Tag Archives: Columbia

COLOMBIA: Education and Opportunities

May 10th, 2019

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Recently, ACEI’s President & CEO, Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert, spoke on Colombia’s education system and opportunities for student mobility through its e-learning webinar series. And last week on May 4-5, at the invitation of the Embassy of Colombia in the U.S., ACEI attended the inaugural education fair hosted by the Embassy of Colombia in the U.S. on the campus of University of Illinois, Chicago. Clearly, the Colombian government is keen on reinforcing its connections with the U.S. and forging new relationships with U.S. institutions of higher education. In this week’s blog, we will share some highlights of this webinar.

On November 24, 2016, the Colombian government and the guerilla group known as FARC abbreviation of Spanish Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) signed a final peace agreement officially ending fifty-two years of conflict that had claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced more than 7 million people. The nearly five-decade long internal conflict has had an enormous impact Colombia’s the socio and economic development and education.

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(L) Former Colombian President, Juan Manual Santos shaking hands (R) with Rodigo Londoño, top FARC rebel commander at the signing ceremony of the peace agreement. Photo credit: Fernando Vergara/Associated Press

Over the past two decades the Colombian education system has undergone a fundamental transformation. One of the most visible outcomes is the impressive expansion of access to all levels of education thanks in part to ambitious policies to tackle barriers to enrollment, making higher education affordable, and bringing education services to all parts of the country. In fact, Colombia has made a pledge to become the “most education” country in Latin America by 2025.

Colombia has undergone a silent revolution, undetected by the international community. In just a decade, there has been a sharp rise in student enrollments at all level of the education sector. There was even a 2.1% increase in the number of students traveling from Colombia to the U.S. to study in 2016/2017.

The U.S. is the preferred destination for Colombian students pursuing higher education. And the preferred states are California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Florida. The fields of studies in most demand are business administration, management, finance, banking, marketing and engineering.

You may ask why is the U.S. preferred over Canada or the United Kingdom? Obviously, is proximity is one reason but most importantly Colombians view studying in the U.S. as enhancing their employment opportunities after graduation when returning back home. Securing a high level position within the government or a prominent national or multinational company is much more difficult without proficient English skills and/or a master’s degree. There is a renewed push by the Colombian government to encourage English bilingualism, student see studying in the U.S. as a chance to improve and strengthen their English skills.

And another reason is that more Colombian businesses are increasing their presence and operation in the U.S. They prefer hiring bilingual Colombians with experience of having lived in the U.S. and who are knowledgeable of U.S. business practices and American culture.

Colombian universities are also interested in having agreements with U.S. universities to offer dual degree programs for their students. The Colombian government’s mandate is that a well-educated Colombian population is vital to the country’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

As the peace process solidifies in Colombia and the country becomes more stable and prosperous, the U.S. higher education institutions are in a good place to look at Colombian institutions and their students to strengthen their exchange programs.

For a link to a recording of ACEI’s e-learning webinar on Colombia that includes additional information on Colombia’s education system, study exchange possibilities, scholarship programs and resources, please email ACEI acei@acei-global.org and include “Colombia: Education & Opportunities” in the subject line.


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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Nashira Eco-Village In Colombia A Matriarchal Example Of Women Empowerment

April 26th, 2019

Commentary: Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Angela Dolmetsh, Ph.D., on Facebook. It turns out that both Angela and I attended the same boarding school in England. Charters Towers School was based in the small sleepy retirement community of Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex. It was an international boarding school for girls and attracted young women from all corners of the world.  Though Angela and I attended CTS at different years, there is an affinity that is shared by us Charterians that transcends time and place. This is one of those intangible positive side effects of having had an international education experience. The connections and friendships made with classmates from diverse cultural backgrounds leave such a memorable and indelible mark that transcends time and one’s place of origin.  Today, thanks to social media platforms like Facebook, many of us have been able to reconnect, stay in touch and hold reunions no matter where our life experiences have taken us or where we live. The young women of CTS have grown to be mothers, grandmothers, teachers, artists, engineers, judges, lawyers, doctors, scientists, and advocates for social justice. Angela’s achievements are impressive, but it was her founding of Nashira, an eco-village in her homeland of Colombia which fosters women empowerment that captured my attention when I first saw her Facebook post. I knew I had to connect with Angela and invited her to share with us the story behind the Nashira project and its positive impact on the lives of the women it has helped and the community. 

Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
President & CEO
ACEI


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Little is known about the economic structure of some pre-Colombian societies, as there are few early written records. Archeologists have been very reluctant to accept that some of these societies could have been matriarchal and practice different economic relationships. The particular culture that I will talk about is the Kansateura culture and the Nashira eco-village a practical example.

