Bolivia – From Settlement to Education

Since 1989, DIB has completed development projects in Bolivia in cooperation with local partners focusing on settlement and local planning. The projects have focused on technology transfer and training in promoting sustainable human settlement, participatory planning, strengthening the interaction between civil society organizations and municipalities, and strengthening children's self-esteem and ability to communicate and socialize.

Due to the long presence in the country, DIB has a good foothold in Bolivia and has been able to build up a solid experience in project development and implementation. Knowledge of the local population and its context is particularly common in Bolivian Highlands, where DIB has also built up a large network with other NGOs, civil society organizations, public authorities and other institutions, including the education sector. Today, DIB still has close contact with Danish NGOs, working in Bolivia (IBIS, Axis and Dialogos, etc.) and Bolivian COGAWI and CONGI (umbrella organization for international NGOs in Bolivia).

DIB works to the extent possible in continuation of the policy of the current Bolivian government. This means that we have a special focus on the relationship and the cooperation with the civil society organizations, among other things, with a focus based on practical examples like alternative teaching methods (playful learning), ecoliteracy or sustainable development.

Since 2006, together with our former Bolivian partner organization, SAHB, and our current partner organization Teko Kavi we have implemented several projects with emphasis on education and popular participation funded by the CISU Civil Society Fund.

Ecoliteracy and Playful Learning (Aprender Jugando)

Over the past 10 years, we have worked closely with our partner organization Teko Kavi and, together we have completed the projects Aprender Jugando 1 and Aprender Jugando 2. Teko Kavi has also worked with the Danish Association of the Physically Disabled (DHF) and WWF on the implementation of projects which means that they now have a relationship with a number of other organizations and institutions. As part of the organizational development and the professional development, a resource group (alliance) has been established in cooperation with VIA UC teacher and education programs in Aarhus and Brandbjerg Højskole. Thereby DIB has obtained a qualified and present group of alliance partners who have been actively involved in the preparations and implementation of the Aprender Jugando projects. In June 2016, the third phase of the project, Aprender Jugando 3 (AJ3), commenced and will continue until June 2019.

Aprender Jugando 3

Aprender Jugando 3 is about ecoliteracy from school to community in order to live in harmony with Mother Earth. AJ3 builds on our experiences from the previous projects AJ1 and AJ2. The project is still incorporating and entering into dialogue with Bolivia's new development paradigm, Vivir Bien. In cooperation with the local authorities, civil society organizations and teacher training, research and action-based learning methods will create coherence between learning, school and community. The idea of the ecoliteracy learning methods is to enable local communities to identify local environmental problems and mobilize the population around a good life in balance with nature.

AJ3 is being implemented in three areas: Santiago de Huata, located near Lake Titicaca, Hampaturi, is a partially peri-urban area located in two valleys east of La Paz and Umala on the highlands south of La Paz.

Children are one of the project's direct target groups for the education of ecoliteracy, which, together with the focus on teachers, civil societies and student teachers, contributes to the sustainability of the project and the dissemination of the ecoliteracy concept. The project includes 30 schools in the three areas as well as the teacher training in Santiago de Huata. The project is targeted at the school because it could potentially have an effect and spread, as it affects children, young people and teachers directly while parents, families and communities are indirectly affected.

The project is divided into three phases, working towards achieving three specific objectives:

  • Objective 1: Research, learning and dissemination of the ecoliteracy model between school and community in Umala, Santiago de Huata and Hampaturi and at the teacher training in Santiago de Huata.
  • Objective 2: Strengthening the organizational, democratic and participatory capacity of schools and communities to prepare and implement proposals for activities focused on ecoliteracy as socio-productive and unifying for the community.
  • Objective 3: Diffusion: dissemination of ecoliteracy at municipal, regional and national level.

The first phase is the preparatory phase, which was completed at the turn of the year. Baseline and ethnographic studies that form the basis for further work were prepared and agreements and cooperation with schools, teachers and local authorities in Umala and Hampaturi were established. In Santiago de Huata, a number of challenges occurred because of a replacement in the local authorities which postponed the process until the spring of 2017, where cooperation agreements were signed and where the basis for a good cooperation in the three project areas came in place.

The second phase of AJ3 began in the first half of 2017, where the actual ecoliteracy activities were launched and workshops for the target groups in the areas were held. The purpose of these workshops is to inspire, guide and educate people on the concept of ecoliteracy and the goal is to get the participants to develop their own socio-productive and collective suggestions on topics related to ecoliteracy. Possible initiatives could include activities aimed at improving the environment and food security through a focus on ecology with the establishment of kitchen gardens, greenhouses, tree planting campaigns, markets and other local initiatives.

The purpose of strengthening the local and the civil society is to become advocates and primus engineers to influence local, municipal and regional decision makers in the development and implementation of socio-productive activities that promote environmental sustainability in local areas in Bolivia.

Part of the project is installing eco-ludotecs, a sort of after school facility focusing on environmental sustainability, and the development of an eco-ludobus, a traveling eco-library, that can visit schools in self-removing areas. In particular, the teacher training will focus on the methods that can be used in eco-ludotecs and the eco-ludobus.

The third and final phase of AJ3 focuses on diffusion and dissemination of the eco-alphabetization model. In this last phase evaluations of the project's activities and results are made in cooperation with the local communities, schools, families, teachers, students and local authorities. The results of the project will be disseminated through various forums, networks and media (radio broadcasts, leaflets, newsletters, etc.), with the objective to create interest and support in other parts of the population, both at the municipal and, hopefully, national level. A specific example of a product in this phase is the eco-literacy guides developed in collaboration with the project participants. The guides aim to create an overview of the experience of eco-literacy as an integral part of the teaching in the exact local area where the project has been completed.