|Education is widely recognized as one of the most critical means of defeating the challenges of development, poverty, and inequality — particularly in Latin America, a region plagued by social and economic inequality. Attracting qualified individuals into the teaching profession, retaining these qualified teachers, providing them with the necessary skills and knowledge, and motivating them to work hard and do the best job they can is the key education challenge, argue World Bank experts in a new report entitled Expanding Opportunities and Building Competencies for Young People: A New Agenda for Secondary Education. An event sponsored by The InfoShop and the Education Group of the Bank’s Human Development Network to coincide with the release of the report took place at Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., on June 21, 2005.
Jean-Louis Sarbib, Senior Vice President of the Human Development Network, chaired the session, and Ruth Kagia, Director of Education for the Human Development Network, gave introductory remarks. Ernesto Cuadra, Lead Education Specialist for the European and Central Asian Region of the Human Development Network and head of the team that composed Expanding Opportunities and Building Competencies for Young People, gave an overview of the report, which was the result of an extensive consultative process that involved education specialists worldwide. The report offers policy options to support developing countries and transition economies in adapting their secondary education systems to the demands arising from the successful expansion of primary education and the socioeconomic challenges presented by globalization and the knowledge-based economy. Commentary was provided by Ariel Fiszbein, Lead Economist of the Bank’s Latin America and the Caribbean Region, and Aaron Benavot, Senior Policy Analyst for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, Paris. Fiszbein called Cuadra’s case “compelling” but said that this report was only the beginning of developing appropriate responses to country-specific circumstances.
During the question and answer period, audience members raised questions about the diversified set of skills necessary for young people today, segmentation between rural and urban youth, and expectations across public and private schools.