[P2P-F] Fwd: [NetworkedLabour] Fwd: ZNet Commentary: Marina Sitrin: Bachilleratos Populares

Michel Bauwens michel at p2pfoundation.net
Fri Feb 20 06:03:16 CET 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: ZCommunications <michael.albert at zmag.org>
Date: Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 9:43 AM
Subject: ZNet Commentary: Marina Sitrin: Bachilleratos Populares
To: pwaterma at gmail.com

   Is this email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser

Marina Sitrin: Bachilleratos PopularesZ Communications Daily Commentary

We arrived late to the graduation. The entire block was full and there
wasn’t a free seat in sight. Hundreds of people filled the street. Some
people came dressed from work, and others, who had loved ones graduating,
were dressed in their best clothes, cameras ready. I had no idea it would
be such an elegant event. Incongruously it was held in the street that the
neighbors had shut down, with chairs lent from the recuperated factory
hosting the event, neighbor’s homes, a retirement home across the street
and wood benches constructed just for the event. The stage was a makeshift
construction with a hand-held microphone from the 1980s. But the people,
the people attending were so elegant. The women graduating looked like they
were going to their proms or quince celebrations in elaborate dresses, hair
and faces made up and high heeled shoes – although many were decades older
than fifteen or prom age. The spirit, joy, and pride on their faces and
those of their families and neighbors was palpable. It was contagious. The
pride was for graduating high school: something many people in poor and low
working-class neighborhoods in Argentina do not get to do. For me, the joy
of course was sharing in their pride at graduating, but also in recognizing
how ‘regular’ this sort of thing had become for the community. The
graduation took place in the street in front of the recuperated print shop
Chilavert where the students had completed their three years of study: a
street that the workers and families had shut down because they needed to.
It was all so normal – normal in the revolutionary sense that Che Guevara
spoke of normal – remarking that when the extraordinary becomes everyday
you know it is a revolutionary time.

The above described celebration took place in 2009, marking the first
graduation of a Bachillerato Popular in Chilavert, in Buenos Aires,
Argentina. I was again in Chilavert, speaking with popular educators from
the Bachillerato five years later. The evolution since that first
graduating class is remarkable, both within Chilavert and throughout
Argentina. Already impressive in 2009, after only three years with more
than 40 popular education centers and over 5000 students, five years later,
that number has more than doubled with over 100 bachilleratos and many
thousands of students.

When one thinks of alternative high school programs certain images often
come to mind, such as a wide diversity of participants based in age and
experience. And when one thinks of popular education, one imagines learning
and teaching based in local knowledge bases of the participants. The
bachilleratos reflect these elements, and so much more. Ages of
participants range from teens who were kicked out of high school often for
alleged behavioral issues, to parents and grandparents, and all ages in
between, including in one bachillerato on the outskirts of Buenos Aires
where two of the students, in their later 70s, are the parents of one of
the workers in the recuperated factory that houses that particular
alternative high school diploma program. Most students come from poor,
working poor and unemployed families, and most of the bachilleratos are
located in these neighborhoods, ranging from those on the periphery of
cities, in neighborhoods that resemble shanty towns, to ones such as Las
Tunes, 40 kilometers outside Buenos Aires, which is self organized. Las
Tunes is run by the community, using assemblies and is located on what was
once a trash dump. The community has collectively built homes for the
families in the town and many collective spaces, including a school and a

As for popular education, this is where the bachilleratos are most
innovative, creating new ways of not only teaching and learning, but
relating to the community. Ninety-nine percent of the students in each
bachillerato come from that community, thus there is a real dedication by
the neighbors and people in the area for the success of the students and
project. Many neighbors support the process in various ways from attending
public events the students organize to bringing food and helping to build
and later clean the spaces for education.

Classes are organized with face-to-face meetings, influenced by or using
direct democracy, striving for full participation and the breaking down of
hierarchy. The size of the groups range from ten to thirty people, with
each group choosing what they will study, how, where, and then what they
will do at the end of the study process.

