Luis Emiro Ramirez Gomez

IE Rural Avenida el Caraño, Florencia, Colombia

Luis Emiro Ramirez Gomez

Luis Emiro Ramirez Gomez came from a long line of teachers, but when he went to university, he rebelled and studied electronic engineering. And yet, the call to teach was too strong. He soon found himself teaching robotics.

The real moment all the pieces fell into place, however, was when Gomez took a position in a rural school. The unique history of Colombia gives this a particular significance. The countryside is perceived in Colombian society as a hopeless place. Many families have been forced to flee violence with nothing, and find sanctuary in isolated farming communities. For years, young people have been leaving for the excitement of the city. Those left behind feel forgotten.

Gomez did not see rural life this way. What he saw were young people with potential. He saw opportunities to bring about positive change in their community. He saw a chance to equip his students with tools that could make a difference to their lives, and rekindle their excitement about the future. The tool he used to achieve this is Agromatics.

Agromatics is applied farming - taking agricultural problems, and finding solutions using science and technology. The students identify a problem, and develop a solution, testing their hypotheses using rigorous methodologies. The challenges his students took on included monitoring flood activity to provide an early warning system. They also developed a device for monitoring chlorophyll through wavelength. The resulting apps and devices can be deployed immediately in the field.

Gomez has found a way to turn the students’ perceptions of their rural home from hopeless, to a thriving place full of opportunity. They have a new way to interact with their community. The tools they build improve their quality of life and that of their families. Some of the inventions have been turned into small businesses, generating a new source of income. Gomez has also brought internet infrastructure to the region, which is available for students and the community to access.

These students, many of whom have experienced difficult lives characterised by loss, violence and displacement, have often not attended much, if any, school up to this point. Working with Gomez on projects with clear practical applications, they are able to use complex maths, physics, chemistry and robotics to gain knowledge and confidence.

The success of Gomez’s Agromatics programme has translated into improved performance across the board. By the third year of its implementation, the school’s results were among the top in the municipality, and the highest of all rural schools. 26 students in the last year went on to study at university, far more than ever before.

His work has been recognised in an Excellence Night award from the President of the Republic and the Ministry for National Education. He also received a prize from the ICT Training for Colombian Teachers programme, Korea, 2018. Gomez shares his learning through regional educator networks, and also lectures on the teaching training course of Universidad de la Amazonia, passing on his insights to the next generation.