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  • This blog is written by specialists from the Education Division of the Inter-American Development Bank. Its objective is to provide arguments and ideas that will spark debate about how to transform education in Latin America and the Caribbean. This blog is a call to action for the reader. An idea, a project, or a question can make a difference.
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    Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son las del autor y no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, sus directivas, la Asamblea de Gobernadores o sus países miembros.

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

    Archive for May, 2011

    Learning from a former youth assassin

    By - 24 May 2011

    “I’d rather kill than be killed.” These were the words uttered to me by the 19 year old former armed group member sitting across from me at a cafe in a paramilitary controlled community in Colombia. One year after being allowed to leave the armed group, he still had nightmares and visions of those he had assassinated; experienced trouble sleeping; and his new home built from blood money served as a constant reminder of his past experiences. At the same time, he formed a band in his community with former youth paramilitary members and held concerts; worked for a school as a recruiter in an attempt to get youth (especially those involved in violence) off the streets and in school; and cared for his mother, wife and child. Such behavior is not uncommon for former child soldiers. For example, all former child soldiers participating in a longitudinal study in Mozambique experienced psychological problems years after the fighting ended. However, nearly all of these individuals raised stable families, held regular jobs and contributed positively to their community.

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    Ask Michael Fullan…

    By - 17 May 2011

    If I were a minister of education, or a vice-minister, or an advisor to either, I would recommend that they hire Michael Fullan. I do not know him, but I have read some of his books and I think that if someone wants to lead a ministry of education, make real changes in the way students learn, taking all factors into account, few are better qualified than Fullan.

    Fullan is not just an intellectual and education professional, sitting in a library from where he enlightens us with his learned opinions. Instead, he has personally worked in the reform processes in several countries and school districts. He knows the complexities and difficulties that are involved.

    In his latest book, All Systems Go, Fullan proposes that educational reforms abandon the traditional paradigm of standards-evaluation-penalties. He also warns of two common failings in reform processes. The first is the failure to account for the complexity of educational systems and, as a result, oversimplify the measures to be taken. The second is to propose partial approaches that attack one problem at a time, or worse, involve too few schools, teachers, and students, instead of the system as a whole (hence the title of the book).

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    Talent is neither necessary nor sufficient for top quality education

    By - 11 May 2011

    When one reads The Genius In All of Us by David Shenk (I recommend it), it is impossible to avoid stepping into the high wire debate over talent versus experience. And from there, the jump to the subject of excellence in education is inevitable.

    Looking at the results of the PISA test, only 1 percent of participating Latin American youth achieved a level of excellence. Clearly, this is alarming. However, anyone who interprets these figures as an indication that our students are less talented is wrong. In fact, talent does not even enter into it, because talent is overrated.

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    Learning One to One

    By - 3 May 2011

    The introduction of technology in education is gaining momentum worldwide. One model of incorporating technology into education that has gained tremendous traction in Latin America and the Caribbean is One-to-One computing. The term “One-to-One” refers to the ratio of digital devices per child so that each child is provided with a digital device, most often a laptop, to facilitate learning.

    The objective of One-to-One Laptop Programs in Latin America and the Caribbean document is to provide an overview of One-to-One implementations with a regional focus on Latin America and the Caribbean. It also proposes a systemic approach to improve the quality of education in contexts of mass laptop distributions to students and teachers.

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