Evaluation of Kolping Self-Help Organizations in Latin America

In 2015 a team of four FAKT development experts from Bolivia, Argentina, Guatemala and Germany evaluated the projects of the Development Aid of the Kolping Society Association (SEK e.V.) in five Latin American countries. SEK e.V. is part of the International Kolping Society, which is a Catholic Lay Association founded by Adolph Kolping, and which is now represented in over 60 countries with more than 400,000 members around the world. The Kolping Society promotes through education and project activities the development of its members - united in self-help groups called Kolping Families - in many fields of daily life.

The evaluation team could confirm that (i) the Kolping Foundations in the different countries receive high recognition by the authorities of the public and municipal sectors, NGOs and representatives of the Catholic Church. (ii) The Kolping Strategy was found to be successful: That is, they promote social structure through the formation of the self-help groups Kolping Families to achieve greater social justice, they encourage leadership both in their own groups and in society in general and they facilitate political commitment. Members of Kolping widely assume tasks for the common good in areas such as parent councils and political committees, they develop democratic and participatory life and their organizations stand for a culture of peace.

However, at this time we cannot speak of a burgeoning movement that is constantly growing, rather, the number of members decreased in the period corresponding to this assessment. (iii) In each country a large variation of (vocational) training sessions mostly for young people coming from poorer backgrounds was offered. Some of them were very successful and records showed that the trainees found good employment, others were less effective or results were unknown. What is interesting about this training is that the highly valued combination of crafts training with the development of the personality and integrity of the trainees is what makes the Kolping training offer more valuable than other products in the training market.

Recommendations were given to improve the approaches or to overcome shortfalls, but by and large it could be concluded that the envisaged objectives were reached even at reasonable cost.

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  • to analyze the comprehensive training programs and the so-called productive projects, such as hospitals and schools run by Kolping
  • to assess the consolidation of the Kolping Families’ self-help structures
  • to study the development and management capacity of the different Kolping Foundations in Bolivia, Chile, Honduras, Mexico and Uruguay