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El Origen

The issue: access to education

La Guajira, Colombia’s northernmost province, is located in the Caribbean region and is one of the poorest areas of the country. In comparison to Colombia’s national poverty rate of 19.6%, La Guajira has a poverty rate of 51.4%, rising to 72.5% in remote rural areas. 


A lack of access to education and financial pressures force high numbers of children to drop out of school. Indeed, only 29 out of every 100 students from La Guajira finish secondary education and only five of them will go to university. Inequality between afro-descendants and indigenous peoples living in rural areas compared to the rest of the population is evident as they have less access to water and food, education and healthcare. 


What’s more, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of these existing problems. The gap between rural and urban, in terms of education, became more evident and has had a significant negative impact. 


Since the closures in March many schools were forced to turn to online learning. Whilst children in urban areas have access to online educational resources, in regions like La Guajira less than a quarter of children have access to smartphones or computers and just 0.88% of rural homes have access to the internet, according to El Tiempo. This means children in the region are at a much higher risk of falling behind in their education.

How El Origen is addressing this issue

Our partner, El Origen, is a leading young people’s organisation in Colombia with 5 years’ experience in training and improving access to education in the most marginalised ethnic communities in La Guajira. 


El Origen has been designing, developing and implementing innovative technologies and methodologies through an offline platform to ensure that children from the most vulnerable rural areas in Colombia can have access to quality academic resources taking into account their social and cultural background.

What does the project do?

Our pilot project with El Origen aims to use technology as a tool to increase access to quality education for children from the Wayuu ethnic group and Venezuelan migrants by providing access to education resources for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and maths) subjects using the O-Lab app (an offline learning platform). 


Pupils and teachers from five rural schools will be supported through tablets with offline educational materials in their native language which will complement their studies. The app will also allow teachers to help each student with an individualised approach. 


The project will target 1,000 children and young people living in poverty who are at-risk of dropping out of school in five educational rural centres of La Guajira. The core aim of the project is to improve children and young people´s academic performance, encourage independent learning and interest in education, improve their technological literacy and improve the overall quality of their education. 


The project seeks to achieve inclusive, accessible and equitable quality education for children in the region and promote learning opportunities for all. 

Case study:

Leyder, from the indigenous Poromana community 

“I have learned how to read, and thanks to the training from home I have learned a lot, I feel very happy because of all the support I have received. Thanks to this wonderful mobile app I have learned a lot of things such as entrepreneurship. I have been able to develop my full potential. I am getting more knowledge and it feels great learning every day.”


Thank you for your interest in this project. To help El Origen’s work continue, you can donate here.