21st National Seminar for UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network in Cuba

The 21st National Seminar for UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network in Cuba was held in the heart of the country, in Villa Clara Province from 13 to 17 May, 2013, bringing together some 110 delegates from all over the country, including teachers representing the 76 schools that make up the network on the island, as well as other specialists and invitees.

The event, which this year commemorated the 60th anniversary of the creation of ASPnet, the 30th anniversary of Cuba’s joining the network, and 2013’s status as the International Year of Water Cooperation, was also attended by Herman van Hooff, director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau of Culture for Latin America and the Caribbean, Juan Antonio Fernández Palacios, who chairs the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO, and Delia Vera, the national coordinator for ASPnet.

Conferences and presentations linked to the School Bulletins for a Culture of Peace and Risk Prevention and Education in Emergency Situations from Natural Phenomena in the Caribbean Islands projects occupied much of the seminar’s academic programme, presented by Isabel Viera and Miguel Llivina, from the UNESCO Havana programmes on Communication & Information and Education, respectively, and by Professor Yoanka Rodney of the Enrique José Varona Teaching Studies University, Orestes Valdés of the country’s Education Ministry’s Science and Technical Department, and the Ministry’s Education IT director, Iván Barreto.

As part of the event, the delegates made visits to five schools belonging to ASPnet in the province – Fernando Cuesta Primary School, Ernesto Guevara Upper Secondary Vocational Institute of the Exact Sciences, and Félix Varela Teaching Studies University, all located in Santa Clara, and the Hermanos Matheu Orihuela and José de la Luz y Caballero primary schools, in Sagua La Grande – where they were able to observe the diversity and rigor applied to the projects currently underway, resulting from the shared efforts of students and teaching staff to implement UNESCO’s strategies and programmes in the spheres of education, science, culture, and communications. Attendees were also treated to remarkable cultural galas, showcasing the talents of teachers and students from all levels at the centres that they visited.

Sessions to exchange experiences and present best practices were run alongside the academic programme, and participants were also able to visit the nearby Mogotes de Jumagua Ecological Reserve and the cities of Caibairén and Remedios, which also hosted some of the activities involved in this year’s seminar.

ASPnet international coordinator Livia Salvari sent a message to the delegates at the 21st National Seminar for UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network in Cuba, thanking the teachers for “their remarkable achievements to provide young people with knowledge, values, attitudes, and behaviours for the world of tomorrow”, thus underscoring the positive impacts of the initiatives implemented at ASPnet schools for Cuba’s future generations.

ASPnet was created in 1953, and is a global network of over 9600 education institutions in 180 countries. The associated schools - ranging from preschool centres through primary and secondary institutions to professional training and teacher training institutes - work towards international understanding, peace, intercultural dialogue, sustainable development, and the application of quality education.

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