|Ecuador Center Models Risk of Education|
|Monday, 27 June 2011 00:00|
Quito, Ecuador. AVSI was the protagonist of a public event on June 14, 2011 entitled “The Risk of Education: an integral development experience in the Roldos-Pisulli slums of Quito,” presenting the work that it has been developing during the last seven years in marginalized urban neighborhoods of the city. It was an important moment to reflect, together with the community, upon the value and social import of the method AVSI and its partners in Quito continue to follow.
Distinguished guests in attendance included Mabel Almina Vaca, Vice Minister for Urban Development, Augusto Barrera, representative of the mayor of Quito, and the Ambassadors of Spain and Italy, Federico Torres Muro and Emanuele Pignatelli, respectively.
The event coincided with the closure of the four-year project “Education for All. Quito and the Province of Manabí,” funded in part by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The educational project was based on the fundamental principles of Mons. Luigi Giussani’s book “The Risk of Education,” and adapted to the national education context of Ecuador.
Academic reflections were followed by the inauguration of the “Luigi Giussani” Youth Center, the new home for AVSI youth activities in Quito. The center includes laboratories for professional formation and spaces for recreational activities. The construction of the center was made possible by the Community of Madrid, through the collaboration of CESAL, a Spanish NGO and member of the AVSI network.
Since 2004 AVSI has been developing a series of integral education programs for children, adolescents and their respective families in Quito together with their local partner Fundación Sembrar and with CESAL, replicating the experience of the Vicariate of Education of Portoviejo (an AVSI local partner) which has implemented similar activities in rural coastal zones since 2001.
AVSI’s method of education in Ecuador and in all of the countries in which it works is based on principles mentioned in Giussani’s book: to conceive of education as the introduction to reality in its totality, to consider the family as those primarily responsible for the education of their children, and to support the reason and freedom of the child, betting on him or her to discover what is true in his or her life and therefore what is true in the educational proposal presented to them by their family, by teachers and other adults, and by society at large.
The effectiveness of the approach is proclaimed by the facts: as if contagious, the educational activities have progressively expanded since the first group of children and their mothers were involved, and the spread has been largely due to the enthusiasm and initiatives of the latter. These activities have now reached more than 1700 children and their respective families with activities including the foundation of 8 family nurseries and one community nursery, the expansion of an innovative early childhood education program known as PelCa – Preescolar en la casa (home-school preschool), an afterschool program for 160 elementary aged children, the formation of youth groups and the promotion of several professional formation initiatives for youth and adults.
These activities are especially relevant in light of international recognition of education as a key factor for the development of a society. Reaching universal primary education by 2015 is one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, and is also one of the goals of Ecuador’s new education law, which in fact has three interesting points in common with AVSI’s work in Quito and Manabì: a focus on the family, emphasis on community as the place where tradition educates, and the promotion of collaboration between NGOs and the private sector with public institutions in order to reach educational goals.
Giussani, The Risk of Education: Discovering our ultimate destiny, The Crossroad Publishing Company, New York, 2001.