CONSCIENCIA (critical awareness)
is the realization that the social world is not fixed, but changeable.

CREATIVIDAD (creativity)
is the ability to help create a new world with one’s ideas.

What do we do?

If one had to make a brief description of the educational system in El Salvador, it could be done using the following three expressions: Copy, learn by heart, reproduce. Education in El Salvador usually has little to do with understanding, discovering, discussing, forming an opinion or developing one’s own ideas. At school, children rather learn to accept that they do not understand what it is all about. Consequently, little is remembered. After nine years of primary education, many youth neither have solid skills in  writing and arithmetic, nor have they learned to think for themselves or to act creatively.

Not only the low quality of education is a major problem, but also the bad access thereto. For young people from poor backgrounds, their educational career usually comes to an end after primary school or high school. Academic and technical training is reserved for those whose families can afford it.

However, a country like El Salvador which suffers from serious social problems – the highest murder rate in the world, to name but one – is in urgent need of well-trained young people who can bring about social change.

This is why Consciente is committed to a creative and critical education for all. In our eyes, this is the key to a sustainable bottom-up development process. In this sense, our project work pursues three distinct goals:

  • Promoting equal access to education for all, irrespective of socio-economic background: Scholarship Program
  • Improving the quality of education in local schools: Educational Innovation Program
  • Promoting the discussion of important social and environmental issues: Sustainability Education Program

Where are we?

El Salvador is a small and densely populated country in Central America with roughly 6.3 million inhabitants. Together with neighboring Honduras and Guatemala, it forms the so-called “Northern Triangle” – the region with the world’s highest murder rates. In 2015, gang crime claimed more than 20 lives a day in El Salvador alone. This gives the country the dubious glory of being in top position on the list of the bloodiest non-war countries in the world. Apart from violence, El Salvador faces several other problems: Almost 40% of its people live below the poverty line, even more are un- or underemployed, and environmental destruction is progressing rapidly. As a result, many people leave the country. Most of them try to enter the United States as illegal immigrants at the risk of their lives. Currently, about 2.2 million Salvadorians live in the USA.

The department of Morazán has about 200,000 inhabitants and is considered the poorest in the country. The vast majority of the population lives below the poverty line; almost 20% live in extreme poverty. Morazán is also characterized by particularly poor educational opportunities. On average, adults have only completed five years of education; more than 20% of the population is illiterate. Furthermore, the region was hit badly by the civil war in the 1980s. Many of the older inhabitants were directly involved in the war on the side of the guerrillas or the military dictatorship, lost friends or relatives or had to flee from the contested mountain regions to the lowlands or to Honduras. Direct and indirect consequences of the war are still strongly felt in the region today, dividing the population into two hostile political camps.

43 %

of Salvadorians want to leave the country, according to a survey.

20 people

a day become victims of a homicide.

65 %

of the youth in Morazán live in poverty or extreme poverty.

8 %

of young people in Morazán have a tertiary degree.

2.2 million

Salvadorians live in the USA.

Through our work we make a small contribution towards ensuring that El Salvador does not remain a country from which everyone wants to emigrate.

Who are we?

Consciente is a Swiss non-profit association founded in summer 2012. It is managed by an eight-member board working on a voluntary basis. The association is committed to keeping administration costs as low as possible – we send almost 100% of the received donations directly to El Salvador.

While the Swiss association is responsible for financing and support, our local partner Fundación Consciente El Salvador co-designs and executes our projects. The young team in El Salvador is characterized by a great deal of passion and personal commitment as well as its professional and innovative approach.  Currently, more than 50 people are employed as coordinators, teachers or administrative staff at the Foundation in El Salvador.

The Swiss and Salvadorian teams are in constant exchange thanks to weekly Skype meetings and half-yearly trips to El Salvador. We attach great importance to a cooperation based on mutual understanding and learning.

Team in El Salvador

Jasael Torres

Jasael Torres

Director
Ana González

Ana González

Administration & Finance, Scholarship Program
Rosendo Hernández

Rosendo Hernández

Sustainability Education
Gricelda Veliz

Gricelda Veliz

Sustainability Education, Communication
Elmer Sandoval

Elmer Sandoval

IT, CAL-IMPACT
Maria Isabel Pineda

Maria Isabel Pineda

CAL-IMPACT, Administration
Jonathan Sánchez

Jonathan Sánchez

CAL-IMPACT, Mathematics
Mirian Benitez

Mirian Benitez

CAL-IMPACT, Pedagogy
Luis Alonzo

Luis Alonzo

CAL-IMPACT, Teacher Training
Maricela Acosta

Maricela Acosta

Scholarship Program
Emely Montiel

Emely Montiel

Secretary

Team in Switzerland

Martina Jakob

Martina Jakob

President, project management
Christoph Kühnhanss

Christoph Kühnhanss

Vice-president, Fundraising
Malin Frey

Malin Frey

International Volunteers
Katharina Jakob

Katharina Jakob

Administration & Finance
Livia Jakob

Livia Jakob

IT & Design
Ruben Bär

Ruben Bär

IT & Design
Sales Hollinger

Sales Hollinger

Scholarship Program
Lena Ackermann

Lena Ackermann

Sustainability Education Program
Tania Porto

Tania Porto

Sustainability Education Program

History

Consciente was founded in February 2012 during voluntary service by Martina Jakob. Together with committed young Salvadorians, she developed the idea of an educational project:

“In October 2011 I travelled to EI Salvador as a volunteer to work as an English teacher in local schools. My work clearly showed me the devastating shortcomings in the Salvadorian education system. Teachers with poor professional and didactical training often limit themselves to having their pupils copy from the blackboard without ever encouraging them to reflect or discuss about the subject-matter. At the same time, I got to know a group of local volunteers who believed that high-quality education is the key to social change. Together we set up Consciente – an initiative which aims at promoting more active, critical and creative learning for everyone.

(Martina Jakob: 2012)

Partners in Switzerland

 

Partners in El Salvador