Is Telesecundaria successful?

The primary goal of Telesecundaria, and distance education in general, is to make education accessible to students in rural areas where conventional schools are unavailable. In this respect, Telesecundaria is successful because it attained its goal of reaching the more remote parts of the country.

Since its conception, the program has seen a steady increase in the number of schools that exclusively teach in the way of Telesecundaria. In the beginning there were only 304 schools, but in 1999 there were 14,101 schools built already. Enrollment has also increased steadily, rising from over 500,000 in 1993 to close to 900,000 by the end of 1999. It was estimated that enrollment peaked at more than a million students in 2004.

The percentage of students completing 9th grade is slightly higher in Telesecundaria schools than in conventional secondary schools, with 79.4% of students completing the grade in Telesecundaria schools compared to 78.8% in conventional schools.

Although research on the effectiveness of the program is at its infancy stage, early studies showed that though students in Telesecundaria start behind their cohort from conventional schools in terms of math and language skills, they completely catch up by the end of the school year, causing researchers to believe that the “value added” of learning in Telesecundaria is higher than in the regular schools. It is believed that the success of the program is related to the fact that the community is very involved and that teachers are closer to their students.

Many also believe that the highly structured format of the lessons help students retain the information and stay focused on the class. Teachers are more concise and straight to the point with their follow-up discussions because of their limited time, hence the students are led directly to the main concepts of the lesson. The text that is used in Telesecundaria schools is also directly related to their televised lessons, more so than the textbooks used in conventional schools, which means that students are learning more efficiently.

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