A real challenge is the one that the educational system is facing these days as a result of this health crisis, which has forced the interruption of the normal development of the training and educational processes, at least in the classroom mode to which we were all so accustomed.
For many, this backlash was only the trigger that accelerated a long-standing debate in the educational field, which has forced us to question the technological gap among teachers, territories, and public policy in general.
In a short period, several actors have joined forces around the urgency of ensuring Internet access for all students and incorporating technological developments and teaching methodologies more in line with these times. However, there is a group that has not been considered in this discussion with the specificity it requires in terms of resources and technological skills. It is the technical-vocational education.
Can a system so relevant to the social and productive development of the country, which has quadrupled its size in two decades, be left out of the discussion? The implementation of virtual learning environments for technical-vocational education is a pending debt, especially if we consider that 3rd and 4th grade students in Technical-Vocational Secondary Schools reach a 92% average school vulnerability index (IVE) (JUNAEB 2019), and that market demands make the incorporation of this type of professionals with a clear focus on productivity and national development increasingly relevant, as SOFOFA has detected in its estimates: there is a deficit that exceeds 600 thousand professional technicians.
The eminently practical nature of TVET education has been associated culturally and academically to workshops and laboratories, to specialty-specific equipment and to teacher and instructor demonstrations. For these reasons, in the current context, and in view of the impossibility of continuing their training process in a classroom setting, these students have become one of the most impacted groups, thus deepening the existent gaps and inequalities.
Under this scenario, Fundación Chile and Microsoft, with the sponsorship of the Ministry of Education and the collaboration of Inacap, present TP Digital. This initiative identifies in the current context, an opportunity to innovate, adding to the educational practice -whether in person or remote- digital resources, specific for the different TV specialties.
This program has a dual purpose. On one hand, to give continuity to the pedagogical processes, making the most out of the dynamic resources available from companies and educational institutions interested in undertaking this type of training; and on the other hand, to prepare students for a highly digitalized work experience.
More than a contingency measure for COVID- 19, this project, which will be implemented initially in the regions of Arica and Parinacota, Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Atacama, and Coquimbo, is expected to permeate the pedagogical practices of lyceums, and that digital resources become regular learning experiences for students for a quality education that responds to the digital context towards which the world is moving.
The digitalization of technical and vocational education requires the active participation of the public and private spheres, working collaboratively for the development of Chile. Thus, TP Digital is a concrete example that we are going in the right direction.