Updated December 11, 2000
Second Summit of the Americas
EDUCATION FOR DEMOCRACY
This initiative arose at the end of 1997, and was presented by the Government of Paraguay, with the support in particular of Ecuador and several Central American countries.
In recognition that education is a key instrument for promoting democracy and awareness of democratic values, the OAS, through the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD) is undertaking initiatives in the formal education sector to transmit these values. In 1997, UPD hosted a regional meeting in Costa Rica. During that Central American Seminar/Workshop on Teaching and Learning of Democratic Values in Formal Education Systems, the vice ministers of education of the member countries, together with UPD, approved a technical document and drew up the Declaration of San José, which among other things highlights the importance of integrating training, skills upgrading and refresher courses for teachers in the area of democratic values. At the same time, it stressed the need to foster a joint commitment on the part of universities and ministries of education with respect to including the teaching and learning of democratic values as part of the formal training program for teachers.
Second Summit of the Americas, Santiago, Chile (April 1998)
In the Santiago Plan of Action, governments decided to incorporate educational projects aimed at promoting democratic values.
UPD, in cooperation with the Ministry of Education and the Center for Education for Democracy in Nicaragua, hosted a second seminar/workshop in Nicaragua on September 23 to 25, referred to as the "Regional Project for Central American Cooperation in Education for Democracy", on developing and strengthening new training methods in the area of education for democracy. The seminar was attended by representatives of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama.
The main objective of the seminar/workshop was to identify and define teaching programs and to develop new methods for training teachers in the area of teaching democratic values. It also took the opportunity to foster exchanges and horizontal cooperation, through a seminar-workshop with representatives and experts from the ministry of education, and specialists in specific themes in the field of education for democracy, with a view to defining issues of common interest, and the needs of each participating country.
The seminar was attended by representatives of ministries of education, technical officials and administrative directors responsible for training teachers within education ministries, university faculty directors, and the heads of training centers, NGOs, and regional education experts.
In addition, at the ministerial meeting on education held in Brazil in July, 1998, ministers of education approved the Inter-American Program of Education. This includes the multilateral project for citizenship education, a part of which is devoted to conducting comparative studies of two pieces of research into the relationship between educational levels and democratic behavior and developments in the rights and duties of citizens.
There is also a multinational project, coordinated by Argentina, for the countries of MERCOSUR. As part of the project, a seminar was held in October on "Rights and Responsibilities as key elements of citizenship".
The Unit for the Promotion of Democracy collaborates with educational and governmental institutions and with civil society in promoting awareness about the values and practices of democratic political culture and in supporting methods, techniques, and skills for teaching and learning about this issue; in this, it pays particular attention to young people. Training for democracy has been introduced into the education systems of Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean, and regional workshops for training young people and leaders have been organized.
Over the coming months the UPD has scheduled sub-regional training courses in the Southern Cone, Central America, the Caribbean, and the Andean Community on democratic institutions, values and practices, inter alia, for young political leaders, academics, state officials, advisers, and journalists. The purpose of these courses is to strengthen analytical capacity and enhance knowledge and understanding of the workings of democratic institutions, values, and practices. The UPD plans subsequently to hold an event at the Hemispheric level to share the experience gained at the sub-regional level.
In addition, the UPD has an inter-university program of Studies for Democracy, the purpose of which is to strengthen an inter-university network in order to promote and strengthen postgraduate-level studies and research on democratic institutions and processes. The network includes the Political Science Department of the Javeriana University, in Bogotá, Colombia; the Political Science Faculty of the Rafael Landívar University in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and the Social Sciences Department of the Latin American Institute of Social Development (ILADES), Santiago, Chile. In Central American countries and the Caribean , the UPD will provide support to Ministries of Education and academic institutions developing methodologies for imparting and learning democratic values and practices in school curricula and teacher-training courses.
An issue connected with Education for Democracy, is Education for Peace. Reference is made to this issue in the initiative on Confidence and Security-Building Among States. A meeting on the Education for Peace Project is to be held in Cartagena, Colombia on October 14 and 15, 1999
Updated December 11, 2000