Nicaragua: Revolution of Tenderness in Times of Crisis

Nicaragua is suffering a profound social fracture and polarization of visions due to the political, social and humanitarian crisis that began to worsen just over a year ago. Regardless of political positions, the at least 320 deaths according to figures from the IACHR, the hundreds of people arbitrarily detained and the thousands of migrants and asylum seekers (together, some 60,000 people) in other countries, are objective signs of a systematic violation of human rights.

In this hostile and difficult context for peaceful social coexistence, the work of Fe y Alegría is to promote a culture of peace and reconciliation in classrooms, fostering dialogue, respect for diversity of thought, and forgiveness; Through this approach, Fe y Alegría seeks to generate a climate of emotional stability throughout the educational community: children, parents, teachers, and management personnel.

Recently, our colleagues from Fundación Entreculturas, Marta del Barrio and Gemma López traveled to Nicaragua, a country of special importance to Gemma given that she was a volunteer there and lived there for 10 years.

“The peacemaking role of Fe y Alegría is not an easy task. The directors and teachers told me that due to the existing polarization, they are afraid to express opinions about what is happening in the country; they live in fear of violent groups taking over the schools and taking students out of the classrooms; or that they continue to live with the uncertainty of whether raising the flag and singing the national anthem can be interpreted as subversion. All this has led to a situation where despite apparent “normality”, every day they live with tension.

Together with the important social role played by Fe y Alegría at this time, in neighborhoods that are already vulnerable and with a high presence of violence, other sister organizations of the Society of Jesus play an important role in facing the crisis. The UCA tries to continue promoting the critical human growth of students, from a vision of defense of human rights; In spite of the pressure that this institution suffers, it has readapted its curriculum in blended modalities that respond to the promotion of student safety. On the other hand, Jesuit Migrant Service in Nicaragua provides legal information and safe routes to those who choose to leave the country.

Gemma adds: “I left Nicaragua with the certainty that our partner organizations are where they should be: with the people, in one way or another; sometimes risking freedom or even life, while fostering a revolution of tenderness that is capable of counteracting distrust, fear, hatred, corruption and injustice.

34th Annual Assembly of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría

From April 4th-5th, 2019, the 34th Annual Assembly of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría Federation was held in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Throughout the first day, participants discussed the “Challenges for Fe y Alegría in light of the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus”, and then continued with the “Educational challenges and relevant responses in contexts of poverty”, moderated by Carlos Vargas, director of FyA Ecuador and member of the board of directors of the FIFyA.

For Federico Rodríguez, Director of the National Institute of Educational Evaluation (INEED) Uruguay, “the quality of education must be improved with an emphasis on equity and utility for young people”.

Fr. Carlos Fritzen, General Coordinator of FIFyA, invites us to “go beyond the school and enter into encounter with communities, re-read contexts in light of our lessons learned to offer pertinent answers at the local level with a global vocation. And let us be inspired in this task by the Universal Apostolic Preferences of the Society of Jesus.”

An audio was shared that accompanied the presentation of Father Alfred Kiteso SJ, director of FyA in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Coordinator of the Africa and Madagascar Commission, who could not arrive due to visa issues. Father Kiteso shared with us “a vision from this new African frontier, education is the basis for the development of people and communities. Without education there is no progress or autonomy, and it must be equal for both boys and girls, beginning with literacy.”

Beatriz Borjas, consultant of the International Federation, closed the round of presentations emphasizing that “in vulnerable contexts people continue to believe in and value school.” And she focused her talk on the crisis in Venezuela, “as the end of the era of fossil fuels and the emergence of new energy models…education should be reread … taking into account the violence and murder of socio-environmental leaders and forced migration.” In the global context, she invited us to “redesign popular education by criticizing the predatory development model and by promoting the creation of a model of global citizenship and inclusion, with the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of others, revising our educational proposal that oftentimes reproduces the prevailing system in many ways, to move away from the reproduction of the system to the creation of a new form of relationship, taking care of safe spaces such as schools and educational environments.”

After reading these reflections on the current challenges of education in contexts of poverty, what do you think and feel?

With texts from Gerardo Lombardi, Communications Coordinator at the International Federation of Fe y Alegría

Launch of EduRed


The three education networks of the Conference of Provincials in Latin America and the Caribbean (CPAL): The Latin American Federation of Schools of the Society of Jesus (FLACSI), Fe y Alegría and AUSJAL, gathered together in a wider alliance called EduRed. They have joined together to present the book “The Society of Jesus and the Universal Right to a Quality Education” (DUEC). Together, the three networks have agreed to undertake a campaign aimed at staff training, awareness-raising among their educational communities and public advocacy, in defense of the right to education for all, without distinction of race, culture, nationality or social condition.

The Coordinator of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría, Carlos Fritzen SJ, assures that the launch of the book can be interpreted as a new regional alliance that will have global impact.

We invite you to use and share this material with other people and institutions with which we can collaborate inside and outside the Society of Jesus and the Church. CPAL also shares a list of resources (in Spanish) for the training of students and the promotion of strategies for public advocacy to promote the Right to Education.