Preschool education and child-care development are rare in poor and marginal areas in Chile; government-funded programs have limited capacity and privately-run programs are out of reach for the poblaciones - the people living in poor communities.
The Centro de Estudios y Atencin al Nio y a la Mujer (CEANIM, Centre for studies and care of children and women) has developed and tested a model to enable poor communities to run their own preschool centres. The preschools are seen as one way to reduce failure and drop-out rates in elementary schools.
The main characteristic of CEANIMs model is the participation of mothers in the development, administration, and organization of the centres, as well as teaching of the children. The mothers receive training in workshops where they learn about socialization, health, hygiene, and nutrition. The centres are a low-cost alternative for these mothers, who need only to give one period of duty per week and bring in cleaning supplies once a month.
Each centre is developed in three stages:
· During the first year, CEANIM sets up the centre and ensures its basic functioning.
· During the second year, mothers and the community as a whole participate in teaching at and running the centre, as preparation for operating the centre themselves, with human and material resources provided by CEANIM.
· In the third stage, the centre functions autonomously, with occasional help from CEANIM to solve specific problems.
The main objective of this initiative is to transfer the project from the hands of the institution (CEANIM) to the hands of the pobladoras, the women from the poor barrios of Santiago. An evaluation of the program showed that the womens confidence was significantly increased by their participation at these centres, both as administrators and as educators of their children. The quality of the childrens education was improved when mothers were involved, and the childrens verbal communication and psychomotor skills were also improved. Children from these centres were better prepared to enter the formal school system.
CEANIM has established some 15 preschool centres in poor areas of Santiago. As well as providing improved social services for the children and mothers, the centres facilitate community participation in deciding on the objectives and the content of their childrens education. CEANIM has also developed an evaluation model that can be applied to assess these preschool programs.
Government agencies, NGOs, and other organizations involved in preschool education and child-care in poor communities.
Dr Maria Angelica Kotliarenco
Centro de Estudios y Atencin al Nio y
a la Mujer
Tel.: 380-043 or 330-514
Resources and publications
· La Comunicacin en el Proceso de Aprendizaje - Una Experiencia Preescolar, CEANIM, 1988, 195 pp. (an evaluation of the impact of paraprofessionals and mothers in preschool teaching).
Under the auspices of the Institute for Teacher Education, Kyambogo (Uganda), a system to promote literacy in the schools and community has been developed and implemented in four primary schools. MINDSACROSS is not a structure or organization, but rather a concept that can be interpreted and put into practice in many different formats and contexts.
MINDSACROSS gets students to compose, write, read, discuss, and publish indigenous literature that can then be shared in small learning networks with classmates, schoolmates, and the community. The purpose is to provide a forum for all participants to be active teachers and learners, cooperating to make literacy a powerful tool for social and intellectual development and change.
Years of political conflict, instability, and economic mismanagement in Uganda have led to the deterioration of social services including education. There is a lack of affordable, available, and culturally relevant material. Literacy is not taught in the schools in the context of the students daily lives; as a result a majority of graduates with few prospects of further education lose their literacy skills once they leave school. MINDSACROSS seeks to promote literacy as an individual and collective meaningful skill for the acquisition and sharing of knowledge to improve life in the schools and the communities.
MINDSACROSS has two main objectives:
· To encourage school management, parents, teachers, and pupils to practice and consolidate pupils developing skills in reading, writing, and drawing;
· To build confidence among pupils as innovators and as capable and permanent communicators with themselves, their peers, and other audiences.
MINDSACROSS consists of four basic activities, designed to broaden the leachers perception of their roles as literacy teachers, and to get children to practice and consolidate their developing skills. The four basic activities include the following elements:
· Discussions with teachers to help them to reconceptualize the process of teaching and learning literacy within the core curriculum (English, social studies, math, science, and health);
· Professional assistance in implementing creative writing in the classroom;
· Development of a forum for pupils to share and discuss their writing with their peers within and outside their classroom, school, and community;
· Assistance to compile, duplicate, read, discuss, display, and disseminate the writings and drawings to other children and other audiences. This includes publication of booklets and displaying texts in classrooms and on notice boards.
