The Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) of the Organization of American States (OAS) today discussed at a regular meeting held at the headquarters of the hemispheric organization in Washington, DC, investments in human capital and their implications for development, with a view to introducing new perspectives in OAS programs.
The meeting of CIDI was chaired by the Permanent Representative of Barbados to the OAS, John E. Beale, and heard presentations by Francisco Marmolejo, Lead Tertiary Specialist and Coordinator of the Network of Higher Education of the World Bank; and Silvia Singer, Executive Director of the Economic Interactive Museum (MIDE) of Mexico, and a report on OAS contributions by the Director of the Department of Human Development, Education and Culture of the organization, Marie Levens.
Francisco Marmolejo said education is becoming increasingly important as the world's economies are increasingly based on knowledge. In Latin America and the Caribbean, although conditions have improved, said the World Bank specialist, poverty and inequality remain obstacles to sustained growth. "The challenge we have in Latin America and the Caribbean is how to foster a growth pattern that breaks the conventional evolution," Marmolejo said, adding that "we already know the formula. It is more and better education."
The higher education specialist referred to the "demographic bonus" of young people the region will experience in the coming years as a great advantage, but warned that "the window of opportunity to make more significant efforts in human capital investment in the Americas is closing slowly." To keep it from closing completely, he stressed the need for greater investment in higher education, an improvement in the quality of education, and an adaptation of education offered to the needs of labor markets.
For her part, the MIDE Executive Director said that the Mexican institution, founded in 2006, is "the first interactive museum of economics in the world,” which is "dedicated to the communication of economics, finance and sustainability.” “Our mission is to allow our visitors to discover that economics is present in all the acts of their daily lives, and to provide them with experiences that allow them to construct an integral vision of economic, social and environmental processes in order to get to an idea of what sustainability might be," said Executive Director Singer.
The MIDE Director said that, through innovation and use of technology, "we are working to achieve citizens that are critical in their thinking and participative as well." This is achieved, Singer said, through a method that recognizes that museum visitors bring previous experience and knowledge with them. "If you show a process, and provide the data needed to understand the phenomena," you can allow participants to make their own paths to understanding.
Marie Levens, Director of the Human Development Department of the OAS, began by reminding the Council that "you the Member States recognized the importance of narrowing the digital divide through mandates coming from the Summits of the Americas." Closing the divide between those who have access to education and those do who not is a central mission of the Department, she said.
Part of that mission, she continued, is met through the scholarship programs of the OAS, which began in the 1950s, but scholarships are only part of the programs of the department. "Professional development, whether on site or online, through the Educational Portal of the Americas or through ITEN the Inter-American Teacher Education Network or through Virtual Educa, or through the capacity strengthening programs of my department, this is what we do and this is what we do well.
Following the presentations, the Executive Secretary for Integral Development of the OAS, Sherry Tross, explained to the Member States how the organization is working in the area of educational support. "We are moving away from just being strictly academic scholarships to really developing a broad range of partnerships throughout the Americas, with institutions like the World Bank, like MIDE, with other universities and governments. We are finding that these collaborations and partnerships actually do help in very significant ways." Specifically, Tross said, agreements with other institutions strengthen the capacities of SEDI, expand its impact, and maintain the engagement and interaction with Member States.
During the meeting the representatives of Colombia, Mexico, Dominica, Suriname, Canada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica, The Bahamas, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Haiti all took the floor.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.