Benjamin BERLANGA SUAREZ
Fellow Since 1993
Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Rural (CESDER)
This profile was prepared when Benjamín Berlanga Gallardo was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
Influenced by, among others, Freire and Piaget, Benjamin believes that education should have a liberating effect for the oppressed and exploited. Breaking away from the patterns of conventional education, he has created innovative academic and non-academic programs for young indigenous farmers, who otherwise might not even graduate from elementary school. Through Benjamin's bilingual, bicultural educational models, these young campesinos learn practical applications of their education geared toward the development needs of their communities. The campesinos learn to research and develop productive, organizational and technological alternatives to improve the living conditions around them. Benjamin co-founded the Center for Studies in Rural Development (Centro de Estudios para el Desarrollo Rural CESDER) to develop new ways of providing professional training directly to young, indigenous campesinos in their communities. His approach bypasses the class and regional barriers that have long restricted such education to those with greater economic means and those living in urban areas. Benjamin has successfully recruited skilled staff with a variety of academic and pragmatic backgrounds. His intensive workshops have already begun preparing the first groups of rural students from areas dependent on extremely marginal agriculture for entrance into new professional jobs.In addition to CESDER's junior high, high school and undergraduate programs, Benjamin eventually plans to create a Campesino University to offer higher level professional and technical training in rural development to young campesinos throughout Mexico and Latin America.