The bottleneck for Colombia’s failing education system is the insufficient training of teachers, according to education experts.
According to recent results of a global education poll, Colombia came in 62nd of 65, a marked step back even from its worrying position after a 2009 poll that put Colombia 58th. Since then, country’s results have worsened across the fields of mathematics, language and science.
According to Diego Agudelo, education secretary of Girardota, a municipality near Medellin, these results can be traced back to education policies that have focused too much on quantity rather than quality.
“The results should make us realize that we are on the wrong path, because unfortunately the state values education coverage more than education quality. […] It shouldn’t be all about the education coverage, the numbers of graduates and how many students we have, instead, the quality of the education should stand above all,” Agudelo told Colombia Reports.
Agudelo proposed that one of the ways to improve the education system would be to reform the training of teachers.
“We need a complete renewal of the teachers’ materials, because they are the main driving force [of education],” said the official.
Sylvia Vasquez, a representative of Montessori teachers in Colombia, agreed.
“It is necessary and essential to put more effort and to invest more money in the training of educational staff, because teachers in Colombia get out of college unprepared for their future jobs,” she told Colombia Reports.
This connection between the education system’s quality and the standards of teachers’ training was also mentioned by Colombia’s education minister Maria Fernanda Campo, who stressed the need for revision of the teachers’ materials and training standards on national radio last week.
“If we want better quality of the education system, we have to produce better teachers,” she said in an interview with Blu Radio. The minister said “we have to make sure that their university studies and training programs are of high quality.”
Agudelo even went further, calling for the introduction of a “new generation” of teachers that are trained according to up-to-date standards for example when it comes to information technology. According to him, the current generation of teachers — particularly those in rural areas — lack these skills.
“I think it’s time to revise the training standards for teachers. The old generation has to retire, giving room for a new generation of teachers”
Both experts also mentioned the need to pay more attention to the students, including them in the process of renovation.
Agudelo proposed designing an integral education model in order to create an atmosphere that motivates students to go to school and consider education as a possibility to realize their goals.
As a representative of an alternative education system, Vasquez called for a fundamental change of how to perceive children and teenagers, saying that educational institutions should support their natural and independent development.
The two experts and the education minister shared the opinion that whatever reform steps will be taken in the future, this will be a process of generations starting with kids in preschool today.
“We must plan this project over the course of 10 to 15 years, starting with those who are in preschool right now to reap the fruits of success in the future,” stated Agudelo, while the education minister was quoted saying that “we will see the results [of our efforts] in about ten years.”
- Interview with Diego Agudelo
- Interview with Sylvia Vasquez
- Las políticas en educación toman años en ver resultados, responde ministra Campo (Blu Radio)