Latin America and the Caribbean have managed to expand the infrastructure and school equipment to meet a higher demand for education and improve learning conditions. In the last 20 years, preschool enrollment across the region increased and almost 2/3 of children are attending this level, nearly all children attend primary school, and secondary education enrollment reached 80%. In the future, countries in the region should expand school infrastructure not only to adapt to extended school trends and reach universal access in preschool and secondary education, but also to improve spaces to meet new learning methodologies. Better facilities and basic services in schools can create more favorable environments to improve learning.
Most of the countries in the region have deficits in both quantity and quality of school infrastructure. For example, many schools have double shifts and lack comfort and suitable conditions to facilitate teaching and learning. Also, the existence of academic spaces, such as libraries and multimedia rooms, is limited.
The expansion and renovation of school infrastructure face challenges on financing, planning and management. For instance:
- Architectural and administrative norms are complex and hinder implementation processes.
- Many countries do not have adequate tools to collect and analyze information about their schools’ physical conditions.
- Cost planning and construction scheduling are poor.
- Technical profiles needed to address different project dimensions are not always available.
What we do
Since 2011, the IDB finances the regional project “Learning in 21st century schools” through which countries of the region exchange best practices to improve design, planning and management of school infrastructure.
In this phase, heads of school infrastructure from Argentina, Barbados, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago participated in seven technical workshops to promote the creation of innovative environments that encourage modern school management techniques and help improve school performance. A number of activities and studies were developed around norms, costs, design, comfort conditions, maintenance and management of natural risks for school infrastructure. At the closing workshop of Phase I in December 2014, the following knowledge products were presented:
- Analysis of norms and costs of construction, maintenance of school buildings, and prevention of natural disasters.
- Development of an instrument that gathers information ( Regional School Infrastructure Census - CIER) to carry out an inventory of existing infrastructure and its conditions.
- Design and implementation of an environmental and energy audit of classrooms in modern schools and the perception of users regarding the level of comfort in the classroom.
- Review of alternative financing models such as Public-Private Partnerships (Study: Latin America and The Caribbean).
The Second Phase started its implementation in January 2015 and focuses primarily on:
- Developing mechanisms to improve school infrastructure planning capacity and management of projects.
- Implementing the Regional School Infrastructure Census in several countries of the region.
Some of the products that will be developed in the next three years are:
- Analysis of school infrastructure management models in participating countries, that is understand their processes, norms and standards, procurement mechanisms, and staff’s technical profiles, among other things.
- Training in the design, management and supervision of school infrastructure projects.
- Workshops with school infrastructure managers to share successful experiences and best practices.
- Technical support to implement and adapt the instrument of CIER.
- Design and implementation of a school infrastructure project impact evaluation.
- Study on school infrastructure and the use of technology.
- Development of a regional action plan for the sustainability of this initiative.
- Creation of a digital library containing materials that support school infrastructure management and design.