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OAS Ministers of Education Highlight the Role of Teachers in the “Declaration of Paramaribo” and Issue Recommendations for the Summit of the Americas

  March 2, 2012

Ministers of Education of Members of the Organization of American States (OAS) highlighted the role of teachers in educational processes in the “Declaration of Paramaribo” at the end of a two day meeting in the Surinamese capital, where they also issued recommendations on pedagogical matters for the Summit of the Americas.

The meeting was closed by the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, and the Minister of Education of Suriname, Raymond Sapoen, who chaired the encounter.

Ambassador Ramdin congratulated government representatives on the meeting’s results and urged them to turn the devised plans into reality. “Education, without any doubt needs to be a significant part of any development strategy in any country in the world. The role of education is becoming critical and a vision, mandates and plans will not be doing the job. What we need, and it’s critically important, is the institutional capacity, the commitment, the political will and most importantly the financial resources to do them,” he said.

“I hope that following this meeting and the Declaration of Paramaribo, Member States and the Governments that you represent will not only endorse the vision that you have agreed upon, but also will translate that into a working plan to put money behind those plans, to execute those plans,” the OAS official added. He also tanked national representatives on the support they provide to the OAS on these issues.

Minister Sapoen said that the meeting was “a very fruitful exchange of information, experiences and practices”. “Don’t let these agreements stay in words. We are currently in the years of writing words, let the coming years be the years of doing,” he added.

The Surinamese Minister was elected at the meeting to Chair the Inter-American Committee on Education (CIE, by its Spanish acronym), succeeding Ecuadorian Minister Gloria Vidal. Also elected were Costa Rica and Paraguay, both as Vice Chairs.

Declaration of Paramaribo

The “Declaration of Paramaribo (available here) stressed the importance of teachers in all levels of the educational process. “We reaffirm the key role of the teacher in educational processes and results and recognize that the participation of teachers in efforts to improve the quality of education is important, so as to help ensure that the results are effective and lasting,” the text says.

The document also highlights the need for educators “to have access to quality initial preparation and continuing professional development” and acknowledges that “policies to strengthen the teaching profession and opportunities for quality professional development are vital to attract, employ, induct, develop, evaluate, motivate, retain, and recognize teachers so that they become ever better educators.”

The Declaration of Paramaribo also emphasizes the importance of expanding access to new technologies in education, and applauded the progresses made by the Inter-American Teacher Education Network (ITEN). On that regard, the government of the United States announced during the meeting its commitment to further provide resources to strengthen ITEN’s work

Summit of the Americas

Member Status also instructed CIE, with support of the OAS, to draw up a Work Plan to implement the vision agreed upon in the Surinamese capital. This work will start at a meeting to be held in May 2012, where CIE will have available contents emanated from the Summit of the Americas, to be held April 14-15 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia.

Previous to that, the “Declaration of Paramaribo” will be presented to the Heads of State and Government at the Summit, together with other recommendations to be compiled by the Chair of the Meeting in Suriname. In Paramaribo, some countries already put forward proposals such as strengthening teacher’s education; establishing diploma or degree equivalencies among countries; strengthening learning of languages; and considering the importance of the role of the family in education and development.

Before closing the event, the OAS Acting Executive Secretary for Integral Development, Jorge Saggiante, emphasized that the cooperation among countries promoted by the Organization with meetings such as the one in Suriname and initiatives such as ITEN “contribute to what we call democratic governance, which is the essential purpose of our Organization. This is the way we think that the Organization can fulfill an important role in the Hemisphere,” he said.

“We are a political Organization, our efforts are aimed at promoting and strengthening political dialogue, and that is what we do on issues of cooperation. We are convinced that dialogue is a very important tool in our countries, because it allows us to identify needs and chances, to find consensus and discover what brings us together, and that is what brings us towards cooperation,” he added.

All documents from the Seventh Meeting of Minister of Education of the Americas are available here.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-072/12