The Director-General meets the President of Uruguay
On 14 September, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with the President of Uruguay H.E. Mr. Jose Mujica. The Director-General thanked President Mujica for hosting the Consultation meeting of Member States and National Commissions in Latin America and the Caribbean region on the preparation of the Medium-Term Strategy for 2014-2021 (37C/4) and the programme and Budget for 2014-2017 (37 C/5) held from 14 to 16 September 2012. She also thanked the President for his continuous support to UNESCO and UNESCO’s Regional Office for Sciences in Latin America, which is the Cluster Office for Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay and represents the Organization at MERCOSUR.
The President expressed strong support for the objectives and programmes of UNESCO and underlined the importance of having UNESCO’s Regional Office for Sciences in Latin America in Uruguay. He recognized the current difficulties facing the organization, which he believed are transitory and expressed his support.
Their discussions focused on politics, the economy and development as well as issues related to education, social justice and the sciences, and in this regard more specifically to the importance of sustainable groundwater resources management in averting the impending water crisis. President Mujica referred to his strong commitment to improving the quality of life through health services, housing, education and science research as key elements for democracy. The Director-General congratulated the Government of Uruguay for taking the initiative to establish a Regional Centre (UNESCO category II) on Transboundary Aquifers and Groundwater Management for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is expected to contribute to the implementation of International Hydrological Programme (IHP) activities.
The Director-General commended President Mujica for the high importance Uruguay attributes to Education. Uruguay has managed to improve learning outcomes rapidly in recent years. By combining the assessments with cluster-based teacher training and support, learning outcomes improved in certain grades by 30% over six years (GMR 2009). In addition, youth programmes for linking skills and development have been successful in reaching the marginalised. Programmes are aimed at youth from low-income families and those who have low educational attainment and limited work experience. Most programmes provide training, work experience, literacy and numeracy courses.
Irina Bokova underlined that UNESCO’s focus at the sub-regional level has been on the right to quality education, as there is an increasing awareness of the need for social programmes and policies that integrate health, education, and social support for families and children in vulnerable situations.
The President and the Director-General recognized the leading role that Uruguay has played in ICT in education due to its CEIBAL Campaign -- Uruguay was the first country in the world with a successful policy of universal delivery of a laptop to every primary and lower secondary student.