Community Learning Drives Sustainable Change in Northern Coclé

Since the end of the 2022 school year, Fundacion Academia Forum has been hosting courses offered by INADEH, Panama’s National Institute for Professional Training and Human Development. After renovating the auditorium at the Jose De Los Reyes Vasquez High School in El Caimito, our F.A.F team has temporarily occupied this space, providing educational support to beneficiaries from the communities in Northern Coclé. Access to this space is what has made offering these courses a reality.

Professor Elvia Martinez, Head of Programs at Fundacion Academia Forum, established contact with the provincial office of INADEH in Coclé. These discussions laid the groundwork for the first of many training programs to be offered entirely free of charge. In 2022, the initial sessions began with a group of mothers who embraced the challenge of learning how to make their own piñatas. This success was followed by sewing workshops, where twenty-five participants dedicated two months and 200 hours to learn how to make shirts and pants.

The early success of these courses opened the door to additional workshops in 2023. At the beginning of the year, Professor Elvia mentioned that during the summer break, INADEH instructors had specifically requested the opportunity to teach their courses at the Community Center in El Caimito. In 2023, the first courses offered were in Quality Customer Service, with twenty-three beneficiaries receiving forty hours of free instruction. Additionally, nineteen participants enrolled in an eighty-hour course on the Interpretation of Electrical Plans. F.A.F also hosted twenty-five participants for the first course in creating Folkloric Dress items, where these talented women incorporated the Foundation’s logo into their beautiful creations.

F.A.F’s strengthened partnership with INADEH also allowed 15 participants to take part in an Entrepreneurship course. To celebrate the course’s completion, participants had the opportunity to provide food vending services by setting up stands at the Community Center.

We are incredibly proud of these beneficiaries, many of whom have participated in multiple courses. They demonstrate that learning is a lifelong journey, and it’s never too late to embrace new challenges. Fundacion Academia Forum deeply appreciates the trust and collaboration that has developed with INADEH Coclé.

It remains our privilege to provide the space and resources to continue offering these courses free of charge to the members of Northern Coclé’s communities. Undoubtedly, doing so contributes to sustainable change, equipping community members with the skills and resources necessary to build a better future together.