20 December 2019

Advancing Development through Education for Everyone

One year ago United Nations Academic Impact announced the inauguration of the UNAI SDG Hubs, UNAI member institutions selected as exemplars for their innovative scholarship and engagement related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) who serve as resources for best practices for the UNAI network, currently composed of over 1,400 universities and colleges in more than 130 countries.

On the anniversary of the program launch, we’re taking this opportunity to check in with some of the hub schools to highlight their scholarship and activities over the past twelve months and look ahead to future initiatives. The next school profiled in our anniversary series is University of La Punta (Argentina), hub for SDG 4: Quality Education.   

The University of La Punta (ULP) was created to provide intellectual, social and cultural opportunities in the province of San Luis, contributing to development at the local level while ensuring access to quality education for all. The institution offers a wide range of scholarships as well as free housing to students, and several educational choices to populations in rural areas, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and underprivileged communities.

Along these lines, over 25,000 students of the university are currently enrolled in courses delivered online; 70% of those enrolled are women and 90% are the first generation in their families pursuing tertiary education. “Training of professionals, regardless of the place in which they reside, is our top priority,” said Alicia Bañuelos, Rector of the University. “The more students we have, the more innovative the province will be,” she explained, pointing out that everyone must have access to the same opportunities.

A highlight of the university is the ‘Knowledge Olympics’, which offers a non-traditional learning experience by hosting contests that help students become global citizens. This is tied with the activities carried out by the Language Institute in ten different foreign languages to over 2,000 students in order to foster multilingualism, and a partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to integrate and provide education to refugees and asylum seekers within the framework of the ‘San Luis Humanitarian Corridor’.

In July 2019, inmates of the San Luis Penitentiary System were tested in their final exams as part of their university studies at ULP. The University provides assistance as well as resources to inmates to either continue or finalize their studies within the framework of the ULP Virtual program. “This modality is a great benefit for these persons as it offers them access to education, and with it they will have a much better future once they recover their freedom,” stressed Karina Matera, director of the Institute of Science and Technology.

In October the university started in October to implement an innovative educational methodology called SOLE (Self-Organized Learning Environment) among schools in the province to increase knowledge in scientific fields. Some weeks later, the university supported the Quality Education Assessment undertaken in almost 200 schools for some 50,000 students to assess reading and calculus skills, with the institution serving in an advisory capacity. Results will allow ULP to offer tailored tools to elementary and secondary schools.

In December 2019, a Class of over 80 students graduated from the Rural Digital Public School initiative promoted by ULP, aimed at providing opportunities to adults who were unable to complete their secondary education and lacked the necessary skills to be employed or have better work opportunities within their communities. This is achieved thanks to a virtual education platform and the extensive use of information and communications technologies (ICTs).

In addition to training educators on the use of ICTs in classrooms and software programming for educational purposes, the university also offers a bachelor’s degree in Educational Management, with the objective of training teachers on the formulation and coordination of programs and projects in the field of education. ULP also offers a Diploma Course in Direction of Educational Institutions to improve tools needed to lead schools and the various processes within them.

By making education accessible to all, the University of La Punta seeks to increase not only economic development in the region, but social inclusion and equality for all citizens.

To learn more about the UNAI SDG Hubs, including University of La Punta, visit the United Nations Academic Impact SDG Hubs.