“Students will receive material that they don’t often see, especially in rural classrooms”

“Norte de Santander is a region that is doubly affected: by migration and armed conflict. This generates emotional tensions that are reflected in the classrooms and that affect the work of teachers and teaching directors. For this reason, counting on La Aldea is providing them with a useful, easy and fun tool that allows them to bring emotionally healthy discussions to the classroom, and also be able to involve families in some class content.

La Aldea has been very well received in all the educational institutions where we have worked in Cúcuta and other municipalities in the metropolitan area. For this reason, we also evaluated the possibility of focusing La Aldea on educational institutions where the children have suffered from displacement; either their families, the boys and girls themselves or some displacement nearby.

Regarding training, La Aldea offers teachers a very friendly guidance; the sessions are close and pleasant conversational encounters for them. And this is felt even from the name of the training sessions: “A coffee with La Aldea”. They are spaces where teachers open up emotionally; socio-emotional aspects are worked on so that they can then work on them in the classroom with the students.

In addition, students will receive material that they don’t often see. Especially in the case of rural classrooms… These libraries are not as well equipped as in urban area. This is a very good quality material that reaches both children in rural areas and children in urban areas. It also has some very striking features: it has stickers, it has a poster, a separator, a cardboard paw so that boys and girls can ask permission to speak, and these things are very attractive. If they allow students to feel that the book is not just study material, but also play material, then they bond favorably with it and that allows them to make it part of their lives”.

Interview with Jorge Rangel
UNICEF Education in Emergencies Professional

“La Aldea is a tool that allows us teachers to implement another way of motivating reading. In addition, boys and girls learn to build challenges and find solutions to everyday things. It allows us to reinforce knowledge and gives us the possibility of working in a different and educational way. I think it is a book that impacts us all. Both the students and us teachers.

Julieth Villamizar Daza, Spanish and social teacher at the Puerto Santander School (N. de Santander, border with Venezuela)

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)

Since we implemented La Aldea in the institution, the attitude of the students has been one of motivation. They are always willing to participate because they love the characters and identify with them.

La Aldea is a valuable tool because it has allowed them to improve their reading and comprehension processes, while working in a very didactic way. And the best thing is that it can be used in any area, since it has a transversal approach. From math, science, caring for the environment, reading, ethics, to sharing.

Marlobi Barrera Gómez, teacher at the San José del Trigal Educational Institution (Cúcuta)

The challenges of teaching and learning in territory

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.

“La Aldea is like a family to me. Thanks to La Aldea I have learned to take care from Covid, I have learned to read, and I have shared with others. I like it because I share my feelings with others. I have learned that I can feel sad because I am afraid, or that I can feel angry because I am angry. My favorite character is Carmen the bear.”

Manuel, child from La Guajira

“The training processes of La Aldea have allowed me to acquire an experience to be able to work better with boys and girls. It is a tool for talking with them about everything. It allows me to start a meaningful conversation, from fantasy, but always closely linked to reality. In the long term, this tool enables boys and girls to train and grow as more conscious people, more active in their exercise of citizenship, in their duties, in their rights. In addition, boys and girls manage to relate the characters of La Aldea with people in the community. For example: Lorena, for them, is the president of the Community Action Board. La Aldea creates an environment that connects boys and girls with the world of adults, opening space for analyzing and understanding real situations in the environment”.

Betsabé Moler, leader of Pondores, La Guajira.

Betsabé, Yineth and Madeleine Moler: the sisters who have given life to La Aldea in Pondores, La Guajira

AETCR Pondores is a former Territorial Training and Reincorporation Space which was created by the Colombian government for ex-combatants of the FARC-EP. It is located in the village of Conejo, in the municipality of Fonseca. In that corner of La Guajira live Betsabé, Yineth and Madeleine Moler, three migrant sisters who have participated in the formation process of La Aldea and have dared to take the stories of the book to another level, giving them meaning and color.

Betsabé has been part of the Gender and Youth Committee of Pondores for three years, and together with her sister Yineth, 20, is in charge of supporting learning in extracurricular spaces for boys and girls between 7 and 16 years of age, most of whom are enrolled in schools in Almapoque and Conejo. For her part, Madeleine, the youngest of the three sisters, leads the school reinforcement process with early childhood boys and girls and with 12 students from multigrade classrooms from the rural school of Marimondas, located in the Perijá mountain range.

Thanks to the leadership of the three sisters, today Pondores has on its walls a mural featuring some characters from La Aldea. Lorena, Carmen and Horacio the owl pose cheering for a corner of the country that for years has faced great challenges, and are helping to nurture the learning processes of boys and girls who have had the opportunity to navigate the pages of La Aldea, a book that has allowed them to learn and reflect about a world and a territory that continues to be in transition.

In December 2021, we were in a meeting with the teaching directors of the Pasto institutions, with the Municipal Secretary of Education and UNICEF, to close the teacher training process and make a projection as to how to work with La Aldea in 2022. The directors began to think about different ways of working with La Aldea and they promised to help the teachers so that the application is a success in the coming school year.

In the last session of 2021 with teachers from four educational institutions in La Guajira, more than thirty teachers gathered together to explore the story “Between chaos and order.” A great success!

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