Education ministerial meeting opens in Suriname

PARAMARIBO, Suriname — The vice president of Suriname, Robert Ameerali, the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, and the Surinamese minister of education, Raymond Sapoen, inaugurated the seventh meeting of the region’s ministers of education in Paramaribo. The meeting will present recommendations to the Summit of the Americas.

Ministers congregated in the Surinamese capital to analyze the current status of the teaching profession in the region, and to propose policies and strategies that strengthen the role of professional educators. For two days, government representatives will hold nine plenary sessions seeking to determine what kind of teaching today’s student requires and what role governments play in ensuring quality education for all.

Ameerali mentioned in his speech that ensuring quality education is one of the pillars of the Millennium Development Goals.“ Education is inseparable from the development of human capital. Education accelerates the acquisition of skills and knowledge,” he said. Its educative system, the Surinamese leader said, is a measurement of a country’s development, something governments must be fully committed to.

“When students fail, the teacher has failed. When the teacher fails, the system has failed; when the system fails, we as politicians have failed,” he added. 

Insulza noted that the upcoming Summit of the Americas, to be held April 14-15 in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia -under the theme Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity, “underscores the importance of education in helping to advance innovation in this new technology-driven world which would indeed be the means for generating much needed prosperity in many of our member states.”

“Without an effective education system it will be difficult to connect the Americas and to seek partners for prosperity,” he said.

The head of the OAS said, “We must be capable of promoting a dynamic towards more quality and equality in our educational processes, and towards more quality among those implementing those processes: the human element, teachers and educators.”

“Only a few weeks before the upcoming Summit of the Americas, we need to reposition education among our core concerns, and also share a view as the main axis of policies in our region’s countries,” he concluded.

The Surinamese education minister said, “We are very proud that the capital of Suriname, Paramaribo, will be the cradle of initiatives to innovate policies and strategies to elevate and renew teacher education.”

“At all levels, quality of education can only be delivered by a quality teacher,” Sapoen said. “It is up to us, as ministers of education, to explore every possibility to ensure quality of education for all,” he added.

At the meeting, delegations will discuss educational institutions, proposing mechanisms to strengthen partnerships between institutions both within the educational system and other external sectors; analyze priorities for cooperation between countries; suggest concrete actions in the framework of the OAS to strengthen the role of teachers; review progress made in the previous ministerial mandates; establish the basis for the Work Plan 2012-2014 of the Commission on Education (CIE); and elect officials of the Executive Committee of the CIE for the next two years.

The meeting in Paramaribo is the seventh meeting of ministers of education led by the OAS. The first was held in Brasilia in 1998, and since then ministers have met every two years: in Punta del Este, Uruguay; Mexico City, Mexico; Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago; Cartagena de Indias, Colombia; and Quito, Ecuador.   http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com

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