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La Educación
Número: (123-125) I,III
Año: 1996

II. Successful Experiences Identified in the Multinational Project Evaluation

A. Multinational Project on Basic Education (PRODEBAS)

1. Comprehensive Needs of Children under Six Years of Age in Marginal Urban Areas (Bolivia)

This experience shows that, with community participation and support from a number of institutions, entities and individuals, the needs of children who would otherwise be at high risk can be well addressed. All of this can be done in a marginalized environment where there are significant ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences.

The project was implemented in 20 early education centers located in marginal urban areas in six of the country’s Departments and reached out to 1,000 children.

In addition to training the project coordinator and supervisory and teaching staff from the Ministry of Education, the project succeeded in:
  • Mobilizing the community in general, particularly mothers, some of whom (community mothers) are active participants in the care of the children, preparation of meals, etc.
  • Organizing and setting up operating structures and performing the necessary coordination with entities equipped to provide the support required:
  • OAS: Overall project support, training, supply of kitchenware, etc.
  • Ministry of Health and health care centers: Medical and nursing care.
  • ONAMFA and OPAM: Supplemental diet.
  • Religious communities: Support for schools and for religious educators.
  • Community organizations in slum areas: Financing for building locales.
  • Families: Organization of vegetable gardens to improve nutrition and, at the same time, pay for food for the early education centers.
  • Senior-year university students in each Department: Psychological- teaching assistance.
  • Clubs, associations, municipalities and individuals: All types of cooperation.
All of this makes up a new educational modality strongly supported by the communities themselves and one which, if duly organized, oriented and supervised, has considerable potential for development.

2. La Revista Latinoamericana de Innovaciones Educativas (Argentina)

This magazine, The Latin American Review on Educational Innovations, is thus far the publication that reaches out most extensively to the Latin American educational community in the area of innovations in basic education.

Until such time as SIEBAS or another computerized data system or network is in operation, the Revista is the best means of disseminating information.

Consideration might be given to expanding the circulation of the Revista beyond high-level educational administrators to coverage to the entire Latin American corps of educators.

Such an initiative would involve, subject to appropriate consultation:

a) Changing the focus, substance, and format of the Revista to attune it to the massive support it would provide.

b) Considerably increasing the number of copies printed in order to sell some of the issues to help cover costs.

3. The Training Program for Administrators of General Basic Education- PROCAE (Costa Rica)

Under this program, carried out in the 19 regional education districts, 680 principals of basic education centers were trained in distance programs. An additional 1,000 officials are now in training.

With a small group of half a dozen professors, PROCAE draws up self-learning modules and stimulates the principals in the use of research-action. During the six-year period, 64 workshop seminars were held, 28 modules were developed and 21,600 training bulletins published. The operating costs are fairly low and the program’s first evaluation was favorable.

Subject to a more systematic evaluation of its academic operation and costs, PROCAE could serve as a model, given its replicability in other countries in the region.

4. The Creative Workshops of the Milagrosa School in the Gethsemani District, Cartagena, Colombia

The creative workshops conducted by this school located in a Cartagena slum area, have succeeded in keeping quite a few children, who would otherwise be at risk in the street, occupied and interested in the classroom. Lunch is provided by a local welfare agency at the end of class each day.

The creative workshops, with both teachers and parents involved, make it possible for the children to do a number of activities: theater, music, learn about the city’s history and handcrafts.

The work done by the teachers has reached beyond the classroom. Their influence is noticeable, for example, in how clean the streets of the neighborhood are kept.

5. Development of Strategies for Multi-Grade Teaching (Jamaica)

This successful project has enabled curriculum specialists in the Ministry of Education to develop practical strategies to address the special problems associated with the effective delivery of instruction in small multi-grade schools-of which there are many in Jamaica.

Over two hundred Jamaican nationals (principals, teachers, curriculum officers and teacher educators) and a number of educators from other Caribbean countries have participated in training workshops and seminars designed to develop techniques and strategies for multi-grade instruction. Supporting materials, including a teachers’ manual and other instructional resources have been produced.

Several hundred students have been the direct beneficiaries of these initiatives with the direct results being: Greater enthusiasm for the teaching learning process as demonstrated by the enthusiasm of the teachers and students; measurable improvement in academic performance of the students; enhanced self-confidence and self-esteem among students; and greater access to higher levels of education.

Since similar educational problems exist throughout the Caribbean region, there exists the possibility for successful replication.

6. Development of Strategies to Promote Cooperative Learning  (St. Vincent and the Grenadines)

The project has included participation by teachers from all levels of the educational system, but has particularly targeted those involved in primary education who have received little or no formal training.

A wide variety of schools from diverse regions of the country have been included as trial schools. Significant improvements, not only in academic performance, but in social behavior as well, have been reported among students of project schools.

The project has been significant in promoting the more learner-centered approach to classroom instruction which the national curriculum seeks to encourage.

7. Development of Teacher Resource Materials to Support Environment  and Technology Components in Primary School Curriculum
(Trinidad & Tobago)

This project has been highly successful in producing and disseminating widely valuable curriculum guides and resource materials to support the teaching of science at the Primary School level. Special emphasis has been laid on facilitating the implementation of the newly introduced components of the curriculum related to the environment and to technology.

Training has been provided for a wide range of educational personnel to ensure the development of a strong cadre of skilled science educators. Impressive team building has occurred in the process.

A particularly useful and innovative aspect of the guides and materials produced has been the emphasis placed on hands-on experiments involving the use of inexpensive, easily available everyday materials, and on the use of the outdoors as a laboratory.

B. Multinational Project on Education for Work (PMET)

1. Participative Leadership Model (Nicaragua)

In Nicaragua the PMET has implemented a participative leadership model in which all those involved—public and beneficiaries—take part in decision-making.

