Agricultural Education represents a great opportunity for youth to acquire skills to face the main causes of poverty and underdevelopment predominant in countries like Paraguay, where half the population is rural. The core problem lies in the fact that the income levels of rural families are too low to be able to pay for high quality education.
What would happen if we tell you it is possible to run a school where these young people graduate with the skills and knowledge necessary to overcome poverty? The educational model we propose undertakes a different path in the struggle to eradicate poverty.
In addition to top quality education, self-sufficient productive business units that contribute profitability are incorporated. Their contribution helps cover the School’s operating costs. This model uses the Learn by Doing, Selling and Earning methodology, that is, it has a curriculum based on theory classes complemented by hands-on field practice.
With this innovative approach we seek to make a difference and above all ensure that more youth in situations of vulnerability acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to begin their own rural enterprises, access a decent job in the agriculture/livestock sector or continue studying.
What is involved in this Self-Sufficient School?
We know that to implement self-sufficient productive units we need more than field practice. Because of this the School combines theory with the Learn by Doing, Selling and Earning methodology where our students participate in the complete productive cycle including the marketing of products. This motivates them to be entrepreneuring and acquire job skills, it increases their self esteem, and on top of all this, the earnings from these sales pay the school’s operating costs.
In 2002, the Congregation of the La Salle Brothers transferred the School to Fundación Paraguaya, which committed to continue the educational work that had been carried out since 1962.
Fundación Paraguaya was able to recognize and take advantage of the opportunity, take the reins in hand and thus, develop a new type of School; a school that would provide rural youth in situations of vulnerability with a relevant, quality education, one that would enable finding a decent job, continue studying or help them create their own rural microenterprise and thus be able to overcome poverty. Today we can say we are happy to have accepted this great challenge!
Philosophy of the Self-Sufficient School Program
Promote the spirit of entrepreneurship of youth in situations of vulnerability through technical-entrepreneurial education that enables them to overcome their own poverty and that of their community.
Promote rural development through providing top quality technical agriculture and business education to students of limited resources. Additionally, generate enough earnings through the School’s activities to be able to construct a program that is financially viable and subsidy-free.
-Endow our graduates with knowledge in agriculture and livestock theory and techniques, in addition to practical skills to achieve maximum productive yields as well as business acumen.
-Transmit environmentally sustainable practices, not only as an economically viable alternative, but also as a means to obtain better soil quality.
-Educate in entrepreneurship in such a way that it is seen as an empowerment strategy through which graduates can improve the quality of their lives.
-Disseminate our educational model globally, replicating the Self-Sufficient Schools at the national and global level.
Principles and Values of Self-Sufficient Schools
Self-Sufficient Schools are united by shared values that transcend geographical, cultural, religious and political differences. The values that describe our self-sustaining educational approach and provide our shared underpinnings are:
• Student Welfare
• Poverty Reduction
• Financial Self-Sufficiency
• Sense of Belonging
• Community Impact
• Environmental Responsibility
• Growth and Expansion
The basic principles governing Self-Sufficient Schools defining the norms and providing orientation to its educational, business and community dimensions are:
• Official National Certification
• Relevance of the Curriculum
• Access to ICTs
• Academic Evaluation Based on Competencies
• Learn by Doing
• Training/Education in Technical Skills
• Curriculum based on Labor Market Needs
• Recreation, Culture and Extra-Curricular Activities
• Practical Evaluation Based on Competencies
• Student Business Experiences
• Student Business Plans
• Active Research in Education
• Selection criteria targeting lower income/minority populations
• Student Support Services
• Student Participation in Productive Units
• Students own Business Undertakings, independent from the School
• Establishment of Marketing Learning Units within the School
• Access to Credit for Qualified Graduates
• Productive Units reflect Appropriate Hands-on Approach for Target population
• Income Generated by School Enterprises
• Approach to Improve Graduate Employability
• Based on a complete Didactic-Productive Plan
• Commitment to the Environment
• Research and Development in Production and Business
• Accounting Systems comply with required standards
• Accounting and Administrative Transparency, open to all interested parties
• Financial Results shared with Fundación Paraguaya/TAM2F
• Reliable Operational Information Gathered
• Financial and Production Analysis
• Integrated Curriculum
• Acknowledgement of students for academic and/or practical performance
• Staff compensated for performance
• Share knowledge with Fundación Paraguaya and within the TAM2F network
• Complete and transparent access to TAM2F Administration
• Codes of Conduct, Non-discrimination and Child Protection Policies
• Governance System Established
• Board Involvement Plan
• Self-Evaluation of School’s Level
• Provide inspiration and support to institutions that will replicate the model