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Organization of American States
Executive Secretariat for Integral Development
SEDI - DEC - Department of Education and Culture of the OAS
Untitled Document

First Meeting of Ministers of Education

Untitled Document

20-21 July 1998, Brasilia, Brazil 25 July 1998

Inter-American Program of Education


With respect to educational issues, the Organization of American States has played a significant role in the formulation, development and implementation of hemispheric initiatives.

The recent institutional reforms reoriented the OAS toward greater dynamism and coherence with respect to the challenges that face the Hemisphere. In this context, the concept of partnership for development was generated, which orients the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI).

The functions of CIDI are to promote dialogue and cooperation activities that encourage integral and sustainable development, establish institutional mechanisms designed to promote such cooperation among the member States, and serve as a catalyst for the mobilization of human, technical and financial resources. In its Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001, CIDI defined education as one of its eight priorities.

After the OAS General Assembly in Lima, the member States decided to use the mechanisms of CIDI in the follow up efforts of the Summits of the Americas in areas of its jurisdiction, in addition to formulating and developing initiatives that encourage the implementation of Summit decisions.

The Ministers of Education and the highest authorities in the Hemisphere have developed a significant effort to define their priorities. These priorities were recorded in the Political Declaration of the Hemispheric Meeting of the Ministers of Education within the framework of the II Summit of the Americas, convened in Mexico in February, 1998.

CIDI resolved to support the Ministers of Education in the formulation and development of an Inter-American Program of Education in the framework of the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001 and the Plan of Action agreed to by the leaders of the Hemisphere at the II Summit of the Americas, held in Chile.

The II Summit of the Americas entrusted the Organization with responsibility for a variety of activities in support of its decisions and determined that, in the case of mandates requiring sectoral ministerial meetings, these meetings, when appropriate, will take place under the aegis of CIDI. Further, the II Summit entrusted the Meeting of Ministers of Education, convoked by the OAS within the framework of the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development of CIDI in Brazil in July 1998, with development of a plan of implementation for this educational program.

At the OAS General Assembly in Caracas, the member States instructed the CIDI to provide the Ministers of Education with all the support possible from CIDI's resources in the formulation and development of this Inter-American Program of Education.


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.


In keeping with the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001 and in follow-up to the Plan of Action of the II Summit, the Inter-American Program of Education seeks to:

. Support the formulation of public policies designed to universalize access to a quality education for all sectors of the population, with special concern for at-risk groups.

. Promote the execution of specific support programs targeting socio-economically at-risk boys, girls, youth and adults through actions sufficient to address the magnitude of their needs.

. Intensify multidisciplinary and inter-institutional work for the purpose of improving coordination among sectors and international organizations.

. Stimulate the increasing application of reliable measures of educational efficiency.

. Promote an educational policy that considers human rights, education for peace and democratic values , equality of opportunity and rights between men and women, and gender equity.

. Support the design of training and specialization programs for teachers, administrators and other educational personnel, for the purpose of achieving the competence levels necessary to respond to the demands of a relevant education of high quality.

. Synthesize information derived from experiences in educational reform and disseminate it throughout the region in order to accelerate the process of change and the modernization of educational institutions.

. Contribute to the identification, synthesis and diffusion of successful innovations in education for work and youth development, and share the evaluations of such activities.

. Promote the collaboration of institutions dedicated to educational development as related to citizenship, multicultural societies and sustainable development.

. Support programs designed to increase the use of communication and information technology to improve the quality of education, especially with respect to teachers' training.

. Promote the consolidation and collaboration of institutions dedicated to indigenous education.

. Provide support for the development of the educational systems of countries in especially difficult economic circumstances .


The Inter-American Program of Education complements the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001, which articulates the policies, programs and measures in the area of cooperation for development and which operates on three mutually-reinforcing levels: as a forum for inter-American dialogue on development, as a catalyst and promoter of programs, projects, and other cooperation activities; and as a mechanism to facilitate the exchange of information, experiences and knowledge. At each level, the OAS initiates specific activities under the appropriate line of action at the request of the member States and either coordinates such activities through the Secretariat or delegates coordination to the requesting country/ies.

Furthermore, member States will implement the Inter-American Program of Education, taking into account the agreements of the Summit of the Americas and of ministerial meetings of CIDI.

