One of the very positive results of our last Future in Review Conference www.futureinreview.com was an invitation from well-known Mexican business leader Ricardo Salinas-Pliego to come and visit the school, Plantel Azteca, he has funded through his Fundacion Azteca for the last decade.
My son and I had a chance to visit this amazing school, and a number of Ricardo’s other enterprises (and the data center at the heart of these modern operations) last week. As many of you are already aware, these include (and are not limited to) TV Azteca and Azteca America, Fundacion Azteca, Plantel Azteca, Iusacell, Afores Azteca (pensions), Seguros Azteca (insurance), Banca Azteca, and Elektra (the largest specialty retailer in Latin America).
Our tour, led by Luis Echarte, Chair of Azteca America and CEO of the Fundacion, included a sit-down presentation about the school, and a chance to meet some of the faculty and students, the latter of which were hard at work in every class we visited.
One of the most moving aspects of this school is its charter: the poorest students from Mexico City, and the surrounding states, are tested, and the brightest are invited to come to the school, at the Fundacion’s cost, for the best education money can buy. (The children test at the top of their grades in the country after attending, according to Luis.) They board with relatives or friends in the city, wear handsome uniforms, and stand up when unannounced grown-ups walk into or out of their class.
(Kids don’t behave this well in my home town –)
They seem happy, and were eager to show off their English in helping my limping Spanish along as we visited their classes, including a special computer laboratory class we were able to see.
I imagine, at this point, most readers of this blog are picturing small, rowdy classes in Microsoft PowerPoint or Word. Well, no doubt these are taught at some point, but what I found there was a group of about forty kids listening quietly to their instructor in a class designed to provide them, by graduation, with Cisco certification in working on networks (WiFi, LANs, and WANs), routers, and switches.
Want to sit in? I did. This is an incredible school. Elsewhere, younger kids were learning using a Promethean electronic whiteboard linked to a computer, as a teacher taught them Mexican geography.
Here are some more photos of the visit:
We’ll have some important announcements to make shortly, but I can tell you now that Plantel Azteca is a truly amazing combined effort between these gifted students, and the Fundacion Azteca, and that this would be a perfect place for the country’s first successful one to one computer learning implementation.