Good afternoon, you are very kind. Dr. León, with your permission, distinguished panelists, I please request that you send the cordial greeting of Mr. Enrique Graue to Dr. William Soto, who represents us at the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace.
Why my worry and my nervousness? Because the fourth place with such outstanding panelists is always difficult, the most difficult part remains, I hope to be able to measure up to this situation.
Dr. Restrepo, I am happy for one reason, and I am going to answer a question you asked: I am passionate about respect for human rights, respect for labor law, respect for the right of academic staff and teachers in general; that’s what I love, regardless of Chemistry, regardless of being Mexican.
Why do I love it? Because we can not work for peace among our population if the academic has not met his minimum needs. How can you be in front of a group? How can you work with students to be non-violent, if the life of each of the students is not satisfied?
The social commitment of education in Mexico
During the last decades, Mexico has experienced profound changes in the economic and social, cultural life and in the fields of education, science and technology, which have led to the modernization of the country and have resulted in significant advances in the national society.
The greatest evidence of the accelerated process of social change is the passage ⏤in less than 50 years⏤ of an eminently rural society to a fundamentally urban one; and, consequently, from an agrarian economy to a substantially manufacturing one. There has been a fundamental transformation in the form and quality of life that has been accompanied by changes in the National Educational System.
Education is one of the fields that have concentrated the most resources and expectations in the effort to achieve the economic, social and cultural development of the country; this explains the accelerated growth and expansion of the education system options. This accelerated process of expansion and problems that demand solution, is accompanied by each and every one of the strategies.
Throughout the history of Mexico, the public university has played a leading role in the development of the country; in order for it to continue at the forefront of higher education and research in Mexico, it must submit to the changes demanded by scientific, technological and social development, where society ⏤and, in particular, the State⏤ plays a preponderant role in its financing, which allows it to improve academic programs, teaching methods, as well as an effective system of student exchange and scientific, theoretical and technological experiences; which is an imperative of growth, as it is essential to have a variety of specialized cadres that can be included in strategic areas of productive life, thus achieving the educational and technological efficiency that Mexico requires to successfully continue the path of economic and social transformation, aimed at integrating values of respect for human rights, inclusion of the members of the community.
This quantification of human resources is vital to achieve high competitiveness indexes, and with this a successful competition in international markets; but, mainly, to raise the level of the income of the population avoiding with this violence and frustration.
The university is the central actor to reach a society where justice, equity, freedom, stop being strongly absent. Through the fulfillment of the missions that are proper to it, it can contribute to the concrete people achieving a decent standard of living through education and culture, as well as the strengthening of ethical values, equity and inclusion. These aspirations, we say, will only be made by reviewing the object that gives it its reason to exist as a social institution: knowledge.
It is necessary to build a curricular model that is necessarily articulated with the entire emerging society of a cultural model specific to each historical-social context, based on the inclusion of values that promote peace.
The supremacy of fragmented knowledge according to the disciplines often prevents the link between the parties and the totalities from operating, and must give way to a mode of knowledge capable of learning the objects in their contexts, their complexities and their sets.
The relevance of higher education must be evaluated in terms of education, between what society expects from institutions and what they do. This requires ethical standards, political impartiality, critical capacity and, at the same time, a better articulation with the problems of society and the world of labor, founding long-term orientations in social objectives and needs, including respect for cultures and the protection of the environment ⏤this is love for Mother Earth.
Higher education must reinforce its functions “of service to society; and in a more concrete way, its activities should be directed towards the eradication of poverty, intolerance, violence, illiteracy, hunger, the deterioration of the environment and diseases, mainly through an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to analyze the problems.” And this is what the researcher Pérez Lindo lets us know in his contributions.
Universities are called to fulfill the leading role of promoting and accompanying the transformations in the development of the region, especially in the construction of fair, inclusive and respectful societies of human rights. From this transformative analysis, the place that the university should occupy in the generation and social distribution of knowledge, necessary to contribute decisively to the development of the peoples of each of the regions that make up the countries, emerges as an imperative.
Scientific policies should aim not only at the development of knowledge in its basic aspects, but should promote the production of a knowledge oriented to respond to specific social needs, at the local, national and regional levels.
The so-called knowledge society is really based on the capacity for social appropriation of knowledge, with actors capable of guiding its relevant use in matters of common interest for production and development; not only as receivers, but also as generators, adapting them to particular situations and local environments.