Some 70 booklets have been published so far, containing stories, poems, texts, and drawings both entertaining and educational. Examples of titles include: Peoples of Uganda; Mr Bee and His Good Friends; My Small Book About Seeds; AIDS: From 7th to 1st Killer Disease; Water: A Miracle by God; Accidents at School. The texts can be used for children at other levels in school, children in preschool centres, drop-outs doing practical training, and adult literacy learners.
The childrens responses suggest that their involvement in the creative writing activities helps them to understand concepts and knowledge relating to themselves and their communities. They are given the power and the opportunity to reflect on what they know and believe, or as one pupil explained: of telling in my own words on anything I want.
The MINDSACROSS concept can be adapted for use in schools and communities anywhere where literacy skills are low or become lost from lack of use. The materials produced by MINDSACROSS have application mainly in Uganda but could be useful in other East African countries.
Dr Katherine Namuddu
PO Box 6577
Tel.: 233595 or 257792
Resources and publications
· MINDSACROSS: A School-Community Integrated System for Living Literacy; Case Study of Uganda Primary School Pupils As Authors, Katherine Namuddu, 1990, 195 pp.
· MINDSACROSS: A School-Community Integrated System for Living Literacy; An Overview of the Status of the Project, Katherine Namuddu, 1990; a 38-page booklet giving an overview of the project.
· Some 70 booklets of texts by Ugandan schoolchildren.
In the Andean countries of Latin America, rural and urban indigenous children suffer various socioeconomic and cultural constraints which result in low educational achievement and high drop-out rates at the primary school level.
The rich cultures of the Andean countries include numerous educational traditions whose potential to increase childrens abilities and confidence is now being recognized. Childrens games are one of them. Once transmitted from generation to generation, the world of indigenous knowledge is rapidly disappearing under the influence of foreign cultures.
The Centro de Investigacin sobre el Desarrollo Infantil (CIDIE), with IDRC support, has researched and collected traditional Indian games from communities in four Andean countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru), for use as inexpensive, easy-to-use techniques to prepare indigenous children for school. The games have been adapted to develop competence in language, math, abstract thinking, and social learning, and to develop cultural values.
In a second project, CIDIE is developing and testing a complete package of both indigenous and nonindigenous games and materials, with a practical guide to their use for mothers and child-care workers. The package complements the work of an alternative community-based program for preschool education run by the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar in rural communities and in centres for disadvantaged children.
Manuals and a brief training program.
Educational and preschool child-care organizations (governmental or nongovernmental) working with rural and urban indigenous preschool children throughout Latin America.
Cost and availability
Two manuals describing the games are available from CIDIE (see below). As well, a package of 60 games for children 4-6 years old is being assembled for use by mothers and child care workers in rural and marginal communities. The package costs about US $320.
Dr. Cecilia Bustamante
Carrera 19, No.74-44, Bogot,
Tel.: (57-1) 217-6067
Fax: (57-1) 13.92.19 or (57-1)
Resources and publications
· Una Alternativa de Educacin No Formal, Juegos para Nios Preescolares de Comunidades Indigenas y Campesinas, CIDIE, 1988, 92 pp., US $3.50.
· Jugar para Aprender, CIDIE, 1989, 27 pp., US $1.50.
· A Spanish-language VHS video describing the application of traditional games in childrens centres and a package of games and materials to develop cognitive and language skills.
The Instituto SER de Investigacin (Colombia) has developed and tested a software package to help disadvantaged children at the elementary level to improve their math and Spanish skills, two major stumbling blocks experienced by rural indigenous children. The pilot program resulted in an improvement in creativity, reasoning skills, self-esteem, and achievement among the school children.
The software was developed after an evaluation of the impact of computers in rural Colombian schools undertaken by SER. They concluded that Spanish-language, culturally appropriate software adapted to Colombian needs had to be designed. The software was developed in collaboration with teachers, and is flexible enough for them to adapt it to different grades and individual skill levels. For example, teachers can increase or decrease the level of difficulty of the exercises or even incorporate subjects from their social or cultural environment.
The programs take the form of games which enable students to master the basic concepts of math and Spanish. For example, one game consists of a series of simple addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication questions. If the player makes three errors, the computer wins the game. The game can be set at different levels of difficulty. Another program provides a short text for reading, then asks a number of questions to assess the childs understanding and encourage word associations and the identification of synonyms.
