Actions are intended to strengthen higher education in Latin America and the Caribbean
This week Porto Alegre held the 7th Meeting of University Networks and Board of Presidents of Latin America and the Caribbean. The event, promoted by PUCRS, UFRGS and Coimbra Group of Brazilian Universities, precedes the 3rd Regional Conference of Higher Education (Cres), in Córdoba (Argentina), in 2018.
The theme Higher education at the regional level with an eye to sustainable development, was intended to think up a joint strategy in line with the aspirations and commitments of more than 100 networks by strengthening regional higher education. For the President of PUCRS, Br. Evilázio Teixeira, Brazil, and the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in particular, due to its geographical location and cultural ties with South American countries, needs to galvanize its participation and contribution with Latin American universities in the construction of stronger and more representative networks in both the regional and international scenario.
PUCRS is a candidate university to the Social Responsibility Regional Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (Orsalc), offered by the Unesco International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, witha focus on the encouragement to public policies. Brazil still does not have any representatives in it. The center was conceived by Unesco in partnership with universities and companies, in Mexico, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Paraguay, and is coordinated by Humberto Grimaldo-Durán.
Br. Evilázio believes that new actions to integrate to the society are needed. “It’s not just about providing training for competent professionals in the job market, but providing authentic human, personal, social and professional excellence. The relevance of the university must be considered in view of what society expects from institutions and what they actually accomplish. Higher education needs to provide extensive actions to society in order to eradicate poverty, intolerance, violence, illiteracy, hunger, environmental deterioration and infirmities”, claims the President.
According to the Dean of Science, Technology and Innovation of PUCRS, Jorge Audy, higher education is a condition for social and economic development in Latin America. He goes on to say that the institution faces the challenge of providing inclusion at a higher level of quality. As little as 30% of the youth aged between 18 – 24 in the region attend college. Brazil enjoys an even lower rate, at 15%. Audy highlights another action to be taken: increase academic mobility between Latin American students.
During the meeting, the Project coordinator of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Rosaura Ruiz Gutiérrez, spoke about the need to expand the scope of social innovation to improve the quality of life. “Innovation has been synonymous with science and technology, embracing areas such as Physics, Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry. Social innovation should play a part in it too. Scientists and technologists alike must think up innovations that meet the needs of people. The well-being of humanity should be at the core. Rosaura adds that technology should be available to more vulnerable populations. Mammograms, for instance, are not accessible to all women in the prevention of breast cancer. “Both the Amazon and the Chiapas populations come to my mind for they don’t have access to this kind of treatment.”
The 3rd Regional Conference of Higher Education
PUCRS will be promoting a number of lectures in support of the 3rd Regional Conference of Higher Education, from Oct 2017 to May 2018. The first of such lectures will be offered on Oct 6, and will feature the President of the institution, as he will address Higher Education in Latin America. Headed by professors Audy and Marília Morosini, the event seeks to collect the University’s ideas for the regional meeting, in view of the Unesco World Conference on Higher Education, scheduled for 2019, in Paris. Cultural diversity and interculturalism, Internationalization and regional integration, The role of higher education before the social challenges in Latin America, Research and innovation as triggering forces for economic and social development, Sustainable development and Reflections and expressions of higher education in Latin America are the topics to be addressed during the other meetings.