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Is it possible to improve education on a large scale? How can it be achieved that the student body grows and the regional education systems improve? Who did it in Latin America? What can we learn from the success stories? To answer questions of this magnitude, the largest research ever conducted in Latin America was conducted.
Learn from regional experiences and learn together, Instituto Natura – a non-profit organization founded in Brazil in 2010 – appointed the Center for Applied Educational Research San Andrés Still those University of San Andrés (both from Argentina) to identify the education systems that have made sustained improvements over the past 15 years.
The research project “The Keys to Education” is a comparative study in six countries on cases of systemic improvement in education at the sub-national level in the period 2004-2019.
Within 24 months, nearly twenty researchers analyzed 486 subnational education systems in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru. The analysis spanned a period of 15 years.
From these education systems, two outstanding cases in each country were selected for in-depth investigation. In this way, they identified which education systems have achieved sustainable improvements over the past 15 years:
Mexico: Guanajuato and Puebla
Brazil: Ceará and Pernambuco
Chile: Loncoche and San Nicolás
Colombia: Bogotá DC and Boyacá
Argentina: Cordoba and Río Negro
Peru: Ayacucho and San Martín
Sobral shows that it is possible
While there is no formula for success, each case is unique– –10 have been identified Keys to Systemic Improvement, 10 Keys Indicating Structural Growth in the Right to Education is Possible.
And to show the incredible case of the Brazilian community of Sobral, which became the first national place of education in 12 years after rating 1,360 out of 5,570 communities.
“It’s an extraordinary case and an inspiration,” says Axel Rivas. Research coordinator and author of the book that brings together the best research.
But sobral was a one-pound chickpea, says the also director of the School of Education at the University of San Andrés, as there have been few cases of outstanding improvement.
The 10 keys to open the big gate
The establishment of a platform for education governance must be based on two pillars:
The idea a platform as a basis that enables it to scale step-by-step, and an ecosystem of actors who interact and come together in the long term.
This means that without an understanding of education and without the trust and alliances of the various actors in the system, education policy will not improve consistently over time, summarizes Axel Rivas.
The characteristics required for a real educational revolution go beyond the implementation of public policy and are related to the way it is administered The schoolsystem.
The “keys” that pave the way for improvement in the Latin American education system are described below. These “keys” are conjugated and enable each other.
1. Education as a political priority. Bet on the importance of separating education from short term struggles, forming a protective shield and not including it in the political game as improving education is a long term process.
2. Hear the voices of the system. It’s about understanding the education system. The cases of excellence have done so thanks to the fact that they understand the bowels of the educational system and are able to decipher its symbolic keys. In addition, they respected the various actors in the education system. “They weren’t opponents, on the contrary, they worked together.”
3.- Defined goals. Successful cases have clear and defined goals. Not only do they know what they want, they also know how to achieve it and put goals into action. “They have a clear account of what they want to achieve and manage to translate it, that is, get it operational. They have a very clear theory of change.”
4.- Build legitimate environments and seek alliances. They promote credibility and bring together will. They try hard not to have enemies or blockages.
“They break with the vision of shortcuts, form deep alliances, and agree that they will consolidate and move forward over time because they know it is a long-term endeavor.
Abbreviations may seem tempting in Latin America, a region where institution building is so abstract and distant, but they are not the solution.
5.- Reflective leadership. Those who run the neighborhood are not autocrats who believe they have revealed the truth, who believe they can solve anything without help; on the contrary, they are leaders who share power, form coalitions and adapt to change; they do not remain tied to a dogmatic position.
“Thoughtful, determined, self-critical, believable and consistent leadership that does not focus on a single person is essential,” says Margarita Zorrilla, research professor at the Autonomous University of Aguascalientes.
6.- Professional and committed teams. Those who make up the teams are professionals who not only wanted to be part, but also have the merit of filling these positions and, above all, have a long-term vision as they are aware that it is a long-term one Mission acts. In addition, they break with the instability and fragility of the continuity of politics, a great evil in Latin America.
7.- Appropriate use of the information available. They analyze the quality ratings to determine the outcome of each school, inform them of successes and failures, and analyze how they can improve. It’s about using educational research to not start everything from scratch. “They’re leveraging the evidence that every educational institution can do better.”
8th.- combine forces. Political articulation is fundamental as it has to work hand in hand with teacher unions, political parties and civil society. Negotiation and openness are very important.
9.- Transparent communication policy. Trust needs to be built, so communication guidelines need to be clear and consistent.
10.- Turn education policy channels into devices: Using resources to get results. It is not enough to provide navigation maps and allow each ship to go where it wants – be it at school or in class. The challenge for education systems is to create a series of routes that will converge, multiply, and reach previous thresholds designed to be traversed in an organized process.
The rental house
A single leader who arrives and changes everything because he imposes himself on others does not work. What is needed are people who, every day, have a better understanding of the guts of the education system and, over time, automate the functions that have been on the agenda for a long time and are not central.
Creating teams for long periods of time is required. “I use the metaphor of the house bought and the house rented; No reforms will be made to the rental property as it is unknown how long it will stay, it is not yours and you know you are leaving. If it’s your own, go for the long term, invest and know what you want to do. “Account of Axel Rivas, author of the book.
There is an extraordinary coincidence in the long duration of the efforts that have resulted in systemic educational improvements.
As you read these keys, some may think, “This is impossible to achieve.” It is true, it seems very difficult, but the familiar phrase about the cost of education says the same thing: “If education is very expensive, try ignorance.”
A grain of sand from civil society
“With the conviction that social and educational transformations are the responsibility of the state, we want civil society to contribute to the development of an education for everyone and for everyone. For this it is important to get to know the experiences of our region, which have shown that these transformations are possible, ”says David Saad, President of the Instituto Natura Brasil y América Hispana.
The book was presented in the context of the growth of the Natura Institute in Hispanic America. This non-profit organization was created with the aim of managing the investment of resources in Creer Para Ver, a line of products the company developed 25 years ago that forms a positive cycle for improving education.
The products are sold by Natura beauty consultants who, like the brand, forego their profits, ie 100 percent of the proceeds are invested by the Natura Institute in projects to improve the quality of education and equity.
“We believe in the transformative power of education and its central role in developing a more coherent and less unequal society, and we trust that the creation of the institute will exponentially multiply the impact of our engagement,” concludes Karina Stocovaz, Executive Director of the Natura Institute in Latin America.