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The PRATICAR method is a cycle of discovery-based activities, mentoring and discussions between each participant and facilitator, which strengthens essential basic skills and habits of participants. The goal of this process is for participants to improve their mastery of essential basic skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, while shifting toward habits that foster self-reliance and successfully completing a personal project.

PRATICAR takes place within the participant’s community and is usually conducted through a series of individual counseling sessions between a CEN facilitator and individual participants. Occasionally, facilitators organize larger workshops ranging from just of a few participants to all the participants together.

The PRATICAR learning approach has three phases, which are repeated until the facilitator feels that the participant has acquired the level of skills and habits needed to succeed.

At the beginning of PRATICAR, each participant selects a personal project that will not only be a learning platform through which to execute activities that will help them strengthen essential basic skills and mindsets, but will also generate additional income for the participants.  CEN coaches each participant to define their project’s specific goals and objectives.

During the debriefing phase, facilitators gather information in order to clearly assess what key resources and skills the participant already has, what key resources and skills are yet to be acquired or developed, and which of these form the most critical obstacle to achieving the next milestone in a participant’s personal project. Facilitators assess this information through a series of open-ended, driving questions, as well as by observing the participant while working, or their home.

For the second phase of the cycle, designing the activity, the facilitator and the participant use the information from the debriefing to visualize potential activities that will strengthen basic skills and attitudes. They also identify other bottlenecks that interfere with the participant's ability to reach the next milestone in their personal project. The facilitator also considers the progress the participant has achieved already, potential risks of the new activity, and key resources that are available to the participant. After the first cycle, this phase refines past activities for future success. Facilitators take care to balance the practical and purely educational components of the activity—that is, the activities help develop or reinforce new skills that are relevant to the participant's current project and strengthen basic skills and habits for moving forward.

During the third phase, the participant executes the activity which was developed in the previous phase. The facilitator again meets with the participant once they’ve executed the activity in order to start the cycle through a debrief with the participant.

Example of PRATICAR Being Applied: Maria Eugete

When we first met with her to debrief, Eugete felt she needed money to get her clothing production project off the ground. After observing Eugete and her work space, it became clear that she didn't have a good sense of the resources she already possessed. Eugete had many cloth remnants scattered about her house, and despite having created and sold several pieces of clothing, she hadn't saved any of the proceeds to invest in future pieces. It became clear that Eugete wasn't effectively using the resources already available to her.

Together, we designed an activity where Eugete gathered remnants of cloth and supplies she had while thinking about what she might be able to produce from them. This activity not only taught her inventory-taking skills, but also helped her recognize the many resources already available to begin her project. During the next debriefing phase, it was clear that although Eugete began to understand this, she still harbored significant self-doubt. For the next activity, we asked her to create a list of items she had sewn along with the amount she was paid for each one. At the next debriefing, Eugete's mood had changed considerably. On seeing the long list of items she had sold in the past, Eugete realized that she could have saved some of the sales proceeds to buy fabric for future products. She then ran into the next room to show us three blouses made with leftover materials. During another activity, we asked her to begin tracking the garments sold and their amounts and to put aside an agreed-upon savings to be used only for buying new material. In subsequent activity cycles, we helped Eugete sell that clothing and use the proceeds to buy more material.

By using the PRATICAR method, Eugete learned through observation and collaborative, critical thinking what was needed to make her business profitable and sustainable, using tools she already had. Inspirationally, a year after we worked with Eugete, we found her continuing to practice key business skills such as record-keeping, saving and inventory management. She is now motivated, confident, and continues to empower herself toward self-reliance.

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