A network has also been developed to promote and expand multinational activities at the national level in terms of their content, how they can be tailored to local conditions and how they can be applied in order to generate and implement projects addressed to disadvantaged young people and/or former combatants.

2. Revista Interamericana de Educación de Adultos (Mexico)

The Inter-American Adult Education Magazine, which was initially designed to serve as a means of publicizing PMET, has been a great success, judging by its contents, the profile of its editorial board, and the scope of its coverage and circulation.

3. Electronic Information Network (all PMET countries)

Given the major effort undertaken to implement the electronic network, including the purchase of equipment and the training of technical teams, a way must be found to arrange for better and broader use of the network and a greater interrelationship stimulated between producers and users.

4. Young People Outside the School System (Uruguay)

There are few programs in Latin America for disadvantaged young people outside the school system. The number of “street children” is increasing daily, which poses an enormous challenge to both Latin America and the Caribbean.

In the early 1980’s, the government of Uruguay supported an innovative program for adolescents living in the slum areas of Montevideo. The Training and Development Center (CECAP) was set up to train young people between the ages of 14 and 24 who were not participating in the formal school system.

The Center offers a flexible one-year program of “comprehensive development” tailored to the needs of the individual in the following areas: carpentry, cooking, tailoring, gardening, dressmaking, plumbing, hairdressing, work as an electrician, reading, writing, arithmetic, self-esteem, and hygiene. A variety of methodologies aimed at helping young people think about and solve problems on their own were utilized.

The Government of Uruguay has drawn on PMET to focus efforts on improving the quality of its services. Through the offices of the OAS the project contributed US$263,700 between 1990 and 1995. The principal components addressed by this funding have to do with:

a) staff training, including CECAP’s teachers and employees;

b) research and studies relating to CECAP;

c) modernization of shops through the purchase of equipment;

d) installation and use of the electronic network;

e) organization of seminars and workshops at the multinational level.

Since 1990, 2,500 young people have received CECAP training. There is a waiting list of 400 young people in Montevideo. About 40% of those trained by CECAP have entered the labor market.

The CECAP model is answering a critical need. The government has set up a second center in Rivera and plans to expand the program to other regions of the country.

The CECAP model is important, since government or public and private initiatives in this field are limited. Technical-vocational schools in most countries offer a more formal type of training, and there are few programs geared to young people who are outside the school system or have not completed primary or secondary schooling.

5. Skills Training for the Disabled (Grenada)

This project has trained disabled students and young adults in garment-making, typewriting, clock-making, cake-making, toy-making, pottery and woodcraft. It has also helped to develop a greater sense of dignity and self-worth among participants and, more importantly, has helped to raise public consciousness concerning the needs of the disabled.

6. Vocational Training for Adults (Suriname)

Training programs with industry have been established, while training modules have been organized through a collaborative agreement with Community Colleges for International Development (CCID), located in Miami. There has been a tri-partite agreement among the government, industry and unions to both quantitatively and qualitatively harmonize the supply of skilled personnel with the demands of the labor market.

C. Multinational Project on Secondary and Higher Education (PROMESUP)

1. Distance Education and Educational Technology

Past experience with the PROMESUP in Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and Guyana has proven the appropriateness of integrating technological resources in order to use communication as the basis of the educational process. This type of technology and the related teaching methodologies have fundamental importance in areas where the population is dispersed and in the training of teachers and other specialists in the workplace. In addition, as the demand for education grows among the adult population, more methodologies will be required that contain technological components such as those already mentioned. Outstanding programs carried out under the project included the organization of seminars and workshops in environmental education, teaching technology, educational communication, indigenous education, and teacher training. PROMESUP has made it possible to investigate, experiment with, validate and disseminate more suitable patterns of communication for education in the regional context.

2. Experiences in Management and University Evaluation

The changes now underway are giving rise to new conditions that govern the relationship between the university, government and society. These changes are causing a redefinition of the university’s functions. Human resource training and development, and research are being undertaken in such a way as to be conducive to the consolidation of democracy; sustainable development; the new international economic order; and the resolution of conditions of extreme poverty both at the national and international level. These new functions plus the accountability of university institutions to the community in the new context require that universities change their management styles. The experience of PROMESUP in Argentina and Chile is important because it was based on the premise that the solutions to the problems of evaluation and accreditation related to the university’s relationship with its social and economic surroundings should be negotiated between and among the universities.The PROMESUP experience leads to the recommendation that support be given to initiatives which promote institutional horizontal coordination and will lead to exchanges of experience and open the way to national and multinational consensus on university management, evaluation and accreditation.

3. Communication Networks and Multinational Experience

PROMESUP was an opportunity to promote multinational efforts in human resource training and development for data collection and sharing. PROMESUP’s experience during the five-year period was useful in testing and validating shared programming and evaluation methodologies among the participating universities. Incentives were provided for the creation of networks and joint publication of books, texts, and specialized reviews (such as IGLU, Revista de Gestion y Liderazgo Universitario). The PROMESUP Electronic Community was set up with the participation of all the universities involved in the project, although in some instances its use was limited by technical problems in some country’s domestic telephone lines. The communication networks, especially the PROMESUP Electronic Community, were particularly successful in the organization of the First International Conference on Environmental Education, which proved that shared planning allows for efficient resource integration. It is recommended that efforts be continued to promote new information systems that take advantage of the existing networks.

4. Project on Higher Education (Guyana and Trinidad & Tobago)

In both countries, the project has focused on the development of North American style associate degree program formats in collaboration with a community college in the United States, and the exploration of distance education methodologies as a means of reaching remote populations.