The Agricultural Training Center "La Huerta", also popularly called "Escuela Agricola" (Agricultural School) has been in uninterrupted operation since august of 1983. In its first year it started on a piece of land loaned by Pozo Amarillo (indigenous village), and in august of 1984 it was moved to its current location between the three communities Casuarina, Campo Largo and Campo Alegre.
In the initial phase of its existence the school was completely financed by ICCO, an international agency of cooperation based in the Netherlands. After two years of existence the school started receiving certain amount of support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle Raising. This was later complemented by the government of the department Boqueron and with teachers salaries from the Ministry of Education and Sciences. At the same time, the ASCIM invested in a cattle raising establishment on the grounds of the school which covered most of the operating expenses and the maintenance of the school.
Today, LA HUERTA is a private institution, subsidized by the state, accredited by by-laws of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cattle Raising and the Ministry of Education and Sciences.
It has a terrain of more than two thousand hectares, which in its quality is similar to the rest of the zone. It is a legal property of ASCIM, and has been destined for practice and for the auto sustaining of the agricultural school. The guiding principle for the training of La Huerta is a mixed technology: there is practice on machines as well as by hand. All of the tools and machinery must mirror what can also be done in the community.
The farm animals are an integral part of the teaching outfit. Students are familiarized with the treatment of horses, cows, sheep, hogs, chickens, bees and others, depending on the economic development of the zone.
The maintenance of the physical plant, roads, fences, provision of water, pastures, etc. constitute an integral part of the program of study of LA HUERTA.
All the students have ample opportunities to practice the different farming skills: garden work, management of the farm animals, manual labor. The two programs incorporate these activities in different ways in their curriculum by way of daily exercises, taking turns doing chores, practice at noon times, projects with experiments, practice lots where each lot must be taken care of individually, summer internship, etc.
The long term goals of LA HUERTA are the following:
- To contribute to a healthy development of the ethnicity of the indigenous communities of the Central Chaco
- To orient and train the young indigenous generation in their cultural and social integration to their current environment in the Paraguayan Chaco
- To promote the integration of the young people into their families, their community life, their churches
The short term goals are:
- To teach the young people the basic knowledge of agricultural and animal breeding science
- To train in agronomical technology, farming skills and diverse manual labor abilities
- To help the young people reintegrate into productive areas in their communities
- To orient them in a balanced participation in the indigenous community as well as in the national realm
- To promote options of continuing formal education
- To help them become conscious of career choices and elect a profession
LA HUERTA offers two lines of study: Practical Rural and Bachillerato Tecnico Agropecuario (high school graduate with emphasis in agronomics)
Bachillerato Tecnico Agropecuario
The profile of an agronomic technician aims to give a technical, ethic and humanistic training which would permit the graduate to achieve the the skills of incorporating and developing, in a small or medium family or company type agricultural exploitation, and in the social and cultural community and the ecology of the region, the functions of planning and administering.
The program "Practical Rural" was started in 1981 with 20 communities. Young men between 15 and 19 that at some point left their formal education are accepted into this program. Up to this date, about 1.100 young men have taken advantage of this two year training.
This program offers a practical preparation for the future farmers: private consuming, cattle raising, poultry farming, farming for income, reforestation. This program also trains in a broad array of skills: construction of houses, fences, construction of barnyards, pens; laying bricks, woodworking, mechanics, blacksmith's and electricity.
For this training it's not important to fulfill academic requirements. Most of the students have finished their fourth grade in elementary education, some are not literate and others have completed their sixth grade in a village school. The academic part of the education is taught as adult education in the afternoon in four different levels. Special attention is given to the subjects Spanish, Mathematics and Social Sciences. In this way, the advanced students can even complete an accredited ninth grade level of Basic Education (the national requirement of education).