Javier Gonzalez

Organization: 
abcdespañol
Year founded: 
1982
Country: 
Colombia
Website: 

Video

The abcdespañol methodology is a simple and highly effective educational tool that has taught reading, writing and math skills to over 1 million children and adults throughout Latin America.


Focus: Children, Youth and Adults, Education
Geographic Area of Impact: Latin America
Model: Leveraged Non-Profit
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 67,400 (2010)
Recognition: Schwab Fellow of the World Economic Forum

Background
Across Latin America many students repeat grades because they fail to meet standards in reading, writing and math. Not only does this situation increase the cost of national education, it also leads to increased dropout rates. The idea for abcdespañol (Spanish ABC) occurred to Javier González while playing dominoes with his students' parents. He realized that although they could not read or write, the parents consistently beat him at the game by using deductive logic, analysis, memorization, inference and other mental abilities needed for learning how to read and write. He understood that these currently illiterate people had all the skills required to learn, and that it was not the people but the methodology that was the problem. González then created abcdespañol and “ABC de la Matematica”, an innovative learning solution employing games as a teaching methodology.

Innovation and Activities
Javier González’s abcdespañol is a simple and highly effective game-based method that teaches reading, writing and math skills to children, youth and adults. It neither requires a classroom or rigid time periods, nor does it grade students. Instead, it presents activities that draw upon group interaction and cooperation to motivate students and stimulate interest in continued learning. Using abcdespañol, students learn to read and write in 90 to 120 hours, and to date the system has enabled over 1 million people to achieve literacy and mathematical reasoning throughout Latin America.

González works directly with education officials in many countries, sharing the abcdespañol methodology with a core team of national educators or people committed to their communities. Each one learns the methodology and passes it on to others, scaling up in number to create a significant group of trained people who spread the methodology to target communities. In this way the system can reach thousands of people.

In the abcdespañol method, students focus on relating to others, sharing ideas and seeking compromise. While playing the game they broaden their mental capacities to grasp the necessary reading and writing skills and math capabilities, while deepening their emotional intelligence and problem-solving aptitudes. The same applies to adults as well. The abcdespañol method has been adapted to four indigenous Mayan languages: K'iché, Mam, Kaqchikel and Q'eqchi', as well as English and Portuguese.

In recent years, González has been experimenting and successfully using new learning games as part of his “First Aid for the Brain” initiative. Guides on how to use Javier’s tool-games are available on-line using multimedia technology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain.

The Entrepreneur
Javier González’s lifelong devotion to education has evolved over the years. Believing that effective learning of reading and writing could be motivated through creative materials, he began by writing and publishing his own interactive textbooks with exercises that encouraged discovery. While these publications found great acceptance among teachers, he continued searching for additional ways to make the learning process more interesting. After years of experimentation and research he developed abcdespañol. González has received numerous awards in recognition of his work to combat illiteracy, reduce the number of students that repeat first grade and, consequently, reduce dropout rates.