This blog was written jointly with Leonardo Ortiz Villacorta who is Vice President of International Partnerships at Code.org. Code.org is a non-profit organization, dedicated to expanding access to computer science to all students in all schools, with an emphasis on increasing the participation of women and underrepresented groups.
Today, economies and societies are more interconnected than ever by digital technologies. We see it in our everyday lives in the way we communicate, learn, work, have fun, or interact with government and business. The implications of the digital economy’s progress and of a rapidly transforming world of work are therefore highly relevant for public policy decisions.
In the last 20 years, education systems have made a great effort to be part of the digital transformation, equipping schools with computers and internet access, incorporating digital literacy in the curriculum and using technology for teaching processes. However, there are only a few schools in the world that are teaching students to be creators of technology and not just consumers of it.
The pandemic revealed the educational exclusion and set of inequalities (economic, social and educational) present in all the countries of the region. Probably one of the gaps that has hit the education sector the most is related with access to technology, connectivity, and technological resources in Latin America and the Caribbean. The education crisis has been such that the search for solutions to provide greater internet connectivity, access to technological resources, dissemination of pedagogical practices and proposals has become urgent for educational systems.
Why then, do teachers in most schools in Latin America and the Caribbean teach the same subjects that were taught 100 years ago? The debate about the future of education must focus not only on transforming how we teach but also on rethinking what we teach. In a world where jobs are rapidly automated and new jobs require advanced digital skills, any discussion about the future of work must be accompanied by a discussion about the future of the school curriculum.
For this reason, the “Code Caribbean” project seeks to train human capital in the countries of the region with an innovative approach based on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM). This project seeks to strengthen the digital, life and entrepreneurship skills of students, so that they are better prepared to enter the labor market. We seek to expand this innovative approach to the entire region, but we are starting with the Caribbean because it has been falling behind in these areas. For example, enrollment in science at the secondary level is low: current enrollment rates range from 2% to 7%, compared to an average of 10% in OECD countries and 13% to 18% in strong research and innovation economies like Germany.
To ensure that the capacity required in schools to teach these subjects is created, this project will train a group of coaches from tertiary education who will in turn teach high school students computer science. This pilot will equip high school students with critical skills such as computational thinking, problem solving, artificial intelligence and others that, combined with entrepreneurial and soft skills, will help them be more successful in the job market of the future.
In order to carry out a project of this scale, the IDB is working together with Code.org to carry out a regional evaluation in the Caribbean that will make it possible to understand the infrastructure, educational systems, as well as the level of interest of public institutions to implement a curriculum that includes computer science. This project is funded by the Porticus Foundation and the Japan Development Fund.
By collaborating with an institution with a holistic vision like Code.org, the project benefits from vast experience of implementation in about 50% of schools in the United States and more than 400 hours of curriculum that is already being used by educational system programs on all continents. It also benefits from a global vision that capitalizes on existing initiatives and generates greater interest for scaling.
Are you interested in knowing more about the project and about the contents of Code.org? Be sure to visit their website and learn more about the construction of this project as well as technology with them. Share your opinion with us about programs focused on computer science in the comment section below or on Twitter mentioning @BIDEducacion #EnfoqueEducacion.