Education for Social Change in Latin America
Latin America is becoming increasingly pluralistic in religious terms. At the same time, politico-religious fundamentalisms that undermine democracy and the rule of law are growing at an alarming rate. These conservative religious groups are well anchored in the political party system of various nation-states and are in close dialogue with the conservative media and economic and political elites. They often spread messages that are politically and culturally strongly opposed to any progress in human rights for women and the LGT-BIQ population, as well as social initiatives that advocate for social and environmental justice (more regulation and reparation of damages) and call for immediate action against climate change.
Against this backdrop, education and training in the theolo-gical field has become more important. In an increasingly hostile climate of exclusion and intolerance, Mission 21's theological partner organisations are committed to the social inclusion of dissenters and ethnic and social minorities and to the urgent need for action on environmental justice through their various educational programmes.
With their reflective and discerning approach to theology and religion, the UBL, CTE, AETE and SASP are qualified to work on the issue of increasing fundamentalisms in Costa Rica and throughout Latin America and to advocate for diversity and justice in society and the church. Studying at UBL, CTE, AETE or SASP offers many young people the opportunity to deepen their theological knowledge and to engage critically with theological and social issues.
Activities academic education programme
The partners offer various educational programmes that can be completed with a diploma, the "Bachillerato", the licentiate or even a master's degree. Since January 2018, the couple Ángel Román and Simone Dollin-ger have been working on site for Mission 21. Ángel Román devotes most of his time to teaching and research at the UBL, while Simone Dollinger works as project coordinator for our theological partners.
At the end of 2019, UBL published a comprehensive research report on the longer-term impact of theological education on social transformation processes. The study shows that the UBL education model promotes critical thinking and thus leads to a re-thinking of students and shows how theology can be related to concrete social challenges in church and society. During their academic training, students undergo a process of transformation. This is expressed in the fact that the students question their previous, often conservative theological education and rediscover the task of theology for society. The UBL also enables its students to deal with so-called taboo topics in church and theological training circles, such as gender, sexuality, feminism and the latent and painful reality of feminicide. A second, in-depth study with case studies from Bolivia, Peru and Costa Rica on the social impact of former UBL students will be published by the UBL by mid-2022. Our Chilean partner CTE plans to publish a research report on the longer-term impact of theological education on social transformation processes in Chile in mid-2023.
Activities popular education programme
Mission 21 is currently supporting the DEI with the socio-theological workshop and the seminar "Lectura Popular de la Biblia". A contribution is also being made to a lecturer's post. The socio-theological workshop strengthens the critical awareness of the participants and promotes reflection on gender issues, interreligiousness, human rights and the protection and treatment of the environment. It contributes to personal development with the aim of improving the quality of active participation in social change processes. With the method of the "Lectura Popular de la Biblia", the seminar participants learn to interpret the Bible themselves in a critical way. It is an important tool to oppose funda-mentalist currents in politics, society and religion.
Mission 21 supports AETE in its popular educational offer by conducting annual continuing education courses ("Diplomados") on special topics such as: Gender and Church, Physical Disability and Theology, Pastoral Care of Children; Environmental Justice, Gender and Violence Prevention in Lima, Chiclayo and Cajamarca in cooperation with local church communities.