Outside is necessary, but home should be best

By Jette Luna, CICED vice-chair and responsible for projects in Latin America 

On January 1, 2020, CICED’s new project in Bolivia starts: ‘Quality education for children and youth in poor villages in the highlands of Bolivia’. The project aims to show that happiness is not found in hard, low-paid work in a big city, but much more in creating sustainable development in the villages together.

There are not many working people left in the villages of the Potosí region. Most young people, including mothers and fathers, have traveled to big cities in Bolivia, Argentina and Chile in search of work and income. Life in big cities doesn’t include children, so they are left at home with their grandparents.

Parents visit the children whenever possible. But possible can be quite rare. Transportation is expensive. Employer does not allow vacation. Or people are employed without a contract and may be in a foreign country illegally. It’s too risky to go home. Contact with the children is therefore sparse. Just like the cash that is sent back to the villages.

The grandparents are responsible for the children’s upbringing and schooling – and catering.
In addition to being a large and demanding task for the grandparents, the absence of parents in everyday life also means that the children lack role models and faith in a future in the village. As a result, many young people drop out of school early and leave. Just like their parents.

With this in mind, the project is also about developing vocational skills that will give young people better opportunities to make a living and at the same time contribute to the development of rural areas.
Only through better local living conditions will migration to the big cities be limited. And real prospects are a prerequisite for the next generation of children and young people to be able to grow up with their parents.

In addition to specific professional skills, young people will be involved in courses on entrepreneurship and sustainability. The Potosí area is severely affected by climate change, and there is a great need to rethink cultivation methods and crops.

Too many girls don’t finish elementary school and only a few finish middle school. The villages do not house the upper secondary school, which is typically found in slightly larger communities often far from the villages.

The girls’ only option to attend middle school is safe and secure accommodation close to the school. Therefore, the project will test a model for school homes.

The school homes, as an offer for both girls and boys, must be run in close collaboration with parents and teachers. The young people should be actively involved in the running of the school homes and thereby also learn co-determination in practice.

The school homes will also be the setting for debates focusing on democracy, education, entrepreneurship and sustainability. Socio-productive projects will help make the school homes more or less self-sufficient.

Girls and boys need to learn that, regardless of gender, they can be innovative and contribute to positive development in their villages.

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