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Teaching the recent past in Cúcuta, Colombia

EdJAM partners in Colombia, Fundación Memoria y Ciudadanía, seeks to find ways to understand the armed conflict and build new citizenships through pedagogical experiences that explore the impact of the war in the immediate context.

Fundación Memoria y Ciudadanía’s project trains and follows the process through which 10 high school teachers in Cúcuta, Colombia design pertinent and meaningful curricular interventions. Teachers are developing approaches to help young people identify and understand the complexities and impact of the armed conflict in their immediate context, and develop skills as respectful, responsible and critical citizens.

By the end of the project, we will be sharing the final products (curricular proposals and classroom material) to ensure the sustainability of the project and the application of the methodology in many schools around the country. This project is also supported by Fundación Compartir, who work closely with the Colombian Truth Commission and will share project results widely with their national network of teachers.



Fundación Memoria y Ciudadanía’s project in Colombia combines the strength of an interdisciplinary team and the experience of the teachers and schools to collectively build curricula that allow students to recognize the consequences of the armed conflict. The project builds pedagogical opportunities that allow the students to identify the causes of armed confrontation, the actors, the ways they legitimized their actions, and the many consequences the war left for the different communities. Following the intentions of the Colombian Truth Commission, our proposal is designed around non-repetition and coexistence, so it is fundamental for us that the students develop commitments to human rights and dignity, including during conflict and emergencies. For that to happen, it is important that the new curricula helps students to explore realities in Colombia’s rural areas, which are often neglected in mainstream narratives, including in education.

The project is based in Cúcuta, one of the cities most affected by decades of armed conflict in Colombia. Despite the 2016 peace agreement, Cúcuta is still touched by recent violent events as a result of the confrontation between armed groups disputing the control of the territory (mostly in rural areas). Cúcuta is located on the border with Venezuela, which means the city receives large numbers of Venezuelan migrants. It has special characteristics such as bi-national students, high presence of international cooperation and NGOs, high presence of mixed migratory flows and returned Colombian citizens with double affectation due to the armed conflict and the Venezuelan migration crisis. Finally, the region remains affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to physically closed schools and limited and inequitable opportunities for online learning for over a year. The project supports teachers to develop curricula that understand and embrace these realities, generating supportive professional development opportunities for teachers and relevant learning opportunities for students.

“This is a necessary project for our students to understand what happened in our territory and how to build a better future”

Cúcuta’s Teacher - Participant of the project


As a result, all participants must commit to setting peaceful and respectful relations with their communities, know how to identify and reject prejudices, racism, exclusion, violence and commit with a significant change of their own realities and the protection of democracy.

Keeping in mind that Colombia’s Truth Commission will deliver their final report by the end of this year, we seek for the teachers to be able to incorporate this content into their class and design teaching strategies according to the school and the community, based on the guides and materials resulting from the project.

Further reading: 

Arturo Charria has written an article for EL ESPECTADOR about the project titled “Diez propuestas para enseñar la historia reciente” (“Ten proposals to teach recent history”), which you can read here: https://www.elespectador.com/opinion/columnistas/arturo-charria/diez-propuestas-para-ensenar-la-historia-reciente/ (the article is in Spanish)


Meet the team


Carolina Valencia

Historian and Teacher of Peace Education

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Arturo Charria

Teacher and Researcher

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Catalina Arenas-Ortiz

Human Rights Consultant

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Juan Camilo Aljuri Pimiento

Project Manager: Peacebuilding and international projects

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