While Colombia was living the war, there were already people and entities working for peace. The National Program of Workshop Schools of Colombia is a clear example of this. Since its inception, they were conceived as a tool for peace, so that young people in situations of vulnerability have the possibility of a future with better opportunities. From the experience of the Spanish Agency for Development Cooperation – AECID in the preservation and training in traditional trades inherent to cultural heritage, this program in Colombia began in 1992 with the foundation of the Workshop School of Cartagena.
From that moment, the experience was successfully replicated in Popayán, Mompox and Bogotá. As of September 2009, with the signing of the Framework Agreement of Inter-Institutional Cooperation between the Ministry of Culture and the National Learning Service – SENA, this cooperation program became a Program of the Government of Colombia, expanding its coverage to cities like Barichara, Salamina Tunja, Buenaventura and Tumaco. Workshop Schools in Cali and Quibdó are currently being implemented.
Through training in traditional trades inherent to cultural heritage and the supply of goods and services related to these trades, the Workshop Schools have the mission of supporting young men and women as an example of a peace-building culture, consolidating spaces for peaceful coexistence, as well as better administration of their free time. In addition, they stimulate the creation, interpretation, diffusion and projection of the rich and varied cultural heritage of the regions where the Schools are located, ensuring the transmission and continuity of cultural traditions.
Workshop Schools are practical training centers where young people, men and women, receive theoretical training in alternation with practical training (real work on the job) where each student develops the skill of a know-how.
This learning in the world of work is an option of life. A productive tool in a work environment that constitutes an independent work which enables the transformation of the student, making him a skilled, dignified and competent worker.
Through this Program, the Ministry of Culture supports a solid project of cultural entrepreneurship, which seeks to recover the social fabric of young people between 15 and 25 years, generating development from the integral training in traditional trades. Since its opening, 23,430 young people have been trained and 81% of them are working in different jobs as cooks, builders, gardeners, carpenters, among other trades. This shows that the Workshop Schools have opened a range of real possibilities for a country that begins to think of trades as an option of life that must be regulated by the State, in these times where the road to peace is being built.
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