Collaboration for a Transformative Education

One of the many collective challenges we have faced as a society throughout the pandemic has been keeping schools open, kids in school, and delivering quality education. What is important to note, though, is that even before the pandemic more than 260 million children and youth were out of school. This was (and continues to be) largely due to a lack of access to quality and inclusive education. Ensuring all children, especially those at the margins, have an opportunity to become the protagonists of their own future is a challenge that one organization cannot face alone.

In September 2011, IBM, the New York City Department of Education, and The City University of New York designed and launched the P-TECH school model, with its first school in Brooklyn, New York. The P-TECH schools model was developed to provide a holistic approach to education and workforce development.

The model focuses on providing high school students from underserved backgrounds with an opportunity to dream of a different future for themselves. Through academic, technical, and professional skills training, students earn the credentials they need for competitive STEM jobs. Students who participate earn both their high school diploma and a two–year associate degree linked to growing, competitive STEM fields.

Through public-private partnerships, each P–TECH school is the center of a relationship between a high school, a community college, and an industry partner or partners, who work together to ensure students have the support required to graduate high school and college–and be career-ready. The model combines rigorous coursework with workplace experiences that include industry mentoring, worksite visits, paid internships, and first–in–line for job considerations with a school’s company partner.

In 2019, this model was expanded to Latin America as Federación Internacional de Fe y Alegría (“FIFyA“), the Asociación de Universidades Confiadas a la Compañía de Jesús en América Latina (“AUSJAL“), Magis Americas (“MA“) and IBM Corporation (“IBM/P-TECH“) joined forces to bring P-TECH to Fe y Alegría schools in five countries: Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru. This partnership was a natural fit, as all four institutions share a common perspective on human dignity, education, and workforce development in the 21st Century.

“Fe y Alegría has worked in education with community groups for many years, and P-TECH is a great initiative that promotes social inclusion through STEM learning,” said Carlos Fritzen, S.J., FIFyA General Coordinator, when the partnership was first announced. “Allowing equal educational opportunities is key.”

FIFyA is a popular education and social transformation movement, operating in 22 countries around the world, 17 of which are in Latin America and the Caribbean. Working “where the asphalt stops”, FIFyA is committed to social justice through guaranteeing a public, quality, and inclusive education for all.

The implementation of this collaboration has been structured into a project with three main phases:

  1. Preparation Phase – In this phase all partnering organizations set up the bases for the monitoring and success of the collaboration. We conduct an assessment of the participating schools to understand demographics, existing learning pathways, the curriculum, location, and leadership. We also review status of existing technology, equipment, and materials and then work to ensure alignment among the participating high schools, universities, and companies. Finally, we implement professional development training sessions for teachers.
  2. Opening Phase – This is the phase in which schools have established formal agreements with their industry partner and universities.
  3. Implementation Phase – The final phase is that in which schools start implementing training to gain critical workplace skills and higher education credentials that lead to career and university opportunities. At the beginning of this phase, investments are made, based on the most critical needs identified in the initial assessment.

As of 2021, 13 centers in Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador were in the opening phase. Additionally, agreements with seven industry partners and six higher technical education centers have been formalized. In 2022, these 13 centers will enter into the implementation phase and 15 new schools across Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru will enter into the opening phase

As we celebrate this year’s International Day of Education, and its theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education”, our joint project with IBM, FIFyA, and AUSJAL is a perfect example of how public-private partnerships can leverage resources to ensure quality and inclusive public education that truly transforms. From first-hand experience, we can attest to how the P-TECH model is changing how education is delivered and opportunities are made accessible, especially in the context of a global pandemic, to some of the most vulnerable populations in the LAC region.

Classrooms and schools are essential, but they need to be constructed and experienced differently in the future. These spaces must build the skills needed in 21st Century workplaces. Transforming the future requires us to rebalance our relationships, as individuals and as organizations. We must continue to find opportunities to enact change, focusing on equity, inclusion, and justice for all.

Magis Americas, Fe y Alegría and AUSJAL sign unprecedented agreement with IBM

Magis Americas, along with the International Federation of Fe y Alegría (FIFyA) and the Association of Universities entrusted to the Society of Jesus in Latin America (AUSJAL), has signed an unprecedented agreement with IBM to expand the P-TECH education model in Latin America. As part of the agreement, Magis Americas will receive a $2 million grant, to be used over three years, to implement the model in 45 schools, including three schools in Argentina, 14 in Colombia, 15 in Ecuador, one in Guatemala and 12 in Peru.

“We are excited to partner with IBM through the implementation of the P-TECH model,” said Nate Radomski, Executive Director of Magis Americas. “This partnership is a wonderful opportunity to continue our support of Fe y Alegría and AUSJAL as they strive toward the construction of just, dignified and equitable societies in Latin America.”

P-TECH is a “9-14 school model” that allows students to develop academic, technical and professional skills, by taking high school and college coursework simultaneously and engaging in industry-guided workforce development.

“Despite its growing working age population, Latin America currently has a serious shortage of vocational and technical skills. Approximately one-fifth of Latin American youth, 30 million people, are not employed or participate in academic activities or training, ” said Ana Paula Assis, General Manager of IBM Latin America. “To meet this growing need, IBM created the P-TECH education model to fill gaps in the labor market and to help the next generation of business and technology leaders succeed.”

Starting in 2020, students will begin a curriculum that lasts at least 3 years in duration.

“We are very proud to support the expansion of the innovative and inclusive P-TECH model throughout Latin America to provide even more skills for students, for life-changing career opportunities,” said Guillermo Miranda, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at IBM. “IBM has always emphasized the importance of investing in the progress of regions around the world through education. With this initiative, we are leading the way for Latin American students to develop the skills they need to thrive in the digital economy. “
IBM, Fe y Alegría, AUSJAL and Magis Americas will create a working group to collaborate and plan the expansion and growth of the model, enabling new alliances that will allow Fe y Alegría students across the region to acquire critical skills in the workplace and provide them with higher education credentials, opening up new professional and university opportunities. In addition, IBM will provide students with access to IBM learning platforms, including and
“Fe y Alegría has worked in education with community groups for many years, and we believe that P-TECH is a great initiative that promotes social inclusion through STEM learning,” said Carlos Fritzen, S.J., FIFyA General Coordinator. “Allowing equal educational opportunities is key.”
In the coming months, IBM, Fe y Alegría, AUSJAL and Magis Americas will also work with the business sector to prepare students for the working world with initiatives such as individual mentoring, interview simulations, company visits, training for teachers and students, professional skills courses/workshops and paid internships.

“The agreement is committed to developing innovation models that articulate quality and inclusion in the integral development of our countries,” said Ernesto Cavassa, S.J., Rector of Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya (Lima, Peru) and President of AUSJAL. “This association [AUSJAL] includes 30 universities, some of which will participate in the program through the training of P-TECH and Fe y Alegria teachers, the incorporation of graduates of the program to the universities, monitoring and evaluation of results and advocacy that allow the contribution of technological innovation in the transformation of Latin American societies,” concluded Cavassa.