1. Forum for Inter-American Dialogue on Development . Pursuant to the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001, the structure of CIDI foresees the convocation of ministerial meetings in education that allow the formulation of policies, the design and execution of cooperation for development on this theme. Moreover, the structure facilitates high-level and experts meetings for the purpose of sharing experiences and exchanging information

2. Exchange of information . Drawing on its accumulated experience, the OAS will foster the analysis and exchange of information on experiences acquired by the member States in the areas of educational development, through both printed and electronic publications.

3. Partnership for Development . CIDI has cooperation mechanisms that operate through programs, projects and activities oriented toward institutional strengthening, human resource development, studies and research, and information exchanges. CIDI has a programmatic structure that allows the presentation of cooperation proposals that are approved in accordance with the financial resources deposited in the Sectoral Account for Education of the Special Multilateral Fund of CIDI (FEMCIDI).

Moreover, horizontal cooperation among the member States will acquire an increasingly relevant role in the transfer of knowledge and the exchange of information and experiences.

The General Secretariat of the OAS shall provide support to those countries that so request in the formulation of projects and in the identification of innovative sources of funding and cooperation, including the international banks, and the private and corporate sectors.


In keeping with the decisions of the Heads of State and Government made at the II Summit of the Americas, the Ministers of Education, at their meeting in Chile, formed a group made up of ten countries, for the purpose of preparing for the Meeting of Ministers of Education in Brasilia, Brazil. The members of this group met in Washington and in Mexico City to initiate the formulation of a strategy for follow-up and implementation of the Plan of Action for Education. During these meetings, the group played an important role in specifying projects and activities in response to the lines of action set forth by the Summit. At the same time, the group began a process of negotiations with international organizations designed to obtain their technical and financial cooperation. On the 29 th and 30 th of June, 1998, the group reported the results of these initiatives to the Preparatory Meeting for the first Meeting of Ministers of Education, under the auspices of CIDI.

In that context, this Inter-American Education Program is designed to implement five lines of action established at the Second Summit of the Americas, over the next three years, with annual program execution evaluations. Among the seven lines of action described below, priority will be placed on the following: compensatory [remedial] and intersectoral policies for populations at risk; appraisal, professional development, and incentives for teachers and administrators; strengthened educational management, administration, and institution-building; improved instruction and training for the workplace; and intercultural bilingual education strategies to promote peace, civic responsibility, and sustainability.

Lines of action will be taken within the framework of multinational and national projects.

1. Compensatory Intersetoral Policies for Vulnerable Populations


. Support the formulation of public policies that seek to universalize access to quality basic education, with special attention to vulnerable groups.

. Provide technical assistance and support activities among countries which initiate, strengthen or improve compensatory or intersectoral programs.

. Promote the execution of specific support programs targeting socio-economically at-risk boys, girls, youth and adults through actions sufficient to address the magnitude of their needs.

. Promote an educational policy that encourages equality of opportunity and rights between men and women, and gender equity.

. Stimulate the study of the child in the Region, supporting educational research efforts based on intersectoral experiences with the most vulnerable populations and distributing information concerning lessons learned.

. Emphasize multidisciplinary work with other international and inter-American institutions in order to improve coordination and communication among other sectors and agencies, thereby facilitating the search for financial resources in support of Government priorities.


. Synthesize and distribute technical information concerning successful experiences in compensatory pre-school and basic education programs, executed within the framework of the educational policies of the countries , through intersectoral strategies and multidisciplinary approaches.

. In support of the efforts of the member States, establish links to other national and international organizations offering opportunities for internships and for formal training through courses, seminars, and symposia for the purpose of achieving greater efficiency in the service of marginalized populations.

. Support evaluation and research related to pedagogical innovations that respond to the needs of early childhood, indigenous education, education for work, special education and education for women. Provide training in the implementation of the results of the research and continue support for mechanisms of systematic exchange of technical information, among them, the Revista Latinoamericana de Innovaciones Educativas.

Multilateral Project : Education for Social Sectors Requiring Priority Attention

2. Evaluation of Educational Systems


Just as important as the quantifiable information provided by these evaluations, is the interpretation and application of results, for results may be used as diagnostic tools, methods of allocating resources, or assessments of teaching practices. This sphere of activity will therefore: a) elaborate means of collecting information concerning evaluation techniques; b) perform comparative analyses of evaluation methods, and c) publish generalizable information about assessment practices. Such activities shall encourage increased application of reliable measures of educational effectiveness.


. Support research and policy studies investigating the appropriateness and the pitfalls of the different evaluation techniques in distinct jurisdictional and/or cultural settings.

. Conduct seminars in the development of appropriate evaluation measures for diverse policy purposes related to educational reform.

