RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EDUCATION POLICIES AT THE BEGINNING OF
THE 21st CENTURY
At the request of UNESCO, we, the Ministers of Education of
Latin America and the Caribbean, are meeting in Cochabamba,
Bolivia from March 5-7, 2001 for the Seventh Meeting of the
Intergovernmental Committee of the Major Project in the Field
of Education (PROMEDLAC VII).
Cochabamba Declaration was adopted at this meeting which included
a balance of the achievements attained and the shortcomings
of the objectives of the Major Project in the Field of Education
for Latin America and the Caribbean, based on which the recommendations
for educational policies at the beginning of the 21st Century
have been adopted.
I. The New Meanings of Education in a Constantly Changing
1: There be periodic discussions on the meaning of education
and that participants include educators, academicians, politicians,
parents, and various associations, inspiring the interest
of the public and the media. These discussions should cover
themes relating to education in the 21st century from a policy
perspective of training in citizenship: the full exercise
of democratic rights and social participation; basic competencies
for informed and responsible citizenship; the establishment
of a culture of science for all; the fostering of values and
attitudes of respect and appreciation for oneself and for
others as a basis for living together in peace; and procedures
to continue learning and adding to knowledge.
2: What is basic and ranks as a priority to be learned
by all male and female students be identified and established,
so that the "pillars of education" appear in balance, both
in their humanistic and in their technical and vocational
dimensions, considering the needs of individuals and the demands
of the social, cultural, work and political worlds, establishing
goals and progress milestones in learning processes.
Recommendation 3: Curricula be periodically revised
and updated in order to introduce and/or reinforce learning
that makes possible the development of such dimensions. This
review should be carried out by education administrators and
by every school. Thinking about and adapting curricula should
be a central element in teaching practice. Teachers need to
adopt the curriculum proposed by education administrators
as their own, enriching it according to the needs of their
students and to their context.
II. Quality Learning and Responding to Diversity: Key Elements
in Education Policy
Recommendation 4: Education policies be formulated
and executed focusing on education processes, actors, and
contexts, aimed at achieving learning outcomes. In order to
achieve better quality of learning, attention must be focused
on changing pedagogical processes, influencing the culture
of the different actors that take part in teaching and learning,
recognising the specific responsibilities that must be assumed
by everyone involved, and on changing the culture of schools,
placing their management at the service of learning.
5: Research and studies be fostered on the implementation
of education reforms in order to fine-tune such processes
and to consolidate changes of education within countries.
6: Maximum priority be given to basic learning skills
in order to facilitate accessing information, technology,
and culture and so that people to may continue to learn. Effective
learning of these competencies requires using new teaching
methods and means. The mastery of basic competencies should
be complemented by learning that favours the development of
skills in personal equilibrium, inter-personal relations,
socialisation, and cognitive development, with special attention
to the mastery of abilities that aid people in learning to
learn and to interpret, to organise and to analyse and use
7: Time dedicated to learning be extended, with progressive
increases in the school year to a minimum of 200 academic
days and extend school days in order to reach at least 1,000
hours per year. This increase should be accompanied by measures
that make most effective use of the additional time. Therefore,
it is necessary to utilise flexible and diversified teaching
8: Pedagogical processes be transformed so that all students
may receive quality education. Pedagogical processes should
be student-centred, using a variety of situations and strategies
in order to assure that each and every student achieves meaningful
learning and, working in co-operation, participate actively
in the process.
9: Special attention be given to affective and emotional
factors, due to their great influence on the learning process.
We must offer support to all students, value them, believe
in them, and stimulate their abilities. These aspects will
have an impact on their motivation and self-esteem, and positively
reinforce the learning process. Interactions between students
themselves are also important. Therefore, it is important
to use co-operative learning strategies and to establish communication
and participation channels for students in school activities.
10: Diversity and inter-cultural awareness be valued as
elements that enrich learning. Pedagogical processes must
consider the needs of each student so that the social, cultural,
gender-based, capability and motivational differences, in
order to favour enhanced learning, mutual understanding and
11: Processes of integration to regular schooling be strengthened
for children and young people with special education needs,
safeguarding their dignity, avoiding any type of discrimination
and providing them with the special assistance needed in order
for them to receive quality education.
12: Intercultural dimension of curricula and education
practices be strengthened, giving equal value to different
cultures, particularly to original cultures, assuring through
priority and targeted care the learning of their native languages
by native peoples.
