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La Educación
Número: (129-131) I,III
Año: 1998

Conceptual Framework

The Hemispheric Meeting of Ministers of Education, held in Mexico in 1998, emphasized the definitive role played by education in the social, cultural, political and economic development of the Hemisphere. The Ministers recognized the relevance of education to the exercise of civil rights and increased productivity, and assigned it a place of growing significance in the process of regional economic integration.

The Summit at Miami set forth priority areas to orient progress toward integration, which have been addressed in an effective manner. After the II Summit of the Americas, the social aspects of this process have been increasingly stressed, especially the strategic role of education in the processes of modernization, socioeconomic development and regional  integration.

The Plan of Action of the II Summit of the Americas endorsed the principles of fairness, quality, relevance and efficiency as guidelines for educational policies and as essential factors in providing improved living standards for all people in the Hemisphere. At the same time, the Governments agreed to promote compensatory educational policies in order to achieve these objectives; to establish and reinforce evaluation systems of educational quality; develop programs to enhance the prestige and professionalization of teachers and administrators; reinforce educational administration and institutional development; strengthen education and training for work; strengthen educational strategies relevant to multicultural societies; develop educational strategies for the promotion of values, together with families and other stakeholders; promote access to and use of educational technologies; increase the availability of teaching materials; link the schools of the Hemisphere through technology and promote a system of fellowships and the exchange of students, teachers, researchers and educational administrators.

Although many challenges still persist at the end of the XX century, such as promotion from primary to secondary school, particularly for girls, numerous advances in the field of education have been achieved during recent decades in the region. In 1950, illiteracy in the region affected nearly 50% of adults, but by 1990 this percentage had been reduced to less than 15%. Currently, girls and women represent 50% of school enrollments at the primary, secondary and post-secondary levels, and the average years of schooling for members of the labor force had increased from 2.3 years in 1950 to 5.2 by 1990.

New knowledge concerning cognitive processes, experience accumulated through the reform initiatives and different pedagogical practices and the unprecedented advances made in information technology contribute to realizing the potential of more effective educational programs. It is now possible to research and test, disseminate and apply these advances more broadly through a program which coordinates exchange, the formation of networks, publications and regional consultations. The Inter-American Program of Education of the OAS is oriented toward promoting this process.