Latin American Statement

The initiative of issuing a Latin American Statement on Education for All emerged from a small group of Latin American educators and researchers. The document was drafted by Pablo Latapi (Mexico), Sylvia Schmelkes (Mexico) and Rosa María Torres (Ecuador)ý and it was initially circulated to a list of nearly 200 people a few days prior to the Forum. It was adopted and presented, during the last plenary session, by the official delegation of Ecuador. To date, over one thousand people have signed this Statement. Signatories come from a wide range of countries, sectors and institutions: government, political parties, universities and research centres, public and private school systems, NGOs, teachers’ unions, student associations, grassroots and indigenousýorganizations, the mass media, churches, private enterprise and international agencies. This Latin American Statement continues to circulate both within and outside the region and names continue to be added. If you are interested, you may submit your m)ssage to pronunciamiento@fibertel.com.ar

Latin American Statement on “Education for All” on the Occasion of the World Education Forum

Required Revisions

Our analysis of the development of basic education in our region and in the world leads us to propose some rectifications that pertain directly to Latin America but that could also be considered by other regions with similar concerns:

a) Policies for educational development should be inspired by fundamental human values and should seek to insure that the educational service contributes to the growth and development of people and of societies. Indicators used to evaluate progress in education, currently centered around coverage and efficiency of school systems, do not reveal the contribution of education to these fundamental values: full development of learners, awareness-building, responsible exercise of liberty, capacity of relating to others with respect. Neither do they reveal whether education systems are responding to the basic needs of the majority of the population, or whether these responses are adequate and meaningful.

b) Decision-makers must think ethically. Educational systems are there not only to serve the economy, consumption or material progress, but mainly to serve the development of human potential. In particular, the expansion of knowledge that characterizes th› start of this millennium and that is deeply affecting educational systems, should be understood within this framework of integrality and responsibility.

c) We are by no means satisfied with what has been done to attain greater equity in the distribution of opportunities of educational access, retention, graduation, transition to further educational levels and, above all, learning. Greater equity has been achieved as a consequence of the tendency toward universalization of a given educational level, mainly primary education. However, this has not meant increased equity in terms of learning results, which are the true measure of educational policies aimed at social justice. The growing use of information and communication technologies in the field of education threatens to produce even deeper and more serious inequalities if we continue to extend basic education with the same criteria used in the past. The problem must definitely be faced in a different way. Society and governments, but especially the latter, must allocate the necessary resources and make the necessary efforts to improve the quality of educational services offered to the poor in both rýral and urban areas, to indigenous populations, and in general to all those excluded from the benefits of basic education. If we are not able to offer improved education to those who need it most, and an egalitarian education for both men and women, it„will be difficult to progress towards educational equity. Without educational equity, we will not progress towards social justice.

d) Given the cultural diversity that characterizes Latin American peoples, educational quality implies recognizing the need to diversify educational supply in order to insure not only respect for, but the strengthening of, different cultures. Each group has a cultural contribution to make to the education of the population as a whole. However, governments and societies must be wary of permitting that diversification of basic educational services be used to conceal an impoverished supply. The comparatively lower capacity of the disadvantaged groups to demand adequate quality of service and of results should always be taken into account and never be taken advantage of.

e) It is necessary to recuperate the original spirit of Education for All in its “expanded vision of basic education”: an education capable of satisfying basic education needs of all (children, youth, and adults), both within and outside the school system (family, community, workplace, libraries and cultural centers, media, modern technologies, etc.) and throughout life. A multi-sectoral approach to education and educational policy must be enforced, since problems cannot be explained nor solved exclusively from within the education sector, and require a responsible economic and social policy concerned with the welfare of the majority of the population. Only a system-wide view of education will be able to overcome narrow conceptions that fragment education and prioritize education policies according to ages, levels, components or modalities. A long-term vision of educational policy, able to overcome the immediate and short-term-oriented decisions that are often imposed by the dynamics of politics or of international financing, is also a must in our region. The emphasis on primary education that characterized the nineties, while important in itself, was done at the cost of postponing the need to face the problems of secondary and higher education, and of practically abandoning education and training of young people and of adults.

