Top Chilean university graduates are finding new careers teaching at underperforming schools through a program called Enseña Chile, or Teach Chile.
Based on the successful programs Teach for America and Teach First in the United Kingdom, Enseña Chile selects and trains accomplished university graduates for two years of teaching in economically disadvantaged schools. These graduates come from diverse backgrounds, such as law, medicine, and business administration, but their goal is unified: transform classrooms in underprivileged schools and inspire students of lower socioeconomic classes to focus on their studies.
Chile’s education system is one of the best in Latin America according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s PISA tests – or Programme for International Student Assessment – which compare educational attainment across countries.
However, schools in rural and poorer regions perform worse than their affluent counterparts. With the objective of bridging this achievement gap, the Andean nation has launched a string of innovative teaching methods, aimed at inspiring a new generation of creative, motivated teachers.
From professionals to teachers
Over 120 professionals are currently teaching at 54 schools in Chile through Enseña Chile. Recruits receive basic training from the program, then go on to work in the same conditions as their fellow teachers, with their salary paid for by the school.
The program is highly competitive, with 1,250 applicants last year for just 100 positions. Recent graduates are drawn to the program because of its unique, real-world training opportunities, as well as the chance to make a real difference in the lives of their students.
Enseña Chile is already delivering a measurable impact. Students taught by Enseña Chile teachers over a six-month period achieved higher scores in math and Spanish than those taught by regular teachers, according to an external evaluation by the Inter-American Development Bank.
Javiera Horta, an Enseña Chile teacher at a school in the city of Pitrufquén in the Araucanía Region, described how she helped her students in this rural community develop goals and push themselves to achieve.
“Before, they didn’t care if they got a bad mark,” Horta said. “Now it affects them and they try harder.”