Over the last two and a half years, we have been investigating arrangements to support regional learning in various rural areas across Europe (EU-project DERREG). This intense period of field work and data analysis has given me a first idea of just how complex this subject is, how diverse supportive arrangements can be, and how dependent their success is on the regional contexts in which they are implemented.
As if this complexity is not already enough to ponder about, my curiosity and interest in mutual learning for development has urged me to also investigate this topic outside the European Union. I was particularly interested in questioning how rural regional learning is supported in, what is commonly referred to as, “developing” countries. So, here I am in Colombia,
a country with a completely different cultural and historical context than any of our European case study areas. Just to give you an impression: In recent years, Colombia has seen a steady growing economy (fourth largest in South America). It is also a country with a high cultural and ethnical diversity and numerous natural resources. Still, about 45% of the population lives under the poverty line. In addition, Colombia has been rattled by an internal, armed conflict since 1948, which has mainly been carried out in rural areas (where around 32% of the population resides), and which has created one of the largest numbers of internally displaced persons in the world.
Until March, I will be staying in Colombia to investigate the support for rural regional learning in a rural area of the department Quindío in Colombia’s coffee region. As part of my investigations, I am also relying on discussions and reflections with professors working at CIDER, an interdisciplinary research institute of the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá.
Please follow future blogs about my fieldwork experience if you are interested in mutual learning for improving arrangements to support rural regional development! 🙂