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« Universal Challenges | Main | Personal reflection from the trip »

04/08/2013

Passion in Education

“It comes from within.” The Crea+ Saturday volunteer pointed to his heart. The meeting room was silent as we watched him articulate his thoughts in a foreign language. It was a truly inspirational moment for me. A college student himself, he devotes his Saturday mornings to teach KungFu to underprivileged kids. He shares a genuine passion in education and in people with other volunteers at Crea+ and many others that we visited on this study tour.

Chile and Argentina are located right next to each other, but they cannot be any more different. The study tour took us from the socialist system in Argentina to the capitalist system in Chile. Buenos Aires has beautiful buildings that signify its European colonial influences and its glorious past. In recent years, however, its public education system has been in turmoil. Public schools are constantly interrupted by strikes. We spoke to the Minister of Education in Buenos Aires and learned about his effort to rebuild confidence in the public education system, one phone call at a time. We also visited a motivated education start-up company, Competir, as well as an innovative non-profit organization, Kuepa. The efforts of these individuals and organizations will help to improve the infrastructure and the quality of public education in Buenos Aires.

Unlike Argentina, there is no welfare in Chile. Perhaps it is because of this factor, Chilean people of all social classes seem to value education. The challenge in the Chilean public education system is to improve the quality of public education and reduce the gap between private and public school systems. It will be a challenging task that involves encouraging smart students to choose teaching as a profession and incentivizing good teachers to join public schools. The Education Ministry has recruited top talents from abroad to drive this initiative. There are also many interesting startups and non-profit organizations, such as SIP and Crea+ that help to improve teacher training and teaching materials.

Despite the many challenges we observed in the public education system in both Chile and Argentina, I am optimistic that both systems will improve. We saw top-down efforts from the public sectors, as well as bottom-up inspirations from the private sectors. And I know that people like the Saturday Volunteer will inspire many others to join them.