Seven former secretaries of education, plus the current interim secretary, will be the protagonists of a discussion organised by Fundación Agenda Ciudadana and Echar Pa'Lante.

A few years ago the World Economic Forum began making projections of how many employees could be replaced by artificial intelligence programming around the world, and how many people rely on entrepreneurship to generate income. The projections stretched to projections near the end of the decade.

But the COVID-19 pandemic, the restrictions imposed to manage it and the speed with which remote working measures were implemented changed everything. Now, it is predicted that 52% of the tasks people perform in the workplace could be done by artificial intelligence by 2023, while by 2025, half of the workforce will rely on self-management, said Gloria Viscasillas Aponte, leader integrator of the multisectoral alliance Echar Pa'Lante.

"So we need to make the whole population aware of this, in particular our multi-sectoral leaders and educational leaders. It's not just that they are aware, which is the main objective, but we have to somehow generate a sense of urgency, that curricula have to be transformed and make sure that entrepreneurship and innovation skills are developed in all students, from pre-kindergarten to university level," Viscasillas Aponte said.

The discussion on how to incorporate the topics of entrepreneurship, innovation and resilience, among others, will be the main objective of the conversation "What we all agree on", organised by the Citizen Agenda Foundation and Echar Pa'Lante. Seven former secretaries of the Department of Education, as well as the current acting secretary of the agency, will be the protagonists of the event, which will take place this Friday, November 5, from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. through the Zoom platform.

Those interested in participating should register here.

The discussion is aimed at the general public, with particular attention to all those involved in the country's education systems, such as teachers, school principals, superintendents and university professors, said the executive director of Fundación Agenda Ciudadana, María de Lourdes Lara Hernández.

"If there is something that the new generations need and we are obliged to work with them, it is to guarantee that they have all the competencies, so that they can undertake personal changes, changes in their academic training, changes in their professional training and that they really build the new economy of our country," said Lara Hernández.

At the discussion, acting secretary Eliezer Ramos Parés and former secretaries Eligio Hernández Pérez, César Rey Hernández, Carlos Chardón López, Odette Piñero Caballero, Jesús Rivera Sánchez, Edward Moreno Alonso and Rafael Román Meléndez will answer questions about their perspectives on innovation or ideas for incorporating entrepreneurship techniques into curricula, Lara Hernández said. Former secretary Rafael Aragunde will not participate because he is out of Puerto Rico, Viscasillas Aponte said.

The conversation will be moderated by Lara Hernández and University of Puerto Rico Executive Vice President and Academic Affairs, Ubaldo Córdova. Closing remarks will be made by the executive director of the Colibrí Foundation, María Jaunarena, and the Social Innovation Officer of the Ferré Rangel Group and co-founder of Agenda Ciudadana, Luis Alberto Ferré Rangel.

"More than anything else, (we want) to continue to raise awareness. For example, those who are in university, make sure they take entrepreneurship courses; superintendents and school principals, make sure they are trained, that they are in charge of leading training in their schools. To teachers, (help them) to integrate this in all classes in schools, it has to be in all core subjects, it cannot be an elective. We need to have entrepreneurship exercises in science, entrepreneurship exercises in social studies, in mathematics, in English and Spanish, so that students can practice their 'speech' (public speaking) on how to present their ideas... Include it in all classes," Viscasillas Aponte said.

Lara Hernández stressed that these are skills that can, and should, be applied to everyday life, so including them in formal instruction from the primary grades onwards will be instrumental in establishing the long-term economic development plans that have been called for for years.

"If we teach our children, from a very young age, that they are responsible for our country, that they are capable of building, innovating, generating changes in their country, that they can create a new Puerto Rico, from a very young age they will internalise that . These are skills that will help them to relate to each other, relate to others, seek new opportunities, make new opportunities, do things for themselves and that message has to reach them, from pre-school children to old men and women throughout the archipelago," said Lara Hernández.


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