Plan teams up with Aflatoun to teach social education
In Paraguay, Plan is teaming up with the organization Aflatoun to teach children ages 6 to 14 elements of social education, in which personal development, democratic life, and children’s rights are the focus. The program is an excellent tool for children to learn their rights and achieve a better standard of living for themselves and their families through lessons in social and financial balance.
Aflatoun, based in Amsterdam, teaches children using five core elements: personal understanding and exploration of financial values; rights and responsibilities; saving and spending; planning and budgeting; and child enterprise, in which children are given the chance to help manage community enterprises or entrepreneurial activities.
The name “Aflatoun” comes from Arabic and means “the explorer.” Aflatoun focuses on teaching children about their own abilities through exploration in formal and informal settings. The emphasis is on understanding rights and responsibilities, but also financial knowledge and skills that enable children to make the best use of available resources. This includes school-based savings clubs, financial and social micro-enterprises, and group activities within the community.
Aflatoun provides children with the building blocks of life, encouraging them to save their resources and start social and financial microenterprises. Through social and financial education children are empowered to make positive changes in their lives and in their communities and eventually break the cycle of poverty in which many find themselves.
When Plan Paraguay staff arrived at the Esther Correa School in the community of Caroveni, they were welcomed by a group of children eager to share with them what they had learned in social and financial education. Alfredo, a 9-year-old boy, told Plan staff that he had learned what the importance of saving and that there are several ways to save not only money, but also water and time.
“I tell my mom: We can save water and electricity,” Alfredo proudly said. “If a faucet is broken, we should buy a new one to avoid leaks, and we must turn off the lights when not in use, and she listens to me!”
Gracielina has worked as a teacher for 11 years now. Since last year, she has been participating in the Aflatoun project. At first she found it very difficult to understand what Aflatoun meant, but through materials, trainings, and a focus group she began to understand.
Gracielina and her peers told us, “This is the first time that teachers are trained to teach children to develop financial skills and learn to make better use of available resources. In our country, financial management is still seen as something exclusive to adults; however, these children are already aware of the importance of saving. During classes, with our help, they have made their own piggy banks. Some children stated their parents have also started to save some money”.
A third grade teacher happily told Plan staff how the project has complemented her teaching children their rights and how to live democratically. “We were working on social skills in the past years. Now the school has a student government. A girl was elected as president for the first time this year.”
Violeta, a 10-year-old, became the new president of the student government. She and members of the governing body are promoting a number of activities, including how to treat others with respect and how to keep the school clean.
“It is not good to compare, but there are differences between children who are involved in this kind of program and those children who are not,” said Violeta. “They easily learn about activities, work faster, and participate in sessions or events. They are no longer shy.”
Dolores Ugarte, a teacher for more than 15 years, said: “Children are smarter now. They protect themselves and protect their rights. They participate and do not have the shyness characteristic of rural children. We, the adults, often are not able to protect our rights because we do not know what rights we have. If we do not know in depth, we cannot claim rights. It is something gradual that takes time. As time goes by, children will be able to defend themselves and claim their rights. This is something that we, the adult people, could not do.”
A fifth grade student, Sofia, told Plan staff as they left: “Now I know well my rights. I know I have the right to education and recreation, but I have to organize myself to have time to do everything!”
Learn more about Plan's work in Paraguay.