In Medellín, we believe that education is the avenue to overcome the inequality gaps, the engine for social transformation and territorial development. Betting on education is the opportunity to move forward as a society and build a better city. Facing this challenge, the city’s educational system has been strengthened by reinforcing the achievements we have had, reaffirming the commitment to ensure quality and educational relevance, and promoting learning opportunities.
Postsecondary education is one of the main focuses of the Medellín Mayor’s Office in its strategy to close gaps and create economic and social development, as well as to have solid foundations for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
As a result, the current administration has placed a special emphasis on postsecondary education as a generator of economic and social development, based on the training of citizens who are able to face the global challenges and those of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
This is achieved with the conviction of overcoming social gaps and driving young people away from violence and poverty. These figures are evident, when analyzing the results of access to higher education. The city average in 2016 was 43.6%, and the goal for the end of 2019 is to be able to achieve 52.7%.
When analyzing the Multidimensional Quality of Life Index, figures show that in those neighborhoods with the lowest rate of access to higher education, the most complex situations such as insecurity, informality, difficulty in entering the labor market, income generation and family violence, also converge.
The bet on strengthening postsecondary education is the challenge to achieve integral security, so the most vulnerable people have the possibility of improving their living conditions and those of their families. This is done by generating income, accessing decent jobs with qualified profiles, contributing to social mobilization and reducing inequality in the city.
Every young person who has access to education is acquiring skills to have a positive impact on their environment. We are taking away space from illegality as an alternative, and promoting tools that will allow them to overcome poverty.
Scholarships for the Fourth Industrial Revolution
The Project of Scholarships for Technologies of the Medellín Mayor’s Office has the objective of increasing coverage and access to higher education by offering relevant technological programs, in the “comunas,” where the access rate is below average.
During this four-year term, we have delivered 36,793 opportunities for access to education, in scholarships and grants, with an investment of COP 536,000 million. The Instituto Tecnológico Metropolitano (ITM), Pascual Bravo, the Colegio Mayor de Antioquia, the Tecnológico de Antioquia and the Politécnico Jaime Isaza Cadavid, are institutions of the Municipality of Medellín. They all joined forces and have offered 41 programs to support the project.
One of the great challenges of our citizens is learning and mastering a second language, preferably English. The objective is achieving a better job placement and being suitable for work in national and multinational companies.
In view of this need, the Medellín Mayor’s Office implemented the “Medellín Bilingüe” (Bilingual Medellín) strategy. This is a foreign language training program that seeks to teach a second language in an joyful and interactive way.
To optimize and innovate the teaching and learning processes of English, Medellín Bilingüe has developed projects and programs with the necessary components for children, youth and adults, to expand their knowledge as part of a global society.
One of these initiatives is the “Territorio Bilingüe” (Bilingual Territory), a strategy of the Secretariat of Education. This project seeks to train citizens of the “comunas” and townships of Medellín, with the purpose of improving their profile. At the same time, it will allow for citizens to be inserted in the communication processes of a city as Medellín, known today in the world as the cradle of international events and host of the first Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in Latin America. The program is an opportunity for the working population whose courses are taught in the Social Development Centers (CDS for its acronym in Spanish) and in the Medellín Public Library Network.
Beyond job training
Being able to successfully pursue a technical or professional career is what was required for many years to obtain a degree. Today there are other fundamental skills in the workplace. These requirements are the so-called soft skills, associated with the personality and nature of the individual. These soft skills include among others leadership, adaptability and attitude towards life.
Soft skills teaching with experimental creative workshops, socio-affective skills and vocational guidance has been achieved as part of the training programs for work and life projects taught to young people during the last years of high school. As a result, it has given them more complete training related to their personal and professional development.
Medellín, a Learning City
In February 2019, Medellín reported the lowest dropout rate in the last 14 years: the city went from 3.4% to 2.9% in three years (2016-2018). This is the result of the implementation of programs such as:
- “Buen Comienzo” (Good Start), in which the city benefited 82,650 children with actions to improve their integral development and quality of life. An achievement for their future, of their families and the entire city.
- “En el colegio contamos con vos” (In School, We Count on You), a strategy that managed to get 7,648 students to return to school. “This was one of the hardest hits we gave to criminal structures,” says the Medellín Mayor, Federico Gutiérrez.
- “Escuelas Entorno Protector” (Protective School Environment), in which we delivered tools to 229 educational institutions to promote good living, the construction of citizenry and the exercise of human, sexual and reproductive rights among 291,000 students.
As a result of the implementation of these good practices, Medellín was selected as one of the 10 Learning Cities in the world by Unesco, during 2019. Also, in 2017, the city was chosen as the first Learning City in Colombia. This recognition is also aimed at the great commitment of the municipal administration, which currently allocates between 35% and 37% of its resources to education.
Therefore, and to reaffirm Medellín’s commitment to the development of education, during October 1 to 3, 2019, the IV International Conference on Learning Cities was held in Medellín. In this event, government officials, city representatives and education experts gathered to identify, exchange and discuss effective lifelong learning policies and practices that lead to the achievement of inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.