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Paraguay | Building 100% employability in Latin America

Courtesy: Martin Burt
Building 100% employability in Latin America
In 2012-2014, the Global Development Network supported Martin Burt and the Fundacion Paraguay through the Japan Social Development Fund award to scale up its 'Self-Sufficient School Model' by providing training and technical support to five schools, to establish financially self-sufficient schools in four countries, Nicaragua, Honduras, Bolivia and Paraguay. Since then, Martin has helped to provide technical assistance to over 60 schools around the world.
Q. Is community schooling a trend in Latin America? Why is it important?
Latin America is very diverse. We almost have 100% access to education, but we still struggle with quality education. As urbanization and our middle class grow, young people need skills to compete in the job market. Not having the proper credentials signifies stagnation and low-paying jobs. There is a big push for locally-relevant, quality education.
Q. Why were you trying to build financially self-sustainable schools?
There are two problems with technical vocational schools in Latin America. Uncertain government budgets and unrelated curricula to the job market. With our financially self-sufficient schools we cover 100% of the school's budget with a 100% market-based curriculum and we achieve 100% employability of our graduates. 
Q. What did you learn? 
It has been very difficult for schools to commit to 100% financial self-sufficient due to lack of capital to invest in productive endeavors and lack of business management in the schools. We have provided technical assistance to more than 60 schools around the world. Most have educational-productive businesses on campus, but few have achieved enough monetary surplus to cover the costs of non-income generating classes such as history, geography, math and language. So we have created smaller "business clubs" in schools that do cover 100% of their operational costs. We have also created the School Enterprise Challenge.
Q. How do you incentivize teachers to stay the course?
We have developed rewards and prizes for our teachers. For example, our cheese teacher gets a commission for sales. In our School Enterprise Challenge we have prizes for students, teachers, school principals and Ministry of Education supervisors. 
Q. What has been your association with GDN, and how did it help to accomplish some of your goals?
Our association with GDN has allowed us to network with great individuals and institutions. Thanks to GDN we were able to connect and become a member of UNEVOC, the UN's technical vocational education unit. We love GDN and we wish to continue our relationship with them.
  • Learn more from Martin Burt, Director Ejecutivo-Fundación Paraguaya & Executive Director-Teach A Man To Fish, on Social Entrepreneurship
  • Read his bio
In correspondence with Madhuri Dass Woudenberg, Head of Communications at the Global Development Network.