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Sun Aug 2, 2015, 02:40 PM

Digital Era Here to Stay in Argentina’s Classrooms

By Fabiana Frayssinet - IPS

The showcases in the Colegio Nacional Rafael Hernández, a public high school in La Plata, Argentina, tell the story of the stern neoclassical building which dates back to 1884. But the classrooms reflect the digital era, thanks to the computers distributed to all public school students as part of a government social inclusion program Conectar Igualdad (Connecting Equality), run by the National Social Security Administration.

Since 2010, 5.1 million laptops – referred to here as notebooks – have been distributed, reaching all of the students and teachers in the country’s secondary and special education schools and government teacher training institutes. The computers, with Internet connection, are used in all of the courses, both in school and at home.

The program’s administrators see creative initiatives like La Plata high school teacher Fernández Troiano’s combination of diverse disciplines as a reflection of how universal access to a computer is a powerful educational tool.

Silvina Gvirtz, executive director of Conectar Igualdad, explained to IPS that the program emerged from a decision by President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as part of an integral educational policy that in 2006 made secondary education compulsory until the age of 18.

Conectar Igualdad has also given a major boost to the national computer industry. Ten computer factories have opened, and in each public tender, more domestically produced parts have been required, as well as more and more advanced technologies, such as greater memory and better video definition, Gvirtz said. Along with Windows, the notebooks use Huayra, a Linux-based open source operating system developed locally for the programme, which unlike proprietary systems can be modified and improved, she noted.

When they started saying that every student would have a notebook, nobody believed it – people said that would be the day when cows fly,” said a student, María Elena Davel. But the cow, which today is the Huayra symbol, is now flying and plans to go even higher. The next step is to add a computer programming course in schools. “This is key because we want to move towards technological sovereignty,” said Gvirtz. “We want to form both producers and intelligent consumers of technology.”

The laptops are distributed to the students under a loan-for-use agreement with the parents. The youngsters can then keep them if they graduate. One challenge is training the teachers, who must adapt to the new e-learning and digital culture in this country of 42 million people, where there are nearly 12 million students in the educational system (pre-school to graduate school).

At: http://www.ipsnews.net/2015/07/digital-era-here-to-stay-in-argentinas-classrooms/

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Reply Digital Era Here to Stay in Argentina’s Classrooms (Original post)
forest444 Aug 2015 OP
procon Aug 2015 #1
forest444 Aug 2015 #2
Judi Lynn Aug 2015 #4
Judi Lynn Aug 2015 #3

Response to forest444 (Original post)

Sun Aug 2, 2015, 03:23 PM

1. Meanwhile, back in the US, schools are handing out fiction books

and trying to pass them off as textbooks. In addition to the environmental impact, printing textbooks is expensive, and the data may well be obsolete, or out of fashion, all too soon. Even setting aside the partisan propaganda BS, the cost factor in delivering laptops with current and accurate learning materials all referenced and linked to a common network would help kids as well as schools. Laptops are cheaper and more versatile than text books. The learning experience could be so much better if kids can see multimedia and actively participate in an interactive experience at their own pace. It seems a win-win situation, especially if the laptops are made in America.

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Response to procon (Reply #1)

Sun Aug 2, 2015, 04:38 PM

2. Tea bag governors think they're being very original.

Last edited Sun Aug 2, 2015, 06:11 PM - Edit history (1)

But as you know, rewriting history textbooks has been a favorite hobby of extremists (left and right) through the ages.

In the case of Argentina, the right-wing Isabel Perón administration (1974-76) and the fascist dictatorship that followed (1976-83) would send in "normalizers" to bookstores and school and university libraries to burn books (many courageous librarians and booksellers would wrap them in cellophane and bury them in the garden for safekeeping). The 1976 military dictatorship was the probably closest thing Argentina has had to these tea baggers as far as policy; the only real difference was the degree of ferocity (for now).

Fast-forward to recent times in Argentina, and even in the country's highly activist and very noisy democracy of today, you find far-right wing figures like Buenos Aires Mayor Mauricio Macri. While running Buenos Aires into debt, he's spent millions on things like a 0800 hotline to anonymously inform authorities of "unwanted" political activity in schools, as well as banning numerous books already on school shelves (most famously the science fiction comic series El Eternauta - whose author was among those "disappeared" during the height of the Dirty War in 1977). Meanwhile, Macri forced public middle schools to issue pocket guides to Argentine history that featured photos of past dictators (but no past elected presidents) and to buy thousands of copies of Robert Kiyosaki's Rich Dad, Poor Dad (the one that advocated fraud and tax evasion as means to get ahead).

Macri, btw, is currently running for president (polling second) and is Wall Street's Argentine puppet-du-jour, as he has promised them to privatize state-owned services and public works contracts (as he's done in the City of Buenos Aires, at a cost of $500 million in annual deficits). He himself is the heir of one of Argentina's few billionaires - a man who made his fortune largely through padded public works contracts.

His party, the PRO, was named in honor of the last dictatorship (known in Argentina as el Proceso).

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Response to forest444 (Reply #2)

Sat Aug 8, 2015, 08:34 PM

4. Re-read your comments re: Macri. Your information here on this politico is priceless.

I'm certain we won't be seeing a word about any of this in the US corporate "news."

It's taking time to sink in, believe me.

Thank you.

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Response to procon (Reply #1)

Sun Aug 2, 2015, 06:32 PM

3. +1. n/t

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