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23.4.2024 |

Community Lead: Alejandra Ycaza

Introducing Alejandra Ycaza, Community Lead leading discussions about Latin America, Future Skills, Equity in Education, and Teacher Professional Development.
"Innovation, if done in silos, is not sustainable. I think innovation comes from collaboration and some of the best and most accurate solutions come from the power of working together and keeping the educational community in the centre."

What is your name? 

Alejandra Ycaza

Where do you call home? 

Guayaquil, Ecuador

How does education fit into your life? 

I believe that education is the best tool for development and making conscious choices.

On a professional level, I work in Fundación Reimagina which works to accelerate effective practices and pedagogies that ensure a XXI century education through scalable and collaborative initiatives. Through this role I am in constant contact with education innovators, best practices and disruptive pedagogies. I also work in GlobalGiving, an organization that supports nonprofits around the world by connecting them to donors and companies, where I constantly learn about different communities and the importance of taking the time to understand and be mindful of the different local contexts. 

On a personal level, I love learning and growing my skills. The biggest value I took from University is to learn how to learn on my own and work with peers to find solutions for complex problems. This skill has shaped the way I work, my relationships and personal choices because every time I face a challenge I am able to educate myself and find potential solutions. 

What brought you to educational innovation?

I come from a family of educators, so I have always indirectly been involved in education. However, after University, as I worked in different social impact projects I realised that most societal problems have education as a root cause or can be improved in some way or another through education. Then I joined Fundación Reimagina and I learnt the power of collaboration and building effective learning ecosystems that work towards a common goal. The collaboration is in itself an innovation because it allows different educational projects to approach similar problems but in a contextualised way. 

What are your biggest inspirations in educational innovation?

There are so many! On one side I am a fan of technology and have seen great edtech tools that positively disrupt the way we learn. Duolingo is the best example. However, I think that the most sustainable and transformative educational innovations come through collaboration. I love collective initiatives that bring together different actors in society with a common purpose and goal while using different strategies to get there. 

In Fundación Reimagina we recently launched “Efecto Colectivo” as a pilot program in Chile which is a collaborative alliance of civil society organisations, private companies and the state promoted by Fundación Reimagina with the support of BHP Foundation. Among the main areas of this initiative, we developed a collective fund, which encourages scaling educational innovations with partners. Also, it has an observatory and resource hub for 21st century education, an Ecosystem and an advocacy and mobilisation strategy. 

Through this work, I have realised 2 main lessons regarding educational innovations:  

  1. An educational innovation is not only rethinking what to do, but also how to do it. The contextualisation and delivery of existing tools and solutions can be as big of an innovation as the creation of that tool. 
  2. Innovation, if done in silos, is not sustainable. I think innovation comes from collaboration and some of the best and most accurate solutions come from the power of working together and keeping the educational community in the center. 

What challenges do you see facing the educational system today?

Speaking mainly about Latin America, children are receiving an outdated education that is not preparing them to really thrive in the complex society we live in today. We face huge gaps in knowledge, and we are still focused on an education that prioritises memorisation instead of skills development. Additionally, tailoring to different children's needs and strengths is still an ideal. The world needs people who can solve problems, think critically, collaborate, etc. And students need meaningful opportunities to engage, grow their agency and develop these skills. 

The good news is that in the world we have seen an increasing number of countries that recognize the importance of developing these breadth of skills and include them in the national curriculum. However, the challenge becomes ensuring that teachers are able to develop these skills in the classroom so that it does not only stay on paper but we actually achieve a lasting systemic change. 

What are your hopes for the future of education?

I imagine a world in which every child can access a relevant and high quality education regardless of their socioeconomic background that helps them unlock their potential and really thrive in society. A world where teachers and school leaders are committed not only to the academic development of the kids but also to fostering their wellbeing and socio-emotional skills. I want to see an education that is tailored to the child’s specific needs and that it catalyses their strengths instead of focusing on their weaknesses. 

Why did you choose to become a Community Lead?

I admire the work HundrED has been doing around the world to identify what is working, avoid duplication and support their contextualisation. I see a big gap in Latin America still, where the Hundred Community can be of great value. I wanted to become a Community Lead so I could support the regional radar, give them international visibility and connect them to other members of the community who can help them increase their impact. 

What are your goals as a Community Lead

It’s an ongoing process. However, my main goal is to increase collaboration and dissemination of innovative methodologies in Latin America as a region. I want to articulate the ecosystem of education innovators for them to truly see how working collaboratively can add value. In order to achieve this I want to start by understanding the current needs and challenges that have prevented this work from being sustainable in the past. I will start by engaging with local networks and ambassadors to create working groups around shared themes where the learnings can be disseminated and systematised. 

How can our members get involved?

This is an ongoing process that is just starting and I want it to be a co-creation with the different HundrED members. So if you are interested in this work, let's have a conversation and co create together! We will work to ensure that HundrED is able to truly drive educational transformation in Latin America, breaking silos through collaboration. 

Want to continue the conversation? Connect with Alejandra

Alejandra Ycaza
Alex Shapero