To say the students choose what course of study they will undertake is to
say a great deal. When do students anywhere get to enter a classroom
setting and decide the themes around which they will learn? In the
bachilleratos they do. For example, in the bachillerato in Chilavert the
education is organized around the ideas of coopertivism and its
interpretation via recuperation – so more along the lines of self
organization and horizontalism than traditional concepts of cooperatives.
Not only do the students have an underlying course of study of self
organization in Chilavert, but since its inception in 2007, the
bachilleratos now include classes taught by a few of the workers.

Not only does the bachillerato in Chilavert decide how and what to study
collectively and democratically they also collectively deal with whatever
tensions or problems arise in the classroom. This is based in the agreement
that no student will be expelled from the bachillerato. It is a bit tricky
since there are agreements that have to be met so that a person can
graduate. So, what happens then if a person does not comply with an
agreement? Rather than punishing that student, they organize an assembly of
all students and teachers and also include a few of the workers from
Chilavert. They discuss the issue collectively and decide what can be done
so as to remedy the problem. Generally this has only been reflected in
small issues such as missing too many classes or a lack of participation.
There is a mechanism however for a more serious transgression, which did
occur once, and in that case the student was asked to leave for a short
period of time, reflect on what happened and then write and present
something based on their reflections to the entire group – students,
teachers and workers. It was successful. It is very much reminiscent of the
circle justice forms used by some First Nations in Canada

Each graduating class of a bachillerato has to create a collective project.
These are quite wide ranging depending on the location and thematic of the
course of the education. In Chilavert, each year, the students have created
various publications and over time also community radio programs. The first
graduating class created notebooks that they printed together on the
machines of the workplace, having learned the basics of printing from the
workers. The notebooks are for sale to the community to offset the cost of
printing and then free for the next entering bachillerato class. Inside the
notebooks, on the margins of every page are quotations from the students
reflecting their thoughts and feelings regarding education. They see this
as sharing and passing down some of their knowledge about education. For
example, a few read,

“Education is not a business – Education makes us free.”

“We dedicate ourselves every day to fight for an education that includes

“Opening schools and fighting for popular and public education.”

Since the first graduating class the projects in Chilavert have become
increasingly sophisticated, in content and in form, including not only
notebooks, but calendars, note cards and pamphlets. And the students who
graduate have increasingly continued to help the incoming classes, with tow
graduates even becoming teachers and now participating in the Bachillerato
Popular in IMPA, another recuperated workplace and community center in
Buenos Aires.

This is just one example of the now over 100 Bachilleratos Populares in
Argentina. There are, as with all of the movements in Argentina,
differences and tensions in how to self organize, and in particular in
relationship to the state. The government recognizes the bachilleratos and
the degrees that the students receive, though whether a bachillerato
receives subsidies for the teachers is another question and one based in
how that particular high school diploma course is organized. For example,
the state demands that there is a formal hierarchy of roles with the
teachers and a specific form of division of money – something that I have
heard is not evenly complied with in reality but is on paper. There are
other similar such requirements that have resulted in some bachilleratos
not taking money from the state while others use it as a way to help a
movement or community survive, dividing the money the teachers receive more
evenly among the teachers and in the community. It is yet another way the
government has managed to appear as if it is playing a totally supportive
role, yet underneath there are divisions in the movements emerging based on
this support.

Participants in the movement reflect that the self organized nature of the
schools is directly connected to the horizontal and assembly based
movements that came out of the popular rebellion
of December 19 and 20, 2001. Recuperated workplaces, neighborhood
assemblies, unemployed movements, occupations of land and self organized
art and media groups emerged in massive numbers throughout the country
after 2001. The Bachilleratos Populares are a sort of hijo (child) of this
form of organization and continue the in the same form and spirit as those
out of the rebellion of the 19/20th.

ZCommunications, 215 Atlantic Ave, Hull, MA, USA, 02045
| Manage Subscription

If you'd like to unsubscribe and stop receiving these emails click here

NetworkedLabour mailing list
NetworkedLabour at lists.contrast.org

Check out the Commons Transition Plan here at:

P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net

http://twitter.com/mbauwens; http://www.facebook.com/mbauwens

#82 on the (En)Rich list: http://enrichlist.org/the-complete-list/
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: https://lists.ourproject.org/pipermail/p2p-foundation/attachments/20150220/8164709b/attachment-0001.htm 

More information about the P2P-Foundation mailing list