Holistic Education in Quito
Our pilot project is situated in Chilibulo, on the heights of Quito, where we are collaborating with the INEPE, the Institute of Research, Education and Public Promotion of Ecuador. The Institute’s activities encompass the areas of holistic education through the valuing and empowerment of students, and environmental protection through reforestation, environmental education and sustainable agriculture.
Because these fields perfectly embody the values that OneAction promotes, we decided to make this partnership a pilot project and support the INEPE over the long-term in the various activities they contemplate to become ever more autonomous.
The Institute, founded in 1985, hosts 600 students 0 to 18 years old in a disadvantaged area of Quito. Its holistic educational model promotes the students’ creativity, empowerment, dignity and health. This model ensures that students become not only well-educated individuals, but also citizens who are conscious of their being, of their role and of the choices available to them. The INEPE’s ideology also reflects the importance of sustainability and community participation: the Institute raises environmental awareness through its reforestation, sustainable agriculture and environmental education projects, and promotes financial fairness by allowing underprivileged families to compensate for their children’s education by assisting the INEPE in its activities once a week.
Throughout the years, the Institute has thus created a micro-community where the wellbeing of individuals and solidarity are valued above all else. Over 78% of the INEPE’s employees are women, 54 of whom are teachers. About 65% of these teachers are heads of households, with 4 to 5 members per household, on average. Besides running the school, the Institute’s activities are various: they include the management and reforestation of the neighbouring Metropolitan Park (320 hectares), the supervision of an organic garden that provides food to students, training teachers and community leaders, and assisting the community with health issues.
OneAction collaborates with the INEPE on three main areas, specifically sustainable food sources, supporting reforestation activities and increasing the security of employees’ salaries.
In 2013, OneAction built a new greenhouse in the INEPE’s organic garden, initiated the construction of a laboratory for students and community members to learn about organic gardening and to harvest produce, helped stabilize teachers’ salaries, and also began the complete renovation of the school’s refectory.
For more information on OneAction’s 2013 projects with the INEPE, please click here.
OneAction is currently working on different projects explained below.
Supporting Sustainable Food Production
One of the INEPE’s pressing needs is related to providing a balanced nutrition to the younger and more disadvantaged school children, in order to answer to one of its ruling principles that every student should be healthy and live with dignity. In an effort to prevent malnutrition-related diseases and to help students’ performance levels in school, the INEPE has been striving to provide breakfasts, snacks and lunches to its most destitute students since 1998. For the time being, the INEPE’s organic garden produces enough food to provide students with about 30 per cent of the food they eat daily.
In 2014, in order to help the INEPE in continuing to become more independent financially, OneAction wishes to help the Institute increase its food production. After having built a new greenhouse in July 2013, which is the most viable and efficient option for food production at the school, OneAction plans to fund the construction of yet another greenhouse, as well as increase the size of one of the existing greenhouses.
OneAction would also like to support the INEPE’s organic garden by increasing the size of its water tank from 36m3 to 100m3. During the dry season, it is often difficult to find sufficient amounts of water to hydrate the crops. Expanding the existing tank will greatly help in ensuring the garden’s productivity no matter the season.
To better provide for its students, the INEPE would also like to produce Andean crops, specifically potatoes, broad beans, ulluco, mashua, quinoa, and chocho (Lupinus mutabilis). Chocho, a leguminous bean, is renowned for its exceptional nutritional value: it has a higher protein content than quinoa. In order to produce these crops, the INEPE would need a functional reservoir of water to adequately hydrate the crop terraces. Staff members have already dug out a large hole to serve as a reservoir, but unfortunately, it does not capture sufficient amounts of water as water leaks through. The water in the reservoir comes mostly from rainwater, and in part from the discharges from the drinking water treatment plant uphill. Creating a functional reservoir would entail waterproofing the current reservoir hole to ensure that water doesn’t drain out.
To further enhance the children’s access to food, we also invite you to take part in our sponsorship programme to help ensure that each child will receive breakfast, a mid-morning snack, and a lunch every school day.
Supporting the teacher-training programme
In order to further promote the sustainability of the INEPE’s activities, we wish to support the training programme led by the INEPE in partnership with the Polytechnic school of Quito. Following a complex restructuring of the national education system, the quality of teacher training has decreased significantly. For this reason, the Institute wishes to curb this trend by partnering with one of the most prestigious universities in the country to offer training courses. These courses concentrate on creativity, learning values, innovation and critical analysis to allow teachers to face current economic, social, identity and environmental challenges.
The Institute innovates in its training processes and produces its own self-study manuals, courses, and multimedia sources (videos and songs), which are available on a virtual platform to guide the teachers in their work.
In parallel, the INEPE leads workshops and seminars for teachers to complete their training. In 2013, approximatively 550 individuals, 96% of which were women from poor areas, participated in the INEPE’s virtual training. Furthermore, an average of 220 women took part in the workshops and seminars organized by the Institute in 2013. This training programme not only creates jobs for women who are heads of households, but also contributes to improving the quality of education in the country.
Sponsoring school teachers
Another urgent need is related to employee salaries. Unfortunately, the Institute is at times confronted to economic difficulties; as a result, salaries are not always distributed within expected deadlines. Still, thanks to its team of dedicated employees and volunteers who share a common vision to provide excellent education, the INEPE has been able to persevere effectively through these kinds of adverse situations. Nonetheless, the recent financial crisis greatly reduced the funding ability of two of INEPE’s main donors. This is why the Institute urgently needs to secure the salaries of its committed workers in order for all these efforts to be sustained. During the transition period towards a diversification of the INEPE’s funds and to help the Institute continue to run its activities in a successful fashion, OneAction is inviting individuals to help sponsor school teachers, without whom the INEPE’s activities could not be feasible, to receive their salary as planned over the course of the year.
Budget for the INEPE’s food programme:
Building a new greenhouse and increasing the size of an existing greenhouse: CHF 15,000
Increasing the capacity of the water tank: CHF 5,000
Building a functional water reservoir: CHF 4,500
Become a child’s food sponsor: CHF 500 per year per child
Budget for the teacher-training project:
To develop the INEPE’s training programme and to increase their self-financing initiatives, the Institute requires support on three different levels:
The creation of manuals and course curriculums: CHF 12,000
The salaries of tutors responsible for training educators and community members: CHF 20,800 per year
The acquisition of equipment for the production of audio-visual material, the creation of songs, and filming and video editing: CHF 16,000
Budget for supporting employees:
Any other contributions will help secure employees’ salaries.
Smart Actions by Kids for Kids
In 2013, OneAction launched a Smart Actions by Kids for Kids project between the INEPE and La Châtaigneraie International School in the Canton of Vaud. This consists in approximately 120 students from the INEPE participating in a letter exchange with another 120 students learning Spanish in the Swiss town of Founex. To introduce this project’s concept to the students, we gave an interactive presentation in Spanish to La Châtaigneraie students about Ecuador’s incredible biodiversity, about OneAction’s environmental projects, and about OneAction’s Holistic Education project with the INEPE. These students partaked in a sponsored spelling bee at the beginning of December 2013 to help raise funds for the INEPE and its students.