Strengthening reading and writing skills.
Between 2011 and 2016, the Foundation for the Application and Teaching of Sciences (FUNDAEC) implemented an innovative literacy project in the department of Risaralda. The objective of the project was to improve reading comprehension levels of rural primary school students and promote gender equity between girls and boys. Activities were organized to promote a culture of appreciation for reading by children and their families. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Risaralda Secretary of Education, and helped overcome the widespread belief that children living in rural Colombia do not like to read and are not interested in school. After participating in this effort, more than 300 students and their parents significantly increased their enthusiasm for reading.
The project was inspired by FUNDAEC's over 30 years of experience with the Tutorial Learning System (SAT) program in Risaralda. SAT is an alternative secondary education program designed by FUNDAEC and officially recognized and adopted by the Colombian Ministry of Education. SAT provides youth with high-quality education that is both academically rigorous and relevant to the rural context. The work carried out during the last three decades in Risaralda with the SAT program helped develop the scientific and moral capacity young people need to become promoters of the development of their own communities. Since SAT students are vital human resources in their communities, the project also trains them as facilitators of a reading enrichment program for elementary school children. The educational content of this program enables both SAT students and their younger peers to strengthen their language skills. SAT facilitators serve as role models for younger children, help them make a smooth transition to secondary education programs, and help them develop the analytical skills and moral framework necessary to make good decisions.
Investigation by the Colombian Ministry of Education suggests that most of the children who attend schools in Risaralda, as is also the case in many rural areas of the country, do not have adequate access to children's literature or libraries. For that reason, the program collected books for libraries in more than 25 rural schools to increase students’ access to children's literature. The content of the selected books contributes to the moral development of children and cultivates their identity as promoters of community well-being. The books emphasize values such as gender equality, solidarity, cooperation, and an appreciation for rural life.