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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.

    Educating Haiti


    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 December, 2013

    The Year 2013 Beyond PISA

    By - 30 Dec 2013

    TQ tizas

    During 2013, the Latin American education has been more than results on the PISA tests. Although, it is true: these are so strong and place us in such a distant place winner’s podium hiding some facts that deserve greater regional coverage than they have had. The range of new features is extensive and comprises a range from new regulations on teaching work to massive supply of material resources. Read more…

    Extreme STEM

    By - 23 Dec 2013


    You’ve probably heard of Extreme Sports, but maybe not of Extreme STEM, or X-STEM. The day of my visit to Glenallen Elementary School, United States public X-STEM schools in Montgomery County in Maryland, a group of first graders wears lab-coats and hard hats as they embark on a construction challenge. Another group of students from fifth grade has been challenged to produce renewable energy. Over the past weeks they have researched, designed and built windmills to lift and empty the contents of a cup. They now test their windmills in front of an electric fan. The Wind Team quickly takes the lead as it takes them only 6.9 seconds to lift and empty the cup, but in the end they are beaten by another team’s windmill, which requires only 3.6 seconds to complete the task.

    Read more…

    Reading comprehension: the most basic of all basic competencies of the 21st century

    By - 20 Dec 2013

    Tiredly Reading the Book

    The Latin American education systems failed again. In basic academic areas such as Reading Comprehension, Math, and Science we are at the bottom of all regions, according to the recently published 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results.

    Despite some progress, from a total of 65 countries from around the globe who took the test, the 8 Latin American countries who participated positioned themselves among the 15 worst-performing ones in Math (which formed the focus of this PISA round). In Reading Comprehension, the region is ranked among the 18 worst-performing nations, and in Sciene, among the 19 worst. In addition, the average scores by country are significantly below the OECD average. In Mathematics, of the 8 countries of the region, Chile, ranking 51, scored best. Colombia and Peru are among the three worst-performing countries, with rankings 62 and 65, respectively. In Reading Comprehension, Chile ranked 48th, while Argentina and Peru ranked 60th and 65th. In Science, Chile again stood out among the countries from the region, positioning itself in number 47; Colombia and Peru were ranked 60th and 65th.

    Read more…

    Learning from Community Colleges: 5 key ways to improve post- secondary education in Latin America and the Caribbean

    By - 18 Dec 2013

    Students Holding Question Mark

    In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) a very high percentage of students does not reach the basic level of knowledge and skills in mathematics they should master for their age (the 8 countries that participated in PISA 2012 are among the 14 worst performing ones). Labor market outcomes for young people do not look promising either. According to estimates of the International Labour Organization (ILO), in 2005, 57 of the 106 million young people in the region were unemployed, employed in inadequate jobs, not in school, or not interested in looking for work. Could some features of the U.S. Community College (CC) system help LAC countries face these challenges? Read more…

    The Nitty Gritty of Grit

    By - 12 Dec 2013


    Good high school students usually go on to be good college students. But the relationship isn’t perfect. Just being academically prepared isn’t good enough. Research has shown that some kids who persist in college are not necessarily the ones who excelled in high school. Those who persist are resilient, socially agile and emotionally secure – they can pick up and move on after bad news, bad grades or other difficult moments, ask for help when needed, and resist negative peer pressures. Such traits by themselves won’t make kids successful in school but, when combined with sound academic preparation, they are indispensable.

    Particularly for kids who don’t have the safety nets that come with the privileges of class and wealth.

    What puts these kids over the top is grit.

    Read more…

    Six myths about students with disabilities

    By - 6 Dec 2013

    Peru Disabilities

    Photo: Lauren Conn

    Access to education has improved significantly in Latin America.  Primary education is virtually universal throughout the region. However, nearly 1 out of every 2 students in Latin America does not finish secondary school. Gaps in access to education persist among socioeconomic and ethnic groups, as well as between urban and rural communities.

    Even taking all of this into account, having a disability is a strong predictor of one’s likelihood to be excluded from the education system, says Lena Johnson, an expert in inclusive education. In general, children with disabilities are less likely to start school. It is estimated that only 20% to 30% of all children and youth with disabilities in the region attend school.

    Having a disability can be a greater barrier to accessing education than where you live, your gender, or your socio-economic status. We sat down with Johnson to debunk common myths about students with disabilities.

    Read more…

    How can Brazil Improve its Performance in PISA?

    By - 5 Dec 2013

    by Patrícia Fortunato* 

    Brazil Pisa Small

    Photo: Agência Brasil

    For more information about the PISA results of participating Latin American countries, click here.

    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) just released the results of the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial test that evaluates the abilities and competencies of 15-years-old students of participating countries. Although progress was made in Mathematics since PISA 2003, Brazil only barely achieved position 58 in the ranking of 65 countries. Shanghai, China, made first place not only in Mathematics, but also in Science and Reading, the other two areas evaluated by PISA.

    Read more…