The Ministerial of Education begins in Santiago with an urgent call to recover and reactivate the educational systems of Latin America and the Caribbean

The meeting addresses the challenge of educational reactivation, the transformation of teaching, and financing to have public policies to guarantee the right to education for 125 million students in the region.

26 January 2024
Men and women are standing in a meeting hall in front of flags from Latin America and the Caribbean
CEPAL/2024
The meeting was organized by UNESCO and the Ministry of Education of Chile, with the support of ECLAC, CAF, UNICEF and the World Bank.

On Thursday, January 25, 2024, the "Ministerial Meeting of Education, Santiago 2024" began, which aims to design an agenda of actions to overcome the educational crisis caused by the pandemic. This meeting of ministers of Education and of Finance from Latin America and the Caribbean is organized by the UNESCO Regional Multisectoral Office in Santiago and the Ministry of Education of Chile (Mineduc), with the support of ECLAC, CAF, UNICEF and the World Bank.

This is one of the largest dialogue efforts in this field, as it brings together representatives from over 30 ministries of Education, representing around 125 million students and 6.9 million teachers.

In his opening speech, the Minister of Education of Chile, Nicolás Cataldo, stated that the challenge for Latin America and the Caribbean is for “girls, boys, and adolescents to return to school, to reengage with it, to see their classrooms as a transformative space. The pandemic took a lot from us, some of us even lost loved ones, and in education it shook a link, that cultural thread that binds families and each of their members to an educational institution”.

“Our challenge is to recover, of course, but also to reactivate, and that is the invitation we want to extend from Chile to the entire region. To recover and reactivate. Because what we had before was not enough, today we have the opportunity for this sense of urgency to allow us to leap forward and achieve better attendance and retention rates, better learning, and a better educational experience.”

- Nicolás Cataldo, Minister of Education of Chile

To move forward with this challenge, the authority explained, the “Education Ministerial, Santiago 2024” must create a regional reference framework on public policies for reactivation, recovery, and educational transformation “that serves as a mechanism to effectively move from commitment to action, and with it, we can accelerate our progress towards achieving the goals of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), deepening the dialogue on financing education as an essential condition.”

Governance and Resources for Education

In the discussion sessions of the "Ministerial Meeting of Education, Santiago 2024," authorities will address three key issues for the sector: the challenge of educational reactivation, the transformation of teaching to guarantee the right to education, and the financing required for these public policies.

To contribute to this debate, ECLAC, with the support of the World Bank and UNESCO, developed the document “Challenge of the Financial Sustainability of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean”. This document argues that countries are at a crucial moment to invest more in education, ensuring the financial sustainability of their policies. For this, ministries must actively participate in the budgetary decisions concerning their educational systems.

The director of the UNESCO Regional Multisectoral Office in Santiago, Claudia Uribe, says there are signs of recovery in some educational indicators of the continent but that "we still face considerable challenges, with 9.6 million children out of school in 2022".

"In the field of educational policies, we have witnessed remarkable progress but also identified areas that require more attention. Compensatory actions to address socio-educational gaps, as well as early warnings based on disaggregated data, are emerging as promising strategies." 

- Claudia Uribe, director of the UNESCO Regional Multisectoral Office in Santiago

To drive improvement, Claudia Uribe proposes that a "post-pandemic learning recovery is a crucial and urgent aspect, but few countries have managed to develop comprehensive approaches with coordinated and systemic action plans. This poses challenges of governance and resource allocation, which are central for the coming years in the context of discontinuity and budgetary limitations. This topic has been extensively addressed in our latest report, “The Urgency of Educational Recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean."

Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, highlighted the importance of investing in the first decade of childhood and added that without foundational learning, children's lifelong learning is at risk.

 “Ensuring basic literacy, numeracy and transferable skills by age 10 for all children must be a top priority for all of us.  If we can reduce by half the percentage of children who are unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10, at least 2.3 million of them will benefit. To make it happen, governments must strengthen financing and efficiency of spending in education. No child should be left behind, especially indigenous children, Afro-descendant children and children with disabilities.” 

Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean 

At the opening meeting, Valtencir Mendes, head of Education at the UNESCO Regional Multisectoral Office in Santiago; Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO; José Manuel Salazar, executive director of ECLAC; Pablo Bartol, Manager of Social Development at the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAF); and Jaime Saavedra, Director of Human Development for Latin America at the World Bank also spoke.

Youth make their voices heard 

At the ministerial meeting, young people from Latin America and the Caribbean also raised their voices on the learning crisis that puts their future and the right to education of millions of children, adolescents and youth at risk. 

A group of young people shared an open letter to the ministers, highlighting their demands and the realities they are experiencing in the region. The open letter includes seven priorities and proposals that they consider essential to transform education

 

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Sendai Zea
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UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507 6821 0843

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