Cultural Diversity in Education

© UNESCO

The rich cultural diversity of Latin America has the potential to promote human development, growth, and creativity, but also to give rise to enormous social tensions. In the realm of public policy - particularly in education - there is a need to transform cultural diversity into a factor to bolster understanding, and not to aggravate social exclusion. Diversity can thus be endowed with an ethical dimension, becoming a wellspring of cultural pluralism or of discrimination.

The UNESCO Regional Bureau of Education researches how education policies in Latin America and the Caribbean address the issue of cultural diversity, with a particular focus on the ethnic and linguistic diversity of indigenous peoples, to help design education policies to build ever more intercultural and inclusive societies. Education can make use of the richness of diversity as raw material to improve teaching-learning processes, to contribute to more complete human development, and to transform cultural diversity into a source of understanding, pluralism, and social cohesion.

This focus has spawned research projects and publications that contribute to understanding of the influence of cultural processes to improve learning outcomes in the schoolroom and education policies. The concept of cultural pertinence for learning goals has been incorporated as a key dimension in gauging education quality, and assessing advances made in the Regional Education Project for Latin America and the Caribbean (PRELAC).

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