Fellow Since 1999
CITURNA Producciones en Cine y Video e Imaginario
This profile was prepared when Adelaida Trujillo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
Adelaida Trujillo is introducing high quality educational television programming for children in Colombia.
The New Idea
Adelaida Trujillo understands that children want to watch television, and will do so regardless of the content. Why not, then, make sure that there is an educational alternative to the violent and inane material that currently pervades the airwaves? Adelaida seeks to influence the development, creativity, and sense of personal and national identity of young people by presenting them with a large variety of settings, ideas, and values that reflect Colombia's cultural richness. Given the ongoing conflict there, such programs constitute a key instrument for the construction of peace by illustrating the value of non-violence and conflict resolution. Adelaida promotes her idea through a dual-purpose System of Scholastic Television, offering an educational alternative both inside and outside of the classroom. Believing that television has been vastly underutilized for positive purposes, Adelaida sees medium as a pedagogical tool with vast potential because of its accessibility to almost everyone. Although Brazil and Mexico have recognized the importance of children's television as an effective learning tool and are developing frameworks to promote it, Adelaida's organization is the only one in Colombia or any other Andean country to incorporate governmental entities, the private sector, educators, and the viewing public into her strategy. She works to generate public support to press government to establish a consistent and solid framework for the production and diffusion of high-quality children's programming. Adelaida also involves teachers and students in discussions of how children's programming can best take into account children's different tastes, cognitive development styles, and educational needs that are not met through adult television. Her work includes the core themes of harmonious coexistence, construction of values, and conflict resolution, all of which are presented in a creative and entertaining format.
The television signal in Colombia appeared in the mid-1950s, one of the first in Latin America. Unfortunately, it was during the only military dictatorship in Colombia's recent history, and was manipulated purely for propaganda. For this reason, there is no established tradition of "socially responsible" or public service television in Colombia. State-owned channels could be used for public service television, since they have the legal and financial resources to accomplish this but there are two main reasons that they don't take the initiative to do so. The first reason is a lack of political motivation and public opinion pressure combined with the absence of clear regulations and government positions on public service television or children's programming. The second reason is that programming managers of both state and privately run channels feel pressure to achieve high ratings and gain lucrative advertising spots. Despite the fact that 70% of the population of Colombia is younger than 18 years of age, they are not considered a high-spending stratum of society and therefore are presumably not worth valuable television time-slots. As a consequence, educational and children's television is limited to poor-quality programs that are inexpensive for the channels to produce or import, and often portray subjects and content that are far from the reality of Colombian youth today.Statistics show that in Colombia 98% of households have access to a television, and 45% of the schools have television sets and video equipment, including 96% of the schools within Bogotá. But in most cases, the televisions and video equipment are under utilized. Furthermore, due to earlier poor-quality efforts, educational television has a poor reputation among teachers, many of whom see the introduction of educational television within the classroom as a threat to their jobs. Others acknowledge that they just do not have sufficient knowledge or training to effectively utilize the equipment.
In 1986 Adelaida co-founded CITURNA, an independent production company specializing in documentaries and educational materials in movies and video. Since it's founding, it has emerged as a leading independent authority on culture, environment and politics in Colombia and Latin America. In 1995, Adelaida began to create within CITURNA a permanent, creative team dedicated to the production of high-quality children's television, with the support of prestigious international entities such as the Prix Jeunesse Foundation (France), Ragdoll Productions (Great Britain), and TV Cultura (Brazil). In January of 1999, Adelaida also co-founded IMAGINARIO, an entity specifically focused on quality television programming for young people, in the belief that "communications can be the conductor, accelerator and catalyst of social change." IMAGINARIO is an independent, non-profit foundation that brings together people from different disciplines and organizations to explore the innovative use of communication to promote social change. It receives support from international institutions, television producers, distributors, and channels, as well as individuals who believe that IMAGINARIO's passion, dedication, and creativity will contribute to generating necessary processes of change. Adelaida promotes her idea through both CITURNA and IMAGINARIO. She is already improving and influencing children's and youth programming outside of the classroom. Adelaida has forged relationships with many key decision-makers, including the Colombian Ministry of Communications, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Education, the Corona Foundation, the National Television Commission, and a network of regional channels. CITURNA has also developed a pilot program in coordination with Canal Capital, the new channel of the Mayor's office of Bogotá, called FRANJA METRO. The program occupies the daily time slot from 4-7pm, exclusively showing high-quality children's and youth programming, and targeting children coming home from school who sit