. Provide technical support for publication and electronic dissemination of information related to educational evaluation methods.

3. Prestige, Professional Development and Incentives for Teachers and Educational Administrators


. Formulate regional and subregional standards for the professional certification of teachers at the primary level, as well as in the different subject areas (mathematics, science, foreign languages) for teachers at the secondary level.

. Establish policies, procedures and mechanisms for granting recognition/accreditation/ equivalency of academic and professional qualifications of primary and secondary school teachers in the Hemisphere .

. Support the design of training and specialization programs for teachers, administrators and other educational personnel, for the purpose of achieving the competence levels necessary to respond to the demands of a relevant education of high quality.

. Stimulate the development of activities in higher education related to the early stages of teacher training, where curriculum changes emphasizing the relations among research, teaching and practical experience are most significant.

. Identify institutes where alternative on-site or distance learning programs designed to develop and improve teaching skills and professional standards can be formulated. Such programs would also be designed to achieve a rapid multiplier effect and comprehensive coverage without suffering a loss of quality.

. Through their respective associations and representatives, involve educational personnel in the development of policies in education, as an important aspect of the professionalization of teaching.


. Synthesize technical information on successful training experiences and support the formulation and execution of specialized projects designed to improve teachers' professional capability in priority areas, such as language arts, mathematics and science, particularly in the first two years of basic education.

. Establish links with the regional program of incentives and educational professionalism, especially those opportunities for scholarly exchanges, fellowships and internships.

. Award the Andres Bello Inter-American Prize for Education annually, to distinguished educators of the Hemisphere in recognition of their contributions to the field.

. Convene a Hemispheric Meeting of educational associations, education authorities and the academic community.

. Encourage the exchange of information through the publication of La Educación: Inter- American Journal for Educational Development .

Multilateral Project : Professionalization of Teachers and Educational Administrators

4. Strengthening Educational Management and Administration and Institutional Development


. Synthesize information derived from the reform experiences generated in different sociopolitical and educational contexts and distribute it throughout the Region for the purpose of accelerating the process modernization of educational systems and institutions.

. Involve parents, the community , the mass communications media in efforts undertaken by educational systems to improve the quality of education.


. Promote studies and research on the reform process of the educational sector in the Hemisphere.

. Hold courses, seminars and internships that allow greater awareness of the dynamics of the reform and a discussion of the experiences already accumulated in the Region on this subject.

. Utilize the capability of the mass communications media to support distance education and disseminate specialized and non-specialized educational information.

. Provide technical and financial support for the production and circulation of The Inter- American Journal of University Management.

Multilateral Project : Strengthening Educational Management and Institutional Development

5. Strengthen Training and Instruction for the World of Work


This line of action proposes to contribute to the process of cataloguing and evaluating the outcomes of innovations in employment-related education. The proposed line of action will include the assessments of successful innovations and the communication of their results to policy-makers in participating countries. Principal initiatives will include research, evaluation and training related to pilot projects at the local level. Through training, a catalytic role will be assumed in promoting collective leadership, with the joint participation of the educational community, students/trainees and the private sector.


. Using already established networks and consortia, inform educational policy-makers about the possibilities presented by successful education-for-work innovations, and assist them in translating these project results into regional policies.

. Train specialists in project design, execution, evaluation and research, targeting the field of educational innovations linked to productive employment, including the rural sector.

. Conduct evaluation research regarding relevant education for work projects which seek to promote the development of basic learning skills through production and employment. The proposal will incorporate a special focus on young out-of-school adults seeking their first jobs.

. Support systematic mechanisms for the exchange of technical information and expertise concerning certification, in-service and competency-based training and other innovations in the field of employment-related education, among them , publication of the Revista Interamericana de Educacion de Adultos.

Multilateral Project : Education for Work and Youth Development

6. Strategies of Bilingual and Intercultural Education for Peace, Citizenship and Sustainability


. Support ministerial, scholastic and academic institutions and research centers working in the fields of education and citizenship, education and multicultural societies, and education and sustainability, in order to develop comparative studies within a hemispheric framework. Promote collaboration among institutions, and specifically among schools, already working in these fields, through joint projects and information exchange.

. Promote the inclusion of modules or specific instructional programs on citizenship, values or character education, health and family life education, peace, conflict resolution, environmental education in the curricula of primary and secondary schools.