Two math and two Spanish programs were originally developed, followed by four additional programs.
Students who took part in the pilot program have shown a higher interest in school, remain in school longer, and get higher grades. Their confidence in their learning abilities has increased as they can learn at their own rate.
Currently more than 5000 students in Bogot have access to the programs, through the Ministry of Education. Each program comes with a teachers manual.
There are two versions of the program. The first requires an Atari (130 XE or 65 XE) computer. The newer version is used on IBM or DOS compatible computers with graphics cards.
Elementary schools with Atari or IBM compatible computers in Spanish-speaking Latin-American countries, particularly those with indigenous or disadvantaged students; ministries of education and others working within the formal education system.
Carlos A. Rojas C. Instituto SER de Investigacin Carrera 15A, No 45-65, AA1978 Bogot, Colombia Tel.: (57-1) 288 01 00; Cable: SERIN Fax: (57-1) 245-5248 or (57-1) 226-803
Resources and publications
· VHS video (15 min.) in Spanish, which shows the program undertaken by the Secretara de Educacin de Bogot to provide computers and software to 40 public schools in Bogot.
The Fundacin pare la Aplicacin y Enseanza de las Ciencias (FUNDAEC), founder of the Rural University located in Perico Negro near Cali, Colombia, has a philosophy that rural populations should not only benefit from higher education but should actively participate in the creation and generation of knowledge and technologies to improve their quality of life and standard of living. FUNDAEC seeks to dispel the image of the poor farmer whose life must be planned and managed by the more privileged members of society.
The Rural University is a community-based system for the development of human resources. A general strategy of research-action-learning permits scientific knowledge to be directly linked to the application of technology and to channel what has been learned back into the curriculum. The Universitys strategy includes strengthening of community structures, application of science and technology to the rural economy, and formal training.
The Rural Universitys plans and strategies for the development of human resources in the rural areas include the training of rural youth as promoters, technicians, and high-school graduates in rural well-being. This training is realized through the Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT), a tutorial learning system with an innovative educational curriculum recognized by the Colombian Ministry of Education. Students, who live and work in their communities, join the system as they begin to study service to the community, mathematics, language, science, and technology with the tutors that are trained by the Rural University.
Rural University, Colombia, South America
The rural youth who finish high school, be it through the SAT or traditional high-school programs, can continue their university studies in rural education. During their course of study the university students, who are being trained in an innovative program that integrates the educational, productive, and organizational aspects of rural life, undertake joint research and development ventures with members of their communities. They also participate in the activities of the agroindustrial centre on the university campus which provides training and support to small local agroindustries, such as soy milk, fruit juice, and chocolate production. The centre has developed courses in rural agroindustry for potential entrepreneurs and is intimately involved with the development, support, and dissemination of agroindustry in the region.
Training and use of educational materials developed by FUNDAEC. Agricultural and animal production techniques are linked to community organizations and initiatives. FUNDAEC provides training by means of seminars and workshops for interested organizations.
Ministries of education, institutes for the improvement of agricultural and animal production, NGOs, agricultural or microenterprise policymakers.
Tel.: (67-23) 536-489
Fax: (57-23) 536-491
Resources and publications
· Numerous textbooks on math, science, agricultural techniques, etc., produced by FUNDAEC.
· Rural University - Learning About Education and Development, Farzam Arbab, IDRC, 1984, 72 pp., $7.95.
· To the Heart of the Campesino, VHS video, FUNDAEC.
· Footholds, a film showing different innovative educational models in Latin America, including the Rural University. IDRC, 1984, 28 min.
In Mexico, as in many countries, the educational system has deteriorated with the advent of economic crisis. The problem of academic failure and school leaving is especially acute in the rural areas and among the indigenous population. The rural education system is still not fully relevant to the realities of peasant life. As a result, between 1980 and 1986, only 10% of the children in rural primary schools completed their sixth year.
To address this ongoing problem, researchers from the Centro de Estudios Educativos (CEE) have developed an integrated community-based education program to overcome academic failure among rural children. The methods and materials invite the participation of children, teachers, parents, school authorities, and community leaders. The basic assumption behind the program is that academic failure is rooted in the gap between the educational system and the ways disadvantaged children communicate, learn, and interact. It is also linked to the generally poor preparation of rural teachers.
