UNESCO IESALC and UNA bring together rectors from Latin America and the Caribbean for a globalised and digital higher education
The National University of Asunción (UNA) is hosting one of the most important meetings for higher education in the south, centre and north of the continent. The 10th Meeting of Higher Education Networks and Councils of Rectors of Latin America and the Caribbean, organised by the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) and the National University of Asunción, Paraguay, will take place over two intense days from 22 to 23 November, bringing together some 200 people with close links to higher education in a large part of the continent.
The delegates designated by their organisations belong to a total of 13 countries present at this important meeting that marks the path of higher education in our territories. This edition of the meeting will address the advances and challenges of the digital transformation in higher education with a debate between rectors, vice-rectors, vice-chancellors, other authorities from academia and various organisations.
During the debates, fundamental issues such as quality and equity in access to the digital environment and disruptive technologies will be analysed.
165 representatives and other members of the committees of different universities and organisations linked to higher education from the following countries will participate: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The celebration of this meeting in the facilities of the oldest university in Paraguay reflects the commitment of the UNA with the strengthening of higher education in the region and provides the confidence to move towards the sustainable development of higher education institutions towards a more inclusive and accessible education.
Benefits and challenges
The opening table of honour was chaired by Dr. Zully Vera de Molinas, rector of the UNA, who was accompanied by Dr. Francesc Pedró, director of UNESCO IESALC; Dr. Clarito Rojas, president of the National Council of Higher Education (CONES) and rector of the National University of Concepción (UNC); Dr. Federico Mora, vice-minister of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Science (MEC), Paraguay; and student Diego Heisecke Masulli, president of the Federation of Students of the UNA (Federación de Estudiantes de la UNA), Paraguay. Federico Mora, Vice-Minister of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Science (MEC) of Paraguay; and student Diego Heisecke Masulli, President of the Student Federation of the UNA (FEUNA).
Other authorities who attended the event included representatives from other sectors of academia and different associations related to higher education in the territories, national legislators and ambassadors.
The rector of the UNA pointed out the importance of “active participation” and collaboration between organisations to promote these spaces for debate on the future of higher education, especially in this “paradigm shift” left by the recent pandemic. The authorities at the roundtable agreed on the profound impact of the digital transformation of higher education institutions, both as “facilitators of learning” and as agents of change in management models, according to the president of CONES.
They also added that the benefits are countless and the scope will increase exponentially on a global level, with huge databases and powerful tools based on various artificial intelligences that can positively influence the development of people’s capacities. In this sense, the deputy minister claimed that “we must work on the conditions to receive the future”, and also commented on his experience with the data of the Single Student Register (RUE), which provides important data on national education.
These conditions are the challenges to achieve this new model of higher education and lie mainly in accessibility and other important aspects that limit people, such as security and language level. The director of UNESCO IESALC argued that “access to the internet must be a universal right”, in order to push for complete coverage and global access. Another important challenge, pointed out by the head of CONES, lies in the “defunding of higher education”, which he added to the reality outlined by the student unionist on the impact of politics in a healthy way on academic activity and the use of “technology to enhance human development”.
The first presentation was “Digital transformation of higher education” and was given by Dr. Federico Mora. Subsequently, Dr. Zully Vera, rector of the UNA, gave the inaugural conference “Digital transformation in the framework of the UNA’s future project”, which included important initiatives and positive experiences of the Paraguayan university that serve as a model to enhance educational digitisation.
Likewise, the inaugural panel “Paraguayan universities facing CRES+5: achievements and challenges”, a panel of rectors of Paraguayan universities moderated by the director of UNESCO IESALC, was also held.
Throughout the day, debates and presentations will be held around panel 1: The imperative of the digital transformation of higher education. The day will culminate with “Plenary Interventions” by representatives of the RedES and questions will be posed to help diagnose the current state of Education since the last meeting in 2018.
The activities will continue until 23 November with debates and reflections on this important topic for the future of higher education in the region and in our world.
Live streaming November 22, 2023
- Meeting of Higher Education Networks and Councils of Rectors of Latin America and the Caribbean to be held in November in Asuncion, Paraguay
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