ACTO was founded as a response to the need and ethical obligation to act in the face of what we consider unjust within an unequal and marginalized society that suffers from violence.
There are many aspects of life in Mexico that contribute to the persistence of inequality and, even more, for the continuing growth of the gap between the sectors with privileges and the sectors in situations of marginalization, violence, and/or low quality of life. Therefore, as a civic organization that intends to propose a solution to the problem, we found ourselves with the need to choose a focus point for our work that takes into account our passions, interests, talents, as well as our individual and collective skills. Hence, our work focuses in generating concrete actions that contribute to the reduction of marginalization, inequality and violence in Mexico.
At ACTO we are convinced that a greater comprehension of the democratic system and the power of citizenry, along with the development of life skills that contribute to the resolution of social problems in a cooperative and solidarity-oriented manner, are a way to decrease inequality and, thus, marginalization, violence, and/or low quality of life. Therefore, our efforts are aimed toward the following general objectives:
Reduce the lack of credibility of the democratic system and promote comprehension of the power of the citizenry.
For us, to understand the role of the citizen; the relationship between citizens and government, the importance of active participation in public decision-making; the need to organize collectively in order to solve problems that affect individuals and their communities, as well as understand which are the ways or mechanisms by which citizens can demand their rights, are essential elements that allow to imagine and implement solutions elaborated by citizens, which will respond to their immediate and long-term needs. We believe that solutions to public problems, in particular marginalization and violence, must be created by the communities that suffer from them. To reach this goal, we believe it is necessary to encourage the practice of a deliberative and diverse democracy in the greatest number of communities across the country.
As part of this task, it is also important for us to promote active citizenship based on two main characteristics: in the first place active citizenship must be motivated by actions whose purpose is to transform the current social reality through the involvement of citizens in their communities and the social and political problems that affect them; in the second place, as a cause and consequence of the point stated above, citizen participation must cause a redistribution of power both in the citizen-state relationship and in the relationship between diverse social agents.
In a few words, when we talk about citizen participation, we are talking about a specific strategy, both individual and collective, whose purpose is to transform the political, economic, and social environment through the redistribution of power by peaceful and democratic processes.
Contribute to the development of skills that are necessary to solve social problems in a cooperative and solidarity-oriented manner.
At ACTO we think about education as a democratic imperative. Therefore, we believe that it must promote “the development of life skills that are necessary to confront the main obstacles of life and survival,” as well as “stimulate attitudes and motivations necessary” for a fulfilling life. (UNESCO, Singh, 4). The various institutions that are dedicated to the global promotion of education (OECD, UNICEF, UNESCO, among others) have not come to a consensus on the term life skills as such. Therefore, ACTO adheres to the general definition outlined by UNESCO, which defines these skills as:
“The skills necessary to apply conceptual thought and reflection in concrete situations;
The ability to get involved with effective interactions with the environment and provide an appropriate attitude of motivation;
The abilities that involve psychological prerequisites for successful action, like the ability to solve problems, self-confidence, and critical thinking skills (Dohmen,1996)” (UNESCO, Singh, 3).
Basic and upper-secondary education in Mexico, developed and implemented at the federal level by the Department of Public Education (hereinafter SEP), has not been able to evolve into an education that prioritizes the development of life skills, since currently the cornerstone of the educational processes is memorization and acquisition of knowledge, even though the SEP believes that “basic education must clearly overcome the encyclopedia model that does not resolve the needs of incorporation to adult life,” which makes it impossible “for a Mexican to fully enter society as an active and productive citizen” (SEP, 2). This has a negative impact on the possibility of citizens to fully participate and influence Mexican democracy to resolve public problems that affect communities, a situation which fosters marginalization and violence.
For these reasons, at ACTO we believe the development of life skills, in order to build democratic and deliberative environments that allow for the resolution of problems in a cooperative and solidarity-oriented manner, is a way to positively influence a decrease in the marginalization, violence, and/or low quality of life the Mexican population suffers from.