Three separate programs have been developed. In the community preschool program, Conociendo a Nuestros Hijos (knowing our children), a model for a preschool curriculum has been developed, based on activities that involve the family and the community. Teaching materials are aimed at preschool teachers, mothers, and community participants, and the goal is one of prevention of school leaving and academic failure. The pilot program proved very popular. A package of materials was prepared for mothers of preschoolers, on health, hygiene, nutrition, parent-child interaction, and on how to create a good home environment for learning. A package for teachers on working with parents groups to foster good home environments includes manuals on research methods, how to interview mothers on their childs development, how to plan work sessions with mothers, how to systematize models for health, hygiene, nutrition, etc.
The community primary school program aims to adapt curriculum to make it relevant to rural conditions. An upgrading program for rural teachers has been developed, focusing on strengthening basic reading, writing, and math skills, and encouraging innovation in their teaching methods and curriculum. The program seeks to involve the community in the educational process and link the curriculum to the socioeconomic activities of the community.
The training program lasts two years, at the end of which the teachers become part of the process of developing new primary education methods integrated with rural life. The program has three components: theory, which is presented in 16 independent study manuals; research and learning on the problem of school leaving and academic failure, with research exercises in each manual; encouraging innovation through the integration of theory and practice. This component includes workshops on Spanish language skills and math, where the teachers learn about child development and the learning process; use of research tools to identify problems and make changes; and teacher-led programs for parents, to encourage a better home environment for learning.
Results of the pilot program for teachers showed an increase in leachers motivation, a greater pride in of their role and their ability to identify and solve problems, a better understanding of rural realities, and a reduction in the turnover rate. Eighty-five percent of the teachers enrolled in the program completed it.
The study guides for teachers are on the following topics: learning theories; academic failure; interests, expectations and images of the teacher; characteristics of the rural population; rural schools in Mexico; educational planning, authority and discipline in the classroom; personal interactions between education professionals; child development; pedagogical methods; personal history and career development; teaching, the school and the education system; philosophies of education; values and daily life; values and the curriculum; the role of education in society.
A basic education program for primary school drop-outs is aimed at 9 to 14 year-olds, and is based on an alternative curriculum model that is flexible and adapted to the childrens situations. The program suffered from a lack of interest in the community and a lack of belief in the value of basic education for drop-outs. A manual was prepared on diagnostic tools and educational strategies for recuperating school drop-outs and reducing absenteeism.
Educators, school authorities, community groups in rural areas in Latin America. The materials should be adapted to local conditions.
Lic. Sylvia Schmelkes
Centro de Estudios Educativos
Av. Revolucin 1291, Mxico 20,
Tel.: 593-5776; 593-5977
The poorest people in India do not have access to either the technical know-how or the financial resources to build effective housing. The Communication Centre of Scientific Knowledge for Self-Reliance has developed a novel approach to teaching low-cost house-building techniques to the urban poor. Picture scripts offer a simple way to communicate knowledge directly to those concerned, even if they cannot read; the scripts are easily understood, easy to copy by hand, and adaptable to different skill levels. The scripts represent technical information translated into simple drawings accompanied by short explanations.
The project in India disseminates information on house-building techniques, with special emphasis on the roof, which is the most difficult and crucial part to build. For example, one script shows how to flatten tin cans to turn them into sheet metal. Another shows how to use old bottles to let light into the house. The picture-script booklets, in Hindi and Tamil, address different climatic conditions. They focus on bamboo and aluminum foil, two inexpensive materials that are readily available and provide excellent insulation from heat and humidity, respectively. Local craftspeople can easily prefabricate the bamboo structures.
The manuals will be combined into a Popular Encyclopedia of Survival, which is being used by Indias Directorate of Adult Education in its national literacy programs. Besides Hindi, Urdu, and Tamil, they are translated into several local dialects. The manuals are adapted to suit each audience and change form from place to place. They are estimated to have reached some 10 million people.
Potential users Individuals and community-based organizations involved in low-cost housing; literacy programs.
