USING GLOBAL LEARNING AS A VEHICLE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF EDUCATIONAL AND SOCIAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISADVANTAGED YOUTH IN THE U.S. AND MEXICO
The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights posits that everyone regardless of socioeconomic class, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, religion, and gender has the right to education.
In the developed as well as the underdeveloped nations of the world, personal, familial, community, and societal advancement and prospects for prosperity are heavily predicated on the quotidian accessibility to quality educational systems and opportunities. The access to and successful completion of a quality education is seen virtually to have transformative - if not total transcendent - powers. Yet, there is a growing denial globally of this fundamental human right.
Today, the cultural, socio-economic, schooling and achievement gaps and the digital divide between affluent and disadvantaged children are not only challenges to global education but are also threats to international development, prosperity and security.
Understanding the dialectical relationship between socio-economic development and the access to and completion of a quality education, Houston Preparatory Academy (HPA), a not-for-profit U.S.-based educational organization founded in 1991, created in 1998, a multi-university, cross-national collaboration to address and develop programmatic and research methods to understand, rethink, enhance and provide high-quality educational opportunities that would longitudinally combat inequality and injustice in impoverished communities in the U.S. and Mexico.
Today, HPA, via its U-Prep initiative, effectively addresses the issues connected to the lack of educational opportunities for students from poor and immigrant families in Houston, Texas in the U.S. Since 2006, it has provided educational and social services in Renacimiento, Guerrero, Mexico. Guerrero is the area of origin of over 73,000 persons who migrated to the U.S. annually.
Since its inception, U-Prep has been a proven and effective model. However, steadily escalating levels of violence in Mexico in 2011 forced U-Prep to reconsider its mission, methods and program. U-Prep had to create a new, innovative approach to practice, service and research that preserved the high quality of its program while considering the safety of its teachers, interns and students.
As an adaptive measure, U-Prep broadened, intensified, and adjusted its already developed approach to Global Learning and implemented it using face-to-face engagement and practice coupled with existing, cost-effective, internet-based computer resources (Skype, E-mail, texting). U-Prep created math, literature and English curricula based on multi-disciplinary research and proven best practices in education and transformed teacher-centered pedagogy into an empowering approach to education that is at once personal, cyber-friendly and student-centered. U-Prep highlights cross-cultural competence, understanding and respect to harness and mobilize talent, potential, initiative, creativity and change. College-age U-Prep students are offered internship opportunities for local and international leadership, commitment and service.
Therefore, using Global Learning delivered through existing assistive technologies, U-Prep is able to defend the global right to a quality education by providing a dynamic, comprehensive, community-based, culturally competent, child-centered educational model that continues to enhance educational opportunities and supportive social services for students and families in the U.S. and Mexico.