Inter-American Committee for Education
--The most significant achievement at Mexico meeting
- Says Education Minister

Guyana Chronicle
August 22, 2003

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GINA - Minister of Education Dr. Henry Jeffrey has expressed the view that the most significant achievement of the recently concluded Inter-American Meeting of Education Ministers held in Mexico, was the creation of the Inter-American Committee for Education (CIE).

In an interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Dr Jeffrey said that the CIE is intended to be a regional body that will attempt to garner resources and create policy areas for the development of education in Latin America and the Caribbean.

He added that the creation of opportunities for basic education up to the first two years of secondary school, and the process of creating an individual who will be able to make a good life for himself and community, are two aspects of education that would have to be differentiated by the Committee.

The Minister noted that the meeting approved three programmes. Those are the improvement of teacher education, mooted by Trinidad and Tobago, the provision of Tech-Voc education and the improvement of quality education.
Technical experts will visit member States to review programmes in the three mentioned areas in an attempt to devise a path that can be taken by the whole Region. It will be subsequently recommended that the best practices in specific areas should be adapted.

Dr. Jeffrey said that the initiatives recommended during the meeting are new, but he is confident that Regional education systems can adapt to the implementation process. He added that the newly introduced Education Channel for Latin America and the Caribbean (EDUSAT) will create more opportunities in education in the hemisphere. That channel is set up by the Government of Mexico to deal with basic education, teacher education and parental education.

A satellite dish-receiver has been donated to the Ministry of Education by the Government of Mexico. It is hoped, Jeffrey said, that there will be sufficient programmes in English since there is a language barrier between Latin America and the Caribbean. He is of the view that the satellite will help tremendously in terms of access to materials for teaching and mentoring programmes. The satellite, according to the Minister, will be a free service open to the Government in its effort to improve education delivery.

A team from the Ministry of Education is currently examining ways in which the satellite can be accessed and utilised.

The Minister said that he is confident that the delivery of education in the Hemisphere will be boosted as a result of the meeting. But he said that the most over-looked issue in education is the cost factor. He said in Guyana's context, education is accorded 8.3 per cent of the GDP, and that not many countries have achieved this.

However, because of the actual size of Guyana's GDP, it will reflect less money spent per child. Minister Jeffrey contended that Guyana, like most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, is making every effort to align systems to give the people the best education that can be given.

He said, too, that he was pleased at the level of Caribbean participation in the meeting. Seven Caribbean countries not just attended the meeting, but made meaningful contributions, Jeffrey explained. It was Trinidad and Tobago that proposed teacher training as one of the issues to be examined by the CIE.

The Third Meeting of the Inter-American Ministers of Education was hosted by the Mexican Government through its Secretariat of Public Education.

The Fourth Meeting of the Inter-American Ministers of Education is scheduled to take place in 2005 and will be hosted by Trinidad and Tobago.

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