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• Colombia

Maloka, a place to meet science and technology

For many native tribes, the Maloca is the most important house in the village, built by the shaman, medicine man or chief. They go there to gain the knowledge of the universe. Not only is it the centre of political decision-making and religious activity, but it is also a place for relaxation, recreation and refuge. The community meets there and finds enrichment. Maloka with a ‘k’ is also a centre for social mobilisation and bringing people together.

In Colombia, Maloka is a nationwide programme for social improvement, which operates through a variety of strategies involving democratised and permanent education, the attainment of knowledge, the recovery of ethical values and commitment towards Colombia. Particularly successful is the Interactive Centre, which organises exhibitions in an area that covers about 10,000 square metres. Additional activities are developed around these interactive exhibitions to give extra curricula support to the teaching of science and technology, thus providing a pedagogical tool benefiting both the school community and the general public.

Maloka is a private non-profit making organisation, receiving contributions from national government bodies, the District of Bogotá, private enterprises and private individuals. Maloka is self-sustainable, providing its own activities, its own technology, and run through public and privates institutions.

The project was the result of an initiative by the Colombian Association for the Advancement of Science (A.C.A.C.), as a strategy to make science and technology known to society at large and promote a culture that is based on knowledge.The project aims to bring technology into people’s daily lives and the industrial system within a framework of sustainable development. Not only is Maloka one of the most important interactive science and technology centres in South America, it is also the most dynamic centre for tourist, social, cultural and educational development in Bogotá.

Maloka is first of all a place for experimentation. The Centre has 12 exhibition halls, which make up a great living museum in which people learn about science and technology through touching and playing. The Centre is also a place where children and adults can meet and exchange views. These strategies aim to foster an analytical view of science through discussions involving different sectors of society on issues of democracy, education, culture, science and technology.

Maloka’s pedagogical experience goes beyond this varied array of exhibitions. In its five years of activity, Maloka has come up with answers to many of the problems affecting the education sector in the areas of science and technology. It has continuously offered teacher training and updates in scientific developments; it has given teachers a opportunity to socialise and discuss their concerns and educational experiences with pedagogical experts; it has set up science and technology clubs that encourage children of all ages to take an interest in these subjects through a philosophy of learning to learn, learning to do, and learning to undertake.

With the backing of the public institutions and private enterprises of the city of Bogota, Maloka has extended its commitment to marginal areas of the city, promoting environmental self-governance among local communities; it has generated technological development for many public and private sectors in fields such as robotics and simulators, it has been active in the communications sector; its has generated discussions about the things that need doing and promoted research through special radio and television programmes. It has developed a package of external programmes, decentralising the museum, and has been active on the local, national and international scenes.

Maloka’s activities have earned it international renown. Thanks to its experience and management capabilities, Maloka has advised on similar projects in countries such as Venezuela, Panama, Peru, Salvador, Bolivia and Mexico. Maloka is also a member of the most important international science associations and giant screen theatre organisations such as the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC); the Giant Screen Theater Association (GSTA); the Large Format Cinema Association (LFCA); the Network for the Popularisation of Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean (RED POP); and the International Council of Museums (ICOM).