“The SOLE community in Colombia is growing. We know something big is coming, and we know this is the paradigm shift our education needs to empower children all over the country.”
That’s the words of Sanjay Fernandes, speaking about the amazing progress that has been made in Colombia in a matter of months.
SOLEs started running in Colombia last year, with incredibly positive results: over 70 sessions took place in public libraries and kiosks in rural areas, supported by 20 SOLE ‘ambassadors’.
This year the SOLE team decided it was time to expand to allow people of all ages to participate in this life-changing learning experience throughout the country.
And they have some powerful allies on board: the Ministry of Technologies and the Ministry of Culture and Colciencias (the government agency responsible for science, technology and innovation). “Their support has been tremendous and working together with them we plan to run SOLEs with over 150,000 children in schools, libraries and public kiosks in rural and urban areas,” says Sanjay.
They are currently at the design stage of this year’s project, including everything they learned from last year’s pilot to make sure SOLEs can adapt to Colombia’s cultural requirements.
This process involves designing educational tools that allow SOLEs to occur organically, without the need for constant follow-ups, but rather as a method that allows people to discover the answers they need to improve their living standards on their own.
“It is equally important to develop a system in which we are able to receive their data to both measure the impact of SOLE and what needs to be done to improve next year,” explains Sanjay. “Our purpose is to find a way in which SOLE becomes a life-changing agent within their communities, engaging with people from all ages and contexts to empower them as curious beings capable of achieving whatever they dream of.
“We are glad to be a part of this global experiment, changing the world little by little.”
The growing SOLE Colombia team has some new members onboard to help them achieve their goals. Designer Adriana Santamaria is helping them develop products for the educational kits which can create successful, fun and life-changing experiences. Digital anthropologist Sebastian Cuervo is sharing SOLE stories and contacting everyone in the community to make sure their voices are heard and to remind them that their work is an essential part of making this global experiment work.
Producer and administrator, Rocío Monroy is responsible for all the operations handling and logistics to co-ordinate four SOLE ambassadors sharing the methodology in rural areas. They also have constant support from Tatiana Fajardo who ensures SOLEs runs smoothly and second producer Dominga Argel, who works on logistics, follow-ups and generally helping everyone out in the office.
As the initiative has been so well-received in Colombia, the team have been invited to Colombia 3.0 this week, a three-day digital fair designed to demonstrate ways in which technologies can benefit societies. They launched this year’s project there yesterday (Sept 9) and are running SOLEs daily to demonstrate that when children have a real interest in what they are doing, education happens naturally.