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International Partnerships

Include and Learn: educating kids, teens and their mothers on Colombia’s Venezuelan border

The Include and Learn project will help students who have missed school catch up
© Ciudad de San José de Cúcuta

The Include and Learn project will strengthen 4 public educational institutions in the Colombian border city of San José de Cúcuta – one of the main entry routes for vulnerable displaced populations from Venezuela. The project will address the educational needs of both those displaced and the host population.

It is unique in that it is a partnership between a local NGO, an international NGO and a local authority. The project is being implemented through funding provided by the EU Lives in Dignity (LiD) Grant Facility. It is one of two projects that the LiD Grant Facility is funding in Colombia.

Scope and objectives

Colombia is, after Syria, the country with the highest number of internally displaced people (IDPs) in the world: 5.6 million (according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre). Close to 2.5 million Venezuelans are living in Colombia (International Crisis Group), having fled their home country’s economic collapse and political crisis, with over 810,000 settled in the border department of Norte de Santander. The needs of displacement-affected communities in this region are vast.

Analyses have shown that more than one third of Venezuelan households have no access to education. A June 2021 assessment on migratory flows, demonstrated that Norte de Santander was one of two departments with the highest percentage of children and adolescents not enrolled in formal educational institutions.

This project will take a multi-pronged approach to addressing the education of displaced Venezuelans and the host population. Firstly, the project team will adapt and build the educational infrastructure of 4 schools with innovative and recreational components. The design of safe, inclusive and modern facilities, and environments that take into account social and cultural diversity will be prioritised.

Secondly, Include and Learn will develop and use the ‘flexible educational models’ strategy, developed in multigrade classrooms, to bring students who have missed out on learning up to speed before incorporating them into mainstream education. This will include psychosocial care in combination with physical activity and sports.

Thirdly, the project will support women heads of households, both those displaced and those from the host community, to strengthen their skills and capacities for entrepreneurship and employability through training in soft and technical skills, the provision of seed capital and the development of a social business incubator.

Expected results

Increased access to quality and integrated basic services - education 

  • Access of displacement-affected individuals to educational services increased by 10%
  • A list of internships published on the website of the Ministry of Education of Cúcuta and disseminated through international cooperation networks
  • 4 schools equipped with infrastructure or sanitation facilities
  • 10% increase among children (of school age or older) with access to national primary education in the last 12 months
  • 10% increase among children (of school age or older) with access to national secondary education in the last 12 months
  • 50% increase in the number of teachers who have acquired new knowledge

Improved living conditions in the settlements where displacement-affected people live

  • At least one local plan/public document updated or adapted to improve neighbourhoods in the areas addressed by the project
  • Increase of 10% among people who perceive an improved quality of life in the settlements where they live

Increased income generation and livelihood opportunities for mothers

  • The mothers of children being educated or who have received training courses in entrepreneurship or employability see income increase by 20%
  • 600 female heads of household benefit from professional or skills development programmes
  • 240 mothers affected by displacement report an increase or improvement in their productive assets
  • Access to financial services by 96 mothers affected by displacement improved


The EU-UNOPS Lives in Dignity Grant Facility was founded in 2020. The facility aims to promote development-oriented approaches and solutions to new, recurrent and protracted displacement crises. It funds innovative projects that support the resilience of communities and empower their members through livelihoods and basic services, making a concrete difference in the lives of displaced people.

Include and Learn is a partnership between local NGO Youth Leader Foundation, the local authority, the Secretary of Education in the Mayor's Office of San José de Cúcuta, and international NGO, Terres des Hommes Italia. The project was chosen because it has a strong nationally-owned development-oriented approach that seeks to induce systematic changes to the ways in which displacement-affected people are served. It also supports a mixed target group that includes internally displaced people, refugees, returnees and hosts in a border region that is experiencing exceptional need. The strong partnership between diverse actors with equal ownership is at the core of the Lives in Dignity approach.

Implementing organisations

Youth Leader Foundation, the Mayor's Office of San José de Cúcuta, Secretary of Education and Fondazione Terre des Hommes Italy