On April 23, three students traveled to Santiago, Chile to speak at the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development, where members of government, multilateral organizations, the private sector, and the social sector came together to discuss how to advance Latin America and the Caribbean toward achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
Organized by Enseñá por Argentina, Enseña Chile, Enseña Ecuador, and Teach For All, the event provided a platform for these students to share their personal experiences with education. Enseña Chile’s CEO Tomás Recart provided the event’s opening remarks, highlighting the need for collective leadership (and the leadership of students in particular) to attain the quality education for all children that SDG 4 aims for. Bárbara Fuentecilla, 20, from Argentina; Aldo Ghersi Catalán, 17, from Chile; and Katherine Cachimuel, 18, from Ecuador each presented their perspectives in the session The Voice of the Student: What do students have to say about their role in advancing toward achieving quality education for all? Later, they participated in a panel moderated by Enseña Chile’s former COO Tomás Vergara, in which they offered ideas for how governments and communities can provide quality education for all students.
Watch videos of the students' presentations below, followed by a reflection by Bárbara Fuentecilla:
Following the event, Bárbara Fuentecilla shared her reflections on the experience:
When I was presented the idea of participating in a student panel at ECLAC, I did not hesitate for a second, because it seems to me that it is crucial to provide spaces to hear what students have to say and to take them into account. After all, students are the main actors in education, and I feel it is necessary that people know and take into account our experiences and opinions to debate about education and create public policies that are really effective.
I believe that through this event they will start to hear our voices and see that students are committed, that we have an opinion, and that we want to be part of the systemic change that must be achieved in order to improve education.
I feel that by participating in the panel I was able share the reality of many students in Argentina. Aldo was able to speak about the reality of the students in Chile, and Katherine, in Ecuador. The audience was able to hear about these realities from those who are experiencing it and not from third parties. I think it was very enriching, not only because we were students talking about education, but also because we are from different countries, and with different realities and life stories.
What I valued most about the panel was its diversity. I learned a lot from the other students. I learned about the educational problems in their countries, how they live, and how they are organizing to change the system. I hope the attendees of the event took the same lessons away with them, as they were paying attention and you could tell by their questions that they were interested in knowing our opinion.
These events that bring together different actors in society to discuss education are fascinating, because they make the issue visible and ways to solve the problem begin to be considered. And these spaces are much more valuable when they include students. We, as students, have a lot to learn, but we also have a lot to share and teach.