Uruguayan Army and Plan Ceibal Team Up to Boost Modern Education in the Military

An above-age Military high school received more than 100 laptops from the Uruguayan Educational Connectivity and Basic Computing for Online Learning Plan, which is also known as Plan Ceibal
Nastasia Barcelo | 22 December 2015

Plan Ceibal gave 100 laptop computers to the students of the above-age high school which is part of the Uruguayan Military Arms and Specialties Institute (IMAE). [Photo: Courtesy of the Armed Forces of Uruguay]

Uruguay's Educational Connectivity and Basic Computing for Online Learning Plan, which is also known as Plan Ceibal, delivered 100 new laptop computers to the above-age high school that is part of the Uruguayan Military Arms and Specialties Institute (IMAE). The above-age high school serves students trying to complete their high school education.

All of 113 high school students are in the Army, Navy, or Air Force. The Armed Forces runs the institute within the Uruguayan Army’s Sergeant Francisco de los Santos Non-Commissioned Officer School, which provides professional, cultural, and physical training to the Army’s junior personnel. The school, which accepts civilian employees from the Ministry of Defense as students, provides basic and advanced level courses that are certified by the National Public Education Administration (ANEP).

The Military created the IMAE's above-age high school in 2001 to provide junior staff members the opportunity to finish their secondary education. Since its inauguration, more than 1,250 students have attended the school, out of which less than 1 percent have dropped out.

“We are constantly amazed at the difference between how my students arrive and how they finish their studies,” IMAE teacher Amalia Lolo exclaimed.

Education bolsters Military careers

The high school provides education that helps students pursue military careers. To rise through the ranks, service members much attain specific minimum thresholds in their secondary education to meet the levels established by the Board of Secondary Education.

“Since its inception, this school has sought to provide cultural training to the junior staff, who must take courses to be promoted but do not have the required education level,” Uruguayan Army Lieutenant Colonel Alejandro Echevarría, director of the Sergeant Francisco de los Santos Non-Commissioned Officer School within IMAE, told Diálogo . “As the school has become consolidated over the years, its educational offerings, reach, and goals have expanded.”

In 2015, IMAE's instructors received training on how to use a new technological platform, which Troops will be using in 2016. The new platform will allow students to achieve the levels of education expected by the Board of Secondary Education.

“In the spirit of innovation and motivation, we began to think about different options for the above-age school and decided to join forces with Plan Ceibal,” Colonel Gustavo Fajardo, IMAE’s director, explained on an official government website. “Using the platforms they have in our school could be fruitful.”

In addition to providing laptops, authorities with Plan Ceibal are working to improve Internet connectivity, ensuring all IMAE computers can access the Internet simultaneously. Plan Ceibal officials are also responsible for maintaining and repairing the computer equipment it provides to IMAE, as well as training instructors on how to use it.

“The secondary education classes are given from the first year of high school to the second year of a diversified bachelor’s in humanities,” Col. Echevarría stated. “Efforts have been made with the Board of Secondary Education to expand the program, with the hope that our junior personnel will receive more cultural training.”

Plan Ceibal in Uruguay

The government created Plan Ceibal in 2007, with the goal of providing a laptop computer to every child and all public school teachers. It also aims to train the teachers how to use the laptops to develop modern educational approaches.

The initiative has provided laptops with WiFi connectivity to students throughout much of the country. One of the program’s long-term objectives is to promote social justice by providing information and communication tools for the entire population.

The initiative has improved the technological capabilities of Uruguayans nationwide. For example, when it comes to technical preparedness, Uruguay rose in the World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI) from 3.67 points in 2006-2007 to 4.28 points in 2011-2012.

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