Universidad de los Andes Colombia
The Austrian Republic School, an elementary public school in Chile, faced a severe crisis. Despite its management team and faculty’s effort, the school’s absenteeism and dropout rates kept rising. The solutions tried had failed to engage students and to secure their families’ support. The absenteeism issue proved particularly acute for the vulnerable population served by this school and had called the attention of Chile’s Education Ministry. This scenario was compounded by a financial distress: the school lacked the necessary resources to provide the additional support required by this population, such as psychological and social counseling or family engagement activities.Against such a complex backdrop, Luis Lacourt, the school’s principal, caught a glimpse of a light at the end of the tunnel: a means to mitigate this problem. Chile’s SEP Act offered grants to schools working with “priority” students coming from underprivileged social and financial backgrounds. Yet, access to these subsidies depended on good attendance rates. It was a catch-22-like problem: the SEP Act would enable the school to access the resources required to work on its problems, but the school would not qualify for this funding if it didn’t show improvements in its key metrics. How should the school go about it? What could it do to engage families in order to lower dropout and absenteeism rate.