Last August 4 culminated the fieldwork of ¡Alfabetiza! Adult Education (Literacy) Campaign 2012. The campaign was conducted in four communities, two of them in Querétaro. In the town of Colón, near the city of Queretaro, we worked in La Zorra and Nogales. These towns participated in a process of continuity and strengthening of actions, as the project was implemented in the years 2007 and 2008. The other two communities are located in Puebla. Like the previous year we are working at the slopes of Popocatepetl, in the towns of San Miguel Tecuanipa and Santiago Tochimizolco.
As always, youth literacy volunteers lived in towns and worked for 8 weeks teaching classes in literacy and basic education for youth and adults while promoting work and community organization through sports, cultural, training and coexistence activities.
This time we will present two project testimonials that are the result of daily classes and workshops. These show the learning that was achieved through constant practice of literacy. Both publications, through the words of the students, rescued the characteristics of the place they live and show the everyday, problems, dreams and relationships between people.
In Tochimilco a book was published entitled Tales and truths of my people. The Book of Popocatepetl in which, throughout its 239 pages and according to the preface written by the inhabitants, the book 'tells about some of the two very different communities, people who want to share their experiences, stories and truths of their town'.
In Colón, it was published The Craftsman, a magazine that involved the journalism work of the students to show some aspects of Nogales and La Zorra today. Some of the writings it contains are 'Life then and now', 'The art of carving stone in extinction', 'In my community should' and 'The Red pulque'.
These were some of the strategies that the ¡Alfabetiza! project found to promote literacy, for adults and young people in these communities to recover their right to speak and to create opportunities for discussion and thoughts on life in their communities.
During the recent months we have been working on what we call post-campaign: a space for reflection, evaluation and closure of ¡Alfabetiza! 2012 that inevitably is connected with the planning of activities for 2013. Soon we will have news about the new group of volunteers and developments needed.
We are pleased with the results so far, but we know that there is still much to be done with these people that has opened the doors of their houses and given us the confidence to meet them, learn from them and work with them. Because of this, and because learning or teaching is a never ending process, we plan to continue our work in communities Tochimilco in Puebla, for the third consecutive year, adding even efforts to make the two work centers perform their campaigns in nearby communities and strengthen their processes interacting with each other and any other programs from Adeco.
¡Alfabetiza! Adult Education Campaign successfully launched this summer's teaching literacy program in 4 communities. In the district of Colón, near the city of Querétaro, we are working at La Zorra and Nogales. Both towns already know us, since the project had already been held there in 2007 and 2008. On the bases of Popocatepetl, just like last year, we are working in San Miguel Tecuanipa and Santiago Tochimizolco.
It is important for us to give continuity to the work with the people, so this year we have returned to both workplaces. This way we are strengthening projects we have been developing for a while now, such as the community libraries that have been formed and managed by the residents together with volunteers.
With 63 literacy teachers and 300 students started classes last June 10th, which will end on Saturday, August 4th. In addition to customized classes in small groups, there are recreation, integration and sports activities and read aloud, human rights and skills for life workshops, all of this for young people and adults with limited resources.
This year we have published a book – going through the printing process – in the communities of Tochimizolco and Tecuanipa. In this book, each of the adults involved has an opportunity to give expression to their ideas, life stories, poetry, fiction and denunciation. Therefore, we have an anthology of literary works showing what they have learned in terms of language. More importantly, it represents a means of expression and appropriation of literacy and freedom of speech.
Meanwhile, in the communities of La Zorra and Nogales, a side project has been developed with the young population. Tlalana, self-management and youth (as the workshop is called) provides participants with the tools necessary to learn how to self-organize, diagnose, manage and carry out projects in their own communities, thus ensuring that the young locals are a force for change since they themselves choose to improve their village. We are working with 21 attendees, young people who didn't participate in the classes for adults and who mostly have a higher education level.
Now that we are close to the end of our stay in the communities, the evaluation and projection to the future phase begins. We are very pleased with the results obtained so far, but we know that there is still much to do with this people, who has opened the doors of their houses and trusted us to know them, learn and work with them.
As every year, this 2012 we will work in the Campaña de educación para adultos ¡Alfabetiza! (Adult education Literacy Campaign) with two workplaces that will develop at the same time but independently of each other. Since last November the planning of the project began, it will be held this summer in the town of Tochimilco, Puebla. Coordination groups made their Strategic Planning, reviewed the Logic Model and proposed some indicators to evaluate this year´s work.
Between January 15th and January 25th, the project was spread among young people from different high schools. With a great response to the call, two groups of literacy professors were formed: one with 60 volunteers and another one with more than 20.
The working sessions began on January 27th, they will be held once a week and will be 16 in total. The main purposes of these sessions are: to train participants in literacy tools (Particularly the Paulo Freire “Palabra Generadora” method), to prepare the necessary materials to teach, to develop tools to perform in rural communities and to raise the necessary funds to live out of town for 2 months. For these four main activities, each workplace has created working committees that will be responsible for them. Part of the training process consists of a seminar on education, which will last 12 hours divided into 3 sessions.
It is also contemplated to make three trips during the pre-campaign stage for participants to conduct a census of the population we will work with.
