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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