Jose Diego Caiza Guevara

Mercedes Gonzalez Elementary School, Quito, Ecuador

Jose Diego Caiza Guevara

From the age of 12, Jose volunteered with the Salesians to teach younger children during the summer holidays – his first steps in the world of education. Later, while he was completing his higher studies in computer science, the opportunity arose to join the teaching staff in the school he was training in. In the school’s catchment area, many students faced difficulties as a result of poverty, family violence, malnutrition, illiteracy, drugs, and disability. These problems were often brought into the classroom through low performance, misbehaviour, low self-esteem, inattention and ultimately school dropout. However, Jose has tackled all these issues successfully by opening up computer science to his students in new and creative ways. 

In 2000, Jose undertook the first project that would introduce his students to the possibilities of technology. He and the students began to automate the administrative processes of the school, such as the recording of grades, the issuance of reports, attendance, discipline control and preventive maintenance. The success of this project was then followed by a second initiative to develop multimedia educational software that would be used for academic reinforcement in subjects with low performance. This was also a success, and had a notable impact on learning outcomes.  

Throughout, Jose pioneered the use of non-traditional teaching methods, such as small group working to encourage teamwork and empathy, searching for agreement through dialogue, and emphasising the value of other opinions. Motivated by sustainability and conservation worries, Jose also created a project to repair broken computer equipment and reduce the volume of electronic waste in the environment. After repair, computers were then donated in good technical condition to rural educational institutions – along with free training and technical servicing. 

Jose’s work has achieved wide recognition. In 2020, he was made a Microsoft Innovative Educator, and the Telefonica Foundation recognised him as a promoter of computational thinking for the development of key skills. His students also won the 2020 MY FIRST CODE contest in their category, as well as the 2018 INFOMATRIX-Ecuador Contest (Innovation category) and the IX Latin American Contest 2017. 

If Jose wins the Global Teacher Prize, he will create a foundation that uses mobile classrooms to carry computers, Internet connectivity and STEM knowledge to young children in the most remote areas of Ecuador. Students would be able to put their ideas into action and be empowered to solve problems in their local area. The mobile classrooms would then be transferred to other communities once their mission is fulfilled.