New partnership between IESALC and the Open Society Foundations to promote the right to higher education
UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) announces a new partnership with the Open Society Foundations (OSF) to promote the right to higher education.
Officially launched on 20 January 2022 during an IESALC webinar on the challenges of inclusion in higher education, the two main goals of the IESALC-OSF partnership are the gathering of evidence to inform international discussions on the right to higher education, as well as to lay the foundations for a global roadmap to support its enforcement.
The evidence for the right to higher education is clear. Higher education improves social mobility, increases life expectancy, productivity, and income. It supports positive developments in leadership and good governance while promoting civic values and behavior. Yet, it remains out of reach for many people with factors such as race, ethnicity, geographical location, and income group further determining access and success.
The right to higher education is not perceived as an imperative on which public policies related to access and equity should be based. There is a need to promote internationally a social justice perspective on higher education policymaking that provides governments and relevant stakeholders with a fresh approach to create more opportunities and in particular to target those who have been traditionally excluded from higher education. This is even more the case in developing contexts.
Recognizing this, the new UNESCO IESALC and OSF partnership will work to globally mobilize the broader international community to enhance commitments on the right to higher education. Through a series of consultative meetings, the partnership will also work towards developing basic principles and new international normative instruments on the right to higher education.
Director of UNESCO IESALC Francesc Pedró commented on this partnership:
“IESALC, a leading United Nations institute in higher education, is proud to join forces today with OSF, a key global player in advancing social justice. We are delighted that this partnership will allow us to place the discussion about the right to higher education on the international agenda and to fulfill our mandate of promoting equity in national higher education systems.”
Highlighting the timeliness of this partnership in view of the pandemic, Dr. Pedró described the collaboration as “vital especially in the COVID-19 era where many national higher education systems are grappling with underfunding, dropouts and poor learner experiences that are disproportionately affecting non-traditional participants in higher education and limiting their rights to accessing it.”
Camilla Croso, Director, Education Program at OSF said:
“It’s commendable that IESALC is centering rights, equity and social justice in its framing and promotion of policies for the higher education sector.”
Results from this important new partnership will be shared on the global stage at the UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022.
Illustration from the UNESCO image bank