Gabriel Betancur-Mejia (Colombia)
Mandate: 1963 – August 1966
Born in Bogota in 1918, Mr Betancur-Mejia obtained a doctor’s degree in Economics and Law from Javeriana University in Bogota (1942), an M.A. in Economics and an M.A. in Public Administration, both from Syracuse University (1944). He also attended courses in international economics, finance and diplomacy at Johns Hopkins University (1946).
Mr Betancur-Mejia’s career is characterized by a strong commitment to education in Colombia. He particularly promoted national and international credits for education, educational planning and administrative reform of education institutions. He taught international trade and public finance at university level in several institutions (University of Antioquia, Bolivarian University, Javeriana University). He was twice appointed Director of the Colombian Institute of Technical Training Abroad (ICETEX, from 1952 to 1955 and from 1957 to 1962), and played a crucial role in its creation and organization. He was also Director-General of the Colombian Association of Universities and of the National University Fund, and Chairman of the OAS Special Commission on the Programming and Development of Education, Science and Culture in the Alliance for Progress (former US President Kennedy’s initiative, set up in 1961).
Throughout his career, Mr Betancur-Mejia served several times for the Colombian government: as economic adviser to the Colombian Embassy in Washington (1946-1947), as Secretary for Technical and Economic Affairs in the Office of the President of the Republic (1949-1950), and twice as Minister of National Education (1955-1956 and 1966-1968).
Mr Betancur-Mejia was invited by UNESCO in 1960 to act as adviser for the preparation of the Conference of Ministers of Education in Addis Ababa. He was appointed Assistant Director-General for Education in 1963. He left the organization in August 1966, when he was appointed Minister of National Education in his country. He then became Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Colombia to UNESCO in 1968.
A member of many national and international commissions, Mr Betancur-Mejia holds several honours and decorations from various universities, cities and countries, and is the author of many articles and books on education and economics. He died in 2002.