We got a chance to talk to Franco Mosso about Efecto Ancash and building thriving learning ecosystems, following his attendance at the Forge Futures Summit last week with other like-minded organisations from around the world.

Tell us about yourself and the work you’re doing

I’m Franco Mosso, the CEO of Enseña Perú, which launched the Efecto Ancash coalition in 2017 in Huari province, Peru. This initiative is a collaboration with partners like Antamina, Franco Nevada, Wheaton Precious Metals, and others, aimed at revolutionising education in the province.

Our approach began with three foundational programs that focus on leadership and teaching skills, and we have since expanded our efforts to four additional districts across the Andes and Amazon regions, reaching 20 provinces in total. Our mission extends beyond improving educational programmes; it involves engaging deeply with communities and working with the public sector to influence educational policies and practices. With support from a network of NGOs, universities, funding partners, and community groups, Efecto Ancash is committed to creating a robust learning ecosystem that benefits the entire region.

What motivated your organisation’s start, and how has it grown over time?

Our organisation was founded with the mission to create a movement of change agents who, through collective leadership, would transform education across the country. It’s not just about imposing our vision of success, but rather working together with the people of Ancash to shape their own vision. Through our leadership programmes, we provide a clearer understanding of what quality education should encompass—a radically different experience and paradigm. The concept of ‘ayni’, meaning reciprocity, is central to our approach.

Our strategies for developing this learning ecosystem have included focusing on building deep trust and engaging in community work. This entails years of groundwork and fostering dialogue to prepare for transformative actions. We’ve worked diligently on influencing parental mindsets, which are pivotal in driving change. Establishing strong, trusting relationships with district leaders has been crucial to gaining support at the local level.

We’ve also introduced innovative approaches to convening and strategic development, encouraging interactions that span various parts of the system and promote collaboration among diverse partners. By engaging a research partner, we’ve been able to monitor shifts in public opinion and gather data to inform educational policy and practice. Furthermore, we maintain close ties with government departments to influence policy and the educational infrastructure, ensuring that changes are sustainable and reflective of our collective vision.

What are the main challenges your community faces, and how is your organisation working to address them?

The challenges our community faces are complex and layered. In classrooms, we deal with poor academic performance, violence, inequity in services, and significant disparities between rural and urban areas. At a systemic level, we struggle with low trust, a lack of attractive opportunities for talented individuals, minimal collaboration, and insufficient alignment between political and societal expectations.

In response, our programme, Efecto Ancash, aims to address these issues head-on by reducing educational gaps and enhancing both the learning and skill development of our students. We’re shifting the purpose of education towards competency-based learning, which involves updating the expectations and mindsets of the community—particularly those of students and parents—regarding what constitutes quality education. Additionally, we’re working to build the capacity of educational leaders, both in government and schools, to implement effective changes, develop new systems, and establish robust policy infrastructures and collaborative practices.

How does thriving look in your community?

I have to be honest and say that at the beginning – and we still have this in many areas of my country and across the world – if you spoke about kids thriving, it meant being ranked number 1 in terms of grades, winning as many academic contests as possible, and then getting the highest-paying job possible. When I spoke to my students, they shared with me that often when someone started getting good grades, the adults would say, “I think that you should study medicine,” as if that career were reserved for some students.

Over time, we have seen changes in what parents feel proud of about their kids. Surely, academic success in terms of grades is still present, as well as material wealth, but now you see more parents saying that kids are thriving if they have good mental health, if they are happy in life, if they are contributing to their community. This new mindset impacts the conversation at the dinner table and the advice they give to their children. Kids have always been cognizant, for example, of the problems in the community that they want to address; now they have more and more supporters of plentiful lives with some material gain but also greater mental health, service-oriented communities, family life, and active citizenship. If kids thrive in these areas, and our learning ecosystems can help them in that journey, communities will surely flourish in a different way over this century.

How does your organisation work like a learning ecosystem?

The fundamental idea of a learning ecosystem is that the school is no longer the focal point where learning happens. Rather, we focus on when and how students spend time in their community and the world (whether in person or virtual). The ways students spend their time is a vast canvas where today we find and integrate opportunities for human flourishing. Some of the most promising learning processes according to students (if you ask them) are in community centres, virtual programs outside of school, and student-led organisations. Today we call these spaces “informal” because they happen outside the walls of a school and aren’t regulated by a district.

At Enseña Perú, we are learning what it means to embody this concept and help implement it. In Efecto Ancash and in other partner cities where we go for transformation through collective leadership, we follow two basic principles that help us iterate:

  1. “Learning ecosystems” through people, which means that many more roles might be involved in planning and delivering transcendental education.

    Would it make sense to include the local police, for example, in planning about educating students as leaders? How about the leaders of that amazing youth-led organisation that is helping youth find their mental health?  
  2. “Learning ecosystems” through innovations, which means that ideas of value are not limited to the district office or the school, but might happen elsewhere or be led by other players.

    Guerreras Chavinas” (chavinian warriors), for example, is a network of female teenagers who fight for gender equity. Many girls have found safe spaces and high-quality development opportunities as student activists. After a couple of years of running parallel to school, the experience is being connected to lesson plans in classrooms in the area.

What did you take away from participating in the GELP Forge Futures event in Pittsburgh?

I was eager to contribute as a thought partner, sharing insights and listening intently to the perspectives of others. My primary goal was to engage deeply with innovative ideas that could challenge and refine my own approaches to transforming education. I love to find ideas that disrupt my thinking, this allows me to change my mindset and do better when I go home.