Mr Yona Friedman Communication Centre of Scientific Knowledge for Self-Reliance, 33 Boul. Garibaldi, 75015 Paris, France Tel.: (33-1) 126.96.36.199
INADES-Formation Cameroon is exploring ways to collect and communicate both traditional knowledge and new technologies to literate and illiterate people in rural areas. The most popular activities in its information and training program are correspondence courses in agriculture, animal husbandry, and health. It also conducts seminars in villages to discuss traditional and new farming techniques and health practices.
INADES-Formation Cameroon publishes a lively, popular English-language magazine, Rural Development Review, written in an informal style that encourages a sense of ownership among its rural readers by speaking directly to them. Rural Development Review is complemented by a variety of question-and-answer booklets in French, English, Fee-fe, and wondo. A popular radio show, Rural Rendez-vous, reaches a large audience in North-West Province.
Disseminating information is made more complex by the close to 200 languages spoken in Cameroon besides the two official languages (English and French). For this reason, INADES-Formation Cameroon uses Pidgin (the lingua franca of the western and coastal areas) as well as English in its radio broadcasts and publishes materials in French, English, and several local languages.
Map of Africa
One of the strengths of INADES-Formation Cameroon is recognition of the essential role women play in agriculture and development. Their publications and seminars acknowledge this by directing specific material to women and seeking information from them. INADES also addresses environmental issues such as the devastating effects of bush fires and the importance of trees.
The close links of INADES-Formation with farmers, the two-way dialogue, the emphasis on disseminating both traditional knowledge and innovative technologies, have helped to ensure the popularity and success of this process of learning and development in the farming regions of Cameroon.
NGOs and community groups working in the area of rural information dissemination could learn from INADESs extensive experience and successful techniques. The materials themselves would need to be adapted to local needs and realities.
Tel.: (237) 23.16.51
For Rural Development Review and information on the Bamenda program, contact:
INADES-Formation, Bamenda Delegation PO Box 252, Bamenda North-West Province, Cameroon Tel.: 36-11-80
Resources and publications
· Numerous educational booklets, including a series on farming (how to sell products; how to use credit; animal husbandry; information on different crops; etc.); and a series on development (African history; development and international relations; rural development; industrial development; etc.). French only.
· Textbooks for courses in small project management. French only.
· Rural Development Review, a publication of the Bamenda Delegation of INADES-Formation. Contains articles on agriculture, health, and social issues of local concern, as well as practical information and a question-and-answer column for farmers. English only.
· IAgripromo, a quarterly inter-African magazine promoting rural life is published by INADES. French only. For information or subscriptions contact: INADESFormation, 08 BP 8 Abidjan 08, Cte dIvoire; tel.: 44-31-28; telex: 20 2139 F RCINF (ATTN IF17 INADED FO).
The Consumer Association of Penang (Malaysia) or CAP, does grassroots work linking consumer issues with environment and development issues. It has produced many educational materials and held workshops, seminars, and rural information programs. For programs in rural areas, CAP produced four-page brochures consisting mostly of sketches and using few words. CAP is helping people to become more responsible consumers and it is also helping to protect them from marketplace malpractice and abuse.
CAP has produced a series of pamphlets with detailed information and analysis for use by teachers, womens groups, university students, youth leaders, and workers. The pamphlets are used in teacher-training courses to help in the teaching of life skills - what to buy, spending and saving, health, nutrition, and safety - and as resources for consumer clubs in schools.
The pamphlets are printed in English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. Among the titles and topics included in the series are:
· Safety at Home, at Work, and
on the Road;
· Advertising: The Price You Pay;
· Protect Your Money;
· Sugar Destroys Your Health;
· Towards a Non-Smoking Generation;
· The Third World Environmental Crisis: A Third World Perspective;
· Be Healthy: A CAP Guide for Malaysian Women;
· Good Nutrition, Good Health;
· Product Safety for Women;
· Malaysian Environment: Today and the Future;
· Stand Up for Your Rights!
· Breast Feeding: The Best Start in Life;
· Medicines: Some Dos and Donts.
NGOs, community groups, government, and schools in Southeast Asia.
Cost and availability
The pamphlets are available from CAP. They range in price from US $1 to $3.
