Interview to Victor Murillo about the Program of Quality in Education of Fe y Alegría

According the PNUD report in 2011, Latin America is the region with the highest rate of inequality of the World.  Due to this situation, the pending tasks of education are the distribution and expansion of opportunities and the strengthening of the social cohesion. The International Federation of Fe y Alegría, and the support of Entreculturas, has developed a System to improve the quality of Education as an alternative to guarantee a good education to those unfortunate people; and to contribute with the quality in the public education systems of the countries in Latin America.

This system was made by the International Federation of Fe y Alegría, according to the framework of the System to improve the quality of Education, it makes a permanent and improvement culture possible through the work cycles which start with a multidimensional evaluation in the educational centers and continue with a reflection of the results of this evaluation in the centers depending on the context. The process ends with the creation and implementation of improvement plans and systematization. Finally, this process is connected in a new evaluation in quality which makes it possible to know the advances in each center; to introduce the necessary adjustment in the system of quality and to start a new improvement cycle. This system was set up in 2004 and has been apply in more of 400 educational centers in Latin America. It has been considered by several public and private institutions such as Ministry of Education, Universities...



QUESTION: What does "Education of quality" mean?

ANSWER: When we talk about quality, mainly we want to get the total development for everyone. We try to improve the quality of life for each one and the community where they live. Finally, we talk about the social change. In other words, we focus on the total development of people searching the improvement of the quality of life in order to search the social change and avoid the poverty inequality and exclusion.


What is the position of Quality of Education in the International Federation of Fe y Alegría?

In a federative level, the Strategic Plan of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría is recorded in several programs known as P1, P2, P3.... The P1 is the program on quality in the popular education, the P2 is for education in the work, the P3 is the computer education, the P4 is the learning for teachers, the P7 is on pastoral and the P8 is the program on Public Action.  In spite of the title of the number one program is "Quality of Education"; we are worried for an education of quality continues in the rest of programs.  It is a transverse objective and it should be deal in this transverse way: the education of quality must have appropriate teachers, a basic infrastructure for the learning, etc.


What are the main agents of the education of quality?

The main agents could be the tutors of the centers because without their help would not have been possible the institutional changes in the centers. Then, the rest of agents are the educators, students, mother and fathers and, finally, the community which is inserted in the school.

There is an actor, maybe more external to the school: the pedagogic coordinators of Fe y Alegría in each country and who collaborate in this process of construction for an improvement in education.



What does the process of improvement of Fe y Alegría involve relating the quality of education?

We try to offer to the educational centers what they cannot make for itself.  We offer orientation and help to improve the quality of the education. Look, we do not only pretend to offer them a "magic receipts", but we share a systematization, a way of doing things. The centers are the major figures of this process and they know how to adapt it in relation to their own reality and context.

It is about a "self-assessment". This method is assumed in a voluntary way and gives back to the center very interesting information about their problems and the improvements in a short or long term. When the lines of action are identified, the annual plans will be organized to work in the necessary changes. 


How to know if a center is offering quality in education? Can we speak about "standards of quality "?

I would not dare to speak about "standards", there are indicators which inform if the centers go for the different phases of the system.  It is relatively easy; it is similar to a check list.

Other indicators are the conditions, that is, the system needs some conditions to work (participation, formation, socialization, organization, monitoring and company... ) that is, there are some conditions to involve to the whole center forming all the actors for a good qualification; searching places to socialize and exchange between each other; searching different strategies for everyone feels like actors or main actors in the definition of the problems and the solutions that are proposed by us. 

Then there are other indicators in term of content. This terms are settled by the center, as we said, depending on the context, resources and capacity, these indicators are included in the annual plans and it has been written according to the opinions of the tutors, teachers and staff of the center.

There is an only standard to apply.  There are some basic parameters to inform us about if the system is working or not; if there are conditions to achieve the objectives; and if the data are corresponding to the objectives in relation with the specialties of the context. 


What is the role of teachers in the education of quality?

They are the key actors because they have a wide knowledge about reality in the center. For this reason, we ask them with special importance during the process to define the problem and search for solutions to make the plan.

Then, Fe y Alegría focuses on the training of the teachers because it is obvious that the quality of the school is conditioned by the quality of the educators.  All we can do to qualify to the teachers in their diary work in the classrooms is good for the educational center in the nicest sense of the word. Teachers are the main key to education.


How does the action of Fe y Alegría fit in the responsibility of the Ministry of Education in each country?

Firstly, we are conscience about that at least in the terms of declarations, because today the Ministries say that they are commitment with the quality. In this sense, we are in clear tune. However, the path is full difficulties and, probably, for not having made a good intervention in group and in collaboration, we are asking too much to the centers. This is an aspect to improve and that we have in mind.

They are advancing in a favorable way. For example, the Ministry of Education in Colombia validated the quality system of Fe y Alegría. They compared this system to other North American systems and the same steps are given in other countries of Latin America. In spite of that, we need to work with the government employees to make the bureaucratic procedures and easier and to speed up all this purpose of action between the Ministries and Fe y Alegría.


And, from the society or the educational community, how is the labor of Entreculturas being received?

The importance of the educational community contributes, undoubtedly, to the favorable reception of our system of quality. In the same way, the educational center choices our proposal. They can involve in the system and make it suitable for each center. The good results, the reputation and the good operation are guaranteed by our work.

In this regard, from Fe y Alegría we try to keep informed permanently to the community, in order that they can understand the system and take part in it to convert them into in fundamental actors and to contribute to solve problems that they have identified.

It is not easy. It is a challenge. It would be much easier to contract a technician who was imposing a closed system of evaluation of the quality. We promote the participation between the actors and listen to each one what they want to say. It is richer and more realistic though it goes more time and turns into a more complex process.

If we want to convert the school into a company which is worried on the student's high level of achievement, we would be forced to continue in the actual inequality situation. For that, our view of the education goes through the pedagogy, the values from the whole concept of the human training. From a method potential and transformer.  The bet for the quality is almost a need in the popular education. Over and above the access, the popular sectors have rights for a better education. It is not true say that a bad education is better than a no inexistent education. The right education for those who are in the worst conditions is the best and necessary education possible. Otherwise, it has no sense what we do.