Education International
Education International

Teachers call for improvements in teacher training in Latin America

published 16 June 2010 updated 16 June 2010

Meeting in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the EI Regional Committee for Latin America called on governments in the region to prevent a heavy setback in education quality because of a lack of necessary investments.

This assessment was shared by Education Minister Melanio A. Parades of the Dominican Republic. “We need to improve the quality of teachers’ training in our country,” he said. The minister met with the Regional Committee for Latin America which held its annual meeting in Santo Domingo on 14 and 15 June. Although the Dominican Republic has made progress in achieving EFA targets the country is struggling to resolve serious problems regarding the quality and accessibility of its public school system. Mr. Melanio Parades explained that the Dominican Republic had been unable to substantially increase education spending due to the high cost of expanding the country’s power infrastructure which does not yet reach the entire population. EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen expressed concern that the Dominican Republic is not achieving its own target of spending at least 4% of its national budget on education.

“In school buildings from the 19th century, educators from the 20th century are teaching the young people of the 21st century,” said Jucara Dutra Vieira, EI Vice President, summarizing the challenges facing the public school systems of Latin America. Education quality is suffering as governments fail to make the necessary investments. Hugo Yasky, Regional EI President, said that the committee would engage in discussions with the region’s education ministers who will meet in Buenos Aires this autumn. Yasky also expressed the view that the education unions of Latin America should form a continent-wide movement to address professional issues, to raise educational standards and to engage in the development of curriculum that meets today’s needs. “In doing so we will be better able to substantiate our claim that governments should boost investments in our public school systems”, he said. “But such movement will also enable us to clearly demonstrate that only through public education our nations can achieve social equality, democratic change and economic growth”, he added.

The Regional Committee also considered the human rights’ situation in Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras. In the past five years some 200 educators, members of FECODE, were assassinated. Senen Nino, President of FECODE, criticized the Columbian government for not providing adequate protection to educators who are targeted by extremists. He asked Education International for support in bringing together all FECODE members who were forced to leave their teaching positions due to death threats. In Guatemala, the teachers’ organization STEG (which is seen as supporting the center-left government) continues to be under threat of groups of vigilantes. To protect the safety of the president of STEG, Joviel Acevedo, also a member of the Regional Committee, the Guatemalan authorities have provided round-the-clock armed safety guards. In Honduras, following the coup d’état in 2009, teachers organizations have been subject of repressive measures. Edwin Oliva, President of COLPROSUMAH, said that eight teachers had been killed since the ousting of president Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales. The regional committee adopted a statement calling for the respect of human rights and a return to democratic rule in Honduras. On 16 June members of the Regional Committee travelled from Santo Domingo to Port au Prince, Haiti, where they met with the leadership of the Haitian teachers’ union CNEH to be informed about the solidarity programs that were initiated by Education International immediately after the earthquake in February 2010.