The benefits of the knowledge produced by the universities are: the academic community itself, professors, scientists, students and research groups. Another group of knowledge is intended for the corporate interests or agencies that finance the research work. Finally, there is a group of knowledge that is intended for the entire society, especially the excluded.
Those who hold the importance that the results of research are intended only for the academic or scientific community itself, are hindering access to knowledge of other sectors of society. It creates, therefore, a culture in which endogamous reproduction models are perpetuated, continually conditioned to give valid answers for their own academic or professional community.
The profound changes, which are inevitable for the achievement of a more just and equitable society, must necessarily produce structural modifications in the ways of teaching and learning in the university.
In relation to knowledge, those linked to the models of producing, validating and disseminating knowledge, teaching and learning methodologies arise, reconsideration of the curricula and evaluation models. In this sense, we understand that the first thing to decide is where to define what to teach (how the panelists already told us) and how to teach it; aspiring to achieve a quality of the teaching itself.
It can not be forgotten that an educational policy that aspires to equal opportunities only makes sense if it is possible to maintain a high quality of education. “A quality education is one that allows everyone to learn what they need for the moment and the circumstance in which they live,” as proposed by the researcher Rojas Mix.
Thus, this approach concretely manifests that the university curricular contents must be crossed by the ethics and the formation in values, which necessarily lead to critical thinking. Scientific and technical training of a split professional is not enough; this is basic training as a citizen; that is, prepared to know how to live and think rationally about many things but, in particular, about the ultimate meaning of freedom, equality, civic solidarity and the common good.
The education of the professional requires training in a social culture composed of values and open to the environment, which predisposes to a social participation in service of the community and respect for Mother Earth.
Education in Mexico is facing a severe deterioration and suffers a deep social inequality. To achieve a true reform of the education system, it must be considered as the result of a deep and very careful evaluation and understanding of what society requires immediately and also in the future. That is, planning and evaluation take an important role in education to change contemporary history.
These changes, fundamentally in cultural, economic and social situations, cause the educational approach to consider the international values of respect for human rights, tolerance, democracy and the search for peace, as well as the alleviation of poverty, education and health; but adapted to the particular conditions of each region of the country.
Education is a responsibility of the whole society and not only ⏤as was previously thought⏤ of the Government or the school. Currently, all institutions have to participate in the educational process, for the need to link education with reality, and define the latter as culture and society.
The main obstacle faced by the National Education System is the sexennial limit, which breaks with the continuity of educational programs; what has caused obsolescence in the structures of these and their delay in relation to the development of our own country.
If society were to be integrated into the process of educational planning and evaluation, this would ensure that the sexennial changes did not alter the education project, which goes beyond political chronologies and that should be supported by the permanent concern the whole community, and not only in the changing circumstances of political activity.
Within the National Educational System, the results in primary, secondary, upper secondary education are deficient; so we can not have strong cadres in the education of higher education, much less in the graduate, before the increasing sophistication of science and technology.
The transmission of knowledge and its impact on industrial production
This is due to multiple factors where budget cuts stand out and the dissociation or lack of linking of educational levels, which are defined as being independent of the Educational System in general.
There is a lack of national education objectives by levels and a system of evaluation as a whole, to determine shortcomings and design solution strategies that make the results perfectible over time.
The modernization of the productive and institutional apparatus has also influenced the substantial increase and qualitative changes in research.
During the last few years, numerous centers have been created and the number of researchers has grown considerably. In some areas, levels of excellence have been achieved at the international level; In this field, however, important problems persist, which have prevented the level and quality that the solution of national problems demands.
There is scientific and technological backwardness in areas for national development. Adequate knowledge of our natural resources is required, and therefore, there is a lack of specific research on suitable techniques for exploration and exploitation.
In the productive apparatus there is a large set of branches and sectors in which technological dependence is considerable, due to the fact that the necessary levels have not been reached in the fields of research and technological development. Nor has the technical and administrative capacity to improve products and processes expanded. Research on the multiple aspects of our social reality are totally insufficient.
In the cultural field, the current situation of the country is characterized by the growing influence of the mass media, which has caused the displacement of important institutions such as schools, universities and the written press, as sources of knowledge, information and generation of values and aspirations for the majority of the population.
The problems raised above should be understood as a challenge of Mexican society to which the university can not be alienated from.
