Handbook of International Development and Education
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Handbook of International Development and Education

Edited by Pauline Dixon, Steve Humble and Chris Counihan

This Handbook considers the myths and untruths that currently exist in international development and education. Using historic and contemporary evidence, this compendium redefines the international development narrative through a new understanding of 'what works', drawn from pragmatic ideas and approaches.
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Chapter 10: Low-cost private schools in the slums of Colombia

Joni AlWindi


Aguablanca is the largest low-income area on the eastern periphery of the city of Cali, Colombia. It was formed by internally displaced people, who started occupying the riverside land at the end of the 1970s. Between 1995 and 1999, more than 50,000 displaced people settled here (Vasquez-Sanches and Rouvinksi, 2005). Now, it covers an area of approximately 12 square kilometers and is divided into four large communities, which, in turn, are subdivided into discrete neighborhoods. The population of about 500,000 constitutes one fifth of Cali’s total population (Escobar-Morales, 2007). Social conditions in Aguablanca have for many years been among the worst in Cali, especially concerning family income and literacy rates. Thirty-six percent of Cali’s poor live in Aguablanca, and the relentless arrival of displaced people provokes continuous confrontation and violence with more established neighboring areas (Hentschel, 2005). Homicide rates in the district are among the highest in the country, leaving children and young people outside of school and work at especially high risk of getting involved in illegal activities (Escobar-Morales, 2007). Colombia represents a particularly pertinent research environment because, unlike many developing regions of the world, it actively promotes alternative forms of education provision for the poor beyond the free option offered by the state.

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