Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Andragogical Mediation

Country Profile: Costa Rica

Population

4.805 million

Official language

Spanish

Other languages

Maleku, Cabécar, Bribri, Guaymí and Bocotá

Poverty (population living on less than US $ 1.25 per day)

3.1%

Total expenditure on education as % of GDP

6.3

Access to primary education – total net intake rate (NIR)

94%

Youth literacy rate (15–24 years)
  • Total: 98.3%
  • Male: 97.9%
  • Female: 98.7%
Adult literacy rate (15 years and over)
  • Total: 96.3%
  • Male: 96%
  • Female: 96.5%

Programme Overview

Programme TitleInformation and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Andragogical Mediation
Implementing OrganizationMinistry of Education
Language of InstructionSpanish
Date of Inception2011

Country Context and Background

Education is a major issue of political concern in Costa Rica. When the government disbanded the Costa Rican army in 1948, its facilities were transformed into schools, libraries, hospitals museums, and other institutions. Part of the investment that would have been allocated to the military was instead channeled into education. The government now invests 6.3% of GDP in education, a commitment which has contributed to the achievement of a 96.3% adult literacy rate in Costa Rica. Despite these achievements, UNESCO’s 2011 Education for All Global Monitoring Report found approximately 134,000 young people and adults without basic literacy skills in Costa Rica, 46% of them women. The situation is worst in poorer rural areas where there are fewer learning opportunities. Efforts to promote literacy are, therefore, closely related to endeavours to eradicate poverty, reduce infant mortality, promote gender equality and ensure sustainable development, peace and democracy.
Over the past 20 years, economic activity in Costa Rica’s rural areas has diversified, with communities which have traditionally relied on fishing for their income becoming part of the country’s main economic activity, tourism. This new context requires people with technological skills. However, the majority of educational institutions in rural Costa Rica have limited access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). The population is far from proficient in the use of new technologies and some adults are reluctant to use them. The economic and social case for addressing this need is compelling. The greater a country’s technological capability the better its economic performance. Improving people’s ICT skills, as well as their literacy and numeracy skills, will benefit the whole community. Moreover, securing a quality education for all is essential for social cohesion and inclusion.

Programme Overview

The value of ICTs in supporting the learning process and increasing the capacities of students is well understood. This programme seeks to strengthen andragogical mediation in adult education through the use of ICTs. The ICTs in Andragogical Mediation programme has developed as a result of cooperation between the Department of Research, Development and Implementation (DIDI) of the Directorate of Technological Resources (DRT), the Department of Youth and Adult Education (DEPJA) of the Directorate of Curricular Development (DDC), and the Intel corporation. The programme was piloted in 2011 at a youth and adult education institution run by the Regional Directorate of Peninsular Education. One year later, it was rolled out in two further adult education institutions. In 2013 it was extended to the Regional Directorates of Education in two areas with severe socio-economic problems, Desamparados and Limón.
The programme encourages students to identify problems within their communities and to consider how skills acquired in their ICT courses can help generate possible solutions. In one case, students identified pollution caused by the dumping of waste as a severe problem for their community. They launched a clean-up campaign to address the issue, creating posters containing useful information about waste management.

Aims and Objectives

The programme aimed to:

