*Authors: Catalina Covacevich – Marcelo Pérez Alfaro
There are many different organizations that participate in the discussion and propose solutions and interventions in education. The first participants that come to our mind are the national and local governments, schools, families and universities. But… there is an actor who is usually hidden but is often present: The civil society. Organized citizens are essential to present topics in public debate and also for the proposal and implementation of solutions, as they can help to implement changes beyond the specific terms of the government.
On October 16th Teacher’s Day is celebrated in Chile and among other activities that took place during that week, two seminars organized precisely by civil society are worth to highlight. Both events helped to intensify the discussion on training, career and teaching practices, which are key elements in the achievement of quality education. It also includes the experience of international experts and helped narrow the discussion to what is happening at the regional and global levels.
One seminar was organized by “Elige Educar”, a public-private initiative that since 2009 seeks to set the agenda of the important role of teachers in Chile. Its primary purpose is to improve the teachers’ social image and encourage outstanding students to become teachers.
“Elige Educar” has a strong presence in the media. The documentary “Profes” (2012) outstands among the activities supported by the Inter-American Development Bank
This audiovisual production was created to promote the importance of the teaching profession and how rewarding it can be. The documentary is available with subtitles in English, French, Portuguese and even Spanish, since our Chilean accent may be considered cryptic to our fellow Latin Americans.
The second seminar entitled: “Teachers of Latin America: current situation and challenges”, was sponsored by several organizations including the IDB, and organized by the Latin American Network for education (REDUCA in Spanish). REDUCA was founded in 2011 in Brasilia by 13 organizations throughout the region that share the vision of achieving an inclusive and quality education for all. The IDB was an active promoter and facilitator of this important initiative for our continent, contributing to the triple purpose of enhancing the inclusion and quality of education; providing more sustainability to policies and quality educational programs; and promoting the creation of a stronger of an engaged civil society accross the region.
Some of the achievements of “REDUCA” are already in plain sight, specially the sharing of strategies and best practices among organizations and the stimulation of learning based on the richness of Latin American experiences. REDUCA has driven an authentic stream South –South exchange!
The successful educational systems are characterized by having deep collaborative networks. In each country of the region the problems that civil society addresses are similar, therefore collaborative work is not only viable but it is also profitable. In addition, civil society is able to build productive partnerships between NGOs, government and even private enterprises, in order to enhance their work and scope. These are the principles that lead the work of “Elige Educar” and REDUCA, and probably explain their success.
The seminar organized by REDUCA addressed the teacher issue in Latin America and also sought to remind how interesting is a relationship between the government, the private sector and civil society; in order to deliver the shared challenge of improving the quality of education. For these alliances to be possible, it is necessary that all those involved recognized the others as valid and valuable partners, who are willing to work cooperatively. This task is not easy. The size of the challenge our continent is facing is of such magnitude that requires a broad coalition that gives sustainability and right direction to policies.
States, Governments and Civil Society have and irreplaceable mission to provide quality and inclusive education for all Latin-Americans. To accomplish this, it is essential to work together, including you Dear Reader… So do not forget to share our post!