13: Education strategies be established for children and
young people living in extremely difficult circumstances,
such as those affected by catastrophic diseases (HIV/AIDS),
at risk of drug addiction, displaced or migrant, those living
in extreme poverty and street children.
14: Comprehensive and sound education on human sexuality
be established and fostered to achieve responsible behaviours
and broad training in ethical and moral values.
15: Schools be transformed into educational environments
open to the entire community. The quality of teaching and
the learning that takes place in classrooms depend, to a large
extent, on the functioning and organisation of the school.
Schools must enrich and adapt the official curriculum, fashioning
it according to the needs of students and of their context.
Schools should offer alternative methodologies so that all
students may acquire basic learning through different paths.
Schools must become learning and development environments
not only for students, but also for teachers and the community
as well. The development of open schools, with a good working
environment, can contribute positively to the reduction of
violence and problems of drug use that exist in many schools.
Furthermore, this may help to develop a positive environment
for the community to deal with emergencies such as catastrophes
Strengthening and Giving New Meaning to the Role of Teachers
We recommend that:
16: Priority be given to the development of comprehensive
national policies in regard to the teaching profession, so
that they may respond effectively to the demands of society.
This requires linking initial and in-service teacher training,
combining teaching career paths with commitment and accountability
for results, and improving working conditions and salaries.
17: Policies should result in profound changes in the
organisation of the work of teachers and in the specific role
that each professional plays in education. The current learning
needs of children, young people, and adults cannot be left
to exclusively to each teacher individually and in isolation.
Rather, these needs should be treated by all teachers of each
school and, whenever possible, with the support and collaboration
of other professionals. This requires changes in the organisation
of learning processes in schools, that include the growing
participation of other actors, families, and the progressive
incorporation of new technologies.
18: Groups of schoolteachers be established and strengthened
in each school, working together to develop education projects
and/or training areas through changes in their teaching practices.
To this end, education authorities should create conditions
that permit teachers to have sufficient time available to
carry out collective tasks and to gradually advance towards
having teachers dedicate themselves solely to working in a
19: Progress be made in initial and in-service teacher
training, so that these activities are not fragmented, do
not over-burden professionals, are in accordance with new
demands for professional enhancement and performance, so that
training may be changed into a continuous process truly linked
to what takes place in schools. Initial and in-service teacher
training must be closely connected to research on education
Recommendation 20: Necessary working conditions be
created, to ensure adequate performance of teachers in difficult
circumstances, conducting studies regarding the risks that
teachers are exposed to under such conditions, providing personal
and collective support to teachers through assistance provided
by other specialised professionals. Other preventive measures
should be taken, such as support networks between schools,
better links to the community, exchanges and study grants,
in order to improve teaching performance. Teachers should
be encouraged to play a leading role in the changes required
by reform processes. The foregoing implies establishing environments,
procedures and structures to facilitate teacher participation
at different levels, in schools, and in the local, regional
and national communities. Initiatives should be fostered to
encourage public recognition for teachers from the community
to improve both their self-image and their social status.
IV. Management Processes at the Service of Learning and
Recommendation 21: That periodic assessments and research
studies be carried out on the processes of decentralisation
in education in order to chart its progress and its deficiencies.
The results obtained should enable countries to modify or
reinforce their managerial strategies to foster pedagogical
processes and to assure adequate and timely availability of
human, technical, material, and financial resources for all
schools. Particular attention should be given to more isolated
and poorer schools.
22: That strategies be formulated in order to guarantee
that schools develop their activities with the pedagogical
and managerial autonomy necessary to favour the work of teachers
with their students. Pedagogy in schools should be supported
by the development of in-school education plans developed
by all teachers and with the participation of families and
students under the leadership of the school principal. Such
projects are important in order to assure motivation, collective
effort, the use of common criteria by teachers, and the continuation
of activities through time.
23: Leadership be trained, both in the school system and
each individual school. This training is necessary in the
school system in order that schools may be effectively guided
in their search for quality education, the promotion of equity,
the development of curricula, the assessment of learning,
the enhanced professionalism of teachers, and the encouragement
of society to participate. School principals need this type
of training to allow them to lead the preparation and collective
implementation of education plans and to promote community
participation. Greater school autonomy and participation is
the preferred means for teachers to develop, together with
the community, plans that improve the education of girls and
boys, young people, and adults.
