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Other projects in Latin America:

Designing Centers of Excellence for Teacher Training in Latin America and the Caribbean
May 2001 – present

South America MapEducational achievement indicators for Latin America and the Caribbean compare poorly with much of the world. In some countries, fewer than 60 percent of children who start school reach the fifth grade and illiteracy rates remain high. Strategies are needed to improve the quality of education, and provide teachers and administrators in the hemisphere improved access to resources and training.

In view of these regional deficiencies, President George W. Bush announced a White House initiative at the Summit of the Americas in 2001 to establish teacher training centers that would improve reading instruction in the early primary grades. The BEPS team was enlisted by USAID to design these Centers of Excellence for Teacher Training in the Caribbean, Central America, and the Andean region of South America. The centers are to provide pre-service and in-service teachers with practical training and tools for teaching reading to students in the early grades. The program consists of five components: teacher training, diagnostic tools, teaching and learning materials, action research, and information and communication technology. Rural, isolated areas in the region are given particular attention.

BEPS completed a series of assessments of education and training needs, including an evaluation of institutional capacity for participating in and providing leadership for these centers. Assessment teams visited 15 countries and spoke with over 400 university faculty, teacher educators, Ministers of Education, teachers, USAID mission staff, and other stakeholders about teacher training and reading instruction. Teams visited more than 50 institutions across the region to evaluate their technical and administrative capacity to serve as collaborating institutions for the centers. The assessment findings enabled USAID—with input from a Consultative Committee made up of ten education experts from across the hemisphere—to identify potential partner institutions in each region. USAID and BEPS then met with the regional partners to discuss the program and conceptualize the components of each regional center. Regional organizational structures are now in place after BEPS-facilitated strategic planning meetings helped bring officials from many educational institutions and governments to consensus.

In addition, the BEPS team enlisted the support of U.S. and Latin American/Caribbean businesses as founding partners to help launch and support the centers. This public/private sector component aimed to secure the program’s sustainability beyond USAID funding, so that teachers would continue to share best practices, classroom experiences, and teaching approaches, and use the project’s materials to enhance their instruction.

Training has commenced, with the projected goal of training 15,000 teachers by the end of 2005. A regional meeting facilitated by Creative Associates in April 2003 allowed representatives from each Center of Excellence to finalize the design phase of the program. This conference encouraged an information exchange regarding evidence-based research of best practices in reading instruction from both the U.S. and regional perspectives. Reading instruction methodologies, diagnostic tools, teaching modules and reading materials are now being adapted and used by each lead institution for program implementation. An emphasis is being placed on overall quality of instruction.

USAID: From the American People
Creative Associates  International Inc. Basic Education and Policy Support  Activity (BEPS)