Preservation of Latin American Values

a) In the present globalized context, we wish to preserve some values that are essential to our Latin American identity.

  • The supreme value of the human being and the quest for meaning of human existence. We value the respect for the human being and his/her development over and above material progress based exclusively on increased consumption and comfort. We believe in the importance of creating the necessary conditions for each person to find meaning in his/her life and responses to his/her existential questions.
  • The community meaning of life, which is characteristic of our cultures, especially Indian cultures: sharing and serving, solidarity rather than competitiveness, learning to live together, favoring collective over personal well-being, respecting differences against tendencies toward exclusion, and caring for the weak and unprotected.
  • Multiculturalism and interculturalism. Each of our nations is a people of peoples, developed through processes of biological and cultural interaction and mingling. The value of pluralism – of races, ethnic groups and cultures – is essential to our identity and should be reinforced through education.
  • The value of ways of knowing and approaching reality that go beyond instrumental rationality: symbolic languages, intuition, sensibility to human vulnerability, as well as a creative recuperation of tradition and the appreciation of beauty.
  • Liberty, understood – as Paulo Freire did – as a conquest over our selfishness and that of others, as the building of each person’s autonomy and sense of responsibility, as overcoming all oppressions through the understanding of the oppressor and the willingness to share with him or her the task of building a world for all.
  • Work as a means of personal fulfillment and thus as a basic right, and not as an a-critical submission to the interests of capital or as an efficiency-based search for profit.
  • The quest of the “other” in the construction of “ourselves”, as the basis of the ethical meaning of human life and the continuous presence of hope and utopia.
  • The values that give us identity should be preserved through education. They are the basis for achieving peace based on justice and on respect for all. We would like these values to be transfused into every-day interaction, the media, laws, philosophies that guide education and, in general, into all cultural domains. Within the education system, we would like these values to inspire the education of educators and students, curricular contents and teaching methods, school organization and mission; the distribution of resources, the criteria for planning and evaluating, and the interpersonal relationships of all those involved in education.

b) We strongly state the need for societal participation not only in the implementation of educational plans and programs, but also in policy design and discussion. Education is a public issue and should, therefore, involve all its actors and elicit their responsible participation. This is particularly critical in the case of teachers, who are the key actors in education and educational change. To proclaim the need for participation is not enough; times and spaces must be defined and procured, and criteria and concrete mechanisms put in place for participation to occur as a regular process in education: from the local to the global level, from the school to the ministries and inter-governmental instances where education is defined and educational decisions are made. Valuable initiatives that materialize citizens’ participation in education have emerged in a number of countries in the region over the last few years, and should be strengthened and multiplied.

c) We request our governments and societies, as well as international cooperation agencies, to multiply efforts towards equity, prioritizing the more marginalized sectors of the population, and articulating educational programs with wider policies aime+ at improving economic and social equity.

d) We make a strong call for the preservation of cultural and educational diversity at the regional, country and local levels, and against a homogenizing and hegemonic globalisation process.

e) We require international organizations to revise their role in the definition of educational policies and in their implementation at the regional and national levels. We are concerned with the growing importance of these organizations, particularly of multilateral financial organizations, as decision-makers and actors not only in financial aspects, but also in technical assistance, research, monitoring and evaluation of education policies and programs in our region. We are concerned with the dominant thinking about education that has spread over the last few years, which is characterized by a strong economic bias and by an overwhelming predominance of administrative aspects in the understanding of education and in the implementation of educational reform. The need for reviewing the traditional model of international cooperation, especially in the field of education, is acknowledged by scholars and specialists the world over, and by international cooperation agencies themselves. The role of international organizations must be that of facilitating, promoting, communicating, and catalyzing.

f) We call upon our governments and national societies to regain initiative and leadership in the definition and conduct of educational matters, to develop a critical mass of professionals and specialists of the highest level, and to consolidate an informed citizenship able to significantly participate in educational debate and action. After a period of strong homogenization of educational policy and of simplification of educational processes, we must regain the ability to think and act on the basis of accumulated knowledge and of the particular characteristics of each national and local context.

We invite the international education community, and in particular those participating in the Dakar Forum, to ponder on these reflections which we fraternally share.

