Education and Training
According to the traditional cultures of the Chaco Indians, the access to the environment and its products is granted by knowledge acquired about its intrinsical qualities. In a similar way the modern Chaco inhabitants chose school education and training programs in order to conquer the new socio-economic environment. To achieve this in the Central Chaco, an extensive cooperation agreement in the area of regular and technical education was signed between the indigenous communities, the (national and governmental) Government and the ASCIM.
In order to achieve a gradual transition from the home to the school, the indigenous children attend an initial education program on their village level with the alternate participation of their mothers. The first cycle of basic school education is also offered on a village level with indigenous teachers, a biligual curriculum and bicultural contentes. Because of logistic reasons, the process of formal education is centralized starting from the 2nd cycle; and in 7 centres, and in 2002 the 3rd cycle was initiated.
Not all of these groups attach the same importance to regular education; nevertheless, an estimated 80% of in the children of the communities, which maintain cooperation agreements with the ASCIM, participate in the 1st school cycle, while only 36% are registred in the 6th grade. In general 75% of the registered students pass in the examinations of their grade. Therefore, it is obvious that the continuity towards the higher grades as well as the improvement of the school achievements represent inevitable challenges for the ASCIM. It is hoped that this growth will be achieved by means of a general improvement of the subsistence level, the progressive training of indigenous teachers and the acquisition of adapted materials which are gaining more and more importance for the students and their parents.
The search for didactic materials based on the indigenous reality of the Chaco and directed towards an adequate preparation for the challenges of the new socio-economic environment, induced the ASCIM to introduce more and more practical sub-programs. So, for example, an innovation was made on the level of the 2nd cycle with workshops for domestic science (girls) and manual work (boys). On the level of the 3rd cycle the aim is the development of various skills. In the case of the basic cycle “La Huerta” (The Kitchen-Garden), the regular program has been combined with the agricultural training, thus integrating a new experiment of integral education.
On the level of secondary education a poliprofessional high-school degree is offered, where besides the humanistic program the students are trained for various professions, such as: pedagogy, bookkeeping, secretarial work, mechanics. Other efforts of professional training are being developed according to necessity, for shorter periods of time and in a more informal way, such as agricultural extension work, the training of women´s leaders and anthropological advice with regard to the social organization process in general.