Simón Bolívar UWC

Location: Barinas, Venezuela
Student Profile: 180 students from 18 to 21 years old
Founded: 1986 (UWC since 1988)

Students working with cattle

Introduction

Simón Bolívar UWC of Agriculture is the only vocational college in UWC, offering a Higher Diploma in Farm Administration. Teaching at Simón Bolívar UWC is in Spanish and students are older, normally between the ages of 18 and 21 and already high school graduates.

Campus and facilities

On a 650 hectare farm in the foothills of the Andean Cordillera, students ‘learn by doing’, an educational approach that sees each student spend some time each day working the land, caring for animals and learning the importance of keeping detailed administrative records. A crucial component of the course is what students learn from each other by sharing insights and experiences from their lives before college. Many students have never left their country before and some have not even travelled far from their home villages; they come from different cultures and countries from around the world but they form powerful bonds and gain enormously from hearing about each other’s farming practices at home and the problems they have faced. The vocational nature of the Simón Bolívar Diploma is reinforced by a four-month internship in an agricultural enterprise in Venezuela or another country. Students also live for four weeks in a rural community close to the college.

Community service

As at all UWCs,  students and staff are committed to a variety of social service programmes that benefit nearby communities, with a focus on  agricultural and social welfare projects. Taking students out of the classroom and into a rural village in the Pedraza Municipality encourages them to think about and collaborate in solving the real-life problems and challenges faced by rural communities in Venezuela. It also teaches the students how to put theories into practice to bring about positive changes and generate socio-economic development in these areas. The aim is to help improve health, education and general well-being by changing attitudes towards sanitation, conservation and the use of natural resources. Students contribute through activities from teaching literacy skills and giving talks on health and nutrition to teaching how to build vegetable plots for schools, running children’s groups and teaching sports.

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