By Students, For Students
Tomás Despouy, Co-Founder
The logic in education has always been proposed from a point-of-view that the development of the student is the joint result of a Ministry of Education with a national vision, well-designed and implemented educational policies, diligent management teams, and well-prepared teachers, but rarely are students mentioned as a key piece in their own educational process. This has positioned the student as a passive actor with few opportunities for empowerment. We believe that in order to create a significant learning environment for students, education should be by the students, for the students.
Panal, Spanish for honeycomb, is a non-profit organization that empowers students to become active agents of change in their communities and schools. The program consists of seven extracurricular sessions, hosted on Saturdays, with the objective of promoting student leadership through the development of socioemotional abilities (SEA). The socioemotional abilities are tools that allow people to recognize their own emotions and thoughts, understanding what influences their behavior; controlling their emotions, thoughts, and actions in different situations, motivating them to work towards their personal goals. They learn to empathize with others and act according to ethical norms, recognize people and institutions that offer support, establish and maintain healthy, social relationships with diverse people, practice active listening, how to cooperate with others to find resolution to conflicts, and, ultimately, make responsible decisions considering ethical standards, personal well-being, and others.
The abilities, in addition to being used in playful and reflective activities, are put into practice through “actions of change” which consists of student projects that identify a problem within the student’s school community and the design and implication of a solution. In this manner, the students make cooperative groups, or “communities,” guided by a mentor, which all together gives rise to Panal (honeycomb). A honeycomb is formed by a series of communities that with empathy and creativity, perseverance and mental growth, strengthen schools and empower students.