Gaining distinction as the poorest area in the country, both in economic terms and academic achievement, is not an easy task. It takes years, even decades and many progressive steps to achieve it, and even more work to maintain it. It is manifested in attitudes, in conformity and a paradoxical combination of resentment and resignation. It is expressed in the status quo and far from motivating the search for alternatives out of poverty; it actually induces a strong resistance to change. In an uncertain, fearful world knowing your place and your role provides a sense of security, even when that place is last place. This is the current situation in northern Morazán, in north-east El Salvador.
The division of roles and full acceptance of them among all players is the determining factor in maintaining status quo. The automation of social processes results in the acceptance of always being the “beneficiary population” for entities of the Poverty Industry and a tacit understanding with regard to the distribution of the provided resources.
The intromission of elements, institutions or concepts foreign to the “understanding” is cause for great concern. Worse yet are those that focus on developing structural changes which could modify the perception or image of the “poor and dignified victims.”
In 2008 we started Amún Shéa, Center for Integrated Development, as an alternative educational system designed to address the socioeconomic needs of the area. As expected, the program immediately drew attention to itself, both from parents seeing it as a viable option for bettering their children’s future and by those who looked at it warily, fearing that it would disrupt the status quo. As one local council member expressed, “the fundraising capacity of this project, will absorb a disproportionate share of international cooperation designated for the area.”
New methodology which does not contain “the basics” of traditional education is automatically rejected, although it is generally accepted that the current educational system in Morazán is a failure. Even parents supportive of the program have difficulty measuring their child´s progress by traditional standards, until they learn new systems of evaluation. Experience shows that our program works, is effective and has tangible positive results. Assimilation within the community, nevertheless, is a process delayed by status quo.
The point is, for an educational program or any other program to be successful in creating real change; it must first overcome the inertia of status quo which permeates social strati, including those seemingly supportive of change and poverty eradication.