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Communications School Ends Enrollments, Mission Focuses on Lifelong Learning, Distance Education, Online Programs

June 3, 2011

(June 3, 2011) HCJB Global's communications school in Quito, Ecuador, has ceased enrolling new students, but young Latin Americans already studying at the Christian Center of Communications/Northwestern College (CCC/NWC) will be able to finish the three-year program.

"In light of financial pressures on the CCC," HCJB Global President Wayne Pederson, told missionaries in Quito in April, "we are moving to a new, nontraditional model of training and education with a focus on distance education, online programs and lifelong learning." The school's director, Elsi Peñaranda, later shared the news with the 27 current students.

Pederson added that HCJB Global will continue equipping Christians, not only in Latin America but worldwide. "We will train men and women who are called to ministry-those who know the language, the culture and are already there," he said.

Meanwhile, HCJB Global will work in conjunction with NWC to adapt its "successful and accredited FOCUS degree program, allowing adult learners to continue their careers while earning their degree," Pederson said. FOCUS involves attending one four-hour evening class per week along with extensive reading, writing, studying online and documenting real-life experiences.

The CCC/NWC has enjoyed accreditation on two continents, including excellent audit evaluations by two Ecuadorian government agencies that regulate higher education. The program received an "A" rating by Ecuador's Consejo Nacional de Acreditación y Certificación de la Educación Superior (CONEA) whereas the Consejo de Educación Superior (CONESUP) scored the program at 98 percent.

For the last 10 years, the school has been an accredited degree site of Northwestern College in St. Paul, Minn. A number of CCC/NWC graduates have successfully completed further studies and earned degrees from Northwestern. Carolina Bermúdez and María Isabel Bajaña have just completed their undergraduate degrees at the Minnesota school.

Three others, Daniela Baldeón, Gabriela Estefanía Salguero and Carolina Cordova, were awarded scholarships (either full or partial) in April to complete their bachelor's degrees at NWC. They anticipate beginning classes this fall. Since 2001 a total of 11 CCC/NWC graduates have attainted their bachelor's degrees at Northwestern.

"The adjustment [for foreign students] coming to the U.S. and learning in a second language is very, very challenging," said Alan S. Cureton, Ph.D., president of NWC. "But each student has performed extremely well. Some have gone on to graduate school at Regent University and other universities in the U.S. as well as attending graduate school at Northwestern. Some have returned to Quito, others have remained in the U.S."

Cureton added that "how an educational institution delivers or fulfills its mission will change over time, but the biblical, Christ-centered worldview of our curriculum and teaching perspective does not. The 'how' will change over time, but the 'why' does not."

Completing their courses, students will join 179-plus CCC/NWC graduates, many of whom are working as professionals in communications. Launched in October 1984, the program started with 19 students.

The CCC/NWC has offered Spanish-speaking students an opportunity to learn radio, television and print communications. Faculty (both part-time and full-time professors) have included missionaries not salaried by the CCC/NWC, but even then costs became a factor in the decision.

"As we explored options for the future development of the CCC with regional leadership, it became obvious that our current educational model was not financially sustainable," said Pederson. "HCJB Global leadership, in consultation with leadership in the Latin America region, came to the difficult decision that we must close the CCC and develop a new model of equipping, consistent with the on-location, hands-on training we provide around the world," he said. After nearly 29 years, the school will close in 2013.

Today some 20 graduates serve with HCJB Global, the majority of them in the mission's Latin America Region. Mary De La Torre, for example, is the CCC/NWC's academic coordinator.

Others bring Christian principles to their work in a secular environment such as Mauricio Carpio whose program promoting Christian values on a commercial radio station addresses a variety of themes. He is also a CCC/NWC professor and coordinates radio and research areas of the institution. Carpio earned a master's degree in communications, and De La Torre attained a master's in missiology.

De La Torre's sister, Tatiana, directs the Spanish-language broadcasts at Radio Station HCJB. And John Varela and his wife, Sandra Telenchana, have served at HCJB Global's North Africa/Middle East Regional Office.

Cureton added that "eight CCC graduates have completed their degree through distance education. So the FOCUS approach is already working." (These students are in addition to the 11 who attained their degrees on the Northwestern campus.)

Pederson concluded that a task force has been appointed to meet at NWC to "develop strategies for this new learning experience." That task force is expected to hold its first meeting in late July.

Sources: HCJB Global, Northwestern College


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