For more than 50 years Colombia has suffered from armed conflict between the national army, guerrillas, paramilitary groups, drug mafias and other illegal groups. As a result the internally displaced population in Colombia is one of the largest in the world. In the last 30 years, almost six million people have been forced to leave their homes because of the fighting. Children and youth are the most affected population with little access to healthcare or education.
Of its almost 48 million people, nearly 40% of Colombians are children. Colombia is one of the most inequitable societies in the world - two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Inequality, insecurity corruption, drug trafficking and extreme poverty are in the basis of this protracted confrontation. Many children face violence at home, as the burden of displacement and poverty leads to family breakdown, abuse and exploitation.
Since 2012 the Colombian government and the largest guerrilla group (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia- FARC) have been engaged in peace talks. The talks are still ongoing but have reached agreements on most of the items on the agenda. The government and National Liberation Army (ELN), Colombia’s second largest guerrilla group, also announced they had begun exploratory peace talks. If negotiations with these guerrillas groups are successful the country will enter a post-conflict era with many challenges, but also the hope of rebuilding a peaceful society.
What We Do
With the support of Global Affairs Canada and in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), Save the Children operates a Project called Protecting Children’s Education in Southwest Colombia (Vive la Educación). This project guarantees children who have been affected by armed conflict the right to a quality, inclusive education and assists the over-age population in accessing flexible and relevant education services. Sixty seven schools in thirty-one municipalities have so far benefited from the project.
By March 2018 we aim to:
- Directly reach an estimated of 68,000 girls, boys and youth in 67 project supported schools and additional 42,000 out of school children in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council for a total of 110,000 children in 21 conflict-affected municipalities.
- Develop training programs on competencies for teaching mathematics and literacy; teacher and student preparation for National Student Exams; and ethno-education, risk management, vocational training, citizenship and mindfulness training approaches (RESPIRA) to reduce stress caused by conflict and violence in the intervention zones.
- Train school principals in school management processes under the change management model.
- Strengthen the participation of children by promoting the Participation and Communication Collectives (PACOs) to strengthen citizenship skills and improve their participation in the decisions that affect their development and that of their communities
- Increase the capacities of secretariats of education and municipal authorities to manage and improve the quality of education
- Implement a gender strategy by developing activities to reduce the levels of violence in schools; promote gender equality and implement sexual and reproductive health initiatives with adolescents.
To achieve our goals, we work in partnership with schools, parents, national and regional governments, and civil society organizations.