberately hired from the lower castes by the[This/the initiative] are not easily accepted by all in the community. Because of this, the organization frequently has to hire men, given the additional prejudices against women. Nevertheless, because of their impact on the students, the teachers are, despite their caste background, increasingly valued and respected in the communities.
    • In contrast to the frequently punitive measures employed by local authorities to ensure school attendance (for example, making an educational qualification a prerequisite for a driving license), the[This/the initiative], mindful of the causes that prevent families from accessing education, looks for the children in most need and adapts its program to their local socio-economic and cultural context. This is not only a key aspect of the program’s success in attracting these children into school, but a primary source of its self-sustainability and of the quality and relevance of the education they provide.

    The extent to which the[This/the initiative]’s programs are integrated into the local communities provides another source of their self-sustainability and, more particularly, of the sustainability of the educational initiatives. The modality of integrated service delivery –  from health care through education to the provision of potable water and solar lighting – enables both the mutual strengthening of the various components of the project network and the deep entrenching of these initiatives within the local communities

    The degree of ownership felt by the communities of these projects enhances their trust of the[This/the initiative] and their confidence to send their children to the Night Schools. The opportunity costs of school attendance and community involvement in the projects are compensated by this sense of ownership, which is also a result of a widely decentralized budgeting process. The communities are deeply involved with the program: they manage it, they contribute to it, and they benefit from it.

    The program’s inherent sources of sustainability that have managed to keep it active (yet at risk) in ensuring children this educational right are illustrative, on the other hand, on means through which the unequal ownership can be tackled.

    On what are the Night Schools’ children going to live when they grow up? What is the economy in which these children are being educated about? Where does this education lead them?….We must create an option that represents an alternative to the current economy, which creates immense external dependence. Start creating it from the children, through an education that questions what is produced locally and what is missing, considering that the local production, however, is never enough. We need a trans-generational approach to transcend the economic dependence that creates scarcity, poverty. To exit the well we must stop digging

    The Children’s Parliament is itself a model for the exchange of ideas. This could be the basis for the exchange of other valuables (knowledge, things… it would be necessary to define what, from a participatory assessment of what is in the region in terms of credits of trust, alienation. Namely: to go from parliamentarianism to economy with something that replaces money – or complements it – being careful not to replicate the criticized existing schemes).

    • [This/the initiative] has never had schools. Compulsory Education’s coverage in the area is almost 100%, partly because of[This/the initiative]’s advocacy efforts in the last 20 years. It rather had focus on complementary activities to the work of public schools. Since more than 53% of the local population is below 19 years old,[This/the initiative] mainly works with children and the youth with programs for community and environmental education, cultural promotion and diffusion, digital inclusion, and complementary actions for schools. During the latter, local education-related actors (communities, schools, and multiplier of actions) are trained to create supporting regionalized learning materials with participatory methodologies. This counteracts the lack of relevance of local schools’ curricula.

    As with the health program, while[This/the initiative]’s efforts where concentrated until not long ago into complementing schools’ activities, they are now focused on a partnership with 5 schools, the Carlos Chagas Foundation, and the Education Ministry of Santarem municipality, to work on a pilot project for making education for the Amazonian populations more relevant.

    For this purpose, they also use the participatory mapping methodology. Children draw maps of their communities that include not only their inhabitants, but also their institutions, geographical conditions, resources, etc. This methodology helps both[This/the initiative]and educators to identify the perception children have about the place they live, what is important, whose concepts are embedded into their mindset, etc. Based on these concepts and images,[This/the initiative] helps educators and school authorities to sensitize teachers about what is relevant in the region (many teachers are not from the communities where they work), and adapt local materials and the curricula with images, subjects, and methodologies that are more familiar to the children.

    The objective of this partnership is to set an example of how to improve the quality of the public schools in the region that, if successful, is to be scaled to the whole municipality. That is, as the case of the health program, to serve as a demonstrative experience that aims at being escalated by the State, with the argument that it is the latter’s responsibility to provide access to quality education for all. The project so far has been stopped because the Carlos Chagas Foundation cancelled all of its funding this year.