. Accelerate the formulation of strategies and educational materials that incorporate a gender perspective into basic indigenous and non-indigenous education;

. Promote the involvement of parents and the community in the teaching/learning process, giving special attention to the peaceful resolution of conflicts in school and the strengthening of organizations representing bilingual populations.

. Promote comparative studies and research concerning the relation between educational levels and democratic behaviors, and concerning the evolution of citizens ´ rights and obligations in the Hemisphere. Special importance shall be assigned to the rights of the most vulnerable populations, both indigenous and non-indigenous, which suffer from a socially disadvantaged position and need access to an education that is sensitive to their values and sociocultural uniqueness .

. Support research related to the present or potential inclusion of environmental issues in formal school curricula at the primary and secondary levels.

. Contribute to initiatives designed to improve teacher training programs in matters related to citizens´ rights to the use of natural resources and responsibilities for the sustainability of the natural environment.

. Support the development and implementation, where instructional programs already exist or are in use of curricula at both primary and secondary levels in the following areas: values and character education, environmental education, peace, citizenship, health and family life education and peaceful conflict resolution.

. Support the development of instructional materials related to the above-mentioned curriculum areas.

. Support teacher training programs and courses to equip teachers to deliver instruction in these areas.

. Promote exchanges for the teaching of the official languages of the Organization.

. Support the formulation of regional action plans to remove language barriers in the Hemisphere through teacher training, strengthened capability in interpretation and translation services and exchanges of teachers to promote the learning of the official languages of the OAS.

Multilateral Project : Education for Citizenship and Sustainability in Multicultural Societies

Multilateral Project : Exchange of Teachers and Students for Study of the OAS Official Languages

7. Information and Communication Technology Applied to Education


. Support national efforts designed to increase the use of information and communication technology for the improvement of educational quality, particularly with respect to the training of both teaching and non-teaching personnel.

. Encourage the incorporation of modern technology in educational management and administration systems to promote strategies of decentralization .

. Stimulate the use of distributed systems of information to strengthen networks of information exchange in the educational field, primarily for the purpose of developing cooperative learning projects and enhancing student initiatives.

. Disseminate information concerning the costs and benefits of employing newly developed technology, such as interactive television, and contributing to the diversification of production sources of high-quality instructional materials.


. Strengthen technically and financially initiatives that stimulate the use of modern information and communications technology in the teaching/learning process.

. Support courses, seminars, and internships which make available to participants the experience of centers of excellence in both distance and on-site training.

. Promote the joint production and exchange of instructional materials for use in educational networks that transmit distance education programs, support publications, courses, seminars and internships related to education in this field.

. Promote technology transfer agreements, and support and advise concerning the development of educational software.

. Develop integral programs which involve schools in training for work through information technology.


The OAS General Secretariat, through the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development and with the support of the competent specialized offices and units, in coordination with the Unit for Social Development and Education (USDE), will support the activities that arise from the Inter-American Program of Education.

At their request, the USDE will support member States in the formulation of projects to implement this Program and will cooperate with them in the search for external funding and cooperation sources for the execution of those projects. Moreover, the USDE will provide support for the design and implementation of pilot educational projects to promote effective participation in innovative programs.

The USDE will present to CEPCIDI an annual work program of activities and biannual progress reports on its execution. The annual work program will define a strategy for the mobilization of external funds for the Inter-American Program.


As an integral component of CIDI's Strategic Plan, the Inter-American Program of Education conforms to the guidelines and mechanisms provided to promote partnership cooperation for development.

Voluntary contributions from the member States to the Sectoral Account for Education of the Special Multilateral Fund (FEMCIDI) will finance activities and projects presented and approved by the member States in these areas. The cooperation activities may have access to additional financing sources, originating in public and private institutions.

Further, the Statutes of the FEMCIDI foresee that contributions or grants made for a specific objective, by any state, public or private entity, to carry out partnership for development projects or activities may be deposited in Specific or Trust accounts, administered by the General Secretariat and will be allocated according to the terms of the written agreements between the contributor and the OAS General Secretariat.


After the Meeting of Ministers of Education of CIDI, where this Inter-American Program of Education will be considered, the member States will decide in which multilateral projects they wish to participate. The multilateral projects will be open to the participation of all countries.

On the basis of the five priority lines of action established by the member states in this inter-American program, the Social Development and Education Unit will prepare multilateral project profiles geared toward preparatory work for education programming meetings.

The programming for the multilateral projects in education for 1999 will be detailed in meetings to be held at OAS Headquarters in August 1998. Projects in execution will be taken into account in the formulation of the new proposals.

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