04.04.2017 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

Latin American specialists debate on inclusive education policies for indigenous peoples at international conference

Photo: Education Ministry, Ecuador

Ministry authorities in the region, academics, and education experts will consider issues of quality, equity, and interculturality in education during the open conference entitled: “Indigenous Knowledge in Latin America: Opportunities for an educational policy with an intercultural approach in the 2030 Education Agenda.” Organized by the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago), the conference will take place on April 5, 2017 in Santiago, thanks to support from the Program for Intercultural Bilingual Education of the Ministry of Education in Chile.

In the morning, the debate will focus on the situation of education in indigenous communities and on programmes and initiatives on indigenous knowledge developed by ministries of education. Participants will analyze policies that strengthen an intercultural bilingual approach within the framework of the new Education 2030 targets (Sustainable Development Goal 4). They will also consider teacher policies and the role of traditional educators in the transmission of knowledge. 

UNESCO will present two publications produced by the Latin American Laboratory for Assessment of the Quality of Education (LLECE). The first of these is entitled Indigenous knowledge and educational policies in Latin America. An exploratory analysis of how worldview and indigenous cultural concepts can influence education policy in the region. This study was developed with the support from academics and representatives of ministries of education throughout Latin America. It is available for free in PDF download on the UNESCO website.

The second document, Inequity in learning achievement among indigenous students in Latin America: What does TERCE tell us? will be analyzed by participants, serving as inputs for its future publication. The report delves into issues of inequality in learning outcomes related to the condition of indigenous students in primary schools across the region, particularly focusing on those countries which participated in the Third Regional Comparative and Explanatory Study (TERCE). The report provides an analysis of the main results, along with policy suggestion that will help to reduce these learning achievement gaps.

Cecilia Barbieri, (a.i) director of OREALC/UNESCO Santiago, highlights the importance of this event in the context of the multicultural and multilingual character of the region: “This represents one step closer in our institutional work towards the fulfillment of the E2030 Agenda, which is supported by UNESCO Member States. In the Buenos Aires Declaration (January 2017), ministers of education in the region particularly emphasized the promotion of a multicultural education that values different types of knowledge, that trains teachers, and designs educational material and curricula that point to more inclusive, harmonious societies. This conference is part of this commitment.”

Atilio Pizarro, Section Chief for Planning, Management, Monitoring and Evaluation at OREALC/UNESCO Santiago, also comments that “another relevant issue that this conference will highlight is how inclusive, quality learning reduces inequality among indigenous and non-indigenous student populations. Therefore, the conference will place particular emphasis on the challenges of evaluation systems in ensuring the inclusion of indigenous knowledge in the region, in accordance with the skills required for the 21st century, while taking into account multiculturality. The findings of the work developed thus far by the Latin American Laboratory for Quality Assessment of Education (LLECE) motivate us to work hard at making our evaluation systems more intercultural. 

Afternoon meeting focusing on Chile
Following the event in the morning, which is open to the general public, international experts and representatives of the Program for Intercultural Bilingual Education of the Ministry of Education of Chile will meet in order to consider Chile´s particular challenges in this area and work to create a collaborative regional network that will design public policy proposals to advance the agenda for interculturality.

The Ministry of Education of Chile has worked since 1996 on this issue in collaboration with indigenous peoples, initially with the objective to reduce learning inequalities between rural indigenous students and their non-indigenous peers. Since 2010, the Ministry of Education in Chile re-oriented this work towards the maintenance, revitalization, and development of indigenous languages by integrating indigenous languages, including Amayra, Quechua, Rapa Nui and Mapuzungun into curricula in educational establishments with a high percentage of indigenous students.

Sergio Guitart, National Coordinator of the Program for Intercultural Bilingual Education at the Ministry of Education in Chile, emphasizes that “the challenge today, in the context of the educational reform, is guaranteeing an education with an intercultural focus that can be implemented within the rich diversity of Chile. The challenge is to guarantee the preservation and development of languages, cultures, histories, and worldviews of indigenous peoples; this is an education that will improve students´ abilities to respect and co-create a sustainable country together while drawing on indigenous knowledge.”

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