One of the most important aspects of Colombia’s peace process is the reincorporation into civil society of around 13,000 former combatants in the FARC, many of whom spent most or all of their adult life as guerrillas prior to the signing of the peace agreement in November 2016.
Under the terms of the agreement, many former guerrillas have entered educational programmes and have graduated with academic qualifications. In many cases, they have no previous formal education experience. One such programme is Arando la Educación (Ploughing Education), which is a distance learning course run by the National University in Bogota, in tandem with the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Agency for Reincorporation and Normalisation (ARN), which was established in the peace agreement, the FARC political party and the education ministry.
This week, 22 FARC members graduated at secondary school, or GCSE, level. They are among more than 700 FARC members who have graduated since the peace agreement was signed. Altogether, at least 5,879 FARC members have enrolled on educational programmes, as well as 4,000 other people affected by the armed conflict.
Jullieth Villa, one of the 22 recent graduates, said ‘going back to school was a very good experience. Studying for me is a new opportunity to get ahead, after this achievement new challenges will come to continue training and get a job’.
FARC members will be able to continue learning on special educational pathways which will help them find new opportunities away from conflict.