Fellow Since 1995
Colegio San Mateo de Osorno
This profile was prepared when José Reyes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1995.
The New Idea
Having spent the greater part of his life thinking and dreaming of ways to create better schools that would provide better opportunities for Chile's disadvantaged youth, José Reyes has defined an idea that he is testing in a pilot setting and hopes to see replicated throughout the country in post-primary schools serving young men and women from the poorest segments of Chilean society.In focusing on the state-subsidized high school, José is already departing from the prevailing currents of educational reform, which concentrate almost exclusively on "basic education" for the poor. José is persuaded that post-primary education is crucially important in enabling–or denying–poor Chilean youth opportunities to gain access to employment and to become full stakeholders in Chilean society. But in thinking about the kind of high school that would effectively perform that role, José envisages an institution that will be very different from the typical state-funded post-secondary school in present-day Chile (or elsewhere in Latin America). Several characteristics distinguish José's high school from those in which most poor Chilean youth currently study. In his high school, a group of educators and community leaders exercise real responsibility for ensuring that the school meets its educational goals. The school receives adequate state funding for teachers' salaries and educational materials, and local businesses and private benefactors provide supplemental financing. The school's administration is decentralized and functions smoothly, efficiently and non-bureaucratically. Teachers receive ample pedagogical training and continuing support that enable them to enter their classrooms confident and well-prepared. The school's administrators and teachers enjoy mutually supportive relationships with the local community and the surrounding labor market and draw on those relationships to ensure that the school is providing training and skills that are responsive to community and skilled labor market needs. And, in José's high school, the content and style of the educational process address the special psychological needs of poor adolescents and sensitize them to the ethical dimensions of issues that they encounter in everyday life