Under the theme of: Globalize, Connect, Transform, 6,000 participants from Latin America and Europe met last week to debate the present and future of education. 


From June 1 to June 5, ALEI: The Latinamerican Alliance of Intercultural Education, the regional body formed by AFS organizations in Latin America, together with AFS Spain organized their first online international Global Education Event with 14 different sessions, such as keynote speeches, panels and workshops. 

This event gathered 6,000 participants: experts, educational authorities, ministers of education, ambassadors, civil society organizations, teachers and young people to analyze, discuss and promote Global Citizenship Education. 

During the five days the different stakeholders of the educational sector reflected about the great opportunity of enhancing global citizenship in this peculiar moment of the pandemic where having intercultural skills and global competence becomes crucial for the new normal. 

Keynote speeches were delivered by Fernando Reimers, Harvard Professor on Education Policies; Xavier Aragay, Founder and CEO of Reimagine Education Lab (RIEDULAB); and Alvaro Carrasco, AFS alumn and founder and CEO of BraveUp, a digital platform that helps manage a healthy school life.

Reimers emphasized the relevance of transforming educational systems to develop Global Competencies: “It is our responsibility as educators to teach children that difference is an opportunity, not a threat.” Aragay stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated “a great opportunity to advance towards a more profound change in the education system.” Carrasco spoke about the tough reality of school violence (bullying) which he considers to be a “silent pandemic” and how to address it. 

Other relevant activities were the different panels of experts: ministers of education of Uruguay and Guatemala shared the different realities, systems and approaches amongst the countries. Ambassadors shared their perspective on what this “new normal” should be: “This pandemic moved us from our comfort zone, it now demands from us to move in a quicker and towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) worldwide,” said Ambassador Rosaura Rueda.

Profesor Tamar Shuali, University of Valencia, added, “It’s surreal to pretend that nothing changed for teachers and students. Teachers will have to be creative, generate curiosity, respect and recognize the other, for that they will need to know themselves first and not feel threatened when expressing their opinion.” 

Nine school principals from Guatemala, Spain, Dominican Republic, Cost Rica, Mexico, Panama, Argentina, Uruguay and Colombia shared how they are dealing with this new way of teaching. “Our students have now learned many life skills: responsibility, virtue, autonomy, resilience. These are also relevant aspects for the learning model,” they concoluded. They also re-imagined the future of education: “When children lost their school, they also lost their safe space, their play time with friends. Thinking about the future we need to make sure there is not so much inequality in resources amongst our children in our countries. I hope we have learned to share and to fight against inequality.” 

This event was made with the support of like-minded organizations, including the Tony Blair Institute, Varkey Foundation, Ana Frank Center, universities, civil society education institutions and the support of the different ministries of education. 

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