Driven by the belief that "Poverty is not Destiny", but rather, that it is a solveable problem, and that change is possible, both "Teach" organizations make it a habit to recruit enthusiastic and talented young leaders from across various sectors, and convince them to try their hand at teaching instead. More specifically, to try their hand at teaching in a school that serves students from low-income populations.
I met a gal from the Argentinean group for coffee the other day.
She explained how, despite seemingly insurmountable red tape and a host of other problems, her team of 12 were committed to "Creating a movement that transforms classrooms and the education system, so that all children and young adults in Argentina have equal opportunities to develop their capabilities."
More specifically, she noted that while of course they were looking for excellent teachers who were willing to commit a minimum of two years to the program, an equally important objective was to educate -- through this model -- influencial people from all sectors of the general popultion. You see, after they finance the "whatever-to-teacher" career change for the would-be teachers (who go through a rigourous screening process), and heavily support their new teachers through ongoing professional learning while they spend a minimum of two years serving in one of the city's neediest schools, the organization expects that many of them will return to their original fields.
BUT (and here's the brilliance in the plan), they will do so with a first-hand, "in the trenches" understanding of some of the many challenges faced by students and teachers in Buenos Aires' school system. And, as these individuals move in their various spheres of influence, it is hoped that this real life understanding will help inform future policy direction vis a vis public education.
The BsAs team includes one subgroup that recruits new teachers, another that coordinates with the schools, one that organizes the professional development training and summer institute, and a group solely committed it is to lobbying the government. (For example, while they are working to expand their program, currently, they are not allowed to do work in primary schools.)
Ensena is an organization that puts its money where its mouth is, and works dilligently and in an apparently organized fashion to model the ethically driven change agency it wishes to promote in the country's public schools and governments.
My contact's optimism and sense of possibility were infectious; I'm looking forward to facilitating a workshop for new teachers the program, on instructional strategies for ESL, at their Summer Institute in February 2014!