The Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education interviews Carlos Fritzen, General Coordinator of the International Federation of Fe y Alegría, a regional network that has just joined the network. During this talk, Fritzen discusses the main challenges and opportunities for the realization of the human right to education in Latin America and the Caribbean, and explains how to join the CLADE network can strengthen the activities that Fe y Alegría has been promoting at regional level.
What are the main activities in defense of the right to education that Fe y Alegría has promoted at a regional level?
The International Federation of Fe y Alegría, contributes as a movement of more than one million people, among students, educators, mothers and fathers, in 17 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. We speak of a total of 2,000 educational centers, from kindergarten through high school, technical and second chance programs. Our greatest commitment is with the strengthening of public education systems. Therefore, we have strong roots and presence in vulnerable communities that fight and demand their right to education.
When it comes to issues such as the right to a quality public education, we join with other organizations, from the local level, where educational activities are located beyond what can be a center, a school, where we are impacting and participating. This is also reflected when there are actions that spread regionally, when we articulate with networks that work for the right to education, such as CEAAL and ALER, in all the countries in which we are present.
In many of these spaces we are members of advisory councils, such as the Central American Integration System (CC-SICA) and UNESCO, which provide various levels of reflection. They are local and regional alliances with different organizations that drive initiatives for a quality public education.
We also lean on with regional agencies that drive advocacy initiatives for “quality education, as a right” such as Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Glasswing, Feed the Children, the Association of Colleges and Universities of the Jesus, among others
Thus we have a basis of work, which is the incidence of the communities, and always articulates a state, country or international level. There is the strength of Fe y Alegría, because there are people who are at the root of the problem, where the lack of public policies, resources, funding and respect for teachers and education professionals is impacting.
We are concerned with strategic thinking, as given by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, from the localization of the problem to the regionalization of the problem and now the globalization of the problem.
What, in your eyes, are the challenges and opportunities for the realization of the human right to education in Latin America and the Caribbean?
A fundamental issue that is pointed out is the growing privatization of education, the conception of education as a business, as a market product. That impacts a lot on what we have for purpose.
Privatization goes hand in hand with a focus on education and educational work as a technical job. There is an ideology of “quality of education” in some areas, with a perspective of integrality in the formation of the person. Arts, values, humanities, health, are out. When everything focuses on what the market requires, pedagogical ideology holds the privatizing interest.
On the other hand, we are also concerned about the crisis of international cooperation and the cuts in educational investment. We know that there is a wider crisis and that this impacts the available resources to strengthen the educational processes. We also have a scenario of absence of State policies that responds to major social pacts.
Another major challenge is the increasing inequality in educational quality. It is necessary to develop educational policies that guarantee equity and relevance by giving more and better education to those who have less, in order to compensate for the disadvantages of their starting situation.
The necessary dignification and qualification of the teaching profession is another great challenge for our region, as well as the inclusion of people with special educational needs. However, we have a great opportunity to change everything. The Agenda 2030 is a framework that commits us all and offers the opportunity to work together to achieve it.
How did the idea of joining the CLADE network and the importance of this alliance awakened?
Fe y Alegría has always been committed to defending and promoting the right to education and we have been a part of the Global Campaign for Education (CME) since its inception. On the other hand, many of our national organizations are part of the national CLADE and CME coalitions or forums.
Being a member of CLADE allows us to join regional efforts with different organizations in the different advocacy processes, strengthening our struggle for the right to education. This alliance also allows us to access a privileged and reciprocal space to share learning; and avoid duplication of efforts, by establishing regional and global synergies.
The original interview in Spanish was published here.