19 de Octubre de 2021
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La Educación
Número: (117) I
Año: 1994

Acceptance Speech by Ambassador João Clemente Baena Soares, General Secretary of the
Organization of American States

I present my respectful and cordial greeting to the participants of the Eighth Congress of the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education and my recognition to the people who organized this event.

I follow your deliberations with great interest because I have the firm conviction that the University will continue to play a prominent role in the integral development of our countries. Your contribution will be strengthened through the cooperation and coordination of the academic institutions of the hemisphere, a fundamental objective of the University Organization.

In accepting the Interamerica Prize, I am thankful to the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education and its directors for the high distinction conferred upon me. It represents, beyond a tribute, a new responsibility. I interpret this award as a generous testimonial to the priority that I have tried to give to topics related to education, and I accept it as a representation of my continued commitment to the promotion of the university cause and the strengthening of the interaction among the institutions that serve it.

We live in times of promise and challenge. The democratic renewal has transformed the profile of the hemisphere in a radical way. Democracy entails perspectives of freedom, respect for the law, citizen participation in decision-making processes and progress based on social justice. The inequality of opportunity and of income that sinks large groups of Latin America and the Caribbean in poverty and that opposes growth with justice, threatens the consolidation of the political progress achieved.

To overcome underdevelopment and poverty, it is essential to reconcile the stimulus to growth with the achievement of equality. The potential of education as a factor of integral development lies in its capacity to contribute to the search for answers to this dilemma. Education is at the same time a source of economic expansion and an instrument for social equality. The universal access to education of adequate and homogeneous quality constitutes the most effective way to overcome disparity on the road toward improvement.

The topic of this Congress, “The scientific and technological development and the communication networks of the university of the 21st century,” proposes an area in which education can contribute to its development. The mission of the university in widening the frontiers of knowledge and discovering forms of application for new possibilities and alternatives places it as the vanguard institution in technological progress.

The Inter-American Organization for Higher Education expresses the vocation of universities towards the betterment of education, scientific and technological advance, and the emphasis and promotion of the cultural heritage. In promoting integration among the educational systems of the hemisphere, the IOHE widens and deepens its sphere of influence.

Interaction among the universities allows them to consolidate resources to reach results that would not be possible through isolated and disperse initiatives. It contributes to the transmission of knowledge among countries which are at different levels of development and with different levels of technology. It facilitates the sharing of experience. It is one of the ways through which the University plays a constructive role in the integration of peoples.

The cooperation of the OAS with the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education in support of its goal of progress in educational integration demonstrates the possibilities for the cooperation from an organization of states, notwithstanding its nature, with institutions of a different nature that have similar goals. Our common efforts will stimulate the peoples of the hemisphere as they walk the road toward a horizon enlightened by knowledge, where they can live in freedom, democracy, equality, welfare and social justice.