Fundación Omar Dengo

Digital literacy and computational skills for youth in Central America

STEM education

Young people from El Salvador and Guatemala will gain digital and computational skills at schools and communities through an educational model that implements digital technologies

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Lead Organization

Fundación Omar Dengo

San Jose, Provincia de San José, Costa Rica

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Central America’s Northern Triangle faces great challenges in integrating its youth to the digital society and economy, with an outdated educational system, unemployment and high levels of violence.Through educational processes of learning and coding, we seek to contribute on developing high-level social and cognitive capabilities (problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration) through delivering FOD`s innovative approach to computer science and a strong Central American partnership, sparking at-risk youth`s smart appropriation of digital technologies and computational participation in El Salvador and Guatemala.The overall benefit for these individuals includes: (1) advancing in life and helping young people upscale their skills, enabling them to fully participate in society; (2) relieving the lack of opportunities through the creation of new skills that respond to the market´s needs and participant`s social environment, and (3) providing innovative technological spaces both in-school and out-of-school, to incentivize learning, creativity and critical thinking.

Problem Statement

Central America’s Northern Triangle faces great challenges in integrating its youth to the digital society and economy, with an outdated educational system, unemployment and high levels of violence. In Guatemala, only 43% of girls and 45% of boys are enrolled in early secondary school (7th to 9th grades). Meanwhile, in El Salvador only half of the students that attend early secondary school, go on to complete high school. Quality of education is also a pressing issue. If students attend school, many do not acquire the necessary skills for success at higher educational levels. In terms of quality of the education system, Guatemala and El Salvador rank 122 and 116 (out of 139 territories) respectively. Another growing concern in the region is teacher quality. In El Salvador there is a deficit of subject teachers for STEM, and in Guatemala only 16% of 6th grade teachers have earned a university degree. Youth in these countries face difficult conditions: an increasing incidence of crime, high levels of unemployment, social and economic marginalization, rapid urbanization, and lack of basic services. El Salvador has the highest homicide rate in the world for youth under the age of 19. These difficulties lead many young people to abandon school, join organized crime organizations or look for opportunities outside of their countries. Research has shown that education has a positive effect in reducing violence and that the protective effects of engaging learning experiences are more significant than increasing police presence in violent neighborhoods.

Solution Overview

The project`s solution focuses in encouraging youth development of problem-solving skills, creativity, collaborative skills and to express themselves by appropriating advanced computational practices. Through educational processes of learning and coding, we focus on developing high-level social and cognitive capabilities. FOD`s innovative and validated approach to computer science, to spark the smart appropriation of digital technologies, transforms into opportunities for at-risk youth as they re-think themselves and their social environment. Through our well-thought educational process, young people will gain new skills, and the necessary talent and autonomy to approach current global trends, that ultimately transforms into better job opportunities, entrepreneurial mindsets, and the ability to connect what they are learning with what they already know and are passionate about.At the end of the five years, 121,500 Salvadorian and Guatemalan at-risk youth will develop the capabilities required to learn and fully participate in the 21st Century, through the appropriation of digital technologies and computational participation.The proposed educational program includes a total of 180 hours of instruction, divided in four sequential levels: (a)Introductory Level: Animations, Music and Games! (7th grade); (b)Level 1: 3D Worlds: Imagine, Design, and Code! (7th); (c)Level 2: Robots and Data! (8th). (d)Level 3: Connected Web Applications! (9th).Each of these levels include teacher-training workshops to install teaching capabilities (through face-to-face and online/offline modules), reaching at least 4,870 teachers. All, while giving sustainability over time to the overall impact by engaging

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