CORD's Experience in the
Recognizing a Dreamer and Pioneer
Pedro Esteva, President and CEO of IMCA is recognized with an award for “Educational Projects with Impact” by the American Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic
The story of Pedro Esteva is indeed one of a dreamer and pioneer. In 2006, Mr. Esteva, President and CEO of IMCA, a successful Caterpillar dealer in the Dominican Republic (DR), had the dream of helping his country put plans in motion to ensure that paths of opportunity are available for future generations of Dominicans. The dream was centered around educational quality and access for all students. Mr. Esteva felt strongly that business-education partnerships could be the driving force for positive change in this direction. With that in mind, Mr. Esteva founded the Iniciativa Empresarial para la Educación Técnica (IEET), or Business Initiative for Technical Education, to work in partnership with the Instituto Politécnico Loyola (a public K-12 school) and the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD) on a career pathway-type program within engineering areas.
Five years later, the partnership has yielded significant outcomes for students. Mr. Esteva was recently recognized by the American Chamber of Commerce in the DR (AMCHAM) and awarded the “Reconocimiento a los proyectos educativos de impacto,” or “Recognizing educational projects with impact” award, for IMCA’s efforts to improve education in the DR through the IEET partnership.
Initial results of the program at Instituto Politécnico Loyola (IPL):
- 254 graduates completed the entire 4-year high school program
- Graduates performed better on national tests (85% passing rate for IPL students compared to a 60% passing rate average nationally)
- Teachers participated in extensive and intensive professional development (more than 10,000 total contact hours)
- Learning curve/training period for graduates upon employment in industry was dramatically reduced (from 18 months to 3 months)
- High proportion of students (more than 50%) leave high school with a job offer
- Math and science courses were updated and contextualized with real-world problems
Creating the Foundation of Education
for Productivity and Competitiveness
in the Dominican Republic
The global knowledge economy is challenging countries around the world to increase productivity and competitveness if they want to remain well positioned in the world economy. Recent economic developments and free trade agreements, such as the Dominican Republic–Central American Free Trade Agreement (DR–CAFTA), are placing even more pressure on Central American and Caribbean nations to improve the availability and quality of their workforces.
With these urgencies in mind, and the belief that education is the key to boosting productivity and competitveness, in mid-2006, CORD was contacted by a group of pioneers from the Dominican Republic led by Mr. Pedro Esteva, CEO, Implementos y Maquinarias (IMCA), Caterpillar's distributor in the Dominican Republic. This group of business leaders was having difficulty finding qualified technicians within the Dominican Republic to meet their productivity and competitiveness goals. They had been referred to CORD for technical assistance by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), an independent, non-profit organization that creates public-private partnerships to assist the least advantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean.
After assessing and evaluating local industry and educational needs, CORD found a mismatch between education supply and demand. Employers in the Dominican Republic need employees who can make decisions, solve problems, and think creatively and critically. Employers and educators agree that students who graduate from secondary school should have the appropriate work skills and attitudes to allow for a successful transition into the world of work. However, Dominican Republic schools were teaching mostly traditional academic subjects in a predominantly theoretical manner with little relationship to work and life skills.
A change was needed. What resulted was a different approach to education through a comprehensive plan to improve curriculum and teaching practices under the umbrella of school-business collaboration with the objective of producing a pool of better qualified technicians within six years using a 4+2 model and CORD's REACT contextual teaching strategy. The approach would be three-pronged: 1) Improving curriculum and programs of study, 2) providing professional development for teachers, and 3) improving relationships between educators and employers.
The plan was developed to make changes progressively, beginning with one school, one technical specialty, one grade level at a time, over a six-year period. To meet immediate local needs, initial emphasis was placed on preparing students in internal cumbustion technology with the intent to expand over time to more specialities and more schools. The Instituto Polytécnico Loyola, a public secondary/postsecondary school, was chosen to be the pilot school for implementing the plan. Before beginning implementation, CORD met with different groups of stakeholders at the school including students, teachers, principals, and alumni to understand personal and familial perspectives on education and career goals.
Curriculum Improvement CORD is assisting the pilot school in a continuous process of prioritizing and re-sequencing topics within the traditional subjects (e.g., mathematics, sciences, social studies, geography) to ensure content coverage in the order of: 1) life and work skills, and 2) knowledge required for the national student assessments.
Professional Development CORD is providing professional development for teachers for implementing contextualized teaching practices and expanding teachers' perspectives to begin to think of their roles as serving society rather than instructing students in subject area content.
School-Industry Relationships Following CORD's assessment and stakeholder engagement in 2006, business and education leaders formed the Business Initiative for Technical Education (IEET) to maintain healthy participative relationships between educators and employers (view brochure).
CORD's curriculum integration and professional development approach, coupled with local business leaders' support and guidance, is enabling students to graduate with the academic, occupational, and employability skills necessary for future workforce competitiveness.
CORD's vice president for international operations and project director in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Agustín Navarra, was interviewed on the June 23, 2009 Uno+Uno> morning news show on the Teleantillas channel of the main Caribbean television network Entrevista. Dr. Navarra was also interviewed for a June 27, 2009 article published in the Economy section of HOY, a major daily newspaper in the Dominican Republic.
In October 2009, Pedro Esteva gave a dissemination presentation on behalf of the project entitled Be #1 thru Investing in Education and Corporate Social Responsibility at the National Career Pathways Network annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.