Level of access to higher education in Latin America is just 32 percent

The level of access to higher education in Latin America is 32 percent, well below the 87 percent in Europe, 67 percent in Asia and 62 percent in the United States.
Miami (USA), February 10th (EFE). – The level of access to higher education in Latin America is 32 percent, well below the 87 percent in Europe, 67 percent in Asia and 62 percent in the United States, experts said today in Miami.

Chile, Brazil and Colombia are the countries of Latin America with the highest percentage of students who can pursue higher education in the region.

The matter was discussed in the forum “Reform and Education Policy in Latin America: Innovation, Inclusion and public-private partnerships”, organized by the Council of the Americas and the Miami Dade College, with the goal of increasing access and improving quality education.

Chile ranks first with 45 percent of students who manage to attend college; Brazil ranked second with 36 percent, followed by Colombia with 34 percent, according to Ricardo Cuenca, researcher at the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IEP).

Several countries in the region such as Colombia, Peru and Panama advance in deep educational reforms that will help to improve the level of students and reduce the social gap that only allows a very small percentage of them to enter the higher education institutions, according to the experts .

The success of these changes, they added, is in the consolidation of agreements between their governments and private enterprise.

The Panamanian model, for example, bypasses the need to train 40,000 teachers in high-tech skills and computers, told Efe the Panama Minister of Education, Lucy Molinar.

“We selected 263 teachers, considered the best, to be the first to receive the training provided by Microsoft. Then they will be responsible to present what they learned to others,”, she said.

Molinar added that most teachers in Panama have no training in technology and that many have not even seen a computer in their life.

“Therefore the agreement signed with Microsoft is very important for us, as this is the first step to ensure a better education for future generations. Moreover, it will be very interesting because it will allow teachers to make classes differently, more striking”, said the official.

Innovation in the classroom and motivating students are the main challenges of Panama, according Molinar .

“We must adapt to changing times because it is the only way to get students to participate in various educational programs,” she stressed .

Meanwhile, Joice Fernandes, global head of Microsoft Corporation, for public and private partnerships, said that what is being done in Panama is very ambitious and that its company makes different international social projects .

“We talk in the countries to understand that access to technology and higher education is not a privilege. This is a right for all young people, for all teachers, and to all people”, he said .

“In Portugal, for example, since several years, an educational project with private schools is running, where every child has a laptop computer that at the end of each school day can take home. This has created a huge impact on them and the education level and learning has accelerated”, said Fernandes.

Another experience was exposed by Felipe Vergara, co-founder and CEO of Lumni Inc., a Colombian company looking for talented young people and with scarce resources, to give them a chance.

Vergara ensures that “the continent must have another type of society: more equal and better able to compete” and that the key is to try to eliminate the “great social gulf that has existed between them for lack of opportunity to study”.

Lumni sponsors since nine years ago to outstanding students who for financial reasons can not afford paying their studies and currently funds more than 1,600 students in Colombia .

It also offers financial support in Chile and Mexico, countries where there is a greater number than 400 students, and in the United States, where recently raided, and where holds another 15.

“We give them financial amenities to study and they graduate without any problem. When they finish and are already working, they have to start giving back a fraction of the money invested and then re-invest in new talents”, explained Vergara.

The company works with several NGOs and private companies that “after seeing our work are interested in supporting this project.”

Image map:Douglas Fernandes

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