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A call for action on free, compulsory and quality education for all Latin American Youth

WHAT: During the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government in San Salvador, 29-31 October, UNICEF and the President of the Republic of El Salvador, Elías Antonio Saca, will participate in a public act to make a call for action to the Heads of State of Latin American countries to encourage them to advance free, compulsory and quality secondary education for all youth of the region.

WHEN: Tuesday 28 October 2008 at 8.00 am.

WHERE: Salón de Honor, Presidential House, San Salvador.

WHO:  The President of the Republic of El Salvador, Elías Antonio Saca; UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg; and UNICEF Good Will Ambassador and artist Ricardo Montaner. Adolescents from El Salvador will also participate representing Latin American youth.

WHY: The enrollment rate for the first cycle of secondary education, which includes mainly adolescents between 11 and 13 years of age, has increased significantly during the last decade. However, this rate is substantially lower, only 50 percent, when measuring the enrollment in high secondary education, which includes young people between 14 to 18 years of age.

Since the main issue of this year’s Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State is “Youth and Development”, there is an opportunity to focus the discussion on secondary education. To increase the opportunities for the future of today’s children and adolescents and to break the continued circle of poverty affecting the region, Governments should ensure a free, compulsory and quality education that begins before primary school and ends with secondary education.

The economic and social development of our region will be based greatly on the priority given to the Latin American children and adolescents.

Information about the Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government: The first Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government was held in Mexico on 19 July 1991, and the participating countries decided then to review jointly the main challenges to a changing world and harmonize the political will of their Governments to promote solutions to the challenges and transform their common historical and cultural affinities in a toll for unity and development based on dialogue, cooperation and solidarity.

The annual meeting brings together 22 States, 19 from Latin America and 3 from Europe: Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Chile, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government is a high-level Diplomatic Conference. The host country proposes a central issue for the discussions in which the Heads of State and Government participate. This year’s issue is “Youth and Development”.

Traditionally, a Political Declaration is issued at the end of the meeting, as well as statements on specific topics of interest.

For further information, please contact
Natalia Echagüe, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, nechague@unicef.org
Eva Lotta, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean, elotta@unicef.org
Karla Rodríguez, UNICEF El Salvador, krodriguez@unicef.org, cel: (503) 7888 4544
UNICEF El Salvador, Tel: (503) 2252 8804 www.unicef.org/lac

UNICEF works in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.




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