Thanks to the partnership between PASO Colombia and the Universidad Abierta y a Distancia (UNAD), 96 students graduated from the courses offered as part of the PASO Inteligente strategy. This strategy trains rural communities, migrant families and coca eradicator families, in agricultural production, marketing, and the use of digital technologies in rural contexts.
During the past 8 months, 4 courses were taught virtually: technical and digital assistance for rural productivity, market creation, ICT tools and distance learning. The courses were supported on the ground by the agricultural technicians of the Rural Alternative Schools (ERA) developed by PASO Colombia in 20 regions of the country.
“These courses were very useful because the pandemic accelerated the use of technologies, and we learned how to use them and take advantage of them. With what we learned we have been able to sell more, to negotiate with other entities and engage in new projects. We continue working to learn more and we will become multipliers in our community'' said in the graduation ceremony Javier Uribe, director of the Association of Producers and Sellers of Cassava in Puerto Guzman (ASOYUPGUZ) and student in these courses.
The participation of the ERA agricultural technicians has been key in the training process and in the daily work in the territories. Diego Muñoz, technician of the ERA of Pasca, recalls the most frequent inconveniences in attending virtual education in rural Colombia: ''The power went out; we have no connection; it is raining hard and the sound is choppy; teacher, can you repeat that, I didn't understand you''. However, despite the adverse situations that arose throughout the classes, the enthusiasm did not diminish, and the participants showed their commitment to complete the activities. “Last night it rained very hard, but thanks to this crop design, our soil and compost are still there,'' one of the students mentioned to a teacher, giving an account of the lessons that were put to the test day after day after attending their classes.
Darly Molina, a participant from El Conejo (La Guajira) expressed her gratitude to Darwin Britto during the graduation, technician of the Fonseca ERA: ''thanks to him we learned that acquiring knowledge makes life easier. Even in this harsh context of the pandemic, knowledge is important to move our projects forward. Now with what I have learned about technological tools, I am sure that I will share this with the users of the library where I work, and they will share it with their communities".
The PASO Inteligente strategy seeks to strengthen a digital ecosystem where rural communities have tools to expand their productive projects, as well as their interpersonal relationships, creating spaces for the exchange of knowledge among the participating organizations.