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1980-1990: Consolidation, Legal Recognition, and Program Expansion

This decade witnessed the consolidation of the results of FUNDAEC’s initial work. The period also marked the beginning of the expansion of its programs through other development organizations in Colombia. Legal recognition was won for its first educational program—though not without a struggle, as the Colombian legislation was characterized in those years by a marked rigidity: even though the official evaluators considered the program to be innovative and interesting, they found it difficult to place within the existing legal framework. It was eventually approved as an effective and valid alternative for secondary school education. Thus was born the Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial, SAT (“Tutorial Learning System”). During this period, texts were written for the programs three levels, Promoter, Practitioner, and “Bachiller”.

FUNDAEC’s reputation grew along with the numbers of its students. Simultaneous to the development of the didactic texts, the lines of investigation-action were further propelled and expanded. Progress was made in the search for alternative systems of production, and more than 20 sub-systems were designed using plots of a number of small-scale farmers. Subsequently, some of these same farmers converted parts of their land into community experimental learning stations. This experience assisted in the system’s expansion throughout the local communities and the region.

Corn and Bean Subsystem

Inspired by the results in the Norte del Cauca region, other NGOs, working in neighboring regions and departments, showed interest in adopting FUNDAEC’s programs. A number of the early graduates were hired by these same organizations, which helped in the formation of cordial inter-institutional, collaborative relations. The resultant transition, from an organization restricted to a specific geographical region, to one that advised others, brought new challenges and responsibilities to FUNDAEC, which were to become the objects of investigation-action-learning of the institution.

Midway through the decade new laws were passed which gave municipalities increased autonomy to manage their own affairs and financial resources, an occurrence that came to mark a signal moment in the SAT program’s expansion.


Entrance to the Centro Universitario de Bienestar Rural, Perico Negro, Cauca

In order to meet the demands of expansion, FUNDAEC created the Centro Universitario de Bienestar Rural, CUBR (“University Center for Rural Well-being”), and promoted the development of new institutions. Soon after, other organizations that identified in many ways with FUNDAEC joined the ranks of collaborative institutions working together to help rural regions reach real development. This opened the way for the subsequent creation of an institutional network that would work within the framework of the University for Integral Development, and helped strengthen various cooperative relationships.

During this same time period, so as to deal with the new and mounting challenges, FUNDAEC began the first phase of construction and landscaping of the CUBR’s buildings and grounds in the village of Perico Negro. The location was of easy access for both students and professors, as it is only two kilometers away from the central town of the municipality of Puerto Tejada, Cauca.