Martin Khor Kok Peng, Research
Consumer Association of Penang
87 Cantonment Road, Penang,
Tel.: (60-4) 37.35.11 or 37.37.13 telex: 40989 CAPPG MA
We are becoming ever more aware of the power of television to convey messages to large segments of the population. In many countries, concern is mounting about the content of the programming, the negative impact of TV messages on children, and the lack of mechanisms to educate the TV audience to make more active and critical use of this media. In Chile, the Centro de Indagacin y Expresin Cultural y Artstica (CENECA), has developed a comprehensive program of education for television viewing, to encourage a more democratic and participatory use of TV by parents,.teachers, and children.
CENECA has been working on the theme of education for TV viewing, with IDRC support, since 1982, and has now developed an educational package for schools and community organizations, based on its extensive experience.
The two main objectives of CENECAs educational program are:
· To provide different social groups with the capacity to create their own interpretations of TV messages. This includes the ability to view TV programs critically, and to define ones own interests and needs and compare them to what TV has to offer.
· To strengthen cultural expression among different social groups so that they can participate in influencing TV programming to better suit their needs.
The program has the following characteristics:
· It is flexible, and can be used in different educational settings (schools, families, community groups, etc.).
· It is adaptable to different age groups and sociocultural backgrounds.
· It is a low-cost program which requires little or no outside financial help.
· It is decentralized, and can be incorporated into existing organizations.
· Strategies have been developed to incorporate the program into different institutions and groups, such as schools, unions, womens groups, etc.
The program is composed of the following elements:
Educational materials and activities (simulations, games, etc.). See Resources and publications below for a list of the manuals that have been published. These include manuals for working with children and adults, low-income youth, and low-income womens groups. The manuals have been very much in demand and have been reprinted several times.
· Training. CENECA has organized workshops, courses, and seminars with teachers, parents, community leaders, labour groups, womens groups, and youth. The activities aim to encourage creativity. For example, in the schools, the manuals can be adapted to different ages and grades; they can be added to the regular courses or used in extracurricular activities. Workshops can be organized for parents, out-of-school youth, and other groups.
· Evaluation and monitoring.
· Dissemination of the methodology within local and regional organizations in Latin America. The aim is to decentralize the program, adapt the methodology to different contexts, and set up institutional bases to provide continuity.
· Research into the concrete relation of different groups of viewers to TV messages. This provides scientific information and contributes to theoretical knowledge
about the effects of TV on society. A manual has been produced to help educators (both formal and informal) find out how TV affects the group they wish to work with. The results can help to decide on how to develop an educational program for a particular group or class (see Resources and publications below).
· A program to enable viewers to demand the kind of programming they want from TV producers. This involves both educating viewers to the possibilities and limitations of TV production, and educating TV producers to the real social needs of their audiences.
Schools, community groups, popular education practitioners, church groups, unions, parents groups, womens groups, etc., in Latin America. CENECA has organized workshops in Argentina, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay. The materials could also be adapted for use in other regions.
Valerio Fuenzalida Centro de Indagacin y Expresin Cultural y Artistica Santa Beatriz 160 - Providencia, Santiago, Chile Tel.: 43772; Telex: 346386; Fax: 2233355
Resources and publications
· Mdulo de Educacin para la TV, Valerio Fuenzalida, Paul Edwards. A manual for teachers and parents on how to teach children and youth to watch TV critically and selectively. Includes nine units, with games and activities that dont require technical infrastructure or special knowledge. CENECA-CENCOSEP, under the auspices of OREALC-Unesco, 1984, 170 pp. In Spanish only.
· TV y Recepcin Activa, Valerio Fuenzalida, Paula Edwards. A guide for working with low-income urban youth. CENECA-CENCOSEP, 1985, 136 pp. In Spanish only.
· Mujer TV - Guia de Trabajo en Educacin Para la TV con Grupos de Mujeres Pobladoras, Paula Edwarda, Soledad Cortes, Maria Elena Hermosilla. A guide for working with low-income womens groups. CENECA, 1986, 180 pp. In Spanish only.
· Explorando la Recepcin Teleuisiva, Maria Elena Hermosilla. A manual containing 15 simple techniques for discovering the relation between TV and a group of viewers. CENECA-CENCOSEP, 1987, 150 pp. In Spanish only.
· TV-Padres-Hrijos, Valerio Fuenzalida. A manual aimed at parents and educators, showing how the influence of TV can be managed within the family, in school, and in youth groups through special activities. CENECA-Ediciones Paulinas, 1984, 205 pp.
