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Will technology transform education? Certain conditions apply

New digital tools in education are a source of innovation, progress, and efficiency. But only with investment, vision, and commitment will we benefit from their full potential.

Estudiantes en el aula con una tablet

Education is one of the fundamental pillars for the advancement and progress of individuals and societies. The COVID-19 pandemic marked a turning point that significantly impacted educational systems. To control the spread of the disease, one of the primary measures adopted by governments was the closure of in-person school establishments.


Moreover, on average, Latin America and the Caribbean was the region that kept their schools closed, either partially or entirely, for the most extended period: 70 school weeks between February 2020 and March 2022, considerably longer than the global average of 41 weeks.


In this context, the education sector resorted to technologies to remain operational. The clearest example of this digitization process was how educational institutions, teachers, and students had to connect through online educational platforms to ensure continuity in learning activities.


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Additionally, with the gradual reopening of schools, many educational organizations adopted a hybrid approach combining the best online and in-person education. This model offers numerous advantages, primarily expanding the educational system's capacity to provide high-quality online learning.


IDB Invest and NTT Data have conducted a series of studies to provide findings, insights, and recommendations on how new technologies are transforming various industries. As part of this series, the study "How New Technologies Are Transforming Education in Latin America and the Caribbean" shows that digital transformation is changing how the sector operates to improve learning quality and foster digital skills.


On the other hand, digital tools enable students to access educational resources anytime, anywhere, providing flexibility in learning and a more personalized experience. For example, applications like Zoom enable class attendance and collaboration on group projects without traveling.


Additionally, platforms like Moodle facilitate course management, educational materials distribution, and teacher results tracking.


The role of stockholders

The advances in new technologies have also profoundly impacted the labor market's evolution, changing its demand with increasingly sophisticated and specific needs, necessitating the development and learning of digital skills.


For this reason, many educational institutions, especially universities, are promoting collaboration among all stakeholders, including the business perspective, with a clear purpose: to promote students' job placement and employability by aligning training needs with business demand.


This new educational paradigm allows the emergence of digital solutions that bring innovation to the sector. In this regard, BID Lab, the innovation laboratory of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), has invested in the Colombian startup Slang. This educational platform supports students in entering the job market.


One of the most prominent models in the region is Online Learning Platforms, known as MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). These platforms offer affordable online courses and allow access to millions of users. Particularly relevant is the recognition and certification of skills or knowledge acquired in these courses through digital badges that are accumulative, comparable, and prestigious in the job market.


Investing in tomorrow

Less known currently but with growth prospects in the coming years are Income Sharing Agreements (ISA), where students receive funding for their studies in exchange for committing to pay a percentage of their future earnings. Companies like the Mexican Quotanda are already starting to offer these personalized services for financial aid programs.


However, technology alone is not the panacea for all educational problems in the region. A deep reflection is needed to change the perspective on education, turning it from a mere expense into a valued investment in the future. Going a step further, this investment in the digital transformation of education will yield economic returns and foster inclusive and quality educational systems.


Ultimately, every effort to improve education in Latin America and the Caribbean is a long-term investment in empowerment, equal opportunities, and sustainable growth. With a shared vision and continuous commitment, the education sector in the region will transform to provide future generations with the tools and knowledge needed to thrive in an increasingly complex and connected world.


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Guillermo Mulville

Guillermo leads the Telecommunications, Media and Technology (TMT) Team at IDB Invest, which he joined in 2016. He is responsible for developing bu

Cristina Simón

Cristina leads the Social Infrastructure Team at IDB Invest, which she joined in 2018. She is responsible for developing strategies and business pl

David Brogeras

David leads the Digital Transformation Advisory Services team at IDB Invest, which he joined in 2021. His role involves developing advisory and knowle

Lorenzo Colombo

Lorenzo Colombo leads the Digital Strategy business unit for Colombia at NTT DATA. In his professional career, he has held various executive positions

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