Accessibility and Opportunity in the Breteau Foundation’s Education Programmes in Colombia
Written by Volunteer Melody Triumph
Imagine this scenario: you are trying to get to school. You are at one end of the road and your school is at the other. You see it clearly.
Now imagine that to get to your school, the road you have to cross is blocked or the infrastructure is unsafe. Or despite being able to see your school so clearly, the obstacles still seem insurmountable as you must work to help your family have enough food, or even, simply because you don’t have the resources to get to the school.
For many, this scenario starts and ends in our imagination, but for many children across the world, those barriers are real, glaring and hindering them from a basic human right that is intrinsic to their own progress and development.
For education programmes to have any sort of impact, accessibility is one of the key aspects we need to think about to drive impact and success for children’s learning.
In the countries the Breteau Foundation works in, there are multiple barriers that impact access to education. These include poverty, poor infrastructure, trafficking and conflict. These factors make it significantly harder for local schools and teachers to provide quality education for their classrooms and students.
As a result of the types of communities they work in, the Breteau Foundation prioritises accessibility in its frameworks and programme approach. They understand that their mission cannot be fully achieved without addressing access, and so they work closely with local authorities, education institutions, schools, NGOs and educators to overcome these barriers to education.
Partnering with Alternative Learning Settings in Colombia
“How can we make sure our programmes are reaching the most disadvantaged children?”
“How will children unable to attend school access educational content?”
These are the sorts of questions that have prompted a focus on providing education through partnerships with community centres, NGOs and others working in alternative learning settings. These partnerships have been highly valuable for targeting work with vulnerable children who have limited to no access to education.
Colombia Manager, Jessica Villa Davila, is intentional with her collaborations and search for education partners. Through her work with major partners this year with Children International Colombia and United Way Colombia, their programmes in Colombia have been able to rapidly reach thousands of children in hard-to-reach communities.
Children International Colombia and United Way Colombia are large non-profit organisations operating in diverse learning settings in urban and remote settings, who support the Breteau Foundation with distributing education content and resources. These partnerships have enabled the Foundation’s work to grow rapidly and reach an additional 5100 of the most disadvantaged children. With Children International and United Way Colombia, the Breteau Foundation has been able to distribute academic booklets in numeracy and literacy development and has further plans to distribute booklets specialising in STEAM education.
Similarly, our collaboration with local schools and organisations that offer extracurricular programmes has enabled the Foundation to reach, for example, immigrant children, and other children who are unable to access formal education during school hours.
Offline Education Content
Despite living in an age where digital content and technology is prolific, there are still many communities who do not have easy access to it. Privileges such as available WIFI, working devices and enough devices for children are not freely available. For example, by the end of 2020 there was only 23.8% internet access in remote and rural areas. By the start of 2022, Colombia’s total internet access was 69.1%, however that still left 15.89 million or 30.9% of people without internet and offline.
Many of the communities the Breteau Foundation work with fall into this category. To address this gap, the Breteau Foundation ensures that traditional education resources are still available and has also developed Home Tablets with educational software that works completely offline. They are committed to further exploring offline solutions to ensure no child gets left behind.
Working with Local Teachers and Communities
In addition to providing educational content and resources, the Breteau Foundation also trains and upskills local teachers to strengthen their pedagogical practice in the classroom. This approach empowers local communities by improving the quality of education, teacher development and their career prospects. Teachers can also share their learning with other teachers to further strengthen the quality of education for other classrooms and schools in the community.
“The Edtech Programme has shown us how to integrate technology into our planning and improve our pedagogical practices by putting students at the centre of their learning process. Students participate, create, and teach and we can see how their motivation and interest in learning has increased. As teachers, we have improved so much on our practices, and can better understand how technology can enhance students’ learning”.
- Karen Vanessa Padilla, Director of Fundación Enséñanos a Creer