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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 August, 2011

    Structural solutions

    By - 22 Aug 2011

    written by: Jorge Mahecha.

    It’s true: There is an epidemic of “enseñas,” or alternative teacher training programs, in Latin America, as Marcelo Cabrol correctly noted in an earlier blog.

    Enseña por Colombia (ExC), launched early 2011 after a year and a half of initial development, is a young organization going full steam ahead, its first group of teachers set to deploy in needy secondary schools in January 2012. As with all of the enseñas, it is a program in which top-level university graduates spend the first two years of their career teaching in schools that serve low-income populations. In 2011, our start-up year, we are doing many things for the first time. One of thing relating to the selection of teachers for the program is how to build a “selectivity coefficient” for our applicants’ university degree programs.

    Read more…

    Learning from South Korea

    By - 12 Aug 2011

    South Korea is an example of rapid economic growth and excellent results in education. In 1960, Korea had one of the lowest Gross Economic Products in the world, and until the early 1980s, its standings ranked very similarly to those of Latin American countries. However, following a sustained annual growth of 6 percent, South Korea today is not only one of the world’s most developed countries, but also among those with the least inequality.

    In education, South Korea has had consistently improved its results. In the last PISA test (2009) it achieved top rankings among participating countries. Consider that in the mid-1970s, only 7 percent of the country’s students had reached higher education; some 70 percent do so now.

    This is doubly interesting considering that South Korea is a small country of less than 100 square miles and limited access to natural resources. A key factor in its success has been investment in education and strengthening human capital, areas in which educational technologies have played a very important role.

    For Latin America, three factors stand out from the South Korean experience:

    Read more…

    Pills for curing school dropout?: Part II

    By - 2 Aug 2011

    As I wrote in my previous post, the pill to prevent the “pain of others,” i.e. dropping out of school, is volunteerism provided through youth social services, and especially by the relatively privileged young people whose education and future are guaranteed.

    This idea is not new, and the region already offers many very interesting examples. Among them are “Mentores Solidarios” in Nicaragua and “Parceiros Voluntarios” in Brazil. Both demonstrate the two main challenges facing volunteer initiatives in our countries: organizing and professionalizing the management of such efforts. These examples demonstrate good practices, but they have not been scaled.

    In fact, none of these initiatives has reached a “tipping point“, which is the title of a classic book by Malcolm Gladwell that I recommend. In line with Gladwell’s ideas, volunteering must turn into an epidemic in which our young people are “Patient Zero.”

    There already are mini-epidemics―some new, some not so new―that illustrate my point.

    1. One is the epidemic of the movement called “Enseña,” or “Teaching”. Beginning with the release of “Enseña Chile” in 2008, these adaptations of Teach for America, an exceptional example of social innovation and social volunteerism, have spread to Peru, Argentina (where it is called “Enseñá por Argentina”) Brazil, and Colombia. As told to me by my friend Alvaro Henzler― the brain and the heart of Enseña Perú―the young people involved have a “great sense of responsibility, and also of urgency.”

    2. In Mexico’s Conafe, an old epidemic continues. Last month I visited this program that the government of Mexico has been carrying out for many years to promote youth volunteerism in rural areas. In one place, far from the nearest secondary school, I heard a 14-year-old boy recite an excellent history of graffiti as his teacher, another boy of just 21 years, listened on with pride.

    Returning to Gradwell, we must ask: What can be done to deliberately start a benign epidemic of volunteerism in education? This goal is urgent for the present, but also for the future, since the young volunteers of today will be our ministers of education tomorrow.