Other Initiatives in Central and South America
(from: Waldorf Education Worldwide, pp. 202-203, Note the Copyright!)
Dominican Republic - El Salvador- Suriname - Ecuador
The Dominican Republic, which shares the largest Caribbean island with Haiti, lies on the edge of the tropics and thus has warm weather throughout the year. Two remarkable round buildings painted in light blue and pink, the Rio Cultural Centre, stand in the mountain village of Rio Limpio not far from the Haitian border. They were built here by the Grupo Antroposofico in 1994. The Grupo Antroposofico is supported by a number of individuals from Sweden and has been working in Rio Limpio since 1985. Over the years the valley’s agriculture has been converted to the biodynamic method, while theatre and eurythmy performances and lectures take place at the Cultural Centre.
Guarionex A. Almonte, the teacher at the village school, has adopted Waldorf Education with enthusiasm. In addition to his work at the school he has set up evening courses for youngsters who for one reason or another have had to leave school or who have never been to school at all. He teaches them reading, writing and arithmetic. A variety of artistic and craft courses are also on offer. The villagers of Rio Limpio now hope to start a Waldorf Kindergarten. This would be a wonderful gift for the village children, some of whom run around uncared-for and neglected.
Waldorf Education in El Salvador is directly linked with the name of the education scientist Professor Dr Ingrid Classen-Bauer who grew up in Bolivia and now lives in Germany. At the request of the government of El Salvador, the German Society for Technical Collaboration sent her here in 1997 to carry out a project aimed at restructuring teacher training. During the course of the project she also drew attention to Waldorf Education which caught the interest of the Deputy Minister for Education as well as of a number of Franciscan nuns.
A conference on Waldorf Education took place in 1998 which also involved the exhibition mounted by the Friends of Waldorf Education. This conference was attended by 130 professors, teachers and students from El Salvador, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Peru and Brazil. In 1999 a group went to Peru for a training course lasting several months. In the middle of 2000 a conversation took place with the Minister for Education. She yet again requested that the school should at last be opened, and provided land in San Salvador for the purpose. By January 2001 all the necessary preparations had been made for a school beginning with four classes. But at the last moment its opening had to be postponed for several more weeks on account of the terrible earthquake.
The curative centre Matoekoe is situated at Lelydorp, a small village about 20 km from the capital city Paramaribo. The village’s inhabitants are mainly Javanese and Hinu who carry on small-scale agriculture chiefly for their own consumption or sale in the local markets. Once a Dutch colony, Suriname lies at the north-eastern edge of South America. It is a poor country that has had an eventful history since gaining its independence in 1975: revolution, seizure of power by the military, huge inflation, poverty, lawlessness and disregard for human rights.
At present there is a democratically elected government with the former military chief of staff wielding actual power. Rainforest, unique in that it has remained largely unexploited, covers 95% of the country. Although Suriname is five times the size of Holland it has a population of only 400,000 living mainly along the coast. There are no road links with Brazil and the country must be regarded as an island owing to the dense, impenetrable rainforest.
Suriname must appear the last place on earth where you would expect to find a curative establishment based on anthroposophy. Yet after a short walk of about 600m along a sandy path under the blazing sun you suddenly come upon an organically shaped wall behind which lies a curative home. About 40 children and youngsters attend this centre daily, and 8 children with learning difficulties live there permanently. About 20 young people organize the daily work in several workshops: paper-making, baking, pottery and candle-making. The children attend school in a separate building.
AAD STERREBAAN MATAKOE
During a period of openness towards all kinds of educational alternatives the kindergarten of the Instituto Educativo Rudolf Steiner was opened in Quito-Jipijapa on 1 October 1979. This had been preceded since 1961 by the study of Rudolf Steiner’s works mainly under the guidance of Luis Alfredo Loyo Davilla (b.1916) who had also done a great deal of lecturing. A first attempt at founding a kindergarten had taken place in 1970.
The first Waldorf School was opened on 1 October 1981, again by the Instituto Educativo Rudolf Steiner. It existed until about 1988. Some of the teachers at that new school had been trained at Emerson College in Britain, so the initiative appeared to be reliable. But the inner foundation of the work began to be questionable, so a group of the founding teachers left and started another Waldorf Kindergarten and a private primary school (Jardin de Infantes y Escuela Waldorf) in 1982. This was the second Waldorf School in Quito and enjoyed state recognition. In 1989 the Fundacion Waldorf de Ciencia, Educacion, Arte y Cultura was entered in Quito’s register of associations as the carrier of this school. But the school remained fragile and had to be closed down in 1992 for reasons that were all too personal.
Another school opened in 1990 which calls itself a Waldorf School but works without any knowledge of the education. At present a serious endeavour appears to be under way to found a new Waldorf Kindergarten.