In the first century AD in the Cauca River Valley in what is now Colombia, there lived a community that is believed to have adhered to maternal principles and worshipped an earth mother figure and many female deities. The Malagana or Kansaterva culture was only discovered 30 years ago when a sugar cane worker accidentally uncovered a gold figure. He had discovered a remarkable hoard of ceramic and gold artefacts, very different in character from other previously known indigenous cultures in the region. The gold pieces were very fine and experts have recognised their quality by comparing them to objects found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. The ceramics depict mostly female figures and amongst them were alcarrazas or drinking vessels with double spouts with figures of women fiving birth.

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There is a ceramic figure or a woman giving birth seating, probably pregnant and breast feeding at the same time quite distinct from any seen before in other pre-Columbian cultures. Archaeologists believe the Kansaterva culture was matriarchal and worshiped not only the mother earth but also women goddesses capable of fulfilling the functions of mothering and generating the miracle of life giving.

Significantly and symbolically, the eco-village Nashira is located in the same area as the Kansaterva culture.  Nashira is an ambitious project in the Cauca river Valley in Colombia that aims to solve not only the problems of poverty which affect a considerable section of the Colombian population, but also to serve as an environmentally sustainable pilot project for a community where women rule.

In Colombia, 32% of households are headed by women and depend on their work as the main source of income. As a result of the gender structure of Colombian society and high male mortality rates, due to 70 years of civil war, massive displacement of rural communities and endemic violence, women are frequently responsible for the care of the family including the elderly as well as children.

The women of Nashira lived previously in cluttered rooms in rented houses with up to 70 other people and often with only one shared bathroom.

At that time the government required a down payment of 10 per cent of the cost of the house for them to finance the rest, an impossible task for people below the poverty line. For that reason, it was imperative that the land should be free.

An NGO provided a three-hectare piece of land where eighty women heads of families, have developed a happy and sustainable community. The women built their own houses using environmentally friendly parameters. The wall panels were made from materials recycled from previous constructions.

The women of Nashira cultivate staple crops using permaculture techniques, fruit trees flourish in the common areas used by the whole community. Some of the cooking uses solar power and the women proudly collect and recycle organic and inorganic waste from the neighbourhood. The recycled plastic, glass and other inorganic materials are used to make products for their own use.

75 % of Nashira’s households are headed by women as they are the main income earners. All administrative decisions are taken by the women by consensus. The consumption of alcohol is not encouraged and men who have incurred in violent acts against their partners or children have been expelled. There is no crime in Nashira. Violence against women was eradicated as Nashira is a community with open doors, where women support each other and men have developed a new culture of love and respect for women. Childcare and maintaining the ecovillage are tasks, shared through “mingas” or collective work.

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Angela Dolmetsch, Ph.D. received here doctorate from the University College London. Her doctorate thesis is on Women in Colombian Politics. She is the Founder of the Eco-village Nashira. She is a published author and is International Honorary life President of the International Federation of Women Lawyers. She is also the Director and interviewer of the weekly TV program “El Agora” and a columnist of the daily newspaper “El Pais”, Cali,Colombia

angela.dolmetsch@gmail.com

Additional Reading on The Nishira Project Ecovillage:

https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/womens-ecovillage-colombia-nashira

https://operationgroundswell.com/past-programs/nashira/

https://ecovillage.org/2018-hildur-jackson-award-extraordinary-project-nashira-ecovillage/

http://gift-economy.com/angela-dolmetsch-nashira/

 Publications by Angela Dolmetsch:

“La otra cara del Dólar”,  (Bogotá: Tercer Mundo, 1985)

“Of Govermnments and Guerrillas” (London: Biddles, 1988)

“El Hombrecillo que se tragó a Dios y otros relatos (Cali: ASOMUCAF, 1999)

In preparation “La Mujer en la Politica en Colombia Contemporanea. Tres experiencias reveladoras”

“Nashira, Las Mujeres Cambiando el Mundo”

NOTE: On May 8th, ACEI will be hosting a FREE webinar on the education system of Colombia and Opportunities for Student Mobility.  Join us!


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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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33 Facts on Colombia and its Education System

September 14th, 2018

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General Country Facts:

1. Located in northern South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea, between Panama and Venezuela, and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Ecuador and Panama

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2. Slightly less than twice the size of Texas

3. It has a population of 47,698,524 (July 2017 est.)

4. It’s capital is Bogota

5. It commits 4.5% of its GDP to education (2016), 95th in world ranking

6. 94.2% literacy amongst the ages of 15 and above

7. The government is a Presidential Republic

Overview of the Education System:

8. 11-year system of elementary (5 years), lower secondary (4 years) education, upper secondary (2 years)

9. At the university level, there are 3 levels of studies that include: profesional (professional/undergraduate), maestría/magister (master’s degree), and doctor (doctoral/PhD).

10. There are also non-university higher education degrees, técnico (technician) and tecnólogo (technologist), offered at technical institutions as well as university level institutions.