The initiative of issuing a Latin American Statement on Education for All emerged from a small group of Latin American educators and researchers. The document was drafted by Pablo Latapi (Mexico), Sylvia Schmelkes (Mexico) and Rosa María Torres (Ecuador)ý and it was initially circulated to a list of nearly 200 people a few days prior to the Forum. It was adopted and presented, during the last plenary session, by the official delegation of Ecuador. To date, over one thousand people have signed this Statement. Signatories come from a wide range of countries, sectors and institutions: government, political parties, universities and research centres, public and private school systems, NGOs, teachers’ unions, student associations, grassroots and indigenousýorganizations, the mass media, churches, private enterprise and international agencies. This Latin American Statement continues to circulate both within and outside the region and names continue to be added. If you are interested, you may submit your m)ssage to pronunciamiento@fibertel.com.ar

Latin American Statement on “Education for All” on the Occasion of the World Education Forum

Required Revisions

Our analysis of the development of basic education in our region and in the world leads us to propose some rectifications that pertain directly to Latin America but that could also be considered by other regions with similar concerns:

a) Policies for educational development should be inspired by fundamental human values and should seek to insure that the educational service contributes to the growth and development of people and of societies. Indicators used to evaluate progress in education, currently centered around coverage and efficiency of school systems, do not reveal the contribution of education to these fundamental values: full development of learners, awareness-building, responsible exercise of liberty, capacity of relating to others with respect. Neither do they reveal whether education systems are responding to the basic needs of the majority of the population, or whether these responses are adequate and meaningful.

b) Decision-makers must think ethically. Educational systems are there not only to serve the economy, consumption or material progress, but mainly to serve the development of human potential. In particular, the expansion of knowledge that characterizes th› start of this millennium and that is deeply affecting educational systems, should be understood within this framework of integrality and responsibility.

c) We are by no means satisfied with what has been done to attain greater equity in the distribution of opportunities of educational access, retention, graduation, transition to further educational levels and, above all, learning. Greater equity has been achieved as a consequence of the tendency toward universalization of a given educational level, mainly primary education. However, this has not meant increased equity in terms of learning results, which are the true measure of educational policies aimed at social justice. The growing use of information and communication technologies in the field of education threatens to produce even deeper and more serious inequalities if we continue to extend basic education with the same criteria used in the past. The problem must definitely be faced in a different way. Society and governments, but especially the latter, must allocate the necessary resources and make the necessary efforts to improve the quality of educational services offered to the poor in both rýral and urban areas, to indigenous populations, and in general to all those excluded from the benefits of basic education. If we are not able to offer improved education to those who need it most, and an egalitarian education for both men and women, it„will be difficult to progress towards educational equity. Without educational equity, we will not progress towards social justice.

d) Given the cultural diversity that characterizes Latin American peoples, educational quality implies recognizing the need to diversify educational supply in order to insure not only respect for, but the strengthening of, different cultures. Each group has a cultural contribution to make to the education of the population as a whole. However, governments and societies must be wary of permitting that diversification of basic educational services be used to conceal an impoverished supply. The comparatively lower capacity of the disadvantaged groups to demand adequate quality of service and of results should always be taken into account and never be taken advantage of.

e) It is necessary to recuperate the original spirit of Education for All in its “expanded vision of basic education”: an education capable of satisfying basic education needs of all (children, youth, and adults), both within and outside the school system (family, community, workplace, libraries and cultural centers, media, modern technologies, etc.) and throughout life. A multi-sectoral approach to education and educational policy must be enforced, since problems cannot be explained nor solved exclusively from within the education sector, and require a responsible economic and social policy concerned with the welfare of the majority of the population. Only a system-wide view of education will be able to overcome narrow conceptions that fragment education and prioritize education policies according to ages, levels, components or modalities. A long-term vision of educational policy, able to overcome the immediate and short-term-oriented decisions that are often imposed by the dynamics of politics or of international financing, is also a must in our region. The emphasis on primary education that characterized the nineties, while important in itself, was done at the cost of postponing the need to face the problems of secondary and higher education, and of practically abandoning education and training of young people and of adults.

