M ª Nieves Tapia, “Educate to build community”

Tapia introduced the attendees about the method of learning service as a pedagogical experience that allows students to be the protagonists of their own learning process. “No one learns from the experience of others,” he admitted — and that is why it is necessary to empower young people. “We must prepare the school for a world in permanent change,” insisted the teacher, for whom it is essential to “take” students out of the classroom. In this sense, scientific research shows that a school that develops charitable educational projects is a “better” school.  “Our children and adolescents are able to do great things if we give them the opportunity to do so,” said the rapporteur. Tapia explained that the dynamics of service-learning make it possible to bring students closer to real life “in contrast to the virtual”, and that these experiences broaden the knowledge of young people. “We need to know a lot more to change our municipality than to pass an exam,” he explained. In this sense, claimed the need to be constant and committed, “hiking poverty is not educating, the pastoral in capitals calls for commitment and constancy.”

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María Nieves Tapia is the founder and Director of the Latin American Center of Learning and Solidarity Service (CLAYSS), and a member of the Directive Commission of the Talloires network of engaged Universities. She initiated and coordinated the programs of learning and solidarity service of the Argentine Ministry of Education (1997-2010). She was a Professor of the Argentinean Catholic University and of the University of Buenos Aires, and currently teaches a Seminar on service-learning in FLACSO Buenos Aires. She is the author of numerous works in Spanish, English, Portuguese and Italian, and she has been invited to give lectures at universities and conferences on five continents. She is part of the Focolari Movement since 1970, and she represented it in the National Youth Pastoral Commission and the Department of Laity of the Argentinean Episcopal Conference between 1980 and 2001. In 2015 she was invited to present in the UNESCO and in the World Congress on Education organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education in the Vatican.