Programme Implementation

Approaches and Methodologies

The programme seeks to incorporate ICTs into andragogical mediation in two ways: in the first place, through the use of ICTs in the development of adult education courses, and, in the second, through a module focusing specifically on the use of computers. All educators are trained in the use of ICTs, and professionals in computer science education are hired to teach the module focused on the use of computers. The programme has four distinct stages: diagnosis; training; installation of the computer lab; and course implementation. In the first stage, the use of ICTs by teachers and students in the area chosen for the roll-out of the programme is analysed. This phase is led by DIDI and DEPJA, using questionnaires which examine, in turn, the students’ ICT skills, the teachers’ views as to the usefulness of ICTs in education, and the students’ opinions about the benefits of ICTs in their learning. The results of these surveys are assessed by educators and students based at the Integrated Centres of Adult Education (CINDEA), in Paquera, Jicaral and Cóbano, in order to identify issues related to students’ access to and use of computers for learning purposes. Once the outcomes of the assessment have been analysed for each community, appropriate training modules are created for the teachers, as well as various workshops covering technologies in knowledge management. In the second phase of the programme, teachers are trained in the use of ICTs in the following areas: Technology and Community; Technology in the Workplace; Technology and Entrepreneurship; and Didactic Planning and ICTs. The host institution supports the implementation of the programme and prepares the computer lab, using funds provided by the Ministry of Public Education and the community. Intel donates the laptops, which are installed in each CINDEA of the Peninsular Regional Directorate. Once this is complete, the classes can begin.
In terms of lesson planning, teachers propose mediation activities involving the use of computers and other devices, such as mobile phones and tablets, as part of day-to-day educational activities. For example, English, Spanish and social studies students made a video with their mobile phones presenting the history of a town during colonial times, and explaining how the population used to communicate with foreigners from English-speaking countries. At the same time, computer science teachers work with the students, using ICTs to support and contextualise their learning. Each course of the programme lasts six months, with students meetings three times each week. On completion of each course, the students make a presentation on a subject relevant to their studies. For example, in the course on Technology and Community, one group of students created flyers highlighting an area which had potential appeal to tourists but which had yet to develop tourism as a source of income and employment. The students research social issues and develop projects to address them, using their own mobile phones and the resources of the computer lab. They also make videos in which they talk about their experiences. A wide range of different areas are covered in the programme, including basic literacy and numeracy, post-literacy skills, skills for life, health, training for income generation and poverty reduction, democracy, family literacy and intergenerational learning, the creation of a literate environment, sustainable development, and gender and community development.

Selection of Learners

The progranmme’s teachers are typically university graduates, usually with a specialization in computer science. The programme recruits one teacher for every 25 students. Their salary depends on the level of degree they have attained. University students receive US $250, teachers with a bachelor’s degree receive US $300, while those with a master’s or PhD get US $350. Other benefits include economic awards in respect to the years they have worked and the opportunity to develop professionally through training. The training, as noted above, includes subjects such as Technology and Community; Technology in the Workplace; Technology and Entrepreneurship; and Didactic Planning and ICTs, and covers topics such as:

Each course involves 40 hours of certificated training, resulting in professional qualifications which support teachers’ career development and give them an opportunity to increase their salaries. A blog site – http://educaciondeadultoscostarica.blogspot.com – describes each stage of the development process. It also supports the teaching of students, providing a chart that shows students’ progress, allowing the teacher to make informed decisions about the pace at which the student can learn. Their development is further supported by additional training on topics related to adult education, including andragogy, neuroscience and adulthood The students are assessed at the end of the programme, with day-to-day work accounting for 50% of the final grade. The remainder is made up of exams (30%), project work (15%) and attendance (5%).

Monitoring and Evaluation

Once members of CINDEA complete their training, they become responsible for managing, designing, implementing, assessing and monitoring teacher training. Diagnosis, evaluation and training are undertaken at a national level. The programme is evaluated through an annual survey of teachers and students, and by institutional visits, during which lessons are observed. The latter task can be carried out by the director of the institution, the school principal or by a national advisor of DIDI or DEPJA. The evaluation reports are submitted to the DRT, together with the students’ results. A photographic record of CINDEA and the participating communities is published on an education website (www.mep.go.cr), alongside a summary on the project’s development.

