Mexico: What the Education Committee Resolved to Say About the Enciclomedia Program

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“Harvard Study Recognizes: Educational Programs Are Meeting Their Goals.” Click to zoom.

What [the Harvard team] found and presented in November (2006) was a mixed bag: some of the programs and mandates were working, but others needed major changes, more money, and a greater commitment from everyone involved.

Enciclomedia is a good tool for introducing ICT [into the classroom], but it lacks the characteristics of comprehensiveness and integration. That is to say, it helps in the process of learning, but does not promote using technologies for anything beyond presentations and searches, because it does not comprehend the management of the learning process and the creative interaction between the teacher and student. –Chairman of the education committee in the lower house of the Mexican congress, December 6, 2007

There was no concrete evidence that revealed gains in academic achievement as the result of using computers; the majority of teachers using computers maintain existing practices of teaching; and few students used technologies at the invention level. –Lara Lomicka, The University of South Carolina, “Review of Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom” (Larry Cuban)

If you cannot bring good news then don’t bring any.
–Bob Dylan, “Wicked Messenger”

Item: EL BLOG DEL DIPUTADO TONATIUH on the Enciclomedia program.

On which see also

Tonatiuh Bravo Padilla is the president of the education committee in the lower house of the Mexican congress.

I keep looking for a copy of the report that committee issued on the “digital chalkboard” program the Fox administration contracted Microsoft to furnish.

An audit of the 2005 federal budget discovered that the program fell short of its goal of equipping classrooms with the gizmo by some 11,000 units — which have yet to be adequately accounted for, the head beancounter of the ASF (similar in some respects to our GAO) has said.

I still have not found it.

But there is this blog entry from the chair of the committee, which I guess is pretty much the accompanying press release for that report. Reads like an executive summary, anyway. I clip it to the record pra inglês ver.

Describes the program as “difficult to justify.”

La Comisión de Educación Pública y Servicios Educativos de la Cámara de Diputados federal aprobó el informe sobre el programa Enciclomedia, investigación realizada en los meses de abril a noviembre de 2007. Este programa consistió en la elaboración de una enorme compilación electrónica de contenidos académicos de los libros de texto, la enciclopedia Encarta y otros muchos materiales diversos que se accesan y proyectan en las aulas de las escuelas primarias en los grados de quinto y sexto -y próximamente en primero de secundaria-, a través de un pizarrón interactivo.A pesar de su complejidad, los resultados los podemos sintetizar en tres.

The education committee of the lower house has approved a report on the Enciclomedia program after an investigation carried out from April to November 2007. This program consisted in the elaboration of an enormous electronic compilation of academic content from textbooks, the Encarta encyclopedia and numerous, various other sources, to be accessed and project in elementary school classrooms in the fifth and sixth grades — and soon, in secondary schools as well — using an interactive “chalkboard.” Despite the complexity of the matter, the results can be summarized under three headings.

Sí se presumen irregularidades en los procesos de elaboración, licitación y arranque del programa, debido principalmente a la apresurada decisión de implantarlas en más de 160 mil aulas, lo que propició una licitación con razgos de colusión, deberá investigarse si inducida por la parte del Gobierno en turno o por todas las partes, y en las decisiones relacionadas con adquisiciones y destino de recursos gastados en otros rubros.Enciclomedia es una buena herramienta de introducción a las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación, pero que carece de carácter comprehensivo e integral. Es decir, ayuda al proceso de enseñanza aprendizaje, pero no propicia el uso de esas tecnologías más allá de las exposiciones y búsquedas, pues la gestión educativa e interacción creativa del propio docente y estudiante no están comprendidas.

Irregularities are presumed to have occurred in the process of elaborating, contracting and implementing the program,due principally to the hasty decision to install the system in 160,000 classrooms, a decision propitiated by a bidding process in which there are indications of collusion between the Government and other parties, and in the decisions related to procurement and expenditures [for purposes other than the implementation of the program.] 

Enciclomedia is a good tool for introducing ICT [into the classroom], but it lacks the characteristics of comprehensiveness and integration.  That is to say, it helps in the process of learning, but does not promote using technologies for anything beyond presentations and searches, because it does not comprehend the management of the learning process and the creative interaction between the teacher and student.

La parte más valiosa de Enciclomedia está en los cursos de Inglés, los cuales están diseñados para ser impartidos por profesores que no dominan la lengua.No obstante lo anterior, hay un tercer elemento importante de analizar. ¿Existe conexión entre la millonaria inversión en Enciclomedia y las prioridades académicas de bajo rendimiento en lectura, matemáticas, ciencias y razonamiento lógico? No por lo pronto. Es decir, Enciclomedia está enfocada en lo general a los programas de quinto y sexto grados de primaria, pero no específicamente a ser un instrumento dirigido a atender estas necesidades relevantes y graves que sitúan a nuestro País entre los últimos lugares de aprovechamiento.