Preservation of Latin American Values

a) In the present globalized context, we wish to preserve some values that are essential to our Latin American identity.

  • The supreme value of the human being and the quest for meaning of human existence. We value the respect for the human being and his/her development over and above material progress based exclusively on increased consumption and comfort. We believe in the importance of creating the necessary conditions for each person to find meaning in his/her life and responses to his/her existential questions.
  • The community meaning of life, which is characteristic of our cultures, especially Indian cultures: sharing and serving, solidarity rather than competitiveness, learning to live together, favoring collective over personal well-being, respecting differences against tendencies toward exclusion, and caring for the weak and unprotected.
  • Multiculturalism and interculturalism. Each of our nations is a people of peoples, developed through processes of biological and cultural interaction and mingling. The value of pluralism – of races, ethnic groups and cultures – is essential to our identity and should be reinforced through education.
  • The value of ways of knowing and approaching reality that go beyond instrumental rationality: symbolic languages, intuition, sensibility to human vulnerability, as well as a creative recuperation of tradition and the appreciation of beauty.
  • Liberty, understood – as Paulo Freire did – as a conquest over our selfishness and that of others, as the building of each person’s autonomy and sense of responsibility, as overcoming all oppressions through the understanding of the oppressor and the willingness to share with him or her the task of building a world for all.
  • Work as a means of personal fulfillment and thus as a basic right, and not as an a-critical submission to the interests of capital or as an efficiency-based search for profit.
  • The quest of the “other” in the construction of “ourselves”, as the basis of the ethical meaning of human life and the continuous presence of hope and utopia.
  • The values that give us identity should be preserved through education. They are the basis for achieving peace based on justice and on respect for all. We would like these values to be transfused into every-day interaction, the media, laws, philosophies that guide education and, in general, into all cultural domains. Within the education system, we would like these values to inspire the education of educators and students, curricular contents and teaching methods, school organization and mission; the distribution of resources, the criteria for planning and evaluating, and the interpersonal relationships of all those involved in education.

b) We strongly state the need for societal participation not only in the implementation of educational plans and programs, but also in policy design and discussion. Education is a public issue and should, therefore, involve all its actors and elicit their responsible participation. This is particularly critical in the case of teachers, who are the key actors in education and educational change. To proclaim the need for participation is not enough; times and spaces must be defined and procured, and criteria and concrete mechanisms put in place for participation to occur as a regular process in education: from the local to the global level, from the school to the ministries and inter-governmental instances where education is defined and educational decisions are made. Valuable initiatives that materialize citizens’ participation in education have emerged in a number of countries in the region over the last few years, and should be strengthened and multiplied.

c) We request our governments and societies, as well as international cooperation agencies, to multiply efforts towards equity, prioritizing the more marginalized sectors of the population, and articulating educational programs with wider policies aime+ at improving economic and social equity.

d) We make a strong call for the preservation of cultural and educational diversity at the regional, country and local levels, and against a homogenizing and hegemonic globalisation process.

e) We require international organizations to revise their role in the definition of educational policies and in their implementation at the regional and national levels. We are concerned with the growing importance of these organizations, particularly of multilateral financial organizations, as decision-makers and actors not only in financial aspects, but also in technical assistance, research, monitoring and evaluation of education policies and programs in our region. We are concerned with the dominant thinking about education that has spread over the last few years, which is characterized by a strong economic bias and by an overwhelming predominance of administrative aspects in the understanding of education and in the implementation of educational reform. The need for reviewing the traditional model of international cooperation, especially in the field of education, is acknowledged by scholars and specialists the world over, and by international cooperation agencies themselves. The role of international organizations must be that of facilitating, promoting, communicating, and catalyzing.

f) We call upon our governments and national societies to regain initiative and leadership in the definition and conduct of educational matters, to develop a critical mass of professionals and specialists of the highest level, and to consolidate an informed citizenship able to significantly participate in educational debate and action. After a period of strong homogenization of educational policy and of simplification of educational processes, we must regain the ability to think and act on the basis of accumulated knowledge and of the particular characteristics of each national and local context.

We invite the international education community, and in particular those participating in the Dakar Forum, to ponder on these reflections which we fraternally share.

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