Several regions around the world have been touted as the next big areas for edtech innovation and Latin America is one that has a lot to offer.

With around 600 million people, mostly speaking two languages and living in twenty thriving urban cities, Latin America houses one of the world’s largest populations of young people that has recently emerged from poverty and has the opportunity to access benefits that none of the previous generations have. This has created challenges and opportunities that are being identified by investors, entrepreneurs, innovators, technologists, and media around the globe.

Latin America has begun to develop, attract and search for innovative solutions focused on the unique opportunities and challenges in the region, such as:

  • Access to a larger young population that has emerged from poverty
  • Inequality from different social backgrounds
  • First generation students capable of accelerating progress for their family & community
  • Large population of young women needing to secure their education
  • Inconsistent quality in educational curricula, teaching, infrastructure and institutions
  • Accelerated penetration of mobile devices and internet service
  • High rates of abandonment in high school
  • Imperative requirement to learn English to connect to the world, the knowledge economy and to promote student mobility
  • The need to connect education to work and life-long learning

The challenges have been documented, actions have been implemented, and investments have been secured, but… few of them have been effective.

In December 2014, over twenty Heads of State met in Mexico at the #Cumbre_Iberoamericana, to discuss and prioritize coordinated actions among Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in the world to accelerate the implementation of radical solutions to these problems.

The Pacific Alliance was also recently developed to promote an integrated market among Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Chile, with free flow of goods, people and with a clear focus on student mobility.

The edtech community has begun to respond to these challenges as well. Latin America has embraced a number of organizations that care about education, from NGO’s to software companies and venture capitalists.

The time is right. There are good conditions in the region for innovative disruption. Many wonderful initiatives to improve learning, teaching, and the use of technology are already in development and companies are looking to Cengage Learning to help lead the way. As a global education leader with a strong presence in the region, the company brings a needed expertise, such as:

  • understanding of the commonalities and differences in the region and acting as a unifier in a market needing a balanced approach to education, content, technology and innovation;
  • a talented and complementary team from diverse industries, backgrounds and cultures, able to navigate in volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments;
  • connection to the large ecosystem of stakeholders in education;
  • promoting an environment for innovation, experimentation and exploration to accelerate the transformation; and
  • building communities of institutions, teachers and students across the region.

This had led to some exciting developments, culminating last month with the announcement that Cengage Learning will bring LearnLaunch Accelerator, a leading Boston-based edtech startup program, to Latin America via Cengage Learning’s Laboratorio de Innovacion en Experiencias de Aprendizaje (LINNEA). Linnea is an innovation lab established by Cengage Learning, National Geographic Learning and The Universidad de Autonoma de Chihuahua.

More to come on this exciting news in next week’s post.

Fernando Valenzuela is President of Cengage Learning Latin America.