    • aimed at increasing the relevance of local schools’ teaching methodologies, curricular contents and learning materials design
    • The schools’ lack of relevance for rural children is a problem to which the Night Schools of the[This/the initiative] offer an alternative, and the use of [This/the initiative]’s participatory mapping technique could complement its efforts greatly.
    • Recommendation made in the[This/the initiative]Study:

    R17: It would be interesting for the[This/the initiative] reviewing the participatory mapping technique used by[This/the initiative] (see Figure 5) for developing and adapting local materials and training teachers.

    • the[This/the initiative] could profit by innovating new means to motivate local production and vocational trainings to create long-term economic autonomy both for the people and for the program.
    • In education, while[This/the initiative]’s efforts where concentrated until not long ago into complementing schools’ activities, they are now focused on a pilot project developed in partnership with a few schools, a foundation, and the local government for making education more locally relevant. For that, they make use of a participatory mapping technique (explained below) which allows them to identify which elements of the local context are more familiar and significant for the children and their communities, and customize the teaching learning materials accordingly.
    • [This/the initiative] Foundation in Colombia has been internationally recognized because of its pedagogic model for quality rural education in rural areas (especially in multi-grade and poverty-stricken schools) that has attracted the attention of many countries’ governments. The model’s success in raising schools’ quality relates to its comprehensive focus on academic improvement, equity in education opportunities, and the community’s involvement (the model counts, for example, with a Children’s and a Parents’ government that run the school).
    [This/the initiative] mainly sustains itself by selling the model to governments, NGOs, private schools, etc. as a package of consultancy services that includes the settlement of demonstration schools in already existing schools (pilot schools), the co-participatory adaptation of its prototype guides and learning materials (their methodological structure), and technical assistance (training to different stakeholders) for the application and implementation of the model and for the community’s involvement. This way[This/the initiative] capitalizes on its know-how on the systematization of the school’s processes to promote stakeholders’ ownership of it and on the adaptation of the model to different contexts, offering an educational solution to improve quality, effectiveness, equity, and sustainability of education.

    The model is in itself a tool to make schools highly self-sustainable because: a) it is systemic – works with teachers, students, and parents in all educational aspects; b) uses the promotion of social participation as its transversal dimension – all stakeholders participate in educational decisions, which motivates their ownership of the projects; c) it is trans-sectoral – it promotes the formation of skills as the basis of entrepreneurship reducing rural children’s migration to the cities, and emphasis is put on children’s application of their knowledge within their family and community; d) it complements the training of local stakeholders with mechanisms for the discussion and dissemination of innovations; e) it is cost-effective – although initial expenses are heavy not so the future incidental ones; f) it promotes interculturality – the national curriculum is reinforced but they place strong emphasis on the relevance of education and the appreciation of rural life and local knowledge, which has immediate effects in the community’s life and, as a result, in the involvement of parents in the learning process

    it promotes interculturality – the national curriculum is reinforced but they place strong emphasis on the relevance of education and the appreciation of rural life and local knowledge, which has immediate effects in the community’s life and, as a result, in the involvement of parents in the learning process.

    • [This/the initiative]’s success in raising schools’ quality relates to its achievements in:

    a. Academic improvement (higher retention and completion rates, the decrease of dropouts and repetition rates, teaching methodologies, etc.);

         b. Equity in education opportunities;

         c. Promotion of groups’ collaboration, self-esteem, democratic values, and peaceful coexistence behaviours; and

         d. Community involvement.

    what[This/the initiative] offers to rural schools is, as its founder said during the interview, the “translation of complexity into manageable action” through technical assistance based on the organization’s experience and know-how on the adaptation of the model to different contexts, offering an educational solution to improve quality, effectiveness, equity, and sustainability of education.

