GLOBE - Global Business Development
The Global Business Growth program is taught at the 6th grade level and in the 5th year of technical school. "GLOBE is great;' says Homberger, "because one of our major strengths is that we are part of an international network, JA Worldwide. So the kids have the opportunity to learn about other cultures, speak the English language, and learn to negotiate. Also, they learn about Costa Rica's competitive edge, find what kind of products the country has to improve our competitiveness." "They make a joint venture," Homberger says. "It's part of the Company program. You have the Costa Rican group and the International group.
They learn how to take pictures with a digital camera and put it through the network. They learn about customs procedures and requirements to export Costa Rican products and they import other countries' products." As with all the Junior Achievement programs, the volunteers' contribution is vital to the students' integration of these concepts. "All of these new programs that we are introducing;' Homberger comments, "allow the young to become more familiarized with multi-cultures, Internet, interchange of information. They have Junior Achievement, a worldwide organization dedicated to instilling entrepreneurial values in young people, has become an influential presence in Costa Rica's educational system since it was established in Costa Rica in 1988.
The business leaders who brought the well-known concept to Costa Rica, including several prominent members of AmCham, were motivated to do so by the results of a 1987 CID-Gallup poll showing that 70% of Costa Rican young people aspired to work for the government. While government service is an honorable calling, this overwhelming preference highlighted a national tendency to play it safe and seemed to indicate a need to promote a more dynamic vision of what a person can do in life. Junior Achievement has, since then, worked with government organizations, other non-government organizations and private business in establishing a series of educational programs designed to help young people to understand the economic forces around them and inspire them to participate as economic actors.
Programs for Companies
"When you send a group of executives (volunteers) to a school;' Junior Achievement executive director Sylvia Homberger notes, "you send a message that the company really is interested in the (growth of) Companies provide volur students and funding to Education's contribution. the community." Through 2006, Junior Achievement in Costa Rica spent much of its efforts developing programs and received a significant portion of its funding from CRUSH, a Costa Rican foundation whose seed funds came from USAID (the official United States government foreign aid agency).
Funding now comes primarily from private business, usually within the context of "Corporate Social Responsibility" (CSR) programs. Homberger says, "We’re now working on the sustainability of the project. We need to invoke the business sector because they're the ones who will support these programs that will improve the workforce and prepare youth for commercial opportunities." Companies provide volunteers to work with the students and funding to match the Ministry of Education's contribution. "For example," she says, the Ministry of Education "provides the teachers, plus some transportation. Junior Achievement has to provide teaching material, volunteers, passwords for software and technical support.' "The good thing," says Homberger, "is that we are part of the (Costa Rican Ministry of Education) curriculum now.'
Junior Achievement shows an admirable compulsion to measure results, and in that arena Homberger emphasizes the primary schools that have been sponsored by INTEL and SC Johnson because they have hosted full Junior Achievement programs for over five years. When companies "have been present in the schools of their community for over five years," says Homberger, "this allows us to set up the platform for making a longitudinal impact measurement of the program! This requires "companies that are committed to the schools and high schools in their communities in a permanent fashion." The results of students in the JA programs are compared to those of students of comparable socio-economic background, and in similar schools, who are not in the JA programs.
The tests have been supervised and analyzed by the University of Costa Rica (UCR) statistics program. The control group scores 48% on a test that the students who have participated in 5 years of J.A. courses score 81 %. "They know who is a manager, who does marketing, they know basic economic concepts! Homberger states that Junior Achievement conducted such a comparative study in 2004, repeated it in 2006 and in 2007 expects to do it again. This ability and willingness to measure program impact is of real value to companies as they encourage JA volunteers and fund JA programs.