18.11.2013 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

Spanish Co-operation Agency analyses achievements and challenges over the 25 years since its creation

Photo: UNESCO/Andres Pascoe

With the participation of high-level officials from a number of international agencies, including the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) held an International Meeting on the Right to Education and Development in Montevideo (Uruguay) on 18 and 19 November.

The event was opened by Roberto Varela Fariña, Spain’s ambassador to Uruguay, who stated that “Education is an essential tool in the struggle against poverty and a basic wellspring of rights that give rise to further rights”.

The first working day session consisted of a series of dynamic round tables where discussion flourished on the past, present, and future o three areas identified as priorities: literacy, inter-cultural bilingual education, and the regional co-operation programme with Central America.  The second day was given over to discussion of the post-2015 agenda, and university co-operation in education.

The round table on literacy programmes featured the participation of Luis Scasso, the director of the OEI in Paraguay, who explained that “In Latin America and the Caribbean, 30 million people cannot read, while 110 million adults and young people did not finish basic education. In this context, programmes in the field of Basic and Literacy Education for Adults and Young Persons (BLEAYP) have gone above and beyond their original scope, becoming integrated initiatives that provide not only literacy education but also quality programmes in both basic and middle education”.

“We consider beneficiary countries’ contribution to have been fundamental in supporting AECID. The BLEAYP programmes can be taken as a model experience in co-operation for development, and received international recognition with the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize,” explained Alfonso Gentil, General Adjunct Sub-director for International Co-operation at Spain’s Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport.

Meanwhile, the round table on inter-cultural bilingual education featured Juan Luis Iturria, assistant programme specialist in the Planning, Management, Monitoring, and Assessment Section at OREALC/UNESCO Santiago, who suggested that “Being indigenous is associated with higher levels of poverty and social exclusion, making consideration of inter-cultural bilingual education vital in order to overcome that situation”.

The day’s final round table session centred on regional co-operation with Central America.  There, María Eugenia Paniagua, the general secretary of Central American Educational and Cultural Coordination (CECC / SICA), explained that “AECID itself and Spain fail to fully realise that they have done something extraordinary, which could be a model for co-operation to be repeated elsewhere. On behalf of the Council of Ministers of Education, please allow me to recognise AECID’s contribution to FOIL, the Vocational Training and Workplace Entry Programme Project.

Following lively discussion and a summary of the day session, a graphical exhibition was opened, showing AECID’s key achievements and priorities in the region over the 25 years that it has been active here.

Following the two day sessions, 20 and 21 November will be set aside for bilateral meetings with OREALC/UNESCO Santiago and analysis of the education situation in Uruguay with a broad range of experts.

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