We interviewed the Ecuadorian academic based in Peru, Carlos Crespo, in his capacity as coordinator of the Network of Humanist Educators that has been working in the context of the next IV Latin American Humanist Forum, in order to know what they have been doing, since when this process exists and what the work they do consists of. Here are his answers.
Carlos Crespo: Our experience began in Peru in 2016. We were a small group of sensitive teachers from different regions of the country, convinced of the need to attend to our integral development as persons and to promote and exchange educational experiences that show possible change towards another way of life without violence or discrimination. Our inspirers were the friends of the Center for Humanist Studies “New Civilization” of Lima. Our desire was to stay in a network to support us in the construction of a human and transforming education.
In this spirit we have promoted various initiatives in our schools such as the “Sala de Encariñamiento” (affection room), the “Escuela para Padres” (parents school), “Arte para la Vida” (art for life), with painting, theatre and storytelling. In squares, public spaces and communities we have promoted the “Library on Wheels”. And in teacher training we are introducing ‘atmospheres of peace’, ‘murals for peace’ and ‘contexts of affection’.
In coordination with the UNESCO Office in Lima and the Humanist Pedagogical Current of Peru (COPEHU), in October 2017 we promoted a broad call for teachers to write stories that would gather experience in building Peace and Nonviolence from school. We received more than seventy stories from ten regions of Peru, in addition to France and Argentina. The thirty-seven stories recognized as good practices were published by these three organizations to inspire other teachers and multiply in educational institutions1. In mid 2018 we presented it in Lima and other cities, with the support of municipalities and Regional Directorates of Education.
In October 2018 we were in Lima participating in the VI International Symposium of the World Center for Humanist Studies, with the Encariñamiento (affection) Room, a curricular and community experience of building good treatment that attends to the need to resolve pedagogical violence within the classroom and to influence in parallel the transformation of family and institutional relations. Classrooms are transformed into welcoming, creative places, with the active participation of children, teachers and families, driven by the transversal axis of non-violence. The children themselves lead the “Rimanakuy – let’s talk” to deal with situations of coexistence and to assume commitments.
With all these initiatives we want to contribute to overcoming the distance that education systems establish between people, schools and their environment and community, reproducing a social fracture and a violent culture that leads to the breakdown of social solidarity and the community roots of the construction of life. Neoliberal globalization, with its individualistic and competitive forms, is spreading into the fields of education and culture and even interpersonal bonds, imposing anti-humanist behaviors. Faced with the modeling of subjectivity, we need to enable the gaze to learn to discover the root of events, to ask ourselves with autonomy and to exercise our transforming intentionality. To develop our capacity to cooperate, to learn to reconstruct the world as a space of creativity and care for the other, to build a new civilization that is more human and more joyful.
Pressenza: Which countries do you come from, which organisations or institutions?
CC: In the Peru Network we are currently coordinating nuclei in Cusco, Lima, Moquegua (South) and Cajamarca (North). By 2019 we proposed to continue weaving our Network with other nuclei in Peru and other similar initiatives in Latin America and the world. The invitation to the IV Latin American Humanist Forum in Santiago arrived at this opening moment.
With the perspective of coordination of the Network of Humanist Educators, with a view to participation in the Forum, we have entered into contact and exchange with diverse experiences and educational initiatives in Latin America, of different scopes and organizational modalities.
I mention some of them that will be participating in the Forum. From Brazil, the experience of a national campaign, with digital media, to defend teachers against censorship, in the context of the neo-fascist project “school without party”, with the participation of various organizations in the country linked to education such as 4v Pressenza, Instituto Polis, Rede Escola Pública and Universities, and at the international level the Malala Foundation.
In an international dimension, very broad, we have initiated the exchange of proposals with the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE), a plural network of civil society organizations, with presence in 16 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, which promotes actions of social mobilization and political advocacy to defend the human right to a transforming, public, secular and free education for all, throughout life and as a responsibility of the State. Also present from Bolivia will be the experience of the ‘community school’, inspired by the historical proposal of the ayllu school of Huarisata. There are many more. We are on the way to the meeting.
We have been coordinating with other humanist organizations for several years; for example, with groups of educators from different countries, who are grouped around the Universalist Humanist Pedagogical Current (COPEHU). They have a proposal of experiential pedagogy based on the development of intentionality and the promotion of diversity. With them we share the educational approach and we support each other. The same is true of the experience in Chile of the Colegio de Profesores y Profesoras, (Teachers Union) the largest union in Chile, which in recent years has embarked on a path of nonviolent social struggle for the rights to education and constitutes a demonstration effect for all of Latin America. Also with the Network of Creative and Rebellious Educators of Chile, which participates as animator of this Forum.
Pressenza: Why the face-to-face meeting within the framework of the Latin American Humanist Forum? What do you expect from this meeting? What will your contributions, as a Network, be to the Forum?
CC: We are preparing for the day of the meeting of Thematic Networks at the Forum on May 11, 2019. The nuclei of the Network of Educators of Peru will be connected from the different points of the country to participate in the Forum and to share their experiences.
In our recent virtual meetings of countries we are agreeing that the Forum is “a wonderful idea”; “we need to take many there and if possible all because we urgently long for a human world”. “In view of the critical moment we are living in Brazil and Latin America, the Forum is a moment of hope.
We feel a great need to get together, to meet physically or virtually. As a fabric under construction, the first step is to know ourselves, to know where we come from, what we do, what projects we dream of and are weaving, to know how to listen to our diverse trajectories and experiences, to learn to see and respect our differences. With openness to state our positions.
Pressenza: Regarding other networks that converge there, what are your expectations?
CC: The Latin American Humanist Forum is an instrument of information, exchange and discussion between people and institutions belonging to the most diverse cultures of Latin America. We are interested in converging in this Thematic Network, respecting the identity of each experience, of the interested educational and social organizations. Likewise, educators, students, indigenous peoples, women and all the people who are promoting initiatives, actions and thoughts around the construction of another education in which the human being emerges as a central value in the face of the power of capital.
Pressenza: How do you plan to continue the work after this Forum?
CC: At the Forum we will agree on strategies to strengthen our convergence around common lines of action and to generate mechanisms for future exchange. Surely the Forum will be an experience of trust and deep dialogue that will become a platform to open the channels that allow us to weave ourselves into a network of networks. Because the present moment needs us. Exchange and collective learning are not easy. We are so distant and yet so close. But we can build. We have the support of technology.
Pressenza: Would you like to add something for our readers regarding the May meeting in Santiago?
CC: At the crossroads of this historical stage in which neoliberal globalization disputes the control of education and culture, seeking to model subjectivities in terms of the market and capital, both individuals and social movements and populations manifest, at the same time, in different corners of the planet, a growing awareness of the need for another education and another culture. Increasingly massive expressions show us the emergence of a new sensitivity in the diverse cultures of contemporary society. The need is appearing in the hearts and minds of peoples for another model of education and society that values and offers opportunities to all, that endows human life with meaning, that supports both men and women equally for their personal and collective growth.
1 The book “Teacher Stories “Building Peace from School” can be downloaded from the UNESCO website http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0026/002660/266026S.pdf . It is also available on the official website of the Ministry of Education of Peru. www.minedu.gob.pe
Translation Pressenza London