This week, the District launched the ‘Jóvenes a la U’ program, with which it gives young people the option to access institutions of higher education.
Although the goal of the Development Plan is to generate 20,000 additional places to those that the city already has, initially the offer for this program will be for 8,000 young people, which includes the possibility of entering 33 universities in the city, of which six are public. The program offers payment of tuition in public institutions and semester support during the career with a minimum salary.
The Secretary of Education, Edna Bonilla, in conversation with EL TIEMPO, explained everything that interested young people should know to access this opportunity.
It is important to clarify that there is a deadline until June 28 to access the first 8,000 scholarships. Who can apply and what does the Mayor’s Office offer?
We have three lines. One that is called the line of excellence to the U. There what we want is that young people who have entered public higher education institutions with traditional access mechanisms can access. This is important because there are young people who entered the public university because they passed the admission processes, but Colombia has a problem not only in access, but also in the permanence and graduation of students. We are inviting those students to apply because we can provide support for support and also support enrollment. We have six participating in the program.
Second, the line with direct admission of young people to the U. That is with the public higher education institutions, where we managed to generate additional quotas to those traditionally offered by the admission processes of these institutions. We will have programs in locations that traditionally have not had access and we will do so via that special admission.
The other gross is from some young people with extended special admission, which are the places offered by public or private universities that have expanded their offer. It is very important because we are saying to young people: those who enter public, we have this support for them; Those who enter private, which is also legitimate, we have these supports.
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What are the supports?
We have support in paying tuition. But additionally we are saying to you: ‘if you meet the access requirements, register and so on, we offer you some support depending on the number of young people and the targeting criteria’. They will have a minimum wage every semester and they will have support for virtuality.
These supports are going to be for how long?
The whole race.
Tuition and support, but semester …
It is done every semester, but we cannot drop a student in mid-career. It is the implementation of a contract because we are saying to young people: ‘we are going to make a contract between the State, which wants to be present in your life project, and you as a citizen.’ And what does this consist of? I am going to support you with the payment of citizens’ taxes, but you are going to give me an internship or an internship at the end.
How many universities are there?
We have the six public universities that offer programs in Bogotá, which also have all their accreditation processes, plus 27 private universities. Thank the universities, not just the effort to review their offer, their processes. That is not easy and the universities adapted their processes and are committed to reducing dropouts.
We are saying that to see the information you have to go to the Secretariat page, but many people have stated that the link is not working.
We had a problem on Thursday.
Is the only option link?
Yes. We are strengthening everything because, indeed, we had a problem in the first hours, then it was fixed and it is on the Secretariat page; as soon as they enter www.eduacionbogota.gov.co, there it is and they go to link.
How does that process work? What should be done first?
If the university accepted it, they will tell us. There are universities that are in the admission process. The university offers us some places. For example, the National told us ‘I have this number of places’. We cannot force a university to first accept the ‘Young at U’ program and then the university to accept it. So what we do is get the university to accept it. Access is via university, we cannot modify it.
Could someone who has not been able to access education for six years have a chance?
Yes. We do not have an exact figure for the demand, the number of people who are not studying. But why don’t we give a woman a chance, for example; adolescent pregnancy is a strong thing, where many dedicate the first years to taking care of them, and if they want to go back to university, they can do it. We could not make the mistake of creating a program only for recent graduates because it has many debts with others.
But young people are also going to want a career where they can get out and find a job, and hopefully a decent paying job. Did the universities commit to that too?
Yes, we have achieved that work with the universities. There is an accompaniment, but we are also working with the Chamber of Commerce so that we can guarantee that whoever graduates can work. It’s one thing that young people are saying: what’s the use of studying when we can’t find a job? We have that difficulty, but also that opportunity to work with the universities and the Chamber of Commerce.
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How much is this going to cost us?
We have approved a billion pesos, but we want to show that there is no more profitable investment than education, so we are going to ask the Council for additional resources. But right now we have a billion pesos guaranteed for the program.
Initially there are 8,000 places. The goal is to get to how much?
The goal that we have established is 20,000 university places in the Development Plan. A giant effort is that the quotas are additional to what the university sector traditionally offers. In Bogotá, approximately 73,000 young people graduate from public and private schools. If we wanted to know how many places we need, there is no demand study that allows us to know, but we are saying that there are 73,000 who want to enter and almost 38,000 are being left out. So Bogotá does have to make a giant effort in education.
There are efforts that we have to make. One is to know why we despise technical or technological training so much.
But the private company wants them and needs them …
But there are times when the peeled do not want to study that. We should return to that many times. Say why other societies value this technical or technological knowledge much more. And when I say value, it is that the salary differences are not that high. You may have salary differences, but there are many things that we would like to review as a company. Indeed, the taxes paid by Bogota citizens make this possible, that we have more education. But as long as we do not understand that this is the most profitable investment, we are going to have debts with young people.
ERNESTO CORTÉS FIERRO
General editor. TIME
Twitter: @ ernestocortes28