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Number: 67
Year: 1999
Author: Eloísa Trellez Solís and Gustavo Wilches Chaux
Title: Education for a Sustainable Future in the Americas

Education as an Exchange of Knowledge

The region of Latin America and the Caribbean is a rich source of knowledge, as evident in its diverse landscapes, geography, fauna and flora, its multiple ethnicities, and its varied social settings.

With this in mind, environmental education for sustainable development should provide the skills necessary to interpret the unread texts of the countryside and streets, and to explore both collective and individual memories.

Through a dialogue between the different cosmovisions and imaginaries that coexist in Latin America and the Caribbean, we should begin to construct a multidimensional understanding of the natural and the social processes in which we take part. Education should promote dialogues of knowledge that allow us to recognize and value what we know, while accepting and appreciating the knowledge of others, as well as dialogues of ignorance, which demonstrate that, no matter how much we now know, the unknown will always remain. Education can contribute to the construction of a sustainable vision insofar as it teaches us to hear unheard voices and to decode messages that we may not immediately understand. Many individuals and groups in the region, together with international organizations such as UNESCO, OAS, UNEP, and OEI, have already embarked on this course.

The document, “Education – The XXI Century Agenda”, prepared by the United Nations Development Program, particularly stresses this approach:
Our countries have always been a nursery for pedagogical innovations. This innovative tradition - so to speak - is made up of many programs or “pilot” projects, and the common denominators of these are the imagination and the willingness to find quality in poverty. The aim of these innovations is to modify the traditional teacher-student relationship, and to take advantage of the dynamics of knowledge, experience, context and interaction being offered by many different actors in the teaching-learning process.
Challenge for the Future
  • To identify and assess the great diversity of valuable educational experiences already present in Latin America;
  • To explore these experiences, and widen the scope of their influence.
  • To avoid limiting their potential, vitality and originality by making them “official” or “formal.”