“Postsecondary education is the way out.” This is the innovative proposal to reform the Colombian educational system

Luc Williams

How do you see the panorama of education in Colombia?

Carlos Chaparro (CC): Education in the country is at a crossroads that will be the starting point so that we can discuss not only the reform of some articles of Law 30, but of the entire national educational system.

In your opinion, what are the biggest problems with the system?

DC: We don’t have a system. We have three subsystems: formal education, education for work and human development, and informal education, which should be called continuing education subsystem. The three are not linked together, there is no mobility between students, and it is very inefficient because, in the case of formal education, the training routes are long, expensive and outdated.

DC: It is another great challenge. The General Participation System is having resources that are below the current income of the nation. This means that resources are increasingly lower compared to the needs of the sector and that a dangerous gap is being created for the sustainability of the model.

How to overcome these problems?

DC: A true public policy for financing education must be created, whose conceptual axis is to put education at the highest strategic level of society, with a long-term plan, structured around tax collection, through the multipurpose cadastre.

How do you see the landscape of higher education?

DC: In Colombia there are more than 3 million young people between 14 and 28 years old who neither study nor work. And the reasons, among many others, are economic, but they also have to do with the fact that the formal educational system is not attractive to them. A higher education program takes more than three years to create and by the time students graduate from the first cohort, five years have already passed; They come out, then, with a training whose relevance was thought out eight years ago. Added to that is the fact that they have no real guarantee of getting a job.

How to transform the panorama?

DC: With a post-secondary education system that includes short certified training. Through successive routes, the student can move from certifications to degrees. Those who do not want to get to the degree have the possibility of working in the world of work with certifications. It is also a model that is constantly updated.

Why do you think the country should replicate the Medellín educational model of recent years?

DC: We did the most disruptive programs in education that have been created in recent years in Medellín, from Sapiencia. In less than four years, and thanks to the post-secondary education model, we have multiplied the opportunities to access educational offerings. With ‘Zero Enrollment’, which was born in our district and is today a national public policy, added to our Sapiencia Funds, we have provided more than 82,000 opportunities to access higher education since 2020, while in the previous 16 years only 64,400 were provided . Additionally, we created the training program ‘Specialized talent for the digital industry’, in which some 98,000 students were able to take short, virtual and free programs through the @medellin platform.


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