Each month fundraising activities are scheduled to collect the full amount required for the project´s implementation.
Both working groups will travel from Mexico City to the rural communities on June 4th. The groups will live and work there for 9 weeks teaching literacy and basic education.
This summer we successfully took the Campaña de educación para adultos ¡Alfabetiza! to the field, as we do every year. For this purpose we divided into two groups.
The first group worked for a second successive year in Súchil, a community located in the Maltrata-Orizaba mountain range in Veracruz. There we worked directly with 190 adults who signed up to take classes, 80 of which were illiterate. These people were organized in 83 groups which worked in the people's houses, at the local elementary school, and anywhere in town where it was appropriate. The 26 voluntary teachers, who had been training and gathering resources since January, spent six weeks living in the elementary school and working with the enrolled students. With the community as a whole they developed different activities like a workshop for the young people (part of our Tlalana project), a talk about human rights whit about 60 attendees and practiced several sports. They also leave behind a public library with its own place in town.
The other working group went to the municipality of Tochimilco, at the flank of the Popocatepetl Volcano in Puebla, for the first time. 25 literacy teachers, both male and female, worked there with 117 students (49 of which required literacy improvement classes) in two communities, San Miguel Tecuanipa and Tochimizolco. There were 47 groups in these towns, and besides the classes the volunteers performed several activities with the locals for community integration and diagnosis. We will go back to work and live in these towns next summer to go further upon the progress made this year. As it is customary in our project, we worked with the community to leave a public library in San Miguel Tecuanipa, the operation of which will be enhanced through next year's work.
On the attached table we summarize some of our results.
The activities of the project go on, since we have to evaluate our results and develop further proposals for our work next year as well as perform follow-up visits to the communities to strengthen the work done.
We repeat our invitation to you to send us comments, bibliography or any other kind of feedback, as well as to get further involved with the project in a closer manner. We also want to send our kindest regards to the volunteers, the people at the communities and to you who have supported us this far.
This summer, the project ¡Alfabetiza! Campaña de educación para adultos, will move to two work stations: one in Súchil, Veracruz and the other in San Miguel Tecuanipa, Puebla.
Fifty young volunteers have been working in the project since February in the Precampaña stage, during which they procured both the training and the resources needed to teach and help develop the people of the target communities.
The seminar Prácticas comunitarias para la autogestión y la educación, that took place between February the 14th and March the 28th, covered many of the key training aspects the volunteers need. This seminar consisted of six sessions about education for adults, access to the written culture, community development, popular education, praxis, identity, human rights, empowerment and other related topics.
Besides the seminar, the volunteers received weekly training sessions on the Palabra Generadora method during which they simulated the teaching dynamics developed by Paulo Freire. They will use this system to teach literacy and related topics while in the community. A theoretical background learning is also necessary, so the volunteers read and analyzed the ideas of several education scholars.
We have also established working relationships with other organizations that will work with the children of the community while our project works with the adults. This way we will have the help of experienced professionals who will also train us.
The group of volunteers has been proactive about getting the funds required to keep the project going. Instead of just waiting for donations to come, we organized several fundraising events among which the most relevant two are: a benefit dinner for the project with more than 200 attendees and an artistic event that consisted in an exposition of posters about the project, several cinematographic projections and an art auction.
Besides these events, several street collections, raffles, garage sales, parties and book and supplies gatherings were organized to support the project.
Even though we have other means to support the initiative, our project relies heavily on your donation: they allow us to support a better working environment, to have more, and more appropriate, teaching materials and to focus our energy on training the volunteers instead of fundraising on our own.
During the precampaña stage of the project we made several scouting trips to the communities where the teaching will take place. The main purpose of these trips was to interview several community members to learn, among other things, more about the level of education of the potential beneficiaries, the demographics, the illiteracy rate, the public health and safety conditions in the community and the involvement of the people in the issues that concern them. When possible, these trips were also used to determine the places where the classes would be given and whom the participants might be.
San José Súchil, where we already worked last summer with the project, is located in the flank of the Pico de Orizaba (Maltrata municipality, Veracruz) and about 400 out of its 1315 inhabitants do not know how to read and write. Last year we installed a library there and this year we expect to further develop its role as a center for the education and social development of the community. We also hope to reach further in the teaching efforts already started with the adult population and to enhance the involvement of the general public in the social organization of the community.
San Miguel Tecuanipa, is a new community for the project, it is located in the Tochimilco municipality, in the state of Puebla, very near to the Popocatepetl volcano. 38 out of the 114 people we have been able to interview so far are illiterate, which means about 33% of those questioned. As only 22 interviewees studied beyond elementary school, the educational deficiency is evident and thus our work there is dearly needed.
The second stage of the project, during which we will spend two months living full-time in the working stations begins this weekend. We will be staying in the elementary school of the communities and, besides the two hour long classes to be taught in small groups five times a week, we have a series of supplementary activities planned. We will take several workshops to the communities, for children, for youngsters and on health education as well as reading aloud activities and lectures on human rights and gender equality among other relevant topics for the whole population.
The literacy teachers will be on the field until Saturday August the 6th; when they shall return to México City for the poscampaña stage to begin.
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