Ministers of Education from Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss the future of education in the region in the lead up to 2030

At the regional meeting organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education and Sports of Argentina, ministers and representatives from regional and international organizations and civil society will come together to define a shared vision of education for the region in the lead up to 2030 and to discuss strategies and policies that can advance the achievement of the goals these countries have set for themselves.

The context: Latin America and the Caribbean are facing the challenge of harnessing their tremendous intellectual capacity, fiscal opportunities, and political will to move forward in becoming more advanced educated societies prepared to take on the challenges of the 21st century.

Ministers of Education from Latin America and the Caribbean are set to meet in Argentina to discuss the educational future of the region in the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The meeting called: “E2030: Education and 21st Century Skills”, will be held on January 24 and 25 in Buenos Aires and is being organized by the Argentine Ministry of Education and Sports and the Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC/UNESCO Santiago).

The meeting will take place in the San Martín Palace, the headquarters of Argentina’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship, and will be the first regional Ministerial follow-up meeting for the Education 2030 Agenda (Sustainable Development Objective 4), which seeks to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

This is a space for dialogue, where attendees will be informed about the Education 2030 targets and the roadmap for reaching them: the Education 2030 Framework for Action. This document, approved in November 2015 by the international community at the World Education Forum (2015), offers governments and their partners guidelines for transforming commitments into action. From this common starting point, information will be shared and areas for work and targets will be discussed, along with the coordination mechanisms and monitoring instruments to ensure their fulfilment.

At the meeting, which will also be attended by representatives of multilateral and regional organizations as well as of civil society, a shared regional vision of Education 2030 (E2030) will be defined, which will be used to generate strategies and programs at the national and regional levels. These will then be expressed in a joint declaration called the “Buenos Aires Declaration”.

The challenge: Consolidating progress and meeting the new 2030 targets
During the 2000-2015 cycle, Latin America and the Caribbean witnessed the most significant educational progress of all the regions of the world. Not only did they improve literacy rates and increase access to and completion of primary and secondary education, but they also experienced a general improvement in learning outcomes and a noteworthy expansion in coverage at the higher education level.

Many countries have embarked on a process of educational reform, demonstrating their commitment and putting education at the heart of their national development agendas. UNESCO believes that it is fundamental to consolidate this impetus, protecting the educational benefits gained through such hard work and laying the foundations for further expansion and development in line with the E2030 targets.In spite of recognizing the efforts made thus far, there are still various areas for concern. For instance, it is necessary to accelerate universal access to basic education, in which there are high coverage levels, and efforts should rapidly be made in reaching universal access to secondary education.

The quality of education and learning is another serious concern. The region needs to rethink and modernize the dimensions of quality education in order to satisfy the needs of a world that is rapidly evolving, dominated by information and technology. Students need to be literate and prepared for the jobs of the future, and countries need to redesign their educational systems so that they can meet this expectation.

In short, we cannot continue with business as usual. Latin America must take advantage of its tremendous intellectual capacity, its fiscal opportunities, and political will to take the big leap and join the most educationally advanced group of societies and get ready to address the challenges of the 21st century.

The Buenos Aires meeting represents the first and most important step in this direction. It will be the first encounter of its type after the adoption of the Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015. It provides a space for dialogue between Ministers of Education from across Latin America and the Caribbean and other education stakeholders in this key area for the future of the generations to come.

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