The economist and Scientific Director of the Latin American office of J-PAL, refers to Colunga's commitment to innovation and to the contribution that made it possible to promote the start-up of the organization in Chile and promote border research in the region.
What is the link of J-Pal with Colunga?
J-PAL is a research center worldwide that has regional offices. The regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean departed in 2009 and is established at the Catholic University. The link is that J-PAL received support in a bet made by the Cueto family and later by the Colunga Foundation, a very interesting bet that almost nobody has made in Chile, and it is the support for the generation of new knowledge. This bet was very innovative, promoting a group of people who are doing border research.
What is border research?
J-PAL is a network of 160 professors from universities around the world and what we do from universities is to generate new knowledge, that is, to move the frontier of knowledge on issues of poverty or economic development, education, health, governance, environment.
Colunga then has made a bet for the generation of knowledge, what has come out of there?
There are several lines that have been generated from the initial bet and in the path of sustainability of J-PAL. In terms of impact evaluations we have done 130 evaluations in the region, from Mexico to southern Chile.
In education the challenge in public policy is that in many countries in the region you have many people who are finishing secondary education, who will go to higher education, but the problem is that a very large percentage of children decide without knowing nothing. What we have done in Chile, in the Dominican Republic, and now in Colombia, are interventions where children in secondary education begin to show opportunities, what is the average salary, what is the average employability rate, funding, scholarships , what do you need to study?
Colunga has a line of financing, there is also the strengthening of organizations, what is your vision about its projection?
I am struck by the number of brilliant innovations in civil society. I've seen that in America Solidaria, for example; Very poor people are organized and have an open center where they serve children with disabilities or schools of parents with children with multiple disabilities. Then, the entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs who come to Colunga are the best. In the sense that they have been able to put something together, to make it sustainable. You have innovation and very good ideas.
And on the other hand it is to understand that if I want to achieve my goal, I have to measure the impact I have, for ethical reasons and also, if I do not do that, nobody is going to put a weight on me. I think that something that helps J-PAL, is that one here is not in love with the how, but with the what and the people in particular. This is not to review statistics and publish papers, this is because if people do not change their lives.