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CORD's Experience in the Dominican Republic

The global knowledge economy is challenging countries around the world to increase their productivity. 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 their workforces.

With these urgencies in mind, and the conviction that education is the key to boosting competitiveness, in mid-2006 CORD was contacted by pioneers from the Dominican Republic (DR) 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. They had been referred to CORD by the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), an independent nonprofit organization that creates public-private partnerships designed to assist the least advantaged people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

CORD found that students in the DR were learning traditional academic subjects but not employment skills such as decision making, problem solving, and critical thinking.

A change was needed. What resulted was 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. This approach consists of three elements:

  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, and one grade level at a time over a six-year period. Initial emphasis was placed on preparing students in internal combustion technology with the intent of expanding over time to more specialties and more schools. The Instituto Polytécnico Loyola (IPL), a public secondary/postsecondary school, was chosen as the pilot school.

Initial results of the program at IPL included the following:

  • 254 graduates completed the entire four-year high school program.

  • Graduates performed better on national tests (85% passing rate for IPL students compared to the 60% national average).

  • Teachers participated in more than 10,000 hours of professional development.

  • The training period for graduates as new hires in industry was reduced from 18 months to 3 months.

  • More than 50 percent of graduates are offered jobs when they leave high school.

  • Math and science courses were updated and contextualized with real-world problems.

Pedro Esteva's visionary work has also produced the following developments:

  1. In 2015, under Pedro Esteva’s sponsorship, CORD developed a groundbreaking new type of curriculum/pedagogical work on the diesel specialty at IPL. It is expected that, by the end of 2017, the IPL will have a modern, industry-enriched curriculum and a cadre of teachers trained on the REACT contextual teaching strategy designed by CORD. This will give the IPL a competitive edge, putting the "shared value" concept to work and laying the foundation for other economic sectors to follow.

  2. The initiative is opening doors to the academic world. Barna Business School, one of the best college-level institutions in the DR, adopted the business-education partnership process sponsored by Mr. Esteva and developed by CORD. Barna converted the process into a business case for its management course students. The case was analyzed at the October 2015 NCPN conference in Dallas by more than 40 U.S. representatives of education and business who were interested in learning the “nuts and bolts” of successful business-education partnerships. Along with Mr. Esteva, representatives of Boeing and Embraer served on a panel of experts.

Pedro Esteva, Dreamer and Visionary

In 2006, Pedro 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 would be available for future generations of Dominicans.

The dream was based on 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) (Business Initiative for Technical Education) to work in partnership with the Instituto Politécnico Loyola (a public K–12 school) and CORD on a career pathway-type program in engineering areas. The partnership has yielded significant outcomes. CORD is indebted to Mr. Esteva for his vision and leadership, as are many educational stakeholders in the Dominican Republic.

Pedro Esteva, President and CEO of IMCA, was recognized for “Educational Projects with Impact” by the American Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic.