Since its founding in 1975, Venezuela’s National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras and Choirs, called “El Sistema” has used music education as a vehicle for social change. It cultivates an ‘affluence of spirit’ which today brings hope, joy and positive social impact to 400,000 children and their families and communities throughout the country. Its founding principles include a team-based approach to collective, cooperative education characterized by trust, discipline, empathy, commitment, structure, and support for self-esteem.
This unprecedented success has inspired hundreds of similar programs which serve an estimated one million children in at least sixty countries around the world.
Sistema Global’s mission is to connect, encourage, and inspire El Sistema teachers and leaders world-wide. Our vision is to maintain the most current and comprehensive source of information about these programs.
El Sistema USA
For many the story of El Sistema in the United States began with a wish. In 2009 Dr. José Abreu was awarded the TED Prize for his wish to "create and document a special training program for at least 50 gifted young musicians, passionate for their art and for social justice, and dedicated to developing El Sistema in the US and in other countries". Since then the idea has moved throughout the nation and the world. Awareness of El Sistema and its dedication to rigorous, artistic ensemble playing as a vehicle for social change captured the attention of those interested in working with young people living in impoverished and sometimes dangerous situations.
El Sistema Kenya
El Sistema Kenya is an education-based social change initiative founded in 2014 in Kawangware, a slum in Nairobi. Our goal is to change the lives of underprivileged young students in East Africa, nearly all of whom are taught through rote memorization and often do not receive opportunities to become creative, well educated individuals and better their lives. We have seen the power of music to change lives – in the Americas and Europe similar programs have helped over 2 million students, and in Africa organizations such as the Kenya National Youth Orchestra have already shown powerful results.
Further reading: Could a Venezuelan Movement Have Significance to Namibia?