CMM technology to scientifically plan location of public schools

CMM technology to scientifically plan location of public schools

The location of primary and high schools is not only important for a more efficient school system and a greater coverage: it also affects the quality of education because it determines the distribution of resources on issues ranging from the number of students per course to the number of teachers who teach in them, through various areas. A project led by Jorge Amaya, researcher at University of Chile Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM), aims to support the allocation of these kind of resources in local primary and secondary education through a new software developed by his team.

The group has already successfully conducted tests of this technology in the communes of Maipú and Peñalolén. Confirming the path that are already walking by, they won the Corfo’s Validación y Empaquetamiento basado en I+D fund, which will bankroll with $ 160 million the projection of this product throughout Chile in a partnership with U-Planner, the company that will be responsible for sale the software and design the interface, and Center for Advanced Research in Education (CIAE).

“This is a decisional optimization model on locating schools. It allows to structure the demand aiming to assemble the most efficient supply and to answer questions such as how many schools should be built, if they need to be only primary or only high school or both; how many grades should have each level; how many hours should be considered to each subject, and other requirements,” says the scholar.

The software supports the school holders’ decisions taking into account, first, indicators that affect the quality, such as the number of children per class, the distances between the schools and the students’ houses, the number of hours that must have each subject, the optimum number of teachers per school, budgetary constraints, and other factors.

These numbers are crossed with social, economic and demographic variables such as the local population, aging, employment levels, growth in certain sectors of the city, times of commutes, etc. to structure and model the public supply of education.

So, taking decisions in an emerging neighborhood, with young couples and small children, is not the same than in a more consolidated neighborhood, where families have teenagers, for example. While the first ones will need primary schools, the latter ones will require high schools, probably.

This data is linked to a geographic information system that allows you to display on a map the information of schools and their location, Amaya explains: “You always have an image of what is happening: where schools are lack and where there is excessive competition. You can study new or future scenarios and draw them for 10 or 20 years even.”

The project will be developed between 2016 and 2017. Due to the complexity and number of variables and the national projection the team will use the most powerful supercomputer in Chile, located at CMM. They also have the support of the Chilean Ministry of Education for implementation. However, the possibility to explore other countries exists.

“As the software delivers a great value in educational quality and, I see a great potential for the Latin American market, as well as for ministries of education and regional education departments,” explains Juan Pablo Mena, U-Planner general manager. “In the current context, there is still a significant gap between the world and Latin American countries. This gap occurs both in coverage and quality. According to the OECD and using the PISA ranking our countries still have a great challenge for improvement in educational quality. The contribution of this software can be very large and goes straight to the long-term strategy of these countries.”

Posted on Nov 20, 2015 in Frontpage, News