Jorge Camil Starr

Ashoka Fellow
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Fellow Since 2011

Citation

This profile was prepared when Jorge Camil Starr was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2011.
The New Idea
In the extensive Mexico City metropolitan area, Jorge and his team at ENOVA offers low-income Mexicans a blended learning model of basic and vocational education that combines computer-based learning with teacher-led instruction. The poor quality of the Mexican public education system disproportionately affects low-income communities that lack political influence and educational alternatives. Without satisfactory basic education and computer skills, many of the people in these communities are unable to find stable employment that allows them to advance economically. As a result, many toil in Mexico’s large informal economy—which means that they enjoy no government-backed social safety net—or turn to illicit activities to earn money instead.

To begin bridging this educational divide, Jorge and his colleagues have constructed an independent, parallel educational infrastructure known as Red de Innovación y Aprendizaje (RIA centers—Learning and Education Network) where students of all ages can complete high-quality, appropriate coursework in basic education, information technology, and work skills. What distinguishes the RIA network from other alternative education providers is its comprehensiveness; it has all the necessary elements of a stand-alone education system, including certified teachers, state-of-the-art facilities, high-quality content, a sustainable economic model, and educational credentials. Moreover, the model is largely financed by the government at both the federal and state levels, which is extraordinary because the respective incumbent political parties are different. The RIA center’s appeal across political lines will be an invaluable asset as ENOVA, the social business that created the RIA network, continues to expand into other Mexican states.

The RIA centers have been designed to close the enormous education gap in Mexico by simultaneously bridging the digital divide. ENOVA’s pedagogical approach blends computer-based learning, which can be tailored to each student’s needs, with face-time with trained RIA instructors. The entire RIA system is underpinned by a sophisticated open source technology platform called Mako that tracks each student’s learning patterns and progress. Unlike other private technology-based education centers in Mexico, the RIA network focuses exclusively on the needs of poor urban and suburban populations that lack access to high-quality educational opportunities. The RIA centers have offerings for all age groups, from elementary school students to the elderly, although its students do share a couple of common characteristics: Two-thirds have never used a computer and many have not completed their formal public schooling. Consequently, the vast majority of ENOVA’s target population has never had access to an educational alternative like the RIA network.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

Updates

In 2014 Jorge plans to bring these centres to all states of the Federal Republic of Mexico.

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