SUMMA and OECS, through the KIX LAC Center and with the support of IDRC, organized the webinar “Pedagogical strategies and teaching practices to face challenges in the student’s learning loss: What does the evidence tell us?”, in the framework of the commemoration of International Literacy Day, which brought together representatives from the education sector of the countries that make up the KIX LAC Center: El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Raúl Chacón Zuloaga, Director of the KIX LAC program, thanked the attendees for their participation and introduced the importance of research and sharing the diverse experiences of the countries, thanks to the enormous challenge they had to face during the most difficult moments of the COVID-19 pandemic; “we are convinced that it is not a matter of implementing recipes, but of knowing what has been done. It is important for us to recognize the knowledge that already exists, share it and learn from it”. Finally, he emphasized the importance of highlighting the work of teachers as protagonists of integral learning processes, since it is they themselves who are pointing out the new challenges as a result of the pandemic: increased student lag, loss of knowledge and greater risks of exclusion.
Next, Florencio Ceballos, IDRC project manager, remarked how approximately two years ago, educational priorities revolved around the disruption in public education, school closures, and the low response of educational systems to provide quality distance education, however, today the priorities are different: “the pandemic is not over but we have learned to live with it in a different way and priorities have also changed, especially the setback in the recovery of lost learning, the widening of educational gaps, the increase in dropouts due to socioeconomic and gender problems, problems of continuity in teacher training and in data-based planning due to lack of updating of data… But we are facing an opportunity and that is to understand how the complexity of these new challenges are a great opportunity to learn.”
The presentations began with the intervention of Dr. Mauricio Farías, Director of School Transformation at SUMMA, who gave a presentation on regional, national and local initiatives to address the educational challenges produced by the pandemic, explaining the considerable problems that the education sector is facing: “We are really in a moment of crisis in education. For example, only 39% of Latin American students can read a simple text compared to the world average of 51% and it is in this scenario that, even with limited resources, we need to design effective strategies to address these issues.
In this regard, Farias presented the PRISA initiative – Ecosystem of resources for the recovery of learning, carried out jointly with the Ministry of Education of Panama, which seeks to address early learning loss in order to close educational gaps. In addition, and secondly, he presented the pilot program of effective innovative practices CHAKA, carried out together with the Luksic Foundation, which seeks to implement pedagogical practices in the classroom on a frequent and sustained basis, and subsequently generate a replicable and scalable model for all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Subsequently, the authors, Dr. Denise Vaillant, Dean of the Institute of Education and Director of the Doctoral Program in Education at ORT Uruguay University, and Dr. Carlos Marcelo, Coordinator of the Andalusian Interuniversity Institute for Educational Research, presented the research “Learning Recovery Strategies and Effective Practices in Teacher Training”. The report presents a mapping of existing literature on experiences, practices and programs that have proven to be effective for learning recovery, student leveling and teacher training, focusing on vulnerable populations and contexts characterized by time and budget constraints.
The report shows in detail the effective practices needed for teacher training: 1) focus teacher training on what students are expected to learn. 2) analyze student learning. 3) identify teacher improvement needs in relation to student learning problems. 4) consider the school as a backdrop, i.e., the actual work environment that is within the school. 5) prioritize and promote collaboration. 6) incorporate multiple sources of information. 7) consider teachers’ beliefs. 8) connect training with change processes and 9) provide continuous follow-up and support.
Vaillant concluded the presentation by making a call to the sector: “we have to think about resilient educational systems, if the pandemic taught us anything, and thinking about teacher training, it is that we have to think in contexts of uncertainty, we must generate capacities that can cope with unpredictable situations such as the ones we are experiencing”.
For his part, Marcelo thanked the organizers and attendees of the meeting and valued the studies that are being carried out in the region: “if we do not have evidence and data we cannot move forward. We must know to what extent the programs we implement provide an effective response to the specific needs of the students, because what the experiences we have analyzed do not say is that the solution is not the same for everyone”.
Closing the presentations, Michelle Brathwaite, Project Coordinator of the Ministry of Education of Grenada, presented the educational context of the country and the multiple intervention strategies implemented to address the backlog and school closures. She also highlighted the importance of teachers’ skills in diagnosing their students, but the need to provide them with more training tools for diagnostic assessment. Finally, he valued the participation of other actors in society who helped to cope with the emergency: “families, television, radio, even neighborhood stores, which distributed educational material for the communities, all of them played a very important role they had never played before. The crisis provided an opportunity for other social actors to emerge for the benefit of education”.
Sisera Simon, Program Director of the Education Development Management Unit at OECS, closed the event by concluding: “This webinar reminded us that in order to personalize the needs of each student we must consider each student on an individual level and we must ensure that learning will continue in a meaningful and playful way. Academic remediation and loss is most critical at this time and we must focus on closing the digital divide gaps, the need to be able to increase access to education and technology, re-engineering for teacher training and improving access to data and statistics for decision making.”
During the event, the KIX LAC Journal “Research in Education” was also launched. Dr. Maciel Morales Aceitón, researcher at KIX LAC and editor of this first edition, highlighted the importance of these spaces for scientific dissemination in which regional educational problems are made visible: “In addition to the value of this document in itself, it is relevant that the researchers not only present regional challenges in education, but also present strategies to face them, solid studies based on evidence, with mixed methodologies and territorial perspectives, which in turn can be extrapolated to the entire region”.
For her part, Rossen Jenniffer Mirón López, head of social studies at the Ministry of Education of Guatemala, representative of her country in KIX LAC and collaborator in its production, highlighted the invaluable contribution of professionals who generate knowledge: “The research initiative reflected in the journal provides the region with data and evidence that has been generated first-hand in each of the member countries, forcing governments and communities to leave behind a knowledge based on beliefs to promote initiatives based on evidence”. He also pointed out that one of the great contributions of the journal was the strengthening and motivation of the research teams that generated the data.