    It is trans-sectorial because it promotes the formation of skills as the basis of entrepreneurship (including those for pacific coexistence, health, garbage management, environment, etc.). They emphasize on children’s application of their knowledge within their family and community. One of the main successes of[This/the initiative]’s model is that it offers very concrete elements to motivate children’s participation with the community. It is important to say that creating these entrepreneurial skills has been a useful tool to prevent rural children’s migration to the cities.

    • El[Esta/la iniciativa] busca, desde 2008, atender una de las más importantes carencias de la Universidad …: la desvinculación que existe entre sus miembros e instituciones, y con otros sectores de la sociedad, y que le impide aprovechar al máximo el capital intelectual de su comunidad para atender problemas del país que por su naturaleza multi-factorial y multidimensional, requieren de análisis e intervenciones integrales.

    Ese es precisamente el objetivo del[Esta/la iniciativa] : catalizar discusiones pertinentes y desarrollar las herramientas estructurales, conceptuales y metodológicas que faciliten que cualquier miembro de la universidad, independientemente de su campo de conocimiento o adscripción, tenga las condiciones apropiadas trabajar de forma colaborativa (inter y/o transdisciplinaria) en estos problemas transversales, aportando sus diversos enfoques y conocimientos. Esto tanto para proyectos a largo plazo como para la efectiva respuesta de la comunidad académica a problemáticas emergentes con carácter urgente. Entre estas herramientas el[Esta/la iniciativa] ha ideado, hasta ahora, la celebración de reuniones focales y foros de análisis, el préstamo de sus instalaciones para encuentros entre la comunidad universitaria, la puesta en práctica de seminarios, cursos y congresos amparados en programas sombrilla con carácter presuntamente transversal y sujetos a evaluación periódica de pertinencia — varios de ellos accesibles a agentes externos gracias a un sistema de telecomunicaciones que permite su transmisión en vivo a través del internet, extendiendo su impacto y facilitando vías alternativas de comunicación y cooperación. Además, el[Esta/la iniciativa] propone el paradigma de la complejidad, que cuestiona la capacidad de las actuales herramientas disciplinarias de investigación, docencia y divulgación para comprender y abordar dichos problemas, y aporta nuevos enfoques, recursos, métodos, y metodologías. El Centro también le ha apostado a una organización y estructura administrativas que buscan ser flexibles y de buen balance costo-beneficio con miras a garantizar la relevancia, integralidad y capacidad de resiliencia de su proyecto.

    • Educación:

    La educación está hecha para prepararte para la competencia, les llaman competencias. Por ende, ofreció a hijas salirse de escuela en secundaria. Una  se decidió quedar, bajo advertencia de que pasaría al anonimato (de grupos de 13 personas a cientos). La otra decidió estudiar en casa por su cuenta en internet. Son las que heredarán el proyecto.

    Escuela no relevante a sus necesidades, muy jerárquica y de memorización.

    • Para facilitar la venta de los árboles fomentan dos tipos de colaboración que aseguran la integridad del proyecto y con ella su mayor proyección y atractivo sin la necesidad de invertir recursos extra:

    Colaboración estrecha y de mutuo beneficio con otras Sociedades Anónimas (S.A.):

    -Una ofrece paseos de integración, retiros y pláticas a la medida para empresas (Coca Cola, El Metro, Coppel, etc), lo que le sirve a [Esta/la iniciativa] para hacerse de recursos extra y publicidad.

    -Otra, Hacienda X (desde 1999), ofrece alojamiento (hotel y campamentos); visitas culturales al Museo de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz y al Museo de los Volcanes, al laberinto inglés, al parque de los venados, las águilas y las serpientes acariciables; instalaciones de deportes extremos como la tirolesa. Todos estos servicios y más están disponibles gratuitamente a los clientes de [Esta/la iniciativa]. Además, la Hacienda le envía sus clientes a éste último en visitas diarias a cambio de lo cual éste les regala pequeños árboles, les ofrece pláticas sobre manejo sustentable de los bosques y paseos por el vivero y el bosque.