The most valuable part of Enciclomedia are its English corses, which are designed to be taught by teachers who have not mastered the language. Notwithstanding the foregoing, there is a third element to consider. Is there any correlation between the millions invested in Enciclomedia and the academic priorities of [improving] poor student performance in reading, math, science, and logical reasoning? Not at the moment. That is to say, Enciclomedia is focused in a general way on the fifth and sixth grades, but not specifically on being a tool directed at the serious and relevant needs that cause Mexico to be ranked near the bottom in student performance.   

Los resultados de la prueba PISA (Programa para la Evaluación Internacional de los Estudiantes), aplicada por la Organización para la Cooperación y Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE) en 2006, y en esta ocasión con enfoque en las ciencias, confirman nuevamente la realidad de nuestro sistema educativo: una carencia en el dominio de las competencias básicas para la vida en los estudiantes de 15 años.En los resultados de esta prueba internacional, recién hechos públicos el día 4 de diciembre, nuestro País obtuvo un puntaje promedio de 410 puntos, lo que nos ubica apenas arriba del nivel 1 de competencias (409.45 puntos es la línea divisoria entre el nivel 1 y 2). Lo anterior se traduce, de acuerdo con el Manual de PISA, en que la mayoría de los estudiantes de 15 años en México tienen un “conocimiento científico limitado que sólo es aplicable a pocas situaciones que les sean familiares, y que sólo dan explicaciones científicas obvias que se obtienen directamente de la evidencia dada”.

The results of the OCED’s PISA (Program for International Student Evaluation) examination for 2006, which in that case focused on science, confirm once again the reality of our educational system: A lack of mastery of basic life skills by 15-year-old students. In the results of this international examination, published on December 4, Mexico received an average score of 410 points (409.45 points is the dividing line between Level 1 and Level 2). This means, according to the PISA manual, that the majority of 15-year-old students in Mexico have “limited scientific knowledge that is applicable to the very few situations they are familiar with, and can only provide obvious scientific explanations obtained directly from the evidence provided.”

Asimismo, este puntaje nos ubica de nuevo en el último lugar de los países miembros de la OCDE, y por debajo de los niveles académicos de países como Chile, Uruguay, Turquía, Rumania y Serbia, entre otros. Sin embargo, cabe señalar que estamos por encima de países latinoamericanos como Colombia, Brasil y Argentina.En el Programa Sectorial de Educación, el cual fue presentado recientemente por la SEP, se señala la meta de lograr 435 puntos en matemáticas y comprensión de lectura en la prueba PISA a aplicarse en 2012 (la puntuación obtenida en 2003 en estas áreas fue de 392 puntos).

This score positions us once again in last place among OCED member nations, below the academic levels observed in countries like Chile, Uruguay, Turkey, Romania, and Serbia, among others. We can point out, howeer, that we are above Latin American countries like Colombia, Brazil and Argentina. In the education plan recently presented by the federal secretary of education (SEP), the goal of achieving 435 points in math and reading comprehension on the PISA test to be administered in 2012 is set (the score obtained in 2003 in these areas was 392 points.)

Was this above or below goals set by the Fox administration, if any?

Lo anterior es bueno pero ambicioso y deberá estar sustentado en políticas públicas audaces, las cuales incorporen a todos los actores relevantes en el tema educativo, tales como los padres de familia, los poderes Ejecutivo y Legislativo, así como los sindicatos de profesores. En suma, para lograr esta meta, se hace necesaria una profunda reforma educativa, tal y como lo expresa la Secretaría de Educación Pública en su Programa Sectorial.Así pues, una inversión de poco más de 31 mil millones de pesos, como lo es Enciclomedia, debería estar plenamente vinculada a la meta de que nuestros jóvenes mayores de 15 años lograran competencias satisfactorias de lectura, matemáticas y ciencias, de otra manera, difícilmente se justificaría. Además, debería ser un programa a la mano de cualquier padre de familia, profesor y estudiante, para ser usado en su casa como extensión del aula.

This is a good, but ambitious goal, and must be sustained by audacious public policies that involve all the relevant actors in the area of educations, including parents, the legislative and exective branches of government, as well as the teachers’ unions. In short, to achieve this goal, profound educational reforms are needed, as the SEP itself states. In which case an investment of some 31 billion pesos (roughly US$2.8 billion), as is the case with Enciclomedia, ought to be fully tied to the goal of providing our 15-year-olds with adequate skills in reading, math, and science. Otherwise, it will be difficult to justify. Further, it ought to be a program accessible to all parents, teachers and students, to be used at home as an extension of classwork.

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