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December 18, 2000





The Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD) of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Venezuela-based Fundación Cisneros today signed a cooperative agreement that will expand distance-learning programs in Latin America.

The agreement calls for the organizations to work together to build on the Fundación Cisneros’ innovative teacher-training program, Actualización de Maestros en Educación (Professional Development for Educators). The AME program uses digital satellite television to train teachers, currently serving 145 schools in seven countries.

Today’s agreement – one of the first cooperative ventures between the IACD and a private institution – will seek to expand the AME program throughout the region. It was signed in the Hall of the Americas by OAS Secretary General César Gaviria; Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, Founding Chair and President of the Fundación Cisneros; and Ronald Scheman, Director General of the IACD.

"This is the first of what I hope will be a series of cooperative efforts with the business community and private institutions to help ensure that we can more effectively address the complex challenges of the 21st century," César Gaviria said.

The IACD, which promotes technical cooperation and training programs designed to accelerate development in Latin America and the Caribbean, will work directly with the Fundación Cisneros to carry out the project goals. Ronald Scheman noted the effective match between the Inter-American Agency, which is developing major programs to improve the quality of public education, and the Fundación Cisneros, which combines its educational expertise with experience in building partnerships with the private sector.

"Education is the most critical challenge facing Latin America today," Scheman said. "This agreement will go far to help the Agency meet its goal to fashion an effective response to this challenge. Success will require the widest collaboration between the private and public sectors."

For the Fundación Cisneros, a private philanthropic organization, the venture marks an opportunity to improve the lives of a greater number of people in Latin America, according to the foundation’s President, Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. "Ultimately," she noted, "this will give Latin American children the advantage of information technologies at very early stages of their lives, enhancing their educational opportunities and thus their ability to participate in the benefits of economic development."

Under the AME distance-learning program, teachers participate in an eight-month distance-learning course in which they communicate via DIRECTV with educators at the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, based in Monterrey, Mexico. Groups of teachers from different countries work together, taking practical tests and preparing research projects designed to deepen their knowledge. The program currently serves teachers in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela.

The AME effort has been widely praised by participants. UNESCO, the United Nations’ education authority, assessed the program at the end of its pilot phase in August 1999 and strongly recommended that it continue.


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For information about the Fundación Cisneros, contact Jeanne Collins at Jeanne Collins & Associates, 646-486-7050, or

For information about the OAS and the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development, contact Janelle Conaway, 202-458-6841.