Recommendation 24: Participation in education be encouraged
on the part of families, of State organisations such as legislatures,
other government sectors and society as a whole. Without the
support of policies that cut across different sectors it will
not be possible to achieve goals such as those related to
promoting greater equity. Without the support of society as
a whole it will not be possible to make the required qualitative
leap. Community participation may be encouraged by a more
open, participatory managerial style including public accountability
for outcomes, and that has the school and its teachers as
an objective, viewing the student as the primary actor. Education
should be recognised as a right and a duty for one and all.
25: National agreements and consensus be established to
demonstrate that education is truly a national priority and
a task that involves society as a whole. Such agreements should
include common objectives and defined responsibilities and
procedures to assess them. Among common tasks, we recommend
performing national Education For All forums as proposed in
the Action Framework of the World Forum of Education For All
We recommend that:
26 Maximum priority continue to be given to basic education,
with special attention to groups that are most vulnerable:
underprivileged children, children with special education
needs, working children, migrants, displaced children, those
from isolated rural areas, and native peoples. Society as
a whole, and governments in particular have undeniable responsibility
of assuring universal coverage of basic education so that
all people, without exception, acquire basic skills in order
to fully exercise their citizenship.
27 Equality of opportunities should focus not only on
access to education, but also on creating conditions that
guarantee learning of equal quality for all. In order for
this to be accomplished, action must be taken directed at
offering education that is flexible and diversified, while
strengthening at the same time the demand of the underprivileged
for quality education. The various educational services should
be equal in quality, to which end, formal institutional services
should be made more flexible.
28 Education for young people and adults be strengthened,
and integrated into on-going processes of modernisation and
reform. To which end, the education services should be extended
to include youths and adults, thus facilitating life-long
education opportunities. Due to its specificity, education
for these groups requires giving greater importance to institutionalisation
and to generating networks between ministries of education,
the workplace, other government entities, NGOs, and universities.
29 Investment in early childhood education be increased,
especially for the most underprivileged sectors of the population.
Efforts should be focused on extending the supply of education
services in order to assure in coming years universal coverage
for the 3 to 6 year-old group and gradually extend these services
to include children under 3. Similarly, changes should be
undertaken in early childhood education in close co-operation
with primary education, without losing sight of the special
nature of the former. Training for parents as first educators
of their children should be a fundamental strategy in early
childhood programs, along with efforts by NGOs, local governments,
communities and other social actors.
30 Learning and training opportunities be increased for
adolescents and young people through the development of a
reformed secondary and professional education. It is important,
however, that this be done in a gradual manner in order to
achieve wider access to this level, the permanence of its
learners, carrying out educational reforms to make them more
relevant to the new demands of people and of society. The
different objectives of this level of education require offering
a balanced, sufficiently diversified curriculum with different
linkages between secondary and professional education.
31 Countries should continue to give priority to adult
and youth literacy initiatives, applying more effective methods,
using the mass media such as radio and television, mobilising
and raising funds in order to produce indispensable written
VI- Means and technologies for educational transformation
32 Architectonic solutions be designed, with environment-friendly
education environments, encouraging the participation of the
education community so that the school facilities and equipment
are conducive to the teaching-learning process and relevant
to the social and cultural reality of the community which
they serve. Recommendation 33 Priority given to the provision
of books and school libraries, and the stimulation of the
pleasure of reading be maintained, scheduling time within
the school day for recreational reading.
34 According to the possibilities of each country, and
with the principle of equity as a guide, long-range policies
be adopted and implemented to make possible the incorporation
of new information and communication technologies. Simultaneously
develop assertive policies for the utilisation of mass media
(radio, television) and new technologies, in order to support
student learning and teacher training.
35 Regional information and communication observatories
for education be established that supply information to authorities
in order to provide for the exchange of experiences and for
the establishment of policy criteria in these areas.
36 Training activities be promoted in order for teachers
to use the new technologies creatively.
37 The creation of international, regional, and national
networks of schools, students, and teachers be encouraged
using the Internet and other means as a channel for communication
and exchange of experiences.
Recommendation 38 The adoption of more conventional
audio-visual technologies be intensified within public schools,
training teachers in their use.
39 Horizontal co-operation be promoted in order to generate
information technology products and digitised curricular content
for teaching purposes, adapted to the cultural conditions
inherent to the different sub-regions.
VII- Funding quality learning for all.
