By: Carolina Villada Narváez (CRECE Consultant)

CRECE initiates the mid-term evaluation of the “Education for Competitiveness”, where the greatest challenge of the program turned out to be to close the gaps between rural and urban education. 

At CRECE we have had the opportunity to systematize and evaluate different educational initiatives developed in Caldas and in the rest of Colombia. In particular, we have accumulated significant experience in evaluating the department’s rural education projects and programs, implemented through the public-private partnership between the Governance of Caldas, the Committee of Coffee Growers and, more recently, the Central Hidroeléctrica de Caldas (CHEC). This Alliance has made it possible to strengthen the “Escuela Nueva” model at different educational levels and expand it to higher education, in an intervention that combines objectives linked to the coverage, quality and relevance of this training. 

Rural education benefits all. Photo credit: Manon Koningstein

Rural education benefits all. Photo credit: Manon Koningstein

Our trajectory and learning in the monitoring of this policy allow us to have conceptual and methodological tools focused on the key dimensions and variables involved in the transformation of the educational field, in particular those related to the processes of policy management, school factors And contextual factors that influence its application and the changes and strategies deployed at the individual, family and community levels. Thus, the analytical perspectives we use are nurtured by interdisciplinary methods as well as the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods in order to comprehensively explain the processes evaluated at the macro, meso and micro levels. 

We are currently in the initial stage of the Intermediate Evaluation of the Education for Competitiveness Program, contracted by the Committee of Coffee Growers of Caldas. In 2014 we also made the baseline of the intervention of the program. This program has three components: I)Education for work through the Middle Education with a focus on Work, Evaluation and certification of labor competencies and Entrepreneurship; II)Access to higher education,  based on the secondary education articulation policy the extension of the project “La Universidad en el Campo” and the Entrepreneurship project; and III) Labor Connections, through the Insertion of Labor and Rural Microentrepreneurs projects. 

The purpose of this evaluation is to determine the results achieved by the intervention around the conditions of educability and labor insertion of the rural population of Caldas, specifically of the graduates. Some of the biggest challenges are related to the identification of changes related to: the possibilities for the generational splice; the capacities of rural youth for their productive insertion, either through their own businesses or employment in companies associated with the rural sector; and the generation of new family and community dynamics from the empowerment of young people. 

This evaluation has a great relevance to deepen the knowledge of the type of institutional designs required to overcome the breached traditions between rural and urban areas in the main educational indicators. We also hope to contribute in the analysis of the trajectories built by the graduates and their relationship with the educational experience obtained, facilitating the understanding of the limitations, successes and challenges of the current rural educational offer of the department in front of the needs and expectations of the young people of the countryside. We are particularly interested in producing relevant information for decision-making by the actors involved in the design and implementation of the policy, so that progress is made in the qualification of rural education offer and in the construction of a long-term project under a Territorial Approach;  in which Caldas is positioned as a reference in the national and international context. 


The Centro de Estudios Regionales Cafeteros y Empresariales (CRECE) has renewed its website, which includes all the information related to the research and projects in which CRECE has participated.
It should be remembered that CRECE was created with the purpose of using research to respond to the problems related to the regional economic and social development and to be able to face these issues through constant support, the formulation of policies and economic and social programs, based on the permanent research on regional issues.

For these purposes, CRECE focuses on four specific research areas: Regional Development, Coffee Economy, Social and Institutional Development and Education. Through specialization and collaboration between these four areas, CRECE can make a difference in rural poverty reduction and thus contribute to the development of the Colombian coffee regions through the generation of knowledge.

Currently, CRECE is carrying out a series of projects such as the Farmer Brothers program, which consists of carrying out a study to monitor the performance of a set of sustainability indicators, so as to evaluate the impact of the program on sustainable trade as well as the social, environmental and economic conditions of producers.

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As far as Farmer Workers, the function of CRECE is to design and implement a pilot which defines and implements the mechanisms to attract the scarce labor available for the coffee cultivation work, with the objective of contributing elements that strengthen the sector.

In the case of the project with the International Labor Organization (Organización Internacional del Trabajo (OIT)), the purpose is to carry out an value chain analysis for the coffee supply chain and the market environment in Colombia with a special emphasis on safety and occupational health. This with the aim of providing an overview of the value chain and its market environment, in order to identify the risks related to the safety and health of the workers involved in the agricultural coffee supply chain.

CRECE contributes permanently to the generation of knowledge, in order to guide the decisions of regional and national development actors towards the construction of long-term goals. Therefore, CRECE plans to consolidate itself as a research center of excellence which will promote regional development.


This week, a study conducted by CRECE got mentioned by the Colombian national newspaper ´El Tiempo´. An english summary of the article can be found below, for the original Spanish article, please follow this link.

While the heated discussions about the peace agreement continue and the media do not stop chilling stories about persecutions and justices by their own hand, the National Batuta Foundation is celebrating its 25th anniversary. They use music to rescue rescuing hundreds of thousands of children who have suffered in their own flesh the horrors of the Colombian armed conflict.

According to a research carried out by the Regional Center for Coffee and Business Studies (Crece) in 2008, children who have participated in the flagship program of Batuta, ‘Let yourself play for music’, today called ‘Music for Reconciliation’, have recognized that their participation in the project has taught them values for coexistence, has produced a happiness that has repaired their daily lives and has led them to expand their networks of support and their social networks. According to official figures of the foundation, an initiative of the government converted into a non-governmental entity, 350,000 students are already in the 32 departments of Colombia, which have benefited from the program.