Experiential education forum: rethinking education with the Chocó Andino school forests

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Date: January 25-26, 2021

Time: 9h00 – 13h00


The Andean Forests are inhabited by rural populations, and in some cases they are very close to urban areas. The quality of education and the ecological quality of inhabited ecosystems are directly correlated. In other words, the better the quality of education, the more likely it is that the population will use and inhabit the forests and the resources associated with them, in a respectful and sustainable way (eg forest conservation, recycling programs, bio-enterprises , etc.).

The Red de Bosques Escuela del Chocó Andino (Red BESCHOCO), formed in 2017 as a community of practice between private and community farms and reserves, seeks to influence, transform and improve the quality of rural education, mainly in the northwestern region of Quito. Since then, its impact at the level of Ecuadorian public education has been growing, due to the methodological relevance of its programs, and the relevance of its contributions to the national education system.

“Experiential education” is characterized by providing students with an educational experience linked to a living space (social and natural). In this sense, experiential education occurs in natural spaces, or spaces where practices, trades or activities related to real productive processes take place. Experiential education starts from the validity of lived experiences as educational experiences, and proposes creating real (live) experiences as a methodology for learning and teaching. Experiential education aims to facilitate experiences that involve students beyond the classroom and virtual abstraction.
Experiential education enables a new look at traditional education, while putting into question the passivity of the learner in learning. On the contrary, active learning that occurs through involvement in an experiential educational experience makes it easier for learning to occur spontaneously. Experiential learning allows deepening emotional education through relationships with other students, and fostering teamwork. Additionally, experiential experiences are excellent spaces to cultivate motivation and curiosity.

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In 2020, the Ministry of Education of Ecuador recognizes the “school forest methodology” as a tool of interest and applicability in the national education system. Said methodology conceptualizes the educational space beyond the classroom, namely, the spaces in the forest and in nature as places where, indeed, learning occurs naturally and autonomously. The “school forest methodology” uses natural spaces and living / real educational spaces such as a kitchen, a carpentry workshop, or a plantain, cocoa or wheat crop. The educational space is thus redefined, beyond the classrooms and traditional recreational spaces within the educational unit (eg games for children, sports fields, etc.).

The “forest school methodology” is not a static educational tool, since its applicability, definition and relevance are constantly evolving, in an iterative process of application and adjustment. In this context, in a collaborative process between the Andean Forest Program – CONDESAN, and the BESCHOCO Network, the aim is to share the different experiences that have led to the consolidation of the “school forest methodology”, and which implement it in different ways in their programs educational both with students of the public education system and other areas.

Objectives of the event

Mainly, it is about creating spaces for dialogue and connection between different actors with experience and interests in experiential education, education for sustainable development and conservation of biodiversity.

The “Forum of experiential education: rethinking education with the school forests of the Chocó Andino”, seeks to be a first space for discussion and articulation to, based on the current global situation, weave networks, and strengthen experiential educational practices, which contribute to creating a more resilient and relevant education model at the national and regional level.

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The event includes presentations and round tables. The presentations of the school forests will show the work carried out with schools and colleges in the Chocó Andino, reflecting the diversity of ways of applying the “school forest methodology”. There will also be specialized presentations on educational experiences for sustainable development, the virtual platform of the BESCHOCO Network, and other experiences of experiential education in Colombia, Peru and Puerto Rico.

Below are the topics of 2 of the discussion tables:

Scaling the methodologyía forest school at the high school level

The “school forest methodology” has been tested through the BESCHOCO Network in elementary schools. The process has been 3 years, and the results are significant: students motivated to learn, transformation of teachers and the educational space, among others. Given the good results of its application at the basic education level, it is essential to apply the methodology at the baccalaureate level, to give continuity to the educational model implemented in initial and basic education, while contributing to the improvement of the quality of education.

Scaling the forest school methodology at the high school level is a company with great potential to contribute to a model of education for young people, oriented towards life experience and development.

Methodologyía forest school and experiential education as tools for a new educationn”

The “school forest methodology” is a proposal for experiential education, which has been applied in school contexts for more than 3 decades in Northern European countries. It is currently a tool that has spread throughout the world. In Ecuador, it has been applied in basic education schools through the BESCHOCO Network. The ‘forest school methodology’ seeks to take students to the forest, in order to learn in the middle of a living space, and develop empathy with others and with the forest.

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There are several models of managing the experiential educational experience, and of conceiving it from a pedagogical and curricular point of view. The BESCHOCO Network, through the school forest methodology, has implemented several programs at the level of various public educational institutions, and also in other areas of non-formal education. However, there are experiences of other actors linked to conservation and education that have taken decades of experimentation, and whose management models and pedagogical vision can nurture experiential education as a space for the creation of a new model of “experiential education”.

Institutions involved

The event is organized by the Chocó Andino School Forest Network and CONDESAN through the Andean Forest Program within the framework of the world environmental education day. The Andean Forests Program is part of the Global Program on Climate Change and Environment of the Swiss Cooperation SDC, and is facilitated by the Helvetas Peru – CONDESAN consortium.


To receive the link and participate in the event it is necessary to register in the following registration form. Space is limited.

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