down to watch television. The program includes a half-hour show about science and math from Channel Four Learning (Great Britain) as well as demonstrations of experimental activities that children, parents and teachers can utilize in the classroom and the home. Portions of the show are also on during school hours so that teachers can use them to complement their own lesson plans. FRANJA METRO is publicized through the channel itself, and a monthly newsletter published by the Secretary of Education that is sent to 38,000 educators. The newsletter informs educators of the hours and content of the show, and includes instructions on how they can prepare for the show and debrief students afterwards to take full advantage of the programming.Adelaida has made strides in promoting effective use of high-quality television programs within the classroom, using the School Television System. CITURNA wrote a report for the Ministry of Education entitled "Recommendations for a System of Televisions in Colombia," based on a consultation and workshop that they conducted for the Ministry in 1997. The CITURNA team also worked with IDEP (Institute for Pedagogical Research and Development) on seminars about the School Television System, conducting training workshops for educators about the effective use of television in the classroom. As a culmination of their work with IDEP, they wrote two guides for educators about the use of television in the classroom. Adelaida has also produced materials to be shown through the School Television System. These include "Encuentro Maestro" (Teacher Encounter), a television show accompanied by a workbook, and "Rincón de Cuento" (Story Corner), a series of videos accompanied by a board game that is used to promote a love of books and reading.Adelaida envisions three more important steps in the consolidation of her idea. The first is to influence governmental regulations about children's television. She is organizing parents and educators to challenge the state to ensure a minimum standard for programs, regulate timing both during and after school hours, and invest in the production of children's television. The second step is to create a fund for the development, innovation, and production of high-quality children's programs, and for the training of others in how to produce them. The fund will give special attention to: 1)programs that stimulate the intellectual development and creative capacity of pre-school children, 2)topics that serve to complement the role of the educator and that stimulate scientific and technological thought in grade school and high school youth, and 3) programs that reflect the culture and needs of the nation, namely history, geography, conflict resolution and formation of values. Adelaida's third step is to seek governmental subsidies and other money to support the aforementioned fund. The Mixed Fund for the Promotion of Moving Images Corporation has already expressed interest, and Adelaida is also negotiating support from the National Television Commission and state entities such as the Secretary of Education and municipal governments.CITURNA and IMAGINARIO have forged excellent contacts on the national, regional and international level which Adelaida will use to spread her idea. Through the consolidation of the project Adelaida will identify existing networks of interested groups as well as establish new networks. She already has the support of several prestigious and important organizations and entities such as The World Peak Foundation for Children and Youth Television, Australian Children's Television Foundation, Mondial Television, Television Trust for the Environment, and the other institutions mentioned previously. In addition to Bogotá, Adelaida has already established contacts in Cali and Medellín to spread her School Television System idea, and is setting up pilot programs that can later be replicated.
Adelaida has always been a passionate perfectionist, optimist, and good leader, crediting these positive qualities to the way she was raised. For many years her father worked for the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and as a result her family lived in several countries including Mexico, Brazil, and the United States. In addition to teaching her several languages at an early age, Adelaida's parents instilled in her a curiosity and respect for other cultures and histories. In college Adelaida studied anthropology, but always felt the need to find a less theoretical and academic mechanism to be able to help people. A turning point in her life came when she was visiting friends in Massachusetts. Sneaking into an Anthropological Film course at Harvard, given by Jean Rouch, she became inspired to embark on her life's ambition: to work with movies about topics that would serve people and generate informed public opinion, but with the rigorous analysis that characterizes social science research.The next determining factor in Adelaida's life course and career path was the experience of raising her two children, Pablo and Violeta. When her son Pablo was ten months old, she sat him down to watch television for the first time. It was then that she was struck by the impact that television has on children, and the inadequacy of Colombian television for children. To this day, she considers her children, nieces and nephews some of the most important judges of her work, always showing them her productions first, and having endless discussions with them about the quality and subject matter of other television programs. Adelaida also counts her husband as a strong influence and support in her life. Through his work as a biology professor at a local university, she witnessed the importance of education in the lives of young adults.Adelaida has had numerous opportunities to travel and learn about experiences with television and other modes of communication in other countries. For example, she was awarded a scholarship to study film and television at the London International Film School, and still maintains several contacts in communications in Great Britain. Adelaida is also a member of the international think tank on promoting communication strategies for development, sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.