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Regional Education Ministers to Meet in Trinidad and Tobago

Summit of the Americas initiative provides agenda for August 10-12 meeting

Posted: August 9, 2005

Washington -- Trinidad and Tobago will host the fourth inter-American education ministers' meeting August 10-12 to review the current state of education in the region, using indicators developed through a Summit of the Americas initiative.

In a August 5 statement, the Organization of American States (OAS), which is helping to organize the meeting in the city of Scarborough, said data from that Summit initiative show that unless much greater efforts are made, the Western Hemisphere will not reach its goal of having all students in the region receiving at least an elementary school education by 2010.

The OAS added that current trends show that less than half of the region's young people will have completed high school by that same date. The challenges are most acute in rural areas, for low-income populations, and for indigenous groups, said the OAS.

The Summit initiative, called the "Regional Education Indicators Project," originated at second Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile, in 1998. There, leaders of the United States and the 33 other democracies in the hemisphere identified education as a top priority for the region.

The regional education project is run by the Chilean Ministry of Education and the U.N. Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

The three previous meetings of Western Hemisphere education ministers were held in Brazil in 1998, Uruguay in 2001, and Mexico in 2003.

Among the speakers at the Scarborough meeting, which has adopted the theme "Quality Education for a Democratic and Productive Citizenry," will be Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning and OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza.

While the hemisphere has made "great strides in enrolling more of our nations' children in school, we have a long way to go toward fulfilling our goal of providing a quality education to every child and young person," Insulza said.

The secretary-general asserted: “Guaranteeing a high-quality education for all is more than just smart development policy; it is guaranteeing a fundamental human right."

The Scarborough meeting, Insulza said, "recognizes that a quality education underlies strong democratic institutions and just and prosperous societies."

Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Education Hazel Manning added that the meeting "focuses on the link between a quality education for all, [and] employment and democratic engagement," which she said are "key concerns of the Caribbean and the rest of the hemisphere in an era of globalization."

The OAS said the Scarborough event will conclude with the adoption of a "Declaration of the IV Meeting of Ministers of Education of the Americas."

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer






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