Workshops for everyone at CEDECOM

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

Weekly, more than 1,800 people attend the Centro de Desarrollo Comunitario de San Miguel de Allende (Center of Community Development of San Miguel de Allende), CEDECOM, to learn new skills to get a better job, or just for the pleasure of learning. More than 40 workshops are available for Mexicans and foreigners and the requirements are minimal.

CEDECOM is part of the local Social and Human Development Department; it started operating in 2007 and is located in the upper area of the city. Through the years, the number of workshops has increased from 10 to 44, ranging from fitness workshops such as tae kwon do and yoga to art courses including theater and ballet and job skills courses including cooking classes and training for beauticians. This municipal center is a model for other such centers in the state; public servants from San Luis de la Paz, Irapuato and other municipalities have come here to learn how it works so they can set up similar centers in their cities.

CEDECOM’s yearly budget is 1.5 million pesos; half of that amount is provided by the federal government and half by the municipal government. In July, owing to a misunderstanding the local media announced that some of the workshops would be cancelled for lack of money; however, Martín Salgado Cacho, head of the Social Development Department, made it clear that the local administration has enough financial stability to keep it operating and offering the same service to the population it has offered for the past six years.

About the workshops

According to Salgado Cacho, anyone can enroll in the workshops, which are open to the general public. According to its coordinator, Adriana Muñoz, CEDECOM’s main mission is job training. She also commented that people receive enough training so that later they can even open their own businesses and support their families. The backbone of CEDECOM’s classes are the trade skills courses (talleres de oficio).

In the talleres de oficio, the students are trained for several months, depending on the workshop, and although the courses are not affiliated with a school or university students do receive a certificate stating that they have been trained and have enough experience to start working. “We have written recommendation letters for some people so that they can work,” said Salgado Cacho, who added that those trying to get a job ought to at least have a firm basis in order to improve their chances for employment and their incomes.

The CEDECOM classrooms are equipped with all the materials students need. For example, for cooking and pastry classes the center has an industrial kitchen, and staples such as salt and sugar are provided by the center to the students. The teachers cannot ask the students to furnish their own materials, but in the cases of the talleres de oficio the attendees and the teachers come to an agreement about buying the food or products to be used. Those interested in being trained to get a job or open their own businesses can enroll in workshops for electricity, computing, massage, or cosmetology. Each group is made up of 25 students at a maximum.

According to Salgado Cacho, the talleres de oficio are mainly attended by people with low incomes from nearby rural communities and neighborhoods, and some of them have received support from the department of Economic Development to launch their own small businesses. Others have been channeled to area employers.

Not everything has worked

The workshops are structured according to subject and the needs of students. English classes, for example, are divided into five levels, and the cosmetology program lasts two years. However, some of the offered courses have not had the expected results. Concerned about the bullying problem in schools at all levels, the Social Development Department launched a workshop for teachers to help them identify, prevent and deal with bullying among students. An invitation was sent out to teachers to attend the course, but they did not show an interest and it was cancelled.

Future plans

In addition to the current workshops, the director said plans are underway to open some spaces to offer medical services. The project has been presented to the federal government, which would finance the equipping of spaces for three consulting areas to be opened by the end of this year.

Salgado Cacho mentioned that his department respects the work done by local health care institutions such as IMSS and the General Hospital, but they have the idea of working to decrease health problems such as childhood obesity, and for that reason one of the consultancies would be occupied by a nutritionist. There will also be a space for clinical psychology services, said the director, because many times patients receive medical services in hospitals but not psychological care.

General medical services will be offered in two shifts from Monday through Friday and one shift during the weekends. Salgado Cacho said the cost will be lower than the prices in pharmacies because the “donations” would be just to support the doctors.

The workshops, based on information provided by Adriana Muñoz, are divided up as follows:
Educational: children’s creativity, English, graphic design, digital photography and computing, among others.
Music: violin, viola, keyboard and guitar
Arts: ballet, drawing, folkloric dance and theater
Handicrafts: costume jewelry, patchwork and embroidery, among others
Sports: zumba, tae kwon do, self-defense, kick boxing, qigong, yoga and kung fu

Those interested in enrolling in any workshop must present two small (4-inch × 4-inch) black and white photographs, a copy of their birth certificate, voter registration (Mexican citizens) and proof of address. For foreigners, the only requirement is to show they legally reside in the country and the receipt for the monthly payment (30 pesos).

Currently, besides Mexicans there are some expats enrolled in the workshops; they come from countries such as the US, Cuba, Canada and Korea.
The Centro de Desarrollo Comunitario is located on Francico José de Landeta 8 in Infonavit La Luz. The office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30am–8pm and Saturdays from 9am–1pm. For more information call 110-3180.

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