The Educational Initiative "Patio 13":
From the Streets to the Platen Press
According to estimates by UNICEF, more than 100 million poor and
orphaned children struggle to make a living on the streets of
metropolises worldwide, with nearly half of them in Latin America.
The German-Columbian educational initiative "Patio 13 -
School for Street Children" offers them the chance of a
life with dignity. For instance, by teaching them how to print
their own self-written texts on a Heidelberg platen press.
Apprentices at the Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG factory in
Wiesloch, Germany overhauled the time-honored platen press to make
it fully-functional again. A group of future Columbian educators
was invited by Heidelberg to come to the Wiesloch location so that
they could familiarize themselves with the platen press on-site
with the personal help of trainer Peter Kollenz. "The support
from Heidelberg is very important for our project," says
Elisabeth Ramirez Rivera, who has been active at Patio 13 for
many years already. "With the printing press, the street
children have the chance to produce something independently -
an experience, which most of them have never had in their
The trend-setting and unparalleled initiative "Patio
13" was started in 2001 by Heidelberg's college for
education - the "Pädagogischen Hochschule
Heidelberg" - the Escuela Normal Superior "Maria
Auxiliadora" and Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG. The goal of
"Patio 13" is to offer homeless children
and adolescents unable to attend school a solid basic
education, so that they may one day pursue a self-designed life.
"Patio 13" therefore designs educational
offerings that are specially tailored to the abilities,
interests, and learning difficulties of street children. In
addition, teachers are trained in interaction with street children.
"In the last six years, our initiative has helped more than
1,200 street children learn to read and write, as well as attend
math and physics courses," Simone Wessely, Director of the
center of excellence for the education of street children at
"Patio 13", reports proudly.