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Picture Click+Clack produced book
Picture child reading Click+Clack produced book
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Category: Click+Clack

Dancing, singing, reflecting and learning: an encounter between Julián Díaz and a group of teachers in Chocó

To say that Julián Díaz has got the magic is to fall short. The Colombian actor and co-director of Diokaju Generación Afro Art, is able to make anyone laugh, dance and shout. Julián brings smiles to those who are sad, makes those who do not want to laugh cackle and makes those who do not want to jump start jumpling all around. Then, the body is freed, emotions are released, reflection is triggered and learning is never forgotten.

Julián’s indescribable magic reached several municipalities in Chocó. Together with Click+Clack and Unicef Colombia, as part of the ECHO project, the actor visited Pie de Pato, Platanares and Puerto Meluk (Baudó subregion), taking conversations, dances, songs and activities for teachers in the communities to explore different ways of learning and teaching.

During this encounter with the communities, Julián managed to create spaces for relaxation and reflection with the teachers. Through postures, physical exercises, deep breathing, songs and dances, teachers memorized choreographies and danced around a candle that symbolized the guiding light of knowledge that we carry inside. The goal of this routine, beyond fun and stress release, was to make teachers aware of the importance of their work in society, the commitment that involves working with children and adolescents, and how learning processes can occur in any scenario.

Julian was able to trigger important reflections, for example, the need to create pleasant and empathetic environments to build trust, strengthen classroom participation, and trigger meaningful learning. In addition, the importance of focusing on activities aimed at collective well-being and the need to recognize the various strengths, skills and qualities that can be exploited in the academic field was highlighted. The relevance of putting emotions at the center of learning was another axis of the activities and dialogues triggered by the actor.

“I think that the activities carried out by Unicef and Click+Clack with teachers from three establishments in Alto Baudó, are a great opportunity for us to reflect on the way we experience our emotions and, therefore, to learn to guide them, transmit them or experience them with all those around us, especially with our students, to educate by example and get them to live a life in community enjoying and managing their emotions. This is another opportunity for us to improve what we do as teachers. Teachers work for many goals and we want to do it well. The opportunity that they gave us was beautiful. I felt that we all enjoyed it. It was very valuable and the most important thing is that it’s not stopping there; we know that we must continue working and not give up on children, or ourselves. I am very grateful and I hope that for my colleagues this will continue to be another way to keep enjoying what we do.” Glemi Samira Robledo, headmistress of the Hermano Anselmo Molano Educational Center in Alto Baudó.

Chocó is characterized by a high level of social and political unpredictability. The context of poverty and the lack of state presence, combined with the emergencies caused by floods and armed conflict, have affected the educational trajectory of children and young people in these communities. All this translates into enormous social and educational challenges. Therefore, it is essential not only to reach them with innovative and appropriate resources and materials, but to foster spaces where body, mind and emotions become protagonists of the responses to the needs that communities face.

Can having or not having shoes affect the educational trajectory of boys and girls?

Could something like the use of shoes and uniforms affect the educational trajectory of boys and girls? Could not having shoes be an emergency? This blue-tinted image was the product of a reflection around the rejection or discrimination that occurs when a student has or does not have shoes and school uniform. Having shoes on a place like La Guajira is a privilege; it’s a necessary tool to protect your feet in the middle of the long walks that must be endured to get to school. Uniforms, on the other hand, are also a privilege that not all boys and girls can access, and many are paid by teachers. Using them creates an identity.

The photo of these girls in uniform and shoes, taken within the framework of the emergency education project that we are implementing with Unicef Colombia, is evidence of gaps that, in addition to situations such as floods and lack of infrastructure, generate barriers to learning, barriers to security, identity, equality and the well-being of students.

How do boys and girls learn at this experimental farm in Uribia, La Guajira?

Pedro Córdoba is a teacher of Spanish Language, Culture and Language at the Institución Integral Rural Juyasirain Jorge Mario Aguas Menco in the municipality of Uribia, La Guanira. In a mission to La Guajira within the framework of the emergency education project that we are developing together with Unicef Colombia with the support of PRM (Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the United States Department of State), we had the opportunity to talk with him about his institution and about the emergencies that the municipality is facing. Listening to Pedro and other people in the community is relevant to strengthen the strategy of putting education at the center in emergency contexts.

Hand in hand with the initiatives, games, activities and reflections fostered by Click+Clack and Unicef, it is a priority to approach the community to find strengths, learn the methodologies of teachers, recognize their needs and build new tools collectively as a result.