· Educacin para la Comunicacin Teleuisiva, edited by Valerio Fuenzalida. A book on the most significant experiences in education for TV viewing in Latin America, with contributions from seven countries. CENECA, 1986, 230 pp.
In many Latin American cities, a large portion of poor children live in the streets. They survive through activities such as watching and waxing cars, begging, thieving, drug trafficking, and prostitution. Without family guidance, political consciousness, or education, they are vulnerable to exploitation and are destined to remain marginal and poor.
A number of educational programs and shelters have been set up throughout Latin America, with an emphasis on street boys. However, there are few social and educational programs for girls that take into account their special needs, in spite of the fact that in Bogot (Colombia) alone, there are approximately 15 000 street girls, most of them prostitutes, under 12 years of age.
In Colombia, the Fundacin de Servicio de Orientacin Juvenil (Youth Orientation Service Foundation) has developed and tested an educational model aimed at enhancing the lives and future educational options of young girls involved in prostitution.
The strategy uses scientific information in such areas as humanistic psychology, health, and the law, to help the girls develop social skills to communicate with others, and enhance their self-respect and personal autonomy.
Called Ambiente de Mutuo Apoyo (Environment for Mutual Support Program) or AMA, the method seeks to provide an atmosphere where the girls can learn to value themselves and others, develop social skills, and increase self-esteem and cooperation through group problem-solving.
The system seeks to build an alternative positive culture for the girls, teaching them the importance of mutual support and responsibility for identifying and solving their problems.
Some of the main strategies used include: providing the girls with an open and trusting environment; creating an atmosphere that promotes change rather than complacency; addressing the girls problems in the here and now, valuing each person as she is now rather than analyzing or dwelling on the past; using problems as opportunities for learning and change; expecting mature behaviour from all participants (girls, educators, administrators); using values as the basis for establishing rules, with the basic value being that of mutual help and support; using the concept of responsibility as an essential factor for change.
The researchers concluded that the best results were obtained in
groups of 9-10 members of the same age. The success of the method depends to a
great degree on the training and motivation of the group leaders, and their
ability to develop an alternative environment that is pleasant, participatory,
and creative, with a positive moral atmosphere. Their relation to the youth must
be conflictual or complicit, but rather that of a guide helping to rechannel the girls energy in a positive direction.
Illustrated manuals, written in a popular education style, have been produced for the teachers/facilitators of the program and the students. They include detailed descriptions of the method as well as numerous exercises and techniques. (See Resources and publications).
As well, a series of short booklets has been published as educational tools that can be distributed directly on the street or used in the program. Focused on women, they deal with topics such as mental health, womens rights and dignity, women in the workplace, and health issues.
Researchers have found that the program has been successful in increasing the girls serf-esteem, and reducing anxiety and negative attitudes toward themselves and their environment. The strategy was effective in helping the girls to internalize the concept of personal and social responsibility, leading to more constructive behaviour. It promoted reflection on the moral aspects of daily life without using moral recipes or abstract concepts. Although the program does not produce overnight transformations, it has been shown to be an educational technique of great usefulness for working with troubled teens.
The basic strategy has been adapted for use by organizations in Argentina, Chile, and Venezuela.
Educators, social workers, psychologists, and others working with young girls aged 12-18 years, involved in prostitution, abandoned, or living on the street.
Carlos Canon Fundacin de Servicio de Orientacin Juvenil Carrera 30 No. 78-12 AA 080470 Bogot, Colombia
Resources and publications
· Ambiente de Mutuo Apoyo: a general description of the method and its philosophical base.
· Acogida: how to create a welcoming environment and get a group started.
· Personalizacin: promoting personal development and self-esteem.
· Socializacin: training in social skills; the process of socialization; difficulties in adolescence; support techniques; value formation through social relationships.
· Interiorizacin de Valores: activities for group discussion; group problem-solving; promoting values of mutual support, responsibility, etc..
· Juridico: human rights and responsibilities in judicial terms and in relation to the realities of street children; developing the childrens awareness and decision-making capacities concerning rights and obligations in the areas of life and personal integrity, personal identity, family, sexual activities, and work.
· Educacin Sexual: human sexuality, reproductive responsibility, health and human ecology.