Innovation in Education – El Salvador Youth to Business Forum

On Monday, July 16 2012, students between the ages of 16 and 24, attended a workshop  sponsored by CAFRED at the El Salvador Youth to Business Forum. The main symposium was organized by AIESEC El Salvador, in the FEPADE Auditorium in Antiguo Cuscatlán. AIESEC is the largest youth-run organization in the World, with more than 64,000 members across the globe.

Alberto Barillas conducted the workshop called “Innovation In Education” – a key theme especially in the rural areas where CAFRED works.  Mr. Barillas is a nationally respected education researcher and consultant who has worked for CAFRED on a voluntary basis as a teacher trainer since 2011. Mr. Barillas explained to the workshop attendees that education in El Salvador has not kept pace with the 21st Century. For example, most classrooms are still organized in rows, and many people still believe that a classroom that is in complete silence is best for teachers and students alike.

Mr. Barillas prepared a presentation with the intention of offering a pathway to a new way of educating students in El Salvador – by encouraging students during certain tasks to not look for the “correct answer” – but to think critically and come to a valid conclusion on their own.  Replacing the old system of copying text with the new system of encouraging critical thinking should be the new order of the day.

Education is about developing competent people (who know how to think, resolve problems, build and work for the betterment of their own communities and the World)”, Mr. Barillas explained, as a way to get away from teaching purely conceptual content. The trainer of teachers presented a process to follow when developing competencies. This process consists of defining the goals/competencies to be developed, followed by the development of a means of obtaining these goals/competencies through content. At the end, one must check if these goals/competencies were successfully developed through the process.

Mr. Barillas emphasized that the teachers not only need to work with the students, but with the community itself. In order to carry out innovation in the education system, the teacher must not only deal with the vision of development, but rather also by experimenting, researching and by consulting with those who benefit from the service.

CAFRED promotes community integration within the communities that it supports, emphasizing that all members of the community take part in forming the education offered offered in the education environment created. Those beneficiaries include the entire community – and not only the students.  During the course of the workshop, Mr. Barillas explained the importance of directing the opportunities and development offered in the school, including supporting the community in sustainable development.

Respect for the autonomy of the community and communication is vital. This is significant because it implies that the community itself can continue to carry out the programs, and even improve them through the acquisition of new skills. The goal of the educational system is to empower the communities in which it serves through the activities and processes of the school.

“Innovation is key to achieving an education that is a preparation for life and should be for the benefit of all citizens in the spirit of total equality”.

Some key points about innovation in innovation presented by Mr. Barillas:

  • The transformation of teaching practices to arrive at –  ‘Inclusive,  Active and Attractive’
  • Broaden the education vision to include communities
  • Motivate, research, systematize and evaluate education with Profiles in Redesign
  • Rendition of accounts by the social comptroller of education
  • Teacher training and professional development

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