Click+Clack: What is the heart of the Institución Integral Rural Juyasirain Jorge Mario Aguas Menco?

Pedro Córdoba: “The core of Juyasirain is the experimental farm. On the experimental farm we have medicinal plants, cassava, wheat and corn. We have goats, 12 big goats and 4 small ones. On the pigpen we have three large pigs.”

C+C: How do cross-cutting strategies work in on-farm learning processes?

PC: “From the area of Spanish Language, students are asked to come to the farm and from there an exercise in description is carried out. From reading comprehension we also address natural sciences, social sciences, artistic education, arithmetic, and worldview. In social sciences we also address history. How does everything come together? The main axis is the area that I am teaching. Spanish Language. I take the other areas and, from a common point, like traditional medicine, we observe and explore plants. From there, since teachers of artistic education are working the types of lines, we look at how students can recognize vertical lines, horizontal, zig zag, curve, and diagonal on the farm. In statistics, random and possibility experiments are conducted: what is certain, possible and impossible. Then we move on to the area of cosmovision and approach the importance of traditional medicine. In natural sciences students look at the kinds of plants that exist on a general level, but they also recognize which plants are local. Within the framework of worldview, the outsü is taken as the main figure (the outsü is the traditional wayúu doctor). This proposal was implemented throughout this period, which we are already finishing, so that students did not feel overwhelmed. It’s a way to help them weave all areas together in a striking way.”

**The woman curator –outsü– as a spiritual authority in the community of Wararalain and how these practices and knowledges are still active in the 21st century, taking into account the political, environmental, cultural and health context of which the historical reality that the Wayúu people have lived in Colombia is part.

C+C What are the emergencies that interrupt the educational process of the students in Uribia?

PC: “One of the emergencies that has affected us the most is the issue of the floodings because the institution does not have a point of drainage, so water is repressed, especially in the primary school area. In the entrance, children walk and wet their shoes. The halls and the roofs have deteriorated and broken by the winds. There are also leaks. That’s a distraction when we’re in class. The floodings have damaged the walls of the rooms, which are made of clay; there are rooms that flood and we have to look for sand to fill the room.

Another emergency is the climate issue, heat, which is very strong between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. Since we have some kiosks, we have gone outside in some moments to give the classes there. The issue of transport is another problem. As it is not constant, sometimes children must stay on the road. This is dangerous and that does not allow them to reach the classroom. That’s why parents decide not to send them, to avoid a possible accident. And there is another problem that is that of teenage pregnancies. Some girls have become pregnant. The institution feels sorry for them and they send them some guides so that they learn during their confinement. ”

C+C What other threat does education face and how can that threat be addressed?

PC: “There are children who are mechanics, who work in bakeries. Because of work, they often do not study. But our emphasis is on entrepreneurship and this allows us to turn that threat of desertion into a strength: we are telling them that if they want to work and grow in their jobs, then we support them in continuing their studies, because they need them to become professional. “

“The river is the backbone of the people, it communicates, protects and threatens them.”

Ómar Ángel is one of the Click+Clack pedagogical mediators who is dealing with education in emergencies in some of Colombia’s most remote communities. The teacher training processes he has led and the meetings he has held with the communities have taken place in several municipalities in Chocó. We asked Ómar to tell us about his experience in one of those places, and above all, to narrate the space, time, emergencies, the comings and goings of a place that few have had the opportunity to experience and acknowledge.

Click+Clack: What is the most challenging or remote place you have ever had to visit?

Ómar Ángel: I would say the most challenging, because of the time, transportation, distance, etc., would be Riosucio, a municipality in Colombia located in the Urabá area in the department of Chocó.

C+C: How do you get to Riosucio?

OA: It can be reached by land or by river. By land, you have to get to a newly created municipality, which until December 31 belonged to Riosucio, called Belén de Bajirá, and from there continue by UAZ (old trucks that can be driven on any terrain). This journey lasts from 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours and 30 minutes, depending on the state of the road. When the river rises, you cannot take this route because sections of the road disappear under the water. On this route, the dominant landscape is farms, banana plantations or cattle ranches. They raise buffaloes in several of these.

You can travel there by water from Turbo, in the north (the route I usually take), or from Quibdó, in the south. From Turbo, the boat (or panga, as they say in the region) takes a little over three hours, although the trip includes a stop in Bocas del Atrato to have fried fish for breakfast (fish is not included in the ticket price). This section of the Atrato River is full of jungle, although in some parts of the river there are banana and corn crops (those are the ones I am able to recognize). There are several farmhouses, and you can also see small wooden houses far away from everything. The river is the backbone of the people, it feeds them and takes away their waste, it allows them to communicate with their neighbors, it protects, and threatens them. Usually I arrive by river and leave by land, because when I visit Riosucio I also take the opportunity to go to Belén de Bajirá.

C+C: What is special about Riosucio? What emergencies does the community face?

OA: Riosucio is one of the oldest settlements in South America. Despite this, it is a town that seems forgotten by the world. Its streets are still made of dirt, and it can remain flooded for several months at a time. During my last few visits, the river was paying a visit and I had to test my balance to walk on the boards that are set up in the middle of the streets so that people can move around. Despite this being a common scene, this continues to influence the continuity of the educational career of the students. When it rains, classes are postponed or canceled, because walking on the slippery planks is dangerous, especially considering the number of children who must walk on them. The houses and schools are built on stilts, which saves them from flooding, but does not stop the impact of water on these wooden structures. There are still many houses and classrooms that are made of wood, and these buildings have to be continually repaired to prevent them from collapsing. There are temporary classrooms, which were built during an emergency 15 years ago, that are still used, but they constitute a risk due to so many years of use.

On another note, the threat of illegal groups is ever-present. The AGC marked almost all the houses in the town, as if wanting to warn locals and foreigners as to who the authority is. Certainly, they gave permission for us to arrive, so it is important to notify the principals and the authorities of our visits in advance. In the work to identify emergencies, this issue is not directly discussed; there is an obvious veto in this regard. Only one of the institutions spoke of the potential risk due to having a police station next door.

Who is Delia and how is she transforming education in Catatumbo?

On January 6, 2015, Delia Carrillo arrived in Colombia from Venezuela by crossing the border through the Pica del Dos, an unofficial trail to enter the country through Norte de Santander. The Pica del Dos leads to the municipality of Tibú, Catatumbo, an area hard hit by armed conflict, drug trafficking and gasoline smuggling.

Delia, like many Venezuelan women in her community, never imagined that she would have to live in an informal settlement flooded by mud and with enormous infrastructure deficiencies. “We came here out of necessity; the pandemic arrived, we had no money for rent or food,” says Delia. After several years of living in the Nueva Esperanza 3 (New Hope 3) human settlement in Tibú, she asserts that this place has transformed her purpose in life.

This woman, leader of the settlement and head of a foundation called Fundación Generación Resilientes del Catatumbo (Catatumbo Resilient Generation Foundation), created the school ‘Proyecto de Educación Mis Primeros Pasos’ (My First Steps Education Project). Delia, along with fellow comrades, observed a huge gap in education: migrant boys and girls dropped out of school due to a lack of documentation and a lack of student places in the main schools in the area. Not being in school in a setting like Tibú translates into boys and girls ending up on the streets, working, collecting scrap metal, or becoming victims of forced recruitment. And in the case of girls, pregnancies from 10 to 12 years of age.

Although Delia never imagined having the vocation to teach, she felt the need to face up to this educational reality by reinforcing basic learning such as reading and writing. She did not have training in teaching, nor did she have the space or the pedagogical tools, but little by little and together with 12 other leaders, what was just a plot of land became a space with plastic walls, zinc roofs, some tables, decorations made from recycled materials, colorful signs, and a few other educational materials that gradually arrived as donations.

Today, the 12 leaders, mothers of the community, fulfill the role of teachers and assistants in two shifts: from 8 to 11:30 a.m. they teach classes for students from 4 to 7 years old; from 2 to 5 p.m. they teach classes for students from 8 to 14 years old. “No one has training,” says Delia, “but now we have the support of Click+Clack and Unicef, who are training us to be able to teach children,” she adds.

Her time, her resources, her ideas… Delia, in addition to being trained in initial education, has invested everything she has to make the school a safe space, a space, she says, that students never want to leave. For this reason, she, together with her colleagues, has made the most of everything that comes into her hands to transform it into something very powerful. As such, something as simple as a La Aldea handbook can be brought to life in the form of puppets created by Berta, Delia’s mother.

Puppets have become a very valuable pedagogical tool. They represent learning, reflection, laughter, play, creativity, art, a tool to face emergencies within this context, in a fun and different way.

“The children are learning… they are learning to express what they feel, what hurts them, what happens to them. Before they were too shy, but through singing, dramatization, and games, they have been experiencing that feeling of ‘yes I can do it’. Now, when we give out roles for them to play with the puppets, everyone wants to take part,” says Chely, co-founder and leader of the Fundación Generación Resilientes del Catatumbo.

La Aldea and UNICEF in Barranquilla! Tutor Testimonials from the Todos a Aprender Program

Boys and girls like it because it keeps them active and creative

La Aldea is very beautiful. Boys and girls like it because it keeps them active and creative. The book and the stories of La Aldea are acted out by animals that live together in a space that, in real life, could be our neighborhood, the municipality, the department, Colombia or the world. The stories represent what we are living now. In addition, the text is very transversal, since practically all areas can be worked through.

Alirio Reyes Beltrán, coordinator of the San José del Trigal Educational Institution (Cúcuta)

“I imagine that boys and girls will identify with the characters”

Click: What is the best thing about La Aldea?

Mayra Reyes: The training processes with La Aldea are very fun, but the most important thing is that they are designed so that we can implement them with our students.

The activities and resources are very good. Not only visual and auditory skills are developed, but the emotional part is also worked on. In addition there is a very clear connection, because it is what we live both as teachers and students. That is what meaningful learning is. Additionally, the areas are related since topics that allow this connection are addressed. In this way, it is easier for boys and girls to learn, understand and relate to it.

C: Do you plan to implement La Aldea in the Buena Esperanza Technical Institution?

MR: We are going to implement La Aldea in 2022. The teachers at my campus, who are from 3rd, 4th and 5th grades, are going to meet to work together with our students, and build a great project. This is how they proposed it to us in the training sessions and we know that other institutions have done it and it has given them very good results.

C: The book of La Aldea speaks of a return to being present, of a world in transition. Is this common thread still valid?

MR: Although the book talks about the return to presence in a world that is in transition, now that we are definitely back in the classroom, the activities are still valid. Last year less than half of the students entered, now they will enter with full enrollment. So now all the boys and girls will be able to get involved and we will be able to share all the experiences of La Aldea. I imagine that they will feel identified with the characters, just as we teachers identify with the situations and characters.

Interview with Mayra Alejandra Reyes
Good Hope Technical Institute (Cúcuta)
Teacher of natural sciences and social sciences

The challenges of teaching and learning in Pondores, La Guajira

The formation process of La Aldea in Pondores, the Old Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space in La Guajira, has been carried out since 2020 by three migrant sisters and educational leaders: Betsabé, Yineth and Madeleine. In the last visit made by Click and UNICEF in December 2021, three more participants joined the sessions: Moises, 14, and two young people, 18 and 19 years old.

Specifically, five sessions were developed in which the first four stories of La Aldea were addressed: Stories for a world in transition. Additionally, an introduction was made for those who did not know the stories and a space was created to talk about pedagogy and socio-emotional learning; none of the participants had previously had training in pedagogy or didactics. But there was an additional surprise on our last visit to Pondores: 8 boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 10 joined the sessions. Although it was unplanned, the methodology was adapted so that they could be part of the process.

Our journey through Pondores was loaded with activities to expand emotional vocabulary, the exploration of emotions and art, life projects, social cartography and recognition of characters from La Aldea; as well as reflections on the infant brain, early childhood learning needs, conscious didactics, extracurricular learning places and the importance of the community in the educational process.

The participants expressed appreciation because they consider it essential to open extracurricular educational spaces, especially in this scenario in which boys and girls spend a lot of time alone because their caregivers have to go out to work all day in the fields. Added to this are a large number of out-of-school children and an early childhood that does not receive any type of care due to the inactivity of the Child Development Center (CDI) and the Care and Attention Unit (UCA). In addition to the show of gratitude, fears were expressed in relation to their work; these leaders by vocation worry that they are not doing their school reinforcement work well. Not having the opportunity to study a professional or technical career in Colombia, they seek more support in terms of development and strengthening of teaching skills. An additional problem: the lack of income associated with work, income necessary to support their children and families, which represents a risk for the continuity and sustainability of educational processes.

Girls and boys alone in houses with dangerous snakes that threaten their lives and health; lack of suitable and safe facilities; few recreational areas and little connectivity… These are just some of the challenges for a forgotten corner that is not prepared for a quality education. Despite this, women like Betsabé and her sisters stand for education and work daily to strengthen the participation of young people in processes of social change and in supporting children. The goal: to generate alliances that make it possible to bolster educational processes like La Aldea, and especially the accompaniment processes for guaranteeing quality education and the integral development of boys and girls in the community.