El Ingenio


LOCATION: Chiapas, Mexico

SUMMARY: El INGENIO is an interdisciplinary model that creates the necessary conditions for youth and children to be capable to transform their educational context and their communities through Music, Literature, Design, Architecture, Science, Technologies and Creative Industries, changing the way people learn and break the poverty cycle by creativity and innovation.

PROBLEM SPACE: "Young people in Mexico lack opportunities to unveil, develop and exercise their creativity. We are all creative by nature, but there are very few meaningful spaces where kids and youth truly experiment and develop these capabilities in their every day life, mainly: a) Learning to learn capabilities, b) Skills for problem solving, and c) Creative and self-expression skills and attitudes.

We know from many studies and evidence that these capabilities are crucial for people to be able to solve problems, transform their life and their surroundings, innovate and create new scenarios; we also know that the best way to develop them is when directly experimented in safe, participatory and positive environments, but formal schooling and conventional education donäó»t provide these kinds of environments, especially in rural and urban areas as the state of Chiapas, Mexico, were the project started.

Since 2016, our project has been demonstrating the success of creativity development among more than 10,000 people through the integral transformation of the spaces where they learn and create: from the physical transformation of spaces, to the way they are challenged to discover their own learning capabilities.

Around 60% of children and youth in Mexico lack problem-solving capabilities, compared to an average of 22% in the OECD.
This situation is critical given that nearly 100% of children are enrolled in formal schools throughout the country. Even this crisis has been visible since many years ago, it was until 2015 that the federal government made an integral reform changing the way teachers are taught. However, the educational program is still based in academic learning towards Math and Reading, leaving behind life-long learning capabilities in areas of the everyday life of young people, giving them a very low basis for meaningful learning and creative development in areas as arts, technologies, sciences, and entrepreneurship.

The specific problems that children and youth face in the region were the project started (Chiapas, Mexico), are:
a) SOCIOEDUCATIONAL: Lowest human development rate (PNUD), Highest marginality rate (CENEVAL), 76.% of the population in multidimensional poverty conditions (CONEVAL), Highest national illiteracy (INEGI), last places in basic thinking skills according to OCDEäó»s PISA, Functional illiteracy at public universities.
b) SOCIOCULTURAL BARRIERS: growth of violence and addictions, low self-esteem, gender barriers, lack of problem solving strategies, lack of spaces promoting reflection, innovation, curiosity, expression, interpersonal interaction and communication."

SOLUTION: "It develops an integral program for children, youth and adult to develop their creativity by three key areas:

1) Child and youth-centered, project based non-formal education: free workshops and educational activities based in interdisciplinary areas such as Music, Literature, Arts, Science and Technology, Design, Sustainable Architecture and Entrepreneurship.

2) Integral facilitating environments:
2.1 Transforming physical conventional spaces into meaningful and creative atmospheres through participative design and collective networking.
2.2) Enabling safe and trust based educational interactions in every process (team, pedagogy, atmosphere and quality of relationships) that effectively develop creative capabilities. People attend by their own interest, and never by external incentives.

3) Consolidation of creative learning processes into concrete projects and products: innovative furniture, ecological buildings, books, music albums, performances, public exhibitions, start-ups and creative industries, alternative technologies. Some of these products are commercialized by a social enterprise were the participants produce and receive remuneration for their work (www.geniart.mx).

These actions are developed directly by our staff in our center in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas (www.elingenio.org.mx), as well as in more than 10 communities across the Republic were we have created participatory creative networks of innovative libraries, music and creative industries with different institutions, scaling the impact."

CONTACT: Raul Mendoza, [email protected]