Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico
An online teaching system developed by a fiscal authority in Mexico and awarded with the ‘Leaders of Change’ prize in the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, has trained more than 68,000 public servants in the country’s new government accounting scheme.
Successful online training has expanded beyond the university realm, and in Mexico, it has also caught on in the fiscal sphere.
For the last year and a half, the Auditoria Superior del Estado de Coahuila – ASEC (Supreme Audit Office of the State of Coahuila), in the north of the country, has been using a teaching program to train public servants in new accounting regulations.
Mexico’s constitutional reform in 2008 heralded in a general accounting law that forced all government entities to use the same scheme, so that accountability and knowledge of accounting matters would be available to everybody and on demand at all times.
“Previously, state governments could use whatever accounting systems they felt like, and it was a true Tower of Babel for us because we had to receive different reports, different public accounts, and different rendering of accounts. The new law has benefited us tremendously,” asserts Coahuila State’s Chief Auditor, José Armando Plata Sandoval.
In an interview with E-Learn, the auditor talked about the joint effort with local control and supervision bodies and the Hacienda y Crédito Público de México (Ministry of Finance and Public Credit), to teach three diploma courses, namely in Government Accounting (140 hours), Financial Discipline (100 hours), and a complementary one in Municipal Budget Information Index, which lasts 50 hours.
These courses have been conducted using Blackboard Learn as the learning platform, with support from facilitators in the country’s 32 supreme control and supervision bodies, who meet through Blackboard Collaborate. Student progress indicators are presented during regular Tuesday follow-up sessions, and support strategies are established. Follow-up meetings have resulted in 90% student completion rates.
Blackboard Learn is used for locating and configuring study materials, and in each module, a leading expert and Mexican authority on supervision and accountability, presents the content via Blackboard Collaborate.
In order to take one of these courses, a minimum knowledge of accounting techniques is required, and post-secondary education is not a pre-requisite. Financing these courses is made possible through 2.7 million dollars of government funding that has been allocated specifically to these mass training sessions. To date, 8.2 million class hours have been given out, at a unit cost of ten cents per dollar.
“The advantages of distance education as opposed to face-to-face training, in terms of cost and coverage, are unquestionable,” maintains Plata, who recalls that the Secretaria de Hacienda (Ministry of Finance) trained the same number of officers face-to-face, during the previous 3 years, as ASEC has been able to in a year and a half by using online training methods.
“The cost-benefit ratio with the distance education scheme is much greater, but what must be comprehensive, is student assistance and detailed follow-up on work activities, with guidance and academic discipline,” he stresses.
The success of the training program coordinated by the Auditoría Superior del Estado de Coahuila, was awarded at the recent edition of the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, in the ‘Leaders of Change’ category.
Above reputable US universities like University of Maryland and Northern Illinois University, ASEC was recognized for its innovation in training processes, for overcoming the challenges inherent with change, for breaking the face-to-face training paradigm, and for motivating public servants to read and reflect on study materials; All through the assistance of the Blackboard Learn and Blackboard Collaborate tools.
This award, which recognizes and honors innovation and excellence in global practices by the teaching community, highlights the mass training in Mexico’s general government accounting law.
“Those of us who work with short-term, high-impact projects and with a large number of users, have to extract everything we possibly can from platforms such as this one, if we are to offer a world-class education service,” maintains Plata.
So far, he adds, the funding received has been used for training public employees only, but the training itself has extended to private offices that serve public entities.
The goal is to train 120,000 individuals per year, and also to launch the Government Accounting program online. In fact, jointly with Universidad Autónoma de Coahuila (Autonomous University of Coahuila), a course in open education from the Public Accounting graduate program is currently being taught.
In order to continue training the country’s officials, the Auditoria Superior del Estado de Coahuila, continues to promote new courses and to implement new tools, such as Blackboard Mobile Learn, so students can access course materials more easily via their cellphones, tablets or any other mobile device.
* MGP. Alberto Isaías de León González, Liaison Officer.
* CP. Ludivina Leija Rodríguez, Principal Financial Audit.
* CPC. José Armando Plata Sandoval, Chief Auditor, State of Coahuila.
* Lic. Oscar Eduardo Rodriguez Castañeda, Director of Regulatory Affairs.
* AFP Julio Cesar Aguilar Fuentes.