Uruguay bets on education
Learning at work. That is the proposal of Ánima, a free access technology course with private financing that has been operating in Uruguay since 2016. The proposal of the institution is based on dual training: young people comply with the UTU curriculum and also undertake training in companies associated with the educational project.
There are 125 teenagers living in situations of social vulnerability that are part of Ánima. The first generation, which entered last year, is 75 students and is in fifth grade. These young people attended the basic cycle in lyceums of critical context and entered Ánima in fourth year. The second generation, which enters this year and will do the same process as its predecessors, is made up of 50 students.
The executive director of the institution, Ximena Sommer, explained that Ánima seeks to motivate teenagers to prevent them from disengaging from the education system. "The fact that the chiquilines know that what they are studying will work for them is a motivation," he said.
Therefore, Ánima prepares young people for the fourth year in order to be able to enter the labor market and, in the fifth, encourages them to undertake training in companies. However, not all students who entered the high school in 2016 are working, as they must acquire a certain amount of tools before taking the next step.
"Of the 75 young people (who are in fifth grade) there are 30 who are starting to work now. The rest, the idea is to start working in August," Sommer said. In these months students who did not start the internships will have time to learn the skills that they lack - conflict resolution, frustration management, among others - and then they can begin to work.
While the Ánima proposal may resemble an internship, the executive director said they are not the same. In fact, companies must apply to receive students and, after an evaluation by the institution, define how they are going to work with that young person. "We are clear with the company, the boy or the girl will not juts apply what he learned, but that the teenager will also go to learn there," he said.
All practices are remunerated and all are paid the same, regardless of the sector in which the teenager performs. "It is an income so that they can collaborate in their houses, so that they can take care of some expenses, to dignify the value of the work", explained Sommer.
Students have class every day, but they do not go to work every day. The training practices are three times a week for four hours and have a tutor who is also part of the evaluation system. "We encourage companies to give young people the opportunity to have two years of work experience while they are studying, so they can continue to learn and consolidate what they learn in the classroom," said the executive director.