28 November 2018

Mexico endorses a commitment to quality digital education for all

The aim of the digital education solution promoted by Fundación Telefónica in collaboration with the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation is to reduce the educational gap and serve as a world reference in educational transformation and innovation. In an interrelated way, it incorporates technology, educational resources and teaching-learning methodologies to prepare and train teachers and students in the skills and competencies required for their future personal and professional development. It is currently operating in Mexico City, Mexico and Guerrero State, and is being rolled out in Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Michoacán, Puebla and San Luis Potosí in order to benefit over 258,000 students, 877 education centres and 11,200 members of the education community nationwide in the 2018-2019 school year.

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How to achieve an inclusive and personalised quality education? The ProFuturo Foundation was born in July 2016 with this mission. This Spanish organisation is sponsored by Fundación Telefónica and the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation, who pool their efforts and their acknowledged experience in the field of education to achieve a common goal: that of reducing the education gap in the world by providing a quality digital education for children in vulnerable environments in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The initiative promoted by the two organisations has given rise to a digital education solution, including the Aula Digital (digital classroom) project which, in an interrelated way, incorporates technology, educational resources, teaching-learning methodologies and training for teachers and students that allow the acquisition of skills. It involves all the educational agents: head teachers, teachers, students, families, authorities and institutions, and provides equipment that is unique in its kind and can be adapted to any environment, both with and without connectivity.

One aspect that sets this project apart is that the learning is personalised to each student and monitored by means of random controls (monitoring tools and impact methodology) to measure the real effect of the operation and its progress.

Its deployment began in Africa in 2016 and it is gradually being expanded; the programme is currently active in 23 countries. It was adopted in Mexico in late 2017.

Telefónica and its foundation aspire to be an example of innovation and diversity, and to leverage the opportunities offered by information technologies to provide access to universal quality education through new educational methodologies and 21st-century skills in numerous languages and with an interactive format. Its aim is also to support teachers in their training and endow them with the tools to enable them to complement and improve their skills and achieve a new experience for their students in the classroom.

Official presentation of the initiative

Yesterday (12 November, 2018), the city of Acapulco was the venue for the official presentation of the digital educational solution entitled “Aula Digital: a commitment to education”, in a formal event in the José Guadalupe Zuno Hernández primary school (CCT 12DPR1177W); and subsequently at the Fernando Montes de Oca school (CCT 12DPR6006K), where three demonstration classes were given simultaneously to primary school groups in the first, second and third grades.

The presentation of Aula Digital was attended by Sofia Fernández de Mesa, General Manager of the ProFuturo Foundation; Maria Dolores Martínez Bernabeu, Head of Operations at ProFuturo; Nidia Chávez, Director of Fundación Telefónica México; José Luis Gonzalez de la Vega Otero, Secretary of Education for Guerrero State; Alejandra Karin Alemán Koidl, President of Niños en Alegría A.C.; Ma. Eugenia Acevedo Talavera, General Manager of the Research Institute for Education Development, A.C.; and special guests including María Cristina Cárdenas Peralta, General Coordinator of @prendeMX at the Department of Public Education, representatives of the municipal authorities in Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, education authorities and operating teams.

Sofía Fernández de Mesa announced: “Technology, when effectively focused, has the potential to improve the opportunities and living conditions for everyone, and to reduce inequality and drive exponential growth in the development of societies; this is translated into economic well-being and –even more importantly– into sustained social well-being.

José Luis Gonzalez de la Vega Otero, Secretary of Education for Guerrero State, also noted: “The collaboration with Fundación Telefónica México in Acapulco and Zihuatanejo promotes equal opportunities by using digital tools to support the transformation of education”.

Alejandra Karin Alemán Koidl, President of Niños en Alegría A.C. added: “Aula Digital is a project that offers universal quality education and has a substantial impact on narrowing the digital divide. It has an even more significant impact in Acapulco and Zihuatanejo, in combination with the programmes we at Niños en Alegría have been running in school communities for 15 years and which mark a watershed in many children’s lives”.

Nidia Chávez, Director of Fundación Telefónica México said: “Our Aula Digital project is part of the Fundación Telefónica and the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation’s digital education solution, and offers training and support for teachers –who are the key actors in the education process– so they can integrate skills and innovative and digital methodologies into their classes. It also provides digital contents approved by international bodies that are aligned with the Mexican curriculum. We work collaboratively with the teachers to transform the classroom”.

In Mexico, Aula Digital (AD) has been incorporated into the projects Fundación Telefónica México has historically carried out in the sphere of education such as the Fundación Telefónica Classrooms (AFT) and the Digital Citizenship Laboratory (LCD).

Aula Digital is operating during the school year (2018-2019) in Mexico City, Mexico State, Guerrero State, and is in the initial roll-out phase in Aguascalientes, Jalisco, Michoacán, Puebla and San Luis Potosí. Today, together with the Guerrero State Department of Education and Niños en Alegría, A.C., we are undertaking to transform the educational panorama for over 15,000 students, 40 primary schools and 700 members of the public education community. The goal is to benefit over 258,000 students, 877 education centres and 11,200 members of the education community nationwide throughout the 2018-2019 school year.

The contents in the solution are developed in three blocks, available in Portuguese, Spanish, French and English: linguistic skills, STEM skills and values and abilities for life, and are aligned based on the similarities with the basic education syllabus. In Mexico, the curriculum was coordinated with the anticipated learnings and contents of the current study programmes, and the advanced and expert level contents are now under preparation for use in the final grades of basic schooling. They are assessed by the UNESCO through the Carlos Chagas Foundation (Brazil). The Aula Digital project is aligned with the new educational model in Mexico: training and support with a pedagogical focus, and technical support with people who regularly visit the schools to provide corrective and preventive maintenance and to design clubs for self-sufficiency in the curriculum.