A Century and a Half of Schooling

Photo by: USAID Colombia Land and Rural Development

After 160 years, a land title has finally been secured for the parcel that houses the emblematic school of Santa Ana, located in Miranda, Cauca.

Originally appeared on Exposure.

LEARNING FROM THE PAST

The community of Santa Ana was founded 224 years ago and was the epicenter of what is today known as Miranda, a municipality in Northern Cauca. Its oldest institution is the school, which has been operating for 160 years on the same site.

In other words, when Colombia was just becoming a country—in the year 1857—leaders built the school and began providing instruction to the children of campesinos and Afro-Colombians. Following the abolition of slavery in 1851, many of the first families had escaped from the grip of ranchers in order to settle vacant lands and continue fighting for their freedom.

Today, the area is still home to descendants of these first families. For them, the school is a symbol of their history and their pride because it is where generation upon generation of mirandeños have received their education.

Over time, the administrative center and the county seat were transferred elsewhere, and Santa Ana became a village—one that in the complicated reality of Northern Cauca was able to resist the conflict. Although the community and the school’s administrators have made some improvements to the school over the years, the cracked walls of the old building suggest otherwise, and important renovations are required in order to ensure the well-being of the 115 children who go there for primary education.

Read the full photo essay on Exposure.

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