Chaka: an experience that is transforming professional technical education in Arica from the classroom

10 •  September  •  2021
  • “Building bridges” means in Aymara the name of the initiative developed by the Fundación Luksic ogether with the research and innovation laboratory in education SUMMA. The program seeks to impact more than 1,200 students, teachers and directors in the region of Arica y Parinacota, and its accompaniment has been key to the adaptation of schools to the new educational scenario during the pandemic. 

A different way of building education. That is the premise of the Chaka program, which since 2019 has been working in five schools and high schools in the Region of Arica y Parinacota. The initiative developed by the Fundación Luksic together with SUMMA seeks to transform and improve the quality of education with a collaborative approach. That is, encouraging students, teachers and directors to work together in the construction of the educational model that best suits their needs and the creation of innovative solutions that can improve learning in the classroom.

The schools participating in the program are Liceo Leonardo da Vinci; Liceo Agrícola Francisco Napolitano; Liceo Agrícola José Abelardo Núñez; Colegio Tecnológico Don Bosco and Colegio Miramar. For five years, from 2019 to 2023, these school communities will be accompanied by the Chaka program to acquire tools and innovate in their pedagogical models through the constitution of communities of professional practice, lectures, workshops, conversation spaces and collaborative practices.

Precisely during 2020 and the first semester of 2021, in a period marked by the pandemic, connectivity problems, uncertainty and the transformation of the way in which educational work was traditionally carried out, the Chaka program accompanied the five establishments in adapting and generating the necessary changes to successfully face these difficulties.

Guides to measure and mitigate the psychological impact that the pandemic has had on students and teachers; resources to support students with difficulties to connect; strategies so that directors can lead school communities affected during the health emergency and tools to plan together with the students the development of the class, are part of the dozens of resources and materials that during the last months the Chaka program has made available to the establishments.

Likewise, pedagogical models and practices that have proven to be successful in improving student learning have been encouraged through workshops. One of them is the inverted planning model, which sets as a starting point the learning that students are expected to achieve in order to develop class activities based on this.

Another practice that has been encouraged in schools is that of feedback, which focuses on reflective dialogue with students regarding their performance in order to improve their learning. On the other hand, we have worked on collaborative learning, a pedagogical practice that promotes positive interaction and interdependence among students to achieve common goals and contributes to the development of fundamental skills such as critical thinking, the ability to listen and reformulate the opinions of peers, reconstruct one’s own thinking to make better decisions and reflect on the actions they take and their consequences.

“At Chaka, we seek to promote, in a joint effort with the communities themselves, spaces for pedagogical reflection that help us change practices to improve student learning. For this, we base ourselves on proven and successful strategies implemented in more developed countries, such as collaboration, feedback, socio-emotional development and metacognition,” says Mauricio Farías, SUMMA’s director of School Transformation.

José Gutiérrez, director of the Education Laboratory to Fundación Luksic, assures that in addition to the tools that were transmitted to the schools as part of the program, priority has also been given in recent times to the human factor and accompaniment in difficult moments for the school communities. “Last year and this first semester have left us with lessons learned and bonds that perhaps we would not have been able to build otherwise. We prioritized accompanying each other, getting to know each other and setting aside special times for interaction between school communities, in a year when we needed that company more than ever.”

During the second semester of 2021, the Chaka program will continue to foster collaboration within the educational communities to promote practices that improve the quality of education to which the students of these five schools have access. The project also aims to gather evidence so that this experience can be transferred as good practices to other Latin American countries.