Despite enormous efforts made, the figures for education in Latin America show a worrying reality: early childhood care is not comprehensive, the attendance rate of girls and boys aged 4 and 5 at school shows that 24% do not attends the first years of the educational level. In primary a little more than 30% does not finish the cycle at the corresponding age. One of the most serious data on the state of affairs indicates that, in high school, more than 50% of adolescents of their respective age do not finish it, and students who do not learn what is necessary to perform in adulthood.
The problems and the challenge that the aforementioned reality supposes are confirmed with the growth of the so-called neither-nor in the region (young people who neither study nor work), and with the results of international tests of educational quality, Latin American countries are They rank last among participating nations on different continents. The problem worsens and the gaps increase as students descend the socioeconomic scale and move away urban centers, inequality, poverty and exclusion are, at the same time, the cause and consequence of educational backwardness and a Sad truth that hurts and embarrasses: Latin America is the most unequal region in the world, with 186 million poor in 2016 according to Unesco.
It is in this scenario that the Latin American Education Network (REDUCA) was born eight years ago, which brings together civil society organizations 15 countries in the region that fight for full respect for the human right to education and the improvement of learning the girls, boys and young people of this part of the continent. Its objective includes working to improve public education in each country and defending the right to learn of students through active participation to ensure that educational policy is a priority and that States comply with the educational commitments established in local laws. and in the respective international covenants.
REDUCA coordinated on June 6 and 7 the organization of the Regional Meeting of Ministers of Education of the region that took place in Bogotá (Colombia). The meeting was led by the Colombian Ministry of National Education (Minister María Victoria Ángulo) and co-organized by REDUCA (represented by Educar 2050 Argentina), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) and the Development Bank (IDB).
The meeting had the participation of the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, who among other considerations assured: "We must act for equity, directing funds to education, especially in early childhood, and thus reach children with high vulnerability". The meeting was attended by ministers, vice-ministers, and officials the education ministries of the following countries: Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay, and also attended by videoconference the Minister of French education, Jean-Michel Blanquer.
Unesco presented an analysis of the state of the region in the SDGs4 and the 2030 Agenda, as well as specific presentations on progress and challenges in education, educational leadership, quality, technology and inclusion.
In addition to dialogue on these issues, efforts were made to build an environment of privacy and trust among officials, which is useful for them to exchange and share experiences and lessons learned during their administration. This space seeks to focus on the long term, and even intends to sustain participation year after year, beyond the political office of its members, with the intention that true learning is not lost between management.
Flor Pablo Medina, Minister of Education of Peru, commented: "I have felt in this meeting a dynamic of learning community". The educational themes that were worked on in greater depth were: global citizenship, quality and equity in education, teaching leadership, and technology, inclusion and education. In this sense, REDUCA commented and distributed the report Learn is more, which constitutes an important contribution to work on a joint strategic plan for the improvement of education in Latin America.
The voices of the ministers, vice-ministers and participants of the meeting hinted at a final common message by arguing that the educational challenge of our nations must be understood as an issue that exceeds the teaching and learning of students, and must be addressed as a strategic issue that makes the future of the region and the greatest challenge in Latin America: paying off the learning debt with the region's children and young people.
Manoel Alvarez-Trongé is President of Educar 2050, Secretary General of REDUCA.