First Forum: Analysis of the reality of Higher Education and New Challenges in the context of COVID-19
On June 26th, the meeting for the International Forum of the Council of Rectors of Universities of Paraguay was held online, with the participation of important officials and members of the university community, to discuss and present the different views, opinions and readings on the impact caused by the pandemic.
The meeting was organized by the Council of University Rectors of Paraguay, with the support of the Consejo Nacional de Educación Superior (National Council for Higher Education) and the Agencia Nacional de Evaluación y Acreditación de la Educación Superior (National Agency for Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation), with the contributions of Sanie Romero de Velázquez, President of the Consejo de Universidades de Paraguay (Council of Universities of Paraguay); Simón Benitez, Vice President of the Council of Universities of Paraguay; Celeste Mancuello de Román, Vice Minister of Education and Science; Narciso Velásquez, President of the National Council of Higher Education; and Raúl Aguilera Méndez, President of the National Agency for Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation.
The president of the National Agency for Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation (ANAES) Raúl Aguilera Méndez stated that «We have the great challenge of creating new ways of interacting with our students. Education promoters must separate real problems from imaginary ones».
Miryam Preckler Galguera, Director of the OEI Regional Office in Paraguay, presented her Diagnosis on Distance Higher Education, in which she highlighted the most recent IESALC report rating the impact on 34.4 million students and 1.4 million teachers at home.
After giving an overview of the situation of the COVID crisis-19 in the country, Sanie Romero de Velázquez, president of the Council of Universities of Paraguay, spoke about how to go from urgency to the transformation of Higher Education. She remembered Paulo Freire in regard to the root and essence of education, in which the world and the Covid have united communities in dialogue for a transformative and liberating education towards permanent improvement.
For his part, Rodolfo De Vincenzi, President of the Consejo de Rectores de Universidades Privadas (Council of Rectors of Private Universities), spoke about the actions and challenges that the afore mentioned Council faces in times of pandemic in Argentina, emphasizing that the university must deepen its role as an agent of change, adopting new, more dynamic forms of governance and paying attention to inequalities.
In her presentation, María Delfina Veiravé, president of the Consejo Interuniversitario Nacional (National Inter-University Council) of Argentina, highlighted the actions of the CIN with respect to higher education (HE) in times of pandemic, taking into account HE as a space for critical thinking, for new proposals, for having a leading role now and in the future in the public policies that mark the development of our countries and that will become more acute in this pandemic.
IESALC Director Francesc Pedró then took the floor and presented his paper «From Contingency to the Transformation of Higher Education». In his presentation, he stressed that the health emergency, which has no end date, needs most of the resources to combat the pandemic. Therefore, he urged all those involved in higher education institutions (HEI) to promote presentations and agreements that provide sustainability to the social agenda and can permeate politics, giving the necessary importance to HE as a factor of development.
«Universities are part of the solution and that is why we must also be part of the plans to stimulate recovery, because we are part of the solution to this enormous drama that is facing us,» he said.
He recalled that for UNESCO one of the basic principles is to not leave any student behind. This means supporting students and teachers who are at risk, both pedagogically and socio-emotionally.
Access the complete video of the forum.