Learn how they are guaranteeing access to education in rural areas of Antioquia

Luc Williams

Education in rural areas of Colombia continues to be a pending task for the country. In 2022, 23.7 percent of children and young people between 5 and 21 years old in rural areas did not attend educational institutions, revealed the Educational Economics Laboratory of the Javeriana University. The main causes are associated with lack of money, high educational costs and the need to work in urban areas.

To address this situation, the Secretos para Contar Foundation, The Fraternidad Medellín Foundation and Comfama created the Alliance for Rural Education of Antioquia (ERA), a project to transform rural schools in the department and strengthen education at all levels.

Through an educational model with territorial relevance and focused on being, Comfama is committed to ensuring that young people in rural areas are protagonists of their own development. It does so together with a network of more than 30 public and private allies. “Our purpose is to enhance their capabilities and provide them with tools so that they and their communities can find new and better opportunities for growth,” says Laura Flórez Hincapié, Head of Learning and Education at Comfama.

Of the 4,539 educational centers that Antioquia has, 87 percent (3,929) are rural and only 3 out of every 10 children who begin school manage to finish it. Thanks to the consolidation of the educational model of the network of allies and pedagogical strategies, 29,000 students have benefited. In addition to promoting the development of educational establishments, the ERA Alliance has allowed the opening of post-primary and secondary schools, and offered entrepreneurship and job connection programs through technical education.

University in the Country

With the ‘U in the countryside’ program, access to higher education has been expanded so that young people from rural areas can fulfill their dreams without having to go to other areas. “There is a lot of tourism in the municipality, so it was a great opportunity to study this technical career. What I liked the most was studying on Saturdays, because we were in extra-class time and this taught me to be more responsible, disciplined and know how to manage my time,” says Diego Rodríguez, a student in the program.

This educational proposal also seeks to motivate students to discover their talents and passions to help them find new opportunities that allow them to create their own businesses and be owners of their future. They advise students so that their projects are productive and obtain greater income, which ultimately improves the quality of life for them and their families. “I dream of implementing a solar dryer for aromatic oregano and rosemary plants to contribute to the development of my region,” says Tatiana Marulanda, beneficiary of this initiative.

Another focus of the ERA Alliance is cultural revitalization and inclusive education. To do this, they have partnered with indigenous communities and reservations such as Polines and Yaberaradó, whom they advise and accompany with training processes, institutional organization, family linking and peer training. In this way, “we do not allow indigenous customs to be lost in the face of teaching,” mentions Ariel Enrique Maturana García, teacher of the Mathematics and Technologies project.

Educational Strengthening

The efforts go further. The network of allies, in 2023, achieved the design and approval of the Rural Education Public Policy, by the Departmental Assembly of Antioquia. This opens up the possibilities to achieve decisive support for this model that transforms rurality and ensures not only access, but also relevant, active and quality training for children and young people in the most remote territories.

The achievement of this public policy goes hand in hand with the goals of Comfama together with Alianza ERA: “We seek to be a reference in rural education in Latin America to contribute significantly to rural development and the training of leaders who project themselves in their communities as transformers of realities,” points out the person in charge of Learning and Education at Comfama.

This content was made with the support of Comfama.


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