25.04.2017 - UNESCO Office in San José

Central American Meeting “From Oblivion to Memory”: Our African Legacy

Colón, Panama Republic

From April 28 to 30, 2017

The Central American Meeting “From Oblivion to Memory”: Our African Legacy, will take place in Colón, Panama, from April 28th to April 30, 2017. This activity is framed on the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024) which theme is “People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.” It contributes to the achievement of the objectives of the Slave Route Project funded by UNESCO in Ouidah, Benin, 1994.

The event is an initiative from the UNESCO Cluster Office in San José, in coordination with the University of Costa Rica (UCR), the Presidential Commissioner for Afro-descendant Affairs of the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica, Town Hall of Colón, Ministry of Commerce and Industries of Panama (MICI). This activity is a follow-up to the intensive consultations of UNESCO carried out in the Ministries of Education of the sub-region and with the accompaniment of the University of Costa Rica (UCR). With the purpose of making the history of populations of African descent in Central America visible, a series of educational works and a didactic guide entitled "From Oblivion to Memory" were published.

The objective of the Meeting is to improve the knowledge and teaching on subjects as the slave trade and its consequences; as well as the cultural and historical contributions of Afro-descendants in Central America. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panamá are included as the participant countries.

The Meeting is directed to representatives of the Ministries of Education, as including regional and national education advisers, officials specializing in the implementation and design of the curriculum, representatives of the National Commissions for Cooperation with UNESCO and representatives from CECC/SICA. Furthermore, it will include experts of Afro-descendant history and culture in Central America. 

Mrs. Rina Cáceres from the University of Costa Rica, Mrs. Agatha Williams from the University of Panama, Mr. Alberto Barrow from the Specialized University of the Americas, Mr. Quince Duncan the Presidential Commissioner for Afro-descendant Affairs of the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica, and Mrs. Carol Britton from the Foundation Art and Culture for Development, are among the experts who will provide specialized training on the subject of Afro-descendants in Central America. The intervention of such experts and the participation of entities at the regional level is aimed at the creation, development and application of academic and pedagogical tools in teaching the history and the legacy of populations of African descent.

The current teaching of the history and culture of the African and Afro-descendant populations does not allow us to recognize the contributions to the cultural melting pot and the development of the Central American nations. The history of Africa, of slavery in Central America, and the contributions of Afro-descendants over the last few centuries is poorly known. This deficiency in the general education curriculum affects Central American populations in general and promotes a racialization of social relations. The different forms of racialization reflect a current problem in both the Central American countries and the international community.

The purpose of the Regional Meeting goes beyond the improvement of teaching in this part of Central American history and culture. In addition, it seeks to raise awareness about the importance of deconstructing racial categories and to recognize all the historical and cultural elements that contribute to the different nations of Central America.

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