Global Co-ordination > Working Group on Education for All >
First meeting / Document 9
Intervention by
Dr Rosario Fernandez Santamaria
Deputy Secretary-General
of the Organization of IberioAmerican States
for Education, Science and Culture (OEI)

Activities since the Dakar Forum

The Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI) is an international intergovernmental body with a long history of over fifty years' cooperation. Its members are the 19 Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking American countries, in addition to Spain, Portugal and Equatorial Guinea.

OEI's principal objective is greater equity, and all its programming is closely related to the attainment of the six objectives established in the Dakar Framework for Action. Every year, prior to the Summit of Heads of State, OEI organizes an Ibero-American Conference of Ministers of Education, the conclusions of which are submitted to the Summit. This year, after the Forum and aware of the commitments obtained in Dakar, the Conference devoted its time to analysis, reflection and debate on the situation of early childhood education in the region, convinced that the latter is an essential component for achieving the desired equity. Adequate attention during early childhood constitutes an undeniable factor in compensating for inequalities, by preparing children for access to basic education in better conditions, and thus avoiding high rates of failure, years repeated and premature drop-outs during schooling.

A discussion paper was prepared prior to the Conference, describing the situation of early childhood education in the region, its progress since 1990 and major current shortfalls, plus possible strategies and their financial implications.

During the Conference - a genuine arena for political consensus - Ministers described their experiences and the situation in their country. In addition, they undertook to increase funding for this stage, concentrating efforts on the most underprivileged sectors, promoting policies to inform and assist families, whose role is essential at this age, and targeting objectives to increase the number of places in school for 3-5 year-olds. This is a stage in its own right, requiring specific teacher training as well as teaching materials and curricula that gradually take on the characteristics of preschool education, so that the pupil is adequately prepared upon entering basic education.

As part of its programme, OEI proposes to launch the preparation of a work plan for the year 2001. This plan, aimed at promoting early childhood education, will systematize the necessary knowledge and promote the strengthening of institutional relations around critical themes that will enable the creation of alternatives for improving quality and broadening cover at this level.

Plans include - amongst others - vocational training programmes with special emphasis on training for underprivileged sectors, improving the quality of education systems, the teaching of values for active, responsible and participatory citizenship, as well as the institutional strengthening of education administrations, in order to obtain greater effectiveness and efficiency in school management, and always with a view to equity.

The literacy programmes aimed at young people and adults, funded by the Spanish Government, deserve special mention. These have been carried out in El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, are underway in Honduras and Nicaragua, and are about to begin in Paraguay, where their implementation in Guarani and Spanish will be a special feature. These programmes will support and strengthen educational structures and will not be reduced to mere literacy. They will be completed with basic education and vocational training, which will facilitate poverty eradication via the integration into broader society and the world of production of excluded population categories, the greatest proportion of which is made up of women who have not had a first opportunity.

Concrete proposals

OEI undertakes, in the immediate future, to:

  • Identify concrete objectives in each programme planned for the 2001-2002 biennium that coincide with those approved in Dakar, taking into account that some of these, such as the universalization of basic education, or equal access for women, are objectives for which progress has been recognized in the region. Nevertheless, these objectives will be developed in greater depth, especially for rural, indigenous or marginalized peoples.

  • Continue paying special attention to cooperation with Central America, as per the special mandate of our General Assembly.

  • Allow sufficient time in each Conference of Ministers of Education for regional monitoring of the commitments achieved during the Education for All Forum.

  • Provide support for countries in the region that request assistance in preparing national plans of action.

  • Cooperate with IBE in preparing the 45th session of the UNESCO International Conference on Education.

  • Connect OEI's Observatory of Ibero-American Education with the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, if so desired.
  • To this end, the following are offered:

  • The reports prepared on the national education systems of 19 countries in the region.

  • Connection with the Ibero-American network for educational information and communication which will be operational at the end of the first half of 2001.

  • Support for the development and adoption of instruments to prepare indicators on the social relevance of education.