Education beyond the Classroom: Highlights of Various Educational Programs That Are Making a Difference throughout the Hemisphere

By Becerra, Pablo Cuellar | Americas (English Edition), July-August 2011 | Go to article overview

Education beyond the Classroom: Highlights of Various Educational Programs That Are Making a Difference throughout the Hemisphere


Becerra, Pablo Cuellar, Americas (English Edition)


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Education is a complex topic in the Americas. Some of the region's countries have high failure and dropout rates. A wide achievement gap persists between public and private institutions. Teachers receive extremely low salaries, and quality standards are often far from being in line with international criteria. All of these factors impact student performance and produce less than satisfactory report cards for American classrooms. According to a February 2011 report by the Department. of Human Development, Education, and Culture of the Organization of American States (OAS), Latin American and Caribbean countries as a whole have grade repetition and dropout rates that are higher than the world average, and they also tend to have a higher than average student-teacher ratio.

All over the continent, however, government institutions and private groups are working daily to overcome these obstacles and achieve higher standards, promoting equity and quality in education through innovative high-impact programs in many different contexts.

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These programs address education from a multidimensional perspective because many of the variables involved in improving learning are related to things that go beyond pure pedagogical practice. According to Gaby Fujimoto, education specialist at the OAS Department of Human Development, Education, and Culture, these variables include the quality of the school director, "teacher quality, infrastructure, and students' basic needs--like family, food, healthcare, and others."

This article highlights three successful programs in the hemisphere that are working hard to raise the quality of learning and development for children and youth in the region. The three programs are the Child Development Centers (CENDI) of Mexico's Land and Liberty Popular Front; the "Quality School Leadership and Management Program" of Fundacion Chile; and the "Social, Technological, and Production Program" of the INTI Center for Health and Disabilities Technology in Argentina.

CENDI: Multi-disciplinary Assistance

The CENDI Child Development Centers' list of achievements is extraordinary. A winner of 25 quality awards in state, national, and world competitions sponsored by organizations like the OAS, the World Bank, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the project has distinguished itself as a leader in childcare and education in Latin America.

The CENDIs receive government funding and the program description states that it "emerged as the Mexican government's response to hundreds of working women who were demanding childcare centers where they could leave their children while they were working." The CENDIs soon became an early childhood education alternative in areas with high poverty levels and marginal social conditions. The main objective of these centers is to offer high quality education and services to children between the ages of six weeks and six years.

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To fulfill its mission, the program expanded to five fundamental areas of care: pedagogical, medical, psychological, nutritional, and social. In other words, each child that goes to the Child Development Centers receives a preschool (early childhood) education; help from psychologists and social workers; healthcare; and nutritional food. The program is also supported by excellent facilities like a swimming pool, gymnasium, and special classrooms as well as integrated development activities not usually available for children from low-income families--activities like music, dance, yoga, English, and computer classes.

Fundacion Chile: School Leadership and Management

Fundacion Chile has been a leader in the area of education and a reference point not only for Chile but also for the other countries in the region, such as Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. …

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