Will our country be enough for our children?

Escultura en Montería

“Our conformist and repressive education seems conceived so that children forcibly adapt to a country that was not intended for them, instead of placing the country within their reach so they can transform and broaden it,” said our Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in 1994 in his letter For a country within the reach of the children written for the Science, Education, and Development Mission, which at the time sought to assess and find solutions to the main problems facing our country.

The history of so many children in our country has been framed within the violence we have experienced for over 60 years. The vast majority of those in the most vulnerable situations and with fewer opportunities have been the ones who have suffered the most from this violence. To them our country owes – and we owe – a different path. A path far removed from weapons and violence.

Children have the right to be children and to grow up as children.

The right to be a child and to live their childhood includes ensuring access to education and offering good quality education. Education is a right of all children in our country and a duty of the State and of society. An educated child is a child with tools, with hope, with motivation, with self-confidence, who constructs their dreams and generates the ability to fend for themselves. Access to knowledge and good quality education, combined with building our children’s character, are fundamental tools to overcome unfavorable conditions at origin.

We all have the same abilities, but unfortunately not the same opportunities. Education, specifically, is the proven and effective way to build a society that offers a greater number of opportunities and a better distribution of those opportunities. It is the means to reduce the inequality that exists in access to opportunities, or the creation thereof, and for individual and professional development and the resulting distribution of income.

Improving access to good-quality education builds human capital, leads to better jobs, and helps people achieve their dreams.

Our responsibility as a society is to provide our children with adequate access to tools, resources, learning, experiences, character building, and values so that they have the opportunity to carve out their future. This path will lead them to improve their living conditions, and that of their families, their environment, and their communities. They will be able to give back in excess what they have received, generating a chain of opportunities and eventually building a more just and dignified society.

Our department has an enormous challenge, in the face of which up to now we have fallen short.

We are obligated to build a department with a more inclusive, more equitable, more autonomous and fair society in which its inhabitants can achieve their dreams. This will be attained through quality education, with extensive coverage in rural areas, with high-level educators that serve as role models, and with critical education that emphasizes not only knowledge but also the building of trust, respect, responsibility, equity, and life in society. Gabriel Garcia Marquez affirmed it 37 years ago, and it remains more compelling today than ever: “We believe that conditions exist today like never before for a social change, and that education will be its main instrument. An education from cradle to grave, discontent and reflective, that inspires us with a new way of thinking and encourages us to discover who we are in a society that loves itself more.” Our children deserve a country where education prevails, a country that is enough for them, where dreaming – and dreaming big- is possible.

Liliana Arrieta Encinales

September 20, 2021


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