24.01.2017 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

“We should all know that education unites us”: the Minister of Education of Argentina opened the Latin American and Caribbean meeting on the new Education 2030 Agenda

The ministers and delegations in Buenos Aires

“We want our children and youths to view the future as a joyful challenge and not as an anguishing uncertainty. Together we will honour our peoples, especially our girls and boys, and our teachers. We should all know that education unites us”

With these words of welcome, the Minister of Education and Sports of Argentina, Esteban Bullrich, opened the First Regional Meeting of Ministers of Education of Latin America and the “Caribbean: E2030 Education and Skills for the 21st century”, calling upon the authorities of this continent to honour educational work so that all individuals can aspire to a better life through education.

The ministers, deputy ministers, representatives of multilateral organizations and civil society were convened by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education and Sports of Argentina to a meeting in Buenos Aires, on 24 and 25 January 2017, with a view to achieving a common vision for education 2030, and thus drawing up strategies and policies that can help countries meet the goals of the Education 2030 Agenda. Consensus reached will be summarized in the Buenos Aires Declaration to be agreed upon and disseminated on Wednesday, 25 January. 

First day of discussions

So as to reflect on the regional situation regarding different topics, the first day’s debate addressed the difficult times currently being faced by the human race, which challenge the educational sector on several fronts.

Despite undeniable progress already made, development inequalities in the region are still significant. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO underscored in his opening speech that in order to address this situation, the region should commit to principles and priorities such as: inclusion, equity, quality, lifelong learning, innovation, partnerships, statistic information to monitor progress and rethink education for sustainable development, world citizenship, human rights, the gender perspective and peace.

The first morning session included speeches by the Argentine Under-Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Gustavo Zlauvinen, the Argentine Minister of Education and Sports, Esteban Bullrich, and UNESCO Assistant Director-General, Qian Tang. There followed a session to introduce the multidimensional approach to education in difficult times by Jordan Naidoo, Director of the Division for Education 2030 Support and Coordination, at UNESCO headquarters, in Paris.  Esteban Bullrich, Minister of Education and Sports of Argentina, and José Mendonça Bezerra Filho, Minister of Education of Brazil, commented on the above presentation.

The morning sessions continued with a roundtable on “A renewed approach to quality education for sustainable development”, a debate on the quality of education and its key role within the Sustainable Development Agenda. The panelists in this case were Mercedes Miguel, Secretary of Innovation and Quality in Education, Ministry of Education and Sports of Argentina; Valentina Quiroga, Under-Secretary of Education of Chile; Shawn K. Richards, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture of St. Kitts & Nevis; and Freddy Peñafiel, Minister of Education of Ecuador.

In the afternoon the discussion shifted to the roundtable on “Learning to learn: key skills for 21st century educators”. The debate addressed national strategies and policy recommendations based on empirical data regarding innovative approaches to teaching and teachers’ policies. The participants on this panel were Marilú Martens, Minister of Education of Peru; Marcia Potter, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education and Culture, British Virgin Islands; Margarita McPherson, Minister of Education of Cuba; and Cristian Cox, director of the Technical Secretariat, Regional Strategy on Teachers, Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago).

The first day’s discussions ended with a roundtable on “Transforming lives through education: lifelong learning to push forward the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda”.  In this case, experiences, studies and recent evidence were shared on the need to adopt lifelong learning as a conceptual framework and organizing principle, so as to carry out educational reforms to make progress in fulfilling SDGs. Strategies and institutional management to enable the Agenda’s implementation were also discussed.

The Regional Meeting of Ministers of Education of Latin America and the Caribbean will continue on Wednesday, 25 January 2017, at the “Palacio San Martin”, seat of the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship in Buenos Aires.

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*****The challenges analyzed by the participants of this regional meeting are a part of Sustainable Development Goal No. 4, agreed upon by the international community. This Goal aims at “ensuring inclusive, equitable and quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all”. Education 2030 is embedded in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals which are an ambitious, universal agenda for sustainable development “of the people, by the people and for the people”, prepared with the active participation of UNESCO. More information

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