Paths of community learning (Ecuador)
This exceptional three-year project was designed to strengthen the support provided by the PKF Foundation to the work in Paute (Ecuador) of Father Hernan Rodas (2007 PKF Laureate) and CECCA (which successfully completed in 2008 a PKF initiative for the participatory management of a small watershed in Ecuador).
Drawing from the experience of both CECCA and Jardin Azuayo, a community credit scheme with exemplary records in terms of economic solidarity, founded in 1996 by Hernan Rodas (http://www.jardinazuayo.fin.ec ), this initiative supports a community learning center based on the principles and methods of “practical solidarity” that guided the work of reconstruction and development of the Paute region since the disaster of the Josephina in 1993.
The “Paths of community learning” initiative addresses a broad and diverse audience (students, women, peasants, disadvantaged ethnic groups …). Much more than a training initiative, however, it is an occasion to recognize the emancipation potential of popular knowledge, and to strengthen the bonds of solidarity necessary to the “good life”. Learning begins from the level and practical experience of the various participants and proceeds to analyze, systematize and understand such experience towards thinking, learning and acting together with others. In the context of an ultra-liberal world accustomed— north and south— to crushing the poor, the crux of the matter goes beyond acquiring new knowledge, into developing skills for critical thinking, reflecting on the emancipation values that are available and using a range of social, political, cultural and ecological methods and practices that can help us build a different world. The paths pass also through the definition of the conditions of a “solidarity economy”, providing concrete alternatives to migration and/or becoming the blind slaves of the market. The Paths of community learning are convivial, and focus on the long term. They are based on cooperation, respect, generosity and sharing, moving towards the full realization of the rights and responsibilities of everyone, and the well-being (la buena vida) of communities.
The project builds on several partnerships, in particular with the University of Murcia (Spain) for the exchange of students, with the Foundation Rikcharina for organizing training courses for farmers, and with the PKF Foundation itself to provide learning support about community solidarity economy in some of its initiatives. Two learning sessions have already been held in 2011 in connection with PKF solidarity economy projects in Colombia and Guatemala.
The PKF Foundation provides funding to rehabilitate the main center where the “learning paths” are developed in Paute, to systematize documentation (in particular a “practical guide to start a community credit fund to support a solidarity economy “) and to meet operational costs for three years, supporting dozens of specific initiatives (on the job training, exchange visits, training staff of community credit schemes and other leaders from Ecuador and other countries, etc.).