11. The Ministry of Education (Ministerio de Educación Nacional) regulates all levels of education ad outlines the learning objectives and subject areas for each grade levels. Schools are allowed to organize their own study plans according to the needs of their community.

12. The state authority of education is the Secretariat of Education (Secretaría de Educación).

13. Basic education is free and compulsory (ages 5 to 15).

14. At the university level, fees are set according each student’s socioeconomic background At public universities, tuition fees per semester can be about $1000 (US).

15. Spanish is the official language of instruction.

16. English was added as a foreign language to the overall education plan after the launch of the 2004 National Bilingual Program by the Ministry of Education.

17. English is not only now part of the state curriculum but bilingualism is also a criteria for accreditation of higher education program.

18. Accreditation of all higher education institutions and programs rests with the Ministry of Education. Accreditation is voluntary and helps enhance an institutions status and reputation.

19. Institutions that have been registered with the Ministry have permission to offer degree programs that are officially recognized and carry the status “Registro Calificado” that confirms they have met minimum requirements.

Elementary and Secondary Education:

20. Elementary Cycle (Educación Primaria) – Certificado de Educación Primaria (Certificate of Primary Education), awarded on completion of 5-year elementary cycle (Grades 1-5).

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21. Lower Secondary Cycle (Educación Básica Secundaria) – Certificado de Estudios de Bachillerato Básico (Certificate of Basic Baccalaureate Studies) or Certificado de Conclusión del Ciclo Básico ) (Certificate of Completion of Basic Cycle), awarded on completion of 4 years of lower secondary cycle (Grades 6-9).

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22. Upper Secondary Cycle (Educación Media) – Título de Bachiller (Title of Baccalaureate), awarded on completion of 2-year upper secondary cycle (academic and vocational tracks), Grades 10 and 11. provides access to higher education.  U.S. educational equivalence: High School Diploma.

Higher Education (Educación Superior):

23. Undergraduate (Pregrado) – requires the Titulo de Bachiller and passing the Examen del Estado (national entrance examination) for admission.

24. Degree programs: Técnino Profesional (Professional Technician), 2-4 years; Tecnólogo (Technologist), 3-4 years; Titulo Profesional/Licenciado (Professional Title/Licentiate), 4-6 years [provides access to graduate admission]

25. Graduate (Posgrado) – Degree programs: Especialista (Specialist), 1 semester to 4 years [specialization following a medical degree will last up to 4 years, and an academic specialization is typically at minimum one semester or as much as 2 semesters; Magister (Master’s Degree), 1-2 years; Doctor (Doctoral Degree/PhD), 2-5 years

More facts:

26. Colombia’s largest educational community, the Universidad Nacional de Colombia, has more than 46,000 students enrolled, mostly at undergraduate level.

27. U.S. colleges and universities remain the preferred overseas destination for Colombian students, despite significant competition from other countries like the United Kingdom, Australia, Spain, France, and Argentina.

28. There are several factors that make the United States a leading destination, chief among them higher employment opportunities after graduation, the high quality of education, the chance to improve English skills, and a renewed push by the Government of Colombia to encourage English bilingualism.

29. According to the Institute of International Education, Colombia is ranked 22nd in the world and third among South American Countries (after Brazil and Venezuela) in sending students to the United States.

30. There were 7,982 Colombians who traveled to the United States to study in academic year 2016/17, a 2.1 percent increase over the previous year. Based on data from the Institute of International Education, Colombian students in U.S. colleges and universities contributed USD 273 million to the U.S. economy in 2017 academic year.

31. Colombian universities are interested in having agreements with U.S. universities that offer dual degree programs for their students. This can be accomplished through a combination of two or three years at the local university and one or two years at the U.S. university.

32. In Colombia, there is a strong network of 11 Education USA centers administering language programs and doing extensive outreach around the country. Education USA centers are located at nine binational centers, the Fulbright commission, and COLFUTURO.

Fun fact:

33. Aracataca, the birthplace of author Gabriel García Márquez, once held a referendum to rename the town ‘Aracataca-Macondo’ after the fictional town of Macondo from his famous book One Hundred Years of Solitude. Unfortunately, the referendum failed due to low turnout.
(Source: BBC, 2006)

Key Contacts 


Institute of International Education


Colombia Ministry of Education


Colombian Institute for Educational Loans and Technical Studies Abroad (ICETEX)


COLFUTURO


Education USA

Sources:

https://www.topuniversities.com/where-to-study/latin-america/colombia/guide

https://www.export.gov/article?id=Colombia-Education

http://www.oecd.org/education/school/Education-in-Colombia-Highlights.pdf

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/co.html

https://www.britannica.com/place/Colombia

https://www.alberta.ca/documents/IQAS/colombia-international-education-guide.pdf

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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