Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia

UNAD - “Sharing knowledge with people who need it is a rewarding task” William Castelblanco

“Sharing knowledge with people who need it is a rewarding task” William Castelblanco

He studied systems engineering at UNAD 12 years ago and since then he has been having different roles. He was a student, laboratory assistant and now he works as a tutor for the UNAD - INPEC (National Penitentiary Institute) educational partnership.

He says his work goes beyond the academic focus as it seeks to carry out a social mission that involves promoting education for everyone regardless of location, social class, nationality or religion.
Virtual UNAD, interviewed the tutor.

How long have you been working as a tutor for this educational partnership?
William Castelblanco. Two years

What is the INPEC educational partnership about?
This is one of the UNAD's most important agreement/partnerships as it is a social and sensible scenario because it involves inmate population as well as INPEC wor. The institute contributes with 50% of tuition costs and UNAD carries out its educational goals by offering different programs for those deprived of their freedom so that they can have a chance to pursue a professional career.

What programs are offered?
William Castelblanco. Basically all academic programs are offered except those that require laboratory sessions, due to their special conditions they won't be able to attend. The programs that they prefer are: philosophy, ethnological education, psychology and business administration.

What is the advising process like?
William Castelblanco. We follow the distance education model. Our students get some didactic resources and different worksheets which have been designed by the tutor according to the program and courses the students are taking. It is relevant to say that the courses offered to them are in person based on the fact that they do not have internet service there for security reasons and penitentiaries' policies. The advisory is used to answer questions and resolve doubts, but is also a motivation for students continue with their academic process.

How often do you visit your students?
William Castelblanco: We have six meetings during each semester per course and we seriously take into account the 3 phases of the learning process: exploration, deepening and transfer. The didactic materials, the courses and the tasks that must be performed during these phases are based on the visits scheduled, moment in which task completion is checked and both questions and doubts are resolved.

What's the tutor's role?
The UNAD professor must not only provide the tutorial advising, task that is performed with a social focus and a sense of belonging based on the principles and values promoted by UNAD. Not only it is necessary to help with the process of acquiring and consolidating new knowledge, but creating means to survive in the surrounding environment.

What can alumni from the INPEC educational partnership expect?
William Castelblanco. Many of them think about running their own businesses, help others acquire new knowledge, some do it because they want their sentences to be reduced and some others want to be released and help others.

Do you consider UNAD plays an important role in their re socialization rather than their professionalization?
William Castelblanco. Both things go hand in hand, the academic and social aspects . The fact that the university has a philosophy/ mission/ vision which aims to impart education to people who are interested in pursuing a career anywhere in the world, including those have been deprived of their freedom and the UNAD makes a big effort to reach this community.

Which experience has had an impact on you?
William Castelblanco. Listening to the stories of those who live there, it is not easy to be deprived of your freedom. Many of them have spent a long time there, with long sentences. Besides, the conditions of some prisons are really tough but I get really happy when I listen to them saying things like: "at night I turn on a lightbulb where i am sleeping and sometimes I get a sore neck next day, but I try to complete my tasks so I can succeed on my studies". These comments make me think everything is possible if we just strive hard.

How does this experience contribute to your professional and personal life?
William Castelblanco. Personally I think it allows me to enhance the human values I learned, see life from a different perspective with a social and human approach. Besides, I have understood that at UNAD we really love our job and sharing knowledge with those who are willing to learn is really rewarding.

In 5 words how would you define yourself as a tutor for the INPEC educational agreement/partnership?
William Castelblanco. Solidarity, respect, values, kindness, cooperation.

Why is it important that this educational partnership continue?
William Castelblanco. At UNAD it is important to reach every community possible and impart education to everyone. In this sense the university provides integral education as it reaches all communities regardless of culture, religion, social class or nationality.

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