40 Considering the long-term financial requirements of
education policies and the need to achieve higher quality
learning outcomes in order to meet the urgent needs of the
new century, efforts be continued to significantly increase
investment in education. The use of resources in education
must be viewed as an investment, and not merely as an expense.
Recommendation 41 The allocation of public resources
to education be improved, accompanied by other measures that
favour quality learning, and focusing on the poorest and most
vulnerable areas and schools so as to decrease high rates
of grade repetition and school drop-out, thus improving the
internal efficiency of systems and enhancing equity.
42 A more equitable distribution of resources be sought
in which per-capita public spending on education services
promote affirmative action for the benefit of the low-income
population. This measure, besides its redistribution effects,
possesses the virtue of alleviating the considerable efforts
the low-income families make to pay for the education of their
43 A broad and timely information system be developed
that allows insight into proper spending and its impact on
the system and on schools, based on which a sufficient and
sustainable amount of public funds should be allocated.
44 Decided joint action be sought from the Latin American
and Caribbean governments to mitigate the overwhelming weight
of foreign debt, allocating the resources thus freed, to education.
Additionally, establish specific and verifiable actions to
reduce military expenditures, to channel these funds into
the implementation of specific education projects.
Information technology systems to improve educational policy
Recommendation 45 Comprehensive information system
policies be developed that include education research, assessment,
innovations, statistics, and indicators. It is important to
have access to information systems covering every aspect related
to the educational system, with quality, universal, timely,
valid, reliable and transparent information, which effectively
fosters both education policy decision making and accountability
46 A culture that promotes evaluation be fostered in the
various countries, generating public debates on the meaning
and orientation of the education quality evaluation systems.
At the same time, models should be created that consider social-economic
and cultural contexts in schools; teaching and learning processes
and strategies; student outcomes in regard to knowledge, attitudes,
and values; and the views that parents, teachers, and students
have of their schools. These models should be broad, and include
both external and internal assessment on the part of each
47 Policies to foster innovation in education be fostered
in the areas of greatest interest to countries, based on the
systematisation and dissemination of such innovations. Internet
and other means should be used to construct networks and open
spaces of communication between progressive teachers so they
can share, discuss, and learn from such experiences.
Recommendation 48 Research in education be fostered
in order to produce knowledge on factors that have a bearing
on meaningful learning, disseminating and using the information
obtained in the decision-making process. In order to do so,
research must be stimulated and collaboration encouraged between
universities, academic centres, and schools so that research
may aid in improving school management and teaching practices.
In addition, teachers should be encouraged to reflect on and
systematise their teaching practices.
Recommendation 49 Accountability for outcomes be fostered.
To this end, indicators must be designed that allow the comparison
of outcomes at regional and international levels; not for
the purpose of ranking schools and countries, but rather as
a way of identifying successful experiences and those factors
that have an impact on learning to improve education policy
Recommendation 50 A new style of co-operation be fostered,
centred more on the transfer of theoretical and practical
knowledge, on innovative and effective experiences, and on
co-operation between countries in the region and between the
region and the rest of the hemisphere and other multilateral
forums in the world. Agencies can aid countries in mutually
sharing information on how they are achieving higher levels
of skill in the development of education innovations, strategies,
and reforms. Co-operation agencies should demonstrate constant
credibility through the timeliness, transparency, competence,
pertinence, reliability and sustainability of the results
of their activities.
51 International agencies support co-operation projects
that strengthen nationally-established education policies,
within the context of absolute respect, transparency and commitment
to national policy guidelines and create working groups in
collaboration with other countries on relevant themes that
open new fields of horizontal co-operation and promote opportunities
for reflection among agencies on the meaning and styles of
co-operation, particularly emphasising education integration
processes generated in the region.
52 Co-ordination between international agencies be improved
for the generation and development of joint programmes or
projects in the preparation of events and periodic meetings
of ministers and other high officials. It is important to
produce a common agenda for co-operation, agreed upon by agencies
and by countries, that makes a rational use of their technical
and financial resources, achieves greater effectiveness, and
implements a rigorous follow-up of adopted agreements.
Recommendation 53 We request that UNESCO take the initiative
of organising together with the Ministers of the region, a
15-year Regional Project, which includes essential elements
of this Declaration, in accordance with the recommendations
set forth in this meeting, and conducting evaluations every
54 We urge the President of the VII Meeting of the Major
Project in the Field of Education for Latin America and the
Caribbean to submit this Recommendation at the next UNESCO-sponsored