Projects of FUNDAEC
Fundacion para la Aplicacion y Ensehanza de las Ciencias

Counsellor Correa has asked me to answer your October 2 letter, refer establishment FTP site. FUNDAEC and other institutions mentioned here will be glad to be posted on the internet, making the information provided here available to the public. I suppose the information you already possess about the Rural University's work is sufficient. A brief update on the three main lines of action, however, might be useful:

I. The Rural University of FUNDAEC (Foundation for the Application and Teaching of Sciences).

A.A. 6555, Cali, Colombia
Tel.(92) 553-6223 / 3144 / 3145
FAX:(92) 553-6491

1. The SAT; Tutorial Learning System

The "Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial", SAT Program, initiated in 1974 with a very small number of students in the North Cauca Region of Colombia, and gradually adopted by several public and private educational institutions in Colombia in the 1980s, is now fully recognized by the Ministry of Education and has been adopted as a new, alternative secondary education option for rural areas by several regional educational authorities in Colombia, with official economic help forthcoming. Based on the Bahá'í principle of service, on a tutorial relationship and great flexibility in terms of time and educational materials (there are 81 texts developed for the three levels) this educational system has now grown to include ten private and public institutions and 15,000 students. There are close to 450 trained tutors and it has reached ten departments in Colombia, including several of the most isolated indigenous and rural communities.

2. Solidarity Production

The solidarity Production System was officially started in 1989, after many years of intense research in the development of alternative small-scale production systems. Inspired by the exit of the Grameen Bank in Bengladesh, and deeply convinced that rural development is possible only if local communities develop and build on the collective values they once had (severely hurt by the market forces), FUNDAEC received and IDB long-term, low- interest loan to develop a new solidarity-based production system. Small farmers groups were formed to receive training in technical aspects of the projects they wished to start, in the administrative aspects of the project and credit received, and in strengthening essential human values that will allow the group to function: consultation, trustworthiness, honesty, truthfulness, service. Each group member then receives a credit for the project s/he wants to start and, to avoid the need for a material guarantee for the credit, all group members (3-5 members) are co- reponsible for each-othr's credit. When four to five groups are established in a community, they form a solidarity-based nucleus and elect a governing body, to co-ordinate training received, marketing, and establish a solidarity fund for community-uplift purposes. There are presently close to 800 small loans given out and fourteen nuclei established in tha Cauca and Valle departments.

3. The Licenciatura Program

The Rural University established in 1990 a four-year university degree program to professionally train teachers for the rural areas, especially tutors of the emerging SAT program. The curricula is, as with the SAT Program, based on Bahá'í Principles; infact it makes many of these principles explicit in the courses on Moral Leadership. A Scholarship Program was established for promising Bahá'í youth in the americas that thay may study at the Rural University (see Ruhi Institute). The first two promotions of students have graduated this year; there are presently 120 students.

II. The Ruhi Institute

A.A. 7098, Cali, Colombia
Tel. (928)282-599

The Ruhi Insitute is an educational institution functioning under the aegis of the NSA of Colombia. Its purpose it to develop human resources dedicated to the spiritual, social and cultural progress of the Colombian people. The Ruhi Institute is a learning institution, the programs of which are all rooted in community action. These programs combine classroom learning with service to the community; their curricula integrate theoretical and practical knowledge around acts of service. Educational activities are designed to help the participants gain adequate undertsanding of relevant concepts, develop spiritual qualities, and acquire those attitudes, skills and abilities that enable an individual to direct his or her energies towards the promotion of the well-being in the community. The participants of the Ruhi Institute programs act as students in certain educational activities and tutors in others.

The Ruhi Insitute is presently carrying out two sets of interrelated activities. The first group of activities is closely connected with the basic processes of expansion and consolidation of the Faith. The second set of activities is primarily focussed on social and economic development.

Social and Economic Development Activities of the Ruhi Institute.

Until recently, these activities consisted of training events designed in response to specific needs as they presented themselves. Over the years they have included short vocational courses for youth, women's groups and supplementary secondary school courses.

In order to expand the SED activities of the Ruhi Institute, the NSA of Colombia, in consultation with the Counsellors and Auxiliary Board members, decided to create the Ruhi Foundation and register it as an independent non-profit organization.

The legal independence gained by the Ruhi Foundation in 1992 has proven to be beneficial at various levels. SED goals can now be pursued more systematically and with greater vigour. A small core group can be remunerated for full or part-time dedicacyion to development projects as staff of the Ruhi Foundation, without adversely affecting the basically voluntary structure of the training activities of the Institute related to the expansion and consolidation of the Faith. Also, the possibility of collaborating with outside organizations and receiving funds form donor agencies has increased apreciably. The activities undertaken by the Foundation fall into four categories:

1. Kindergartens and Primary Schools

The curriculum for Bahá'í kindergartens was developed at the Ruhi Institute in 1982. Since then, yearly courses of seven weeks duration have been offerred to Bahá'ís from Colombia and other Latin American countries, as well as various non-Bahá'í teachers and individuals; in all, some 230 individuals have participated. Presently the number of kindergartens functioning under the guidance of LSAs is 31: nine in the departments of Valle and Cauca, 20 in Guajira (among the indigenous WAYUU community), and another two in the north coast of Colombia.

