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Education professionals urge ‘shift’ in P.R.’s model toward entrepreneurship, innovation

In less than a decade, it is expected that 50 percent of the world’s workforce will rely on self-employment to generate their income. As such, Puerto Rico needs to accelerate the transformation of its education system to effectively integrate lessons in entrepreneurship and innovation in the school curriculum, professionals said.

The urgency to make these changes was the focus of the “Future Education Summit” organized by the multisectoral alliance Echar Pa’lante and Sacred Heart University, in which some 300 teachers, principals, and other officials and experts the field of education participated.

The summit is part of the “Enterprising Island” initiative of Echar Pa’lante, which joins the efforts of the private sector, academia, nonprofit organizations, the solidarity economy movement, and the government to implement and establish a plan to develop a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation on the island.

“We have designed a model that identifies the content we need to include and strengthen as part of the school curriculum so Puerto Rico’s entrepreneurs are globally competitive citizens,” said Gloria Viscasillas, inclusive leader of Echar Pa’lante.

The Summit had the participation of Dyla Hernández, director of Georgia Tech’s GOSTEM program; Tommy Welch, selected as the best school principal in the state of Georgia; Margaret Favretti, an expert in design thinking; and participants of a delegation from Puerto Rico that traveled recently to Singapore to learn about the models that have made that nation the global example to follow in educational issues, among others.

To be ready for the future, young Puerto Ricans must master skills such as creative problem solving; entrepreneurism; self-direction; the fields of science, mathematics, engineering and technology; collaboration; continuous learning; and managing change and resilience, the experts said.

During the Summit, the components of the plan to become the “Enterprising Island,” headed by the Department of Education were unveiled. The agency will designate 28 schools — four in each of the seven regions — to implement entrepreneurship programs and serve as training centers for teachers to deliver this knowledge to other schools.

At those schools, students learn by developing projects in which they must apply knowledge in economics, finance, entrepreneurship and creative problem-solving. In addition, those schools will have entrepreneurism clubs and spaces to develop projects and prototypes, known as “makerspaces.”

Outside the classroom, this effort is strengthened through the “Emprende Expo” competitions, fairs and shops where participants will exhibit and sell of products, as well as the development of school businesses.

The Summit also served as the stage to recognize the island’s exemplary entrepreneurship teachers. This is the third consecutive year that Echar Pa’lante highlights the work of teachers who have excelled in developing their students and schools through entrepreneurship and innovation programs. Teachers recognized this year have headed programs throughout the island, have taken their students to showcase their products and services, and to compete in both Puerto Rico and the U.S. mainland.

The recognized are:

  • Yamitza Rosas – Dr. Carlos González School, Aguada
  • Celimar De La Rosa Felix – Miguel Such School, San Juan
  • Olga Cordero – CROEC, Ceiba
  • Lillian Cordero – Gabriela Mistral School, San Juan
  • Eva M. Torres – CIMATEC, Caguas

“The most effective way to develop entrepreneurship skills is by taking it on. That is why we’re helping to lay the foundation for systems incorporating components that are considered essential to stimulate entrepreneurship and develop and strengthen basic skills in our schools, universities and communities,” Viscasillas said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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