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Community education has become a key piece for the conservation of the Andean Chocó of Pichincha

Learn how we build a sustainable and inclusive landscape in the Andean Chocó of Pichincha with the help of Enseña Ecuador.

Classes began in the communities of Mashpi, Pachijal and Guayabillas located in the Andean Chocó region of Pichincha. Despite this important area being in the highlands, its school schedule is aligned with the coastal region’s cycle. For this reason, the schools in these communities joyfully began their activities at the end of April. The beginning of this school year brought an even greater expectation than usual given that the community received some very special guests, the professionals from Enseña Ecuador (PECs).

Photograph: PEC surrounded by the students of the Mashpi community

These teachers with diverse backgrounds such as lawyers, communicators, architects, and others, have left their hometown of Quito to immerse themselves in the communities that need them the most. Their mission is to contribute with the conservation of the Andean Chocó through an integral education program that transcends the classrooms and generates virtuous relations between communities and nature. To achieve that purpose, they have received the constant guidance of two organizations, Fundación Futuro and Enseña Ecuador.

 

The PECs have taken charge of the subjects of Math and English in the schools of Mashpi, Pachijal and Guayabillas. But their work goes beyond giving classes. During the next two years, the PECs have the mission of building a culture of respect, solidarity and teamwork in the classrooms. As Jimena Guerra, PEC coordinator, mentions:

“To change the social environment, we must begin with a microcosm which is the classroom. If we get students to change their way of thinking, it becomes more feasible that they then generate change in their communities.”

Photograph: Recreational activity taking place during the beginning of classes in the community of Guayabillas.

This great challenge began for the PECs with a series of community gatherings organized by the school’s parents. All the members of the communities assisted, as if it were a great party. The PECs stay at the school’s facilities; therefore, the communities and them worked together to create comfortable and inhabitable spaces. These gatherings were very important to strengthen the PECs’ relation with the students, their families and the community leaders before the beginning of classes.

 

The PECs are carrying out an important task in the area’s schools, each one has a range of 30 to 150 students. Besides there being a lack of teachers, students have also faced having an intermittency of teachers in past years. For this reason, counting with the presence of PECs is a very important starting point to transform education in the area. Carolina Dávalos, our Sustainable Landscape Coordinator highlights that:

“From the impact in the children’s education we can create changes at family level, then at community level and then at landscape level. With these activities, the children will be able to differentiate right from wrong, have decision power in the future and therefore, become agents of change.”

Photograph: Teamwork performed by students during the first days of class in Mashpi

To be able to teach, the PECs went through an extensive 7-month selection and formation process that guarantees that they have the commitment and skills not only to teach, but also to generate high-impact community projects. While they teach class and play with their students, they are also developing a social mapping of the communities that allows them to deeply understand them. Through these mappings, the PECs will develop pertinent strategies and projects for each of the communities.

Photograph: Map of Ecuador made collaboratively by students

The holistic work that is being done in the area is a key tool to guarantee that the children who graduate have a higher capacity of critical thinking and to become empowered to manage sustainable productive and touristic projects when finishing their studies. The work done by the PECs has been greatly welcomed by the communities. As Jimena Guerra, PEC coordinator, mentions:

“We are very positive about the welcoming that our teachers have had in the community. The communities have been very receptive, cheerful and attentive. The PECs now have a very beautiful relation with them; they are seen as part of the community.”
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