In 1993, the first year of primary education was added to the existing kindergartens in four localities, and since then another grade has been added every year in at least two of these schools (thus reaching third grade in 1995). The Primary Schools belong to the LSAs, but receive close supervision and technical assistance from the Ruhi Institute. The Ruhi Institute has recently decided to establish a international scholarship program for those children most in need, especially in those marginal communities where public and private aid is hard to come by.

2. Internships for the Rural University Students

Since 1990, an increasing number of Bahá'í youth from various Latin American countries have been studying the university-level program, "Licenciatura en Educación Rural", offerred by FUNDAEC. The majority of these Bahá'í students are sponsored by the Ruhi Institute through scholarships from various sources. A scholarship fund is being built up from private donations in order to give continuity to this highly promising area of activity. During their four years of university studies, the Bahá'í youth attend the various courses offerred by the Ruhi Institute and serve the programs of the Institute in a number of capacities. They are, in fact, playing an increasingly important role in the field of Bahá'í SED in Colombia; 11 students have graduated and another 27 are presently enrolled, from seven latinamerican countries, including students from the indigenous communities of Colombia (WAYUU), Panama (GUAYMI) and Honduras (GARIFUNA/MISKITO).

3. Integral Education of Youth

FUNDAEC's SAT program has grown enormously in prestige and extension in the past few years. The creation of the Ruhi Foundation has allowed FUNDAEC to extend this assistance to the Ruhi Institute. The program entitled "Integral Education of Youth" combines SAT courses with the Bahá'í courses of the Ruhi Institute. The Ruhi Foundation is developing the curriculum of the Integral Education of Youth Program and has developed the details of the educational process, including how to motivate the community, how to organize a group of 20 to 25 youth, and how to arrange tutorial classes, for the subsidized sale of educational texts, for evaluation and for supervision of the acts of service carried out by the students.

4. Ecological Pre-Youth Camps

Starting in 1990, the Ruhi Institute decided to develop a new line of action to further strengthen the Bahá'í pre-youth (10-15 years old) groups, emerging in several communities, through the gradual development of Bahá'í pre-youth ecological camps. These camps have been developed around four basic areas, each with its own educational materials and methods - four areas needed in the search for solutions of the pressing ecological problems our society has to confront:

Aproximately 15 camps have been offerred around the country to close to 600 pre-youth, five themes have been developed and close to 70 Ruhi Institute Colaborators - including youth year of service - have been trained. Recently, an environmental- education program has been initiated with three Bahá'í Primary Schools.

III. FUNDERSA

c/d Yerly Lara (spanish only)
A.A.815, Sincelejo, Sucre, Colombia

Starting in 1990, a group of primary and secondary school teachers, friends to one of the Bahá'í Rural University students, started to receive SAT training seminars. In 1992, they decided to establish their own NGO to promote the SAT program in the north coast of Colombia, specifically in the Cordóba and Sucre departments. They have established 11 groups with close to 200 students, all receiving both SAT and Ruhi Institute courses. At least one Municipality of the area has expressed great interest in the program and decided to include it in its yearly budget.

IV. Fundación JAYUIR ("awakening" in WAYUU)

A.A. 427, Riohacha, Guajira, Colombia
Tel. (954) 271165

Fundación JAYUIR was established in 1992 after several years of efforts directed at the establishment of primary schools and a teacher-training program based on the SAT curricula in the isolated Rancherias of the indigenous WAYUU community on the north coast of Colombia (aprox. 160,000 members). It actually manages a small credit program with artisans (aprox. 100 small loans yearly), especially women, providing them with a greatly- needed income. There are presently 30 kindergarten schools affiliated, and SAT training provided weekly to seventy youth and adults (including the primary school teachers). Moreover, Fundación JAYUIR has recently inaugurated a 5-classroom school in Riohacha, the Guajira capital, in which one SAT group is presently functioning; two other SAT groups exist in isolated rancherias (WAYUU communities with absolutely no governement institution present or access to public services).

V. Asociación BAYAN

Aptdo. 320, La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras
Tel. 504-42-2570

Asociación BAYAN was created in 1985 as a non-profit NGO by a group of Bahá'í medical doctors to provide the Garifuna and Miskito population (aprox. 10,000) of the Honduran north coast with the required basic health services. They have established the only hospital in the province and have an in-community health-maintenance program with the help of a fiber-glass boat which allows them to reach very isolated communities. BAYAN also started offerring in 1987 a yearly training seminar to primary school teachers of the area, and has sent two Garifuna and Miskito youth to the FUNDAEC Rural University to initiate a SAT tutor-training program as soon as possible. The executive council of BAYAN includes Garifuna, Miskito, and latino members, thus insuring a permanent and close contact and participation of the local community.

VI. Fundación para el Desarrollo y la Cultura (FUNDESCU)

Aptdo. Postal 143, Zona 15, República de Panamá
Tel. 507-231-1191 FAX: 507-231-6909

Working under the aegis of the NSA of Panamá, FUNDESCU is the result of a decade-long effort (early 1980's) of a small group of indigenous GUAYMI people working for the well-being of their communities in three basic areas: primary education, the SAT Program, and improving small-scale production systems. The activities that have been initiated are directed to the Guaymi Population of 100,000 in the north-east boarder with Costa Rica.

I hope this answers any initial questions you might have about these on-going programs. If you have any further questions or queries to make, I will be glad to answer them to the best of my ability.

Warmly yours,

Pascal Molineaux
fundaec@mafalda.univalle.edu.co
Rural University

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Revised 18 March 1996