THE BIRTH OF ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF SOCIAL EDUCATION IN PUERTO RICO
Universidad Metropolitana / Universidad de Granada (PUERTO RICO)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2014 Proceedings
Publication year: 2014
Conference name: 7th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 17-19 November, 2014
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:Many times young people are victims of policies of exclusion. As a result, they represent a group with higher social marginalization. This deprives countries of the ability to "reap the potential benefits they bring as growing populations of young people." (Unesco, 2012 in Vega, 2013).
The situation warrants a look outside the purely academic formula. The school is devoid of strategic vision and tools to help them meet the demanding educational and social situations with which young people struggle daily. The school, as an institution, must look to Social Education for the skills and tools to effectively intervene in the lives of students.
The dropout rate in Puerto Rico for the 2010-2011 academic year was 40% and is more acute during the ages of 11-15 years in the 6th to 9th grades.
In 2002, the education system establishes the Sustainable Centers for Student Support, Project CASA, to provide "psychosocial support and job skills development for students at high risk of dropping out or already have left." CASA contracted nonprofit organizations to provide educational services to out of school youth.
From CASA an important initiative is born. Several members with similar visions came together to form an alliance to provide a more meaningful educational experience for this particular student population. Therefore five organizations founded the Alliance for Alternative Education in 2008: Centros Sor Isolina Ferré, ASPIRA, Community Education Program Delivery and Service (PECES in Spanish), Proyecto Nacer and Nuestra Escuela. They collectively call themselves “alternative schools” as defined as (AEA, 2013), a "tool of comprehensive training" for young people based on the premise that "all facets of our lives are interconnected and that that are a number of factors that impact the learning process."
It is characterized by:
• Participatory educational projects
• Flexible and uninterrupted, models, methods and instructional strategies that integrate various dynamics and adjust according to the needs and characteristics of the population
• Vision that the educational experience is not merely instructive, but aims to provide life skills for the students to meet their personal needs and reach economic sustainability
• There is a bio psychosocial view of the student and his/her success is measured according to each students’ ability to reach their full potential
• A community project approach to develop creative skills, innovation, sensitivity and compassion, in order to transform their communities and their country.”
In its first two years, the Alliance reached a graduation rate of 95% and 90% retention, (AEA, 2012). The State provided the Alliance with an agreement that allowed them to serve more than 1,000 students annually. Soon the legislature passed the Act for the Development of Alternative Education in Puerto Rico #213 (2012), which established an official board to govern policy on alternative education.
Although Puerto Rico recently has an official public policy on alternative/social education, there are still many unanswered questions about its future. This session will expand on the social education model being developed in Puerto Rico, the results, and orientation towards addressing future challenges.
Keywords: Social education, alternative education, Puerto Rico education, school drop outs, youth development.