Imagine what would happen if every youngster were given a chance to participate in a community project, in collaboration with his friends, and could then present it to his/her community, and be heard. Then these youth would have a chance to imagine a future in which their contribution could make a difference, and – needless to say – the world would be really different.More than 150,000 youth have participated in just this type of experience in Latin America, through the Intel Learn Program. Last week, Servicios a la Juventud, A.C. of Mexico and Intel organized in Mexico City the first Latin American Roundtable of the Intel Learn Program, to celebrate this achievement and to gather the organizations which implement the program across eight Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Panama. The participants had an opportunity to share best practices, discuss challenges in the implementation of the program and agree on strategies to expand it to new countries and regions. During the roundtable, Peter Broffman, who manages the Program worldwide, participated in a panel that presented a number of research findings that speaks to the impact of Intel Learn. A recent independent report by SRI International reveals that Intel Learn has been adapted to fit a wide variety of social needs and niches, and has been transformative across contexts not just at the level of individual learning, but also at the level of community impact. The study, based on research conducted in Chile, also showed that the youth who participated in the program have been empowered to take on new challenges using digital tools and systematic approaches to create useful products, and have made meaningful connections to their communities, with resources to offer, as a result of their participation. This follows an earlier global report from SRI, based on research in nine countries, concluded that young people who go through Intel Learn demonstrate an increase in skills in the use of technology, problem-solving and critical thinking, and collaboration. A study by the Ministry for Social Development in Mexico also concluded that the program contributes to skill development and community development in communities in that country. Intel Learn aims at developing 21st century skills, such as computer literacy, critical thinking, and collaboration, to prepare youth to succeed in today’s workplace. It is an informal education program that is implemented in community centers, libraries and schools, and through which youth must collectively elaborate a community project, a work program or a business plan. Intel Learn is being implemented in fifteen countries, and has reached more than 1.25 young learners worldwide. One of the most remarkable conclusions of the roundtable was that Intel Learn has helped raise the visibility of community-based (out of school) learning environments as a key to education and social development efforts among governments and NGOs that participate in the program. They are convinced that sending the kids to school is not enough. Ensuring that youth LEARN is essential!
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