As a nation, we need to strengthen our culture The National Educational System has the challenge of satisfying the need for qualified personnel, and at the same time, the integral formation of the individuals that society requires. The challenge represented by technological and scientific development, as well as social problems, can only be faced if the cultural environment stimulates the creative force of specialists and the population in general; thus, the promotion of the values of universal culture and the strengthening of national identity through the rescue of our values should become a priority task of our National Educational System.
To meet the generalized demand for higher quality that we have been talking about, it is necessary to clearly define what in the world of today and before the future constitutes a quality basic education.
The foundation of basic education is constituted by reading, writing and mathematics, which make up the rational support for reflection.
Every child must know the environment that surrounds him and respect it, it should highlight (for its importance) health, nutrition, environmental protection and notions about different ways of working; it is advisable that you initiate your instruction on the ethical principles, human rights and attitudes that prepare you for a creative and constructive participation within the human society.
The primary level should strengthen the learning and the assiduous exercise of reading, structure and oral expression in the six grades, and the learning of mathematics should be reinforced by strengthening the knowledge of geometry and the ability to pose problems and how to solve them.
In regards to the social sciences, it would be convenient to re-establish the systematic study of history, geography and citizenship, not forgetting to reinforce learning about the care and health of the student, as well as questions of the environment and natural resources of the community where he develops.
With regard to education at the secondary level, the plans and programs of study must be consistent with the new needs of Mexico and the role it is seeking to have in the world economy. That is, strengthen the national identity to train students better prepared for the challenges of the new century, taking into account the reforms to the constitutional Article 3; and it is necessary that the teaching, then, of secondary school, stop being dogmatic, mechanistic, repetitive and encyclopedic (as Dr. Restrepo told us).
The secondary school must be an eminently formative institution, in which reflective and critical thought is included in the students, aimed at safeguarding social peace.
The new plans and programs of study must have a comprehensive vision of primary and secondary education, in addition to containing the corresponding part of training for work, which allows them to integrate into the productive sector or that can effectively be prepared to continue towards other educational levels, with a view to higher education or to receive a technological education. This is to link education with employment, promoting a pedagogy that fosters creativity, the understanding of realities and problems worldwide, improving the learning of science and technology, developing skills to communicate with various languages as well as working in groups and manage information techniques, which will achieve quality education, responsible and inclusive, to meet the minimum needs.
In the upper secondary level, in particular, students must be fully trained to lay the foundations for a better professional training, and provide a greater diversity of terminal options, thus offering a truly comprehensive training as well as a solid preparation to integrate into the environment of the productivity, with what the institution increases the internal efficiency and the capacity of answer to demands and deficiencies of the society, always with the respect of the human rights and leading to the social peace.
It is at the professional level where the adaptation of plans and study programs to the fundamental problems of the country have greater relevance. The training provided by the university through the modernization of the means, methods and contents of education should contribute to generating graduates capable of acting with high ethical responsibility and professional qualification, whose practice has social transcendence.
And finally, the postgraduate course involves the training of human resources to support a professional practice, basically linked to research activities, which can generally support the preparation of highly qualified professionals and academic personnel.
Conclusions of the proposal (that we have) of the pedagogical modifications
The economic policy supported by the different regimes marked the educational conditions and scope; this and the derivative actions have defined their scope; and so the social needs, values and human rights were left aside, since in practice they did not focus on their satisfaction, since these have been visualized from the perspective of production and the demands of the economic groups in power, forgetting the basic needs of the majority sectors.
At the World Conference on “Education for All,” the perspectives organized by UNICEF, the presentation of the State, society and education in the framework of contemporary transformations, have the following objectives:
Expansion of coverage and quality in the initial education, fundamentally in its non-formal modalities, oriented towards the poorest values and with strong participation of the community.
Obtain universal access to primary education by ensuring the basic learning needs of all children.
Increase the quality and educational efficiency, so that children ensure the basic requirements of knowledge necessary for them to advance in the deepening of the offer in basic education, training them for work and other essential knowledge required by youth and adults to face successfully overcoming their living conditions.
Increase in the acquisition, by individuals and families, of the knowledge, skills and ethical values required to live better through the use of all communication and social action channels.
Finally, what we require is:
Transform education, raise the quality of it by recognizing and stimulating the work of the best teachers;
strengthen the updating of the teaching profession;
recognize the performance and permanence of the teacher in the teaching service;
promote professional and work rootedness;
and promote a broader participation of the teacher and the community in the school, avoiding inequity and lack of inclusion of the marginal population.
Thank you very much.