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Avellon Williams 

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – In his opening remarks at the III Regional Meeting of Ministers of Education of Latin America and the Caribbean at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Buenos Aires, Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said this region had experienced first-hand what it is like to be less developed than other parts of the world.

Fernandez said, “Equality for learning should be a slogan for the whole region.”  He added, “Education is a public service that must be guaranteed by the State because the conditions for learning are not equal in societies as unbalanced as the ones we have.” 

President Fernandez went on to say, “In Latin America, the first thing we have to do is to develop education, science, and technology to have societies capable of integrating into a globalized world that competes for knowledge.” 

Regional Meeting of Ministers /Image, MFAC/

In addition, he said, “We, South Americans and Caribbean, live in the most unequal continent in the world where the gap between rich and poor is greater. This gap between rich and poor was tragically demonstrated in the [COVID-19] pandemic.” 

As the president pointed out, Latin American governments must put public education at the center of their agendas because the other reality in this era is that the richest societies aren’t those that have natural resources such as oil, gas, lithium, gold, soybeans, wheat, corn, but those that have developed science, technology, and knowledge.”

Regional Meeting /Image, BAT/

The Argentine leader noted that COVID-19 had a significant impact on education and described it as a time of sadness, pain, sorrow, disease, and death that affected the world as six million lives were lost.”

Fernandez elaborated, “The pandemic revealed that there are no criteria of equality in the world, how much longer will the South continue to endure this reality? Shall it continue to be an empty witness of a reality of which it is not a part? I wonder if we really should not join voices to tell the north ‘stop, it is our continent’.” 

“We have a country that has been economically blockaded for six decades and survives as best it can. We should be very ashamed of that happening in our continent. In our continent, a country has been blocked for five years because of a political dispute and, in the middle of a pandemic, they blocked it when solidarity was more necessary than ever. How much longer are we going to look at this as if it did not happen to us?”

The III Regional Meeting of Ministers of Education of Latin America and the Caribbean is co-organized by UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Education. As part of the gathering, participants will try to achieve the fourth goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, pertaining to “inclusive, equitable, and quality education” and “promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

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Avellon Williams

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