    -Otra más organiza visitas escolares que son reconocidas por la Secretaría de Educación Pública, pues están diseñadas de manera tal que sirvan para reforzar la enseñanza de materias del plan de estudios como ciencias, educación ambiental (manejo de basura, aprovechamiento del agua de lluvia, etc), civismo, etc. Estas visitas (van como 20 escuelas al día) tienen un costo de$140 pesos por alumno y representan un ingreso extra para [Esta/la iniciativa], quien a cambio obsequia cupones de descuento en árboles de navidad para cada alumno, un árbol pequeño del vivero y un certificado de participación. Aunque esta colaboración le es redituable a [Esta/la iniciativa] en términos financieros y de publicidad, un reto que tiene que vencer para asegurar un mayor impacto de su objetivo de sensibilización ambiental es la significativa apatía que parece caracterizar a buena parte de los alumnos y maestros que les visitan (una tercera parte según nuestra fuente).

    • Classes follow the mainstream literacy curriculum and also incorporate the traditional knowledge of the community by bringing ‘resource persons’ to the school (people from the community who share with the children their knowledge about issues that are relevant to the community)

    One of the strengths of the program lies in its teachers, who seem to be liked by the community and respected by parents and children, principally for two reasons: the manner in which they treat the children, and the devotion with which they work. Night Schools’ teachers are local adults from different working backgrounds (postmasters, keepers of records, policemen, nurses, traditional midwives, extension workers), which helps them to make their teaching relevant for the community. The program’s teachers earn approximately one tenth of a government school teacher’s salary. Although they earn the same rate as other staff at the[Esta/la iniciativa] , effectively they teach only part-time, so what they earn means that they amount to little more than volunteer teachers.

    • Decentralizing the program

    An important feature of the program is that it is monitored by a Children’s Parliament. The children who are members of this forum, elected every two years by students attending the Night Schools, choose a Prime Minister who works with a student cabinet monitoring the work of the teachers, the functionality of the solar lanterns, the availability of safe drinking water, and the provision of teaching and learning materials. They also encourage children who have dropped out to attend school. The Prime Minister organizes monthly meetings in which the ministers raise any problems in the schools, ask adults for explanations, and prompt solutions. The cabinet is empowered to hire and fire teachers, and to expose cases of corruption. Some Night Schools’ teachers occasionally do not turn up for class, but children in the parliament help to create awareness of the potential problem so that it doesn’t happen very often. The forum clearly also serves to create awareness in the communities about the children’s points of view and needs. The general view is that although some problems might take some time to be solved, the system works. Moreover, “the concept of the Children’s Parliament is integral to the curriculum at the Night Schools. Children attending the Night Schools get to know more about political systems and structures by actually going through the learning process” (x).

    The families of the program’s children contribute to the program with cash or with donations of teaching aids or learning materials. Parents pay 10% of the cost of the health check-ups provided to the children. These contributions from the families are made in spite of the fact that families need their children’s contribution to the household income, and cannot easily afford to wait ten years for their children to start earning.

    At a community level, the families’ contribution is even larger. The communities generally provide the buildings for the Night Schools and other activities (such as the Children’s Parliament, fairs, workshops, and meetings), and contribute voluntarily with cash, food, time, or work to the realization of the program. The supervision and management of the program is largely done by Village Education Committees and the Children’s Parliament, both volunteer organizations run by the community. Ultimately, almost the only expenses that are not covered by the community are the teachers’ salaries and some costs for activities that they cannot bear.

    The extent of this community involvement is also evident in the number of people associated with an extensively decentralized social structure that is integrated with the[Esta/la iniciativa] e’s initiatives in this domain: 150 full-time staff, 500 half-time staff, and around 5000 honorary members. This is both important and unusual, given that policy makers and policies are usually very far from implementation sites and beneficiaries.

    The degree of ownership that the communities have of the program means that it already bears the hallmarks of sustainability, given that development interventions are generally successful to the extent that they are appropriated by and integrated into the communities where they are targeted. Such interventions are at greater risk of failure when project funding ceases or when external project advisers are withdrawn, probably because community ‘take-up’ or ‘buy-in’ has been limited, rendering the project unsustainable without such community investment and appropriation.