Education ministers from the Organization of American States (OAS) have approved the “Plan of Action of Antigua and Barbuda 2019,” which seeks to promote the implementation of the Inter-American Education Agenda (IEA).
The OAS said Wednesday that the Plan of Action is based on the principles of collaboration, inter-sectorality, and inter-culturalism, and reinforces the link of the IEA with the objectives and goals set out in the 2030 Agenda, especially in Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
It said the initiative will focus on specific actions divided into the themes of: inclusive and equitable quality education, strengthening the teaching profession, comprehensive early childhood care, international cooperation and partnerships, and strengthening of OAS initiatives and projects.
Specifically, the Plan includes commitments such as: sharing experiences and good practices with a special emphasis on the collection and analysis of initiatives and models targeted to the most vulnerable school populations as well as promoting, in accordance with the 2030 Agenda, “education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all”.
The Plan is also intended to promote in the educational field the right of every woman to be free from violence as well as “the right of women to be valued and educated free of stereotyped patterns of behaviour and social and cultural practices based on concepts of inferiority or subordination,” in accordance with the provisions of the Convention of Belém do Pará.
Antigua and Barbuda also promises to continue engaging with Ministries of Labour in order to improve channels of communication, strengthen collaboration and better articulate efforts to respond to current and emerging education and labour challenges as well as increasing the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.
The island will also seek to identify and analyse pedagogical practices that can support specific contexts of early childhood development and learning, such as those offered in indigenous languages as well as strengthening the OAS Scholarship and Training Programmes, with emphasis on maximizing their impact on development, promoting their efficiency and sustainability.
Expanding the opportunities for professional development of teachers as it relates to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, with a special emphasis on early childhood education and the inclusion of girls and women in technical fields is also included in the Plan as well as expanding the opportunities for international recognition of teachers and facilitating their collaboration with education policymakers.
Antigua and Barbuda Education, Science and Technology Minister, Michael Browne, who chaired the OAS meeting, said that “as our circumstances continue to evolve, both on a national level and on a regional level, it falls on us to help ensure that teachers, students, and constituencies adapt to an evolving working environment.
“Many countries and many regions are already involved in identifying best practices, we need to be in a position to continuously share those best practices and at the same time, be in a continuous mode of evaluation so that when policy decisions are being made, we are making them based on data and knowledge,” he added.
OAS executive secretary for Integral Development, Kim Osborne, urged member states to continue investing in education and, more importantly, to build linkages between education and the economy.
“We need to build education systems that respond to the economic development needs of our member states, and our students must be prepared to play a meaningful role in the socioeconomic development of their countries and their region,” she said.
“We must recognize the skills of the future and train at every level to take advantage of the new world, we must embrace our new reality with a sense of urgency and quickly develop the policies, programs, practices and infrastructure necessary for a rapid transition,” she added.
The OAS said that the adoption process of the Inter-American Education Agenda began at the VIII Inter-American Meeting of Ministers of Education, which took place in Panama City in February 2015, and ended with its approval at the IX Ministerial Meeting in Nassau, The Bahamas, on February 10, 2017.