Programme Impact and Challenges

Impact and Achievements

Participation in the programme has steadily increased since it was piloted in 2011. Fifty students took part in the first year, compared to 150 in the second and 175 in 2013. Furthermore, the students’ results have been positive, as has their feedback. The programme has been welcomed by participating communities, and has had the support of churches, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community centres and schools. These institutions play a significant role in informing citizens about the programme and motivating young people and adults to enroll. Communities and local authorities also offer support to the programme by providing hard drives and other useful resources. In some communities, the electrical installation of the laboratories is undertaken by public or private electrical suppliers. The programme’s problem-solving approach to learning means the students remain motivated throughout, with 95% completing the programme and achieving a pass grade.

Testimonials

Teaching the use of Word, from the perspective of the needs of adults, was a new experience. In order to teach them, I took my CV and, with it, I explained to them how this tool can be used. That night, no student wanted to leave the classroom, even though they had to go. I heard phrases such as ‘Teacher, I needed this, I lost my job and I am searching for a new one’. ‘Teacher, I will write my own great CV and hand it in different places, so that I can get a better job’. Several students copied my CV onto their USB sticks, in order to replace it with their own personal information and they even exchanged their CVs amongst themselves.

Denis Molina Pérez, teacher at CINDEA Paquera

When I started the course, I did not know anything about this field. Therefore, I had the opportunity to learn. The teacher taught us how to use Paint, Word, PowerPoint, the internet, and how to send e-mails. We also learned to communicate among students, download and send assignments, and communicate with relatives who also had internet access. Everything is better now for me and my family because I have a new job managing a cabin (a small hotel) and there I keep track of clients, through the use of the computer. As the course started with the basics, I was not scared. Then we started using the computers and, as we had access to them in the CINDEA, it was very easy. We did our assignments individually, but helped each other in groups of other classmates and the professor, in order to help each other. We truly learned a lot.

Johnny Gutiérrez Peralta, 33 years old, student at CINDEA Paquera

Challenges

The main challenge for the programme lies in rolling out delivery to other regions of the country. There is limited access to ICTs in rural areas, and the population in general has little experience of their use. It is also difficult to secure access to essential resources and to identify locations in which to install the computer labs. Finding qualified teachers for the programme is another challenge. Although universities teach professionals in computer science, they are not specialized in adult education. This is why the programme provides them with training in andragogy, adulthood and neuroscience, among other topics.

As yet, the programme has not been extended to the indigenous territories of Costa Rica.

Lessons Learned

The key lessons learned from the implementation of the programme include:

  1. Teacher training should be a continuous process, and teachers should be willing to continually learn and innovate;
  2. Community coordination is essential for allocating and installing the computer laboratories;
  3. Planning and regulations on the use of the laboratory and the computers are necessary for their effective management by students and teachers;
  4. Some teachers are reluctant to use technology and to introduce it into the mediation process;
  5. Meetings should take place with stakeholders to report on the progress and outcomes, in order to maintain their support;
  6. Joint actions should be planned yearly and strictly followed, other than in exceptional cases; and
  7. Students are more engaged in the educational process when technologies are introduced through the use of computers or mobile phones.

Sustainability

The DRT builds and creates the laboratories and Intel donates the computers. DEPJA is planning to acquire the necessary equipment for 2016, to support the sustainability of the programme. To ensure the programme reflects emerging trends in technology and its use in education, the programme works closely with universities, research centres, vocational high schools, international organizations and NGOs. There is continual coordination with NGOs and other public and private organizations to increase the range and reach of the programme.

Sources

Contact

María de los Ángeles Alvarado Alvarado
Chief of the Department of Youth and Adult Education
San José, Calle 6, Av 0 y 2 Edificio Raventós
Tel: (506) 2256-7011 ext. 2072
Fax: (506: 2256-3964
Email: educacionjovenesyadultos (at) gmail.com
Website: http://www.mep.go.cr

Silvia Guevara Torres
National Advisor of Youth and Adult Education
San José, Calle 6, Av 0 y 2 Edificio Raventós
Tel: (506): 2256-7011 ext. 2072
Fax: (506): 2256-3964
Email: educacionjovenesyadultos (at) gmail.com
Website: http://www.mep.go.cr