Propitious Meeting for the Promotion of Interculturality in Higher Education

4º Coloquio Internacional Educación Superior y Pueblos Indígenas y Afrodescendientes en América Latina

The proposal of transforming Higher Education institutions in order that they be more pertinent to the cultural diversity of Latin American societies stems from the Final Declaration of the Regional Conference on Higher Education (RCHE) which took place in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, on June, 2008. This principle was the pivotal theme of the International Colloquium on Higher Education and Indigenous and Afrodescendant Peoples in Latin America. Public policies: possibilities, obstacles and challenges, held from October 4th to October 6th,   at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero (National University February Third) (UNTREF) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The meeting was organized by the Higher Education and Indigenous and Afrodescendant Peoples in Latin America Program (ESIAL) of the UNTREF’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Advanced Studies (CIEA), sponsored by UNESCO-IESALC and the RCHE 2018 Executive Committee. It had the support of Secretariat of University Policies and of the National Agency for Scientific and Technological Promotion.

The opening ceremony included the participation of Dr. Francisco Tamarit, RCHE 2018 General Coordinator, of Dr. Pedro Henríquez Guajardo, UNESCO-IESALC Director and of Dr. Pablo Jacovkis, UNTREF’ Secretary for Research and Development. Francisco Tamarit stated that for the past two decades Higher Education has been object of cultural and economic disputes, “it is necessary to treat it as a human right and a social asset, and, in this sense, advance in Interculturality which is one of the greatest debts that we have”, he said.


On his part, Pedro Henríquez Guajardo highlighted the growing importance of academic production with a pivotal emphasis on interculturality and the sustained efforts to build collaboration networks around this theme based on RCHE 2008. “We want Intercultural Higher Education to guarantee its quality, for it to be recognized and legitimized as a definitive alternative, because it warrants human development in our region” he emphasized. Pablo Jacovkis stated that this type of events provide input to those responsible for designing public policies to do it from a principle of inclusion and respect for diversity. He also pointed out the importance of having been able to introduce this topic in the National Interuniversity Council.

At the same time, a text prepared by the University Rector Aníbal Jozami, was read, emphasizing UNTREF’s commitment to the topic and taking the opportunity to announce the creation of the “UNESCO Course on Higher Education and Indigenous and Afrodescendant Peoples” which will begin to develop its activities in 2018 in the UNTREF.

Dr. Daniel Mato, Higher Education and Indigenous and Afrodescendant Peoples in Latin America Program Coordinator, began his intervention by quoting some fragments of Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s speech on September 21st to the UN General Assembly. In this speech, the importance of the historical debt that the Canadian state and society have with the Indigenous people of that country was underlined. For that reason, a committed policy of reconciliation that includes the recognition of their own authority to decide on educational systems and important economic inversions was designed and launched. Mato indicated that in the framework of this policy, several Canadian universities have begun to develop actions in this regard. At the end, he recalled the RCHE 2008 Declaration: “The challenge isn`t only to include Indigenous, Afrodescendant and other culturally differentiated peoples in the institutions just as they exist nowadays, but to transform these in order for them to be more pertinent to cultural diversity.”

More than thirty papers from the members that form the pivotal theme “Higher Education Cultural Diversity and Interculturality” of RCHE 2018 were presented and more than twenty were presented by the almost fifty universities that form part of the Inter-University Network of Higher Education and Indigenous and Afrodescendant Peoples in Latin America” propelled by the ESIAL Program in 2014. Five of them were done by Indigenous and Afrodescendant students and young professionals from Bolivia, Colombia, México and Brazil and were highly valued by the public for offering perspectives “from inside”

A workshop to advance the preparation for the publication of a book that will have amplified and reviewed versions of the papers presented was carried out. This event also contributed to the exchange of ideas on how to advance the activities of the ESIAL Network, and promoted interest in presenting a document of recommendations to RCHE 2018.

Links of interest:

4th ESIAL Colloquium:

ESIAL Network:

ESIAL Program: