Thank you, Patricia (Janiot).
It is my great pleasure to be here today at the Tenth Annual Worldfund Education Leadership Award Dinner. I especially want to thank Worldfund Board Co-Chairs Luanne Zurlo and Steven Schindler for this kind invitation, but above all for their steadfast leadership on educational issues in Latin America. Congratulations also go to Angélica Ocampo on her first year as Worldfund’s Executive Director.
I would, of course, also like to acknowledge the presence of tonight’s honorees, Ana Maria Diniz and my dear friend Eduardo Tricio. We all share a commitment to improving the quality of and access to education in Latin America as a driver of growth and a key factor in overcoming poverty and income inequality. Their personal involvement in this issue has literally changed the lives of thousands of children in Brazil and Mexico.
Eduardo Tricio is well known in Mexico and abroad for his many roles as a successful businessman in Mexico. He chairs the board of Aeromexico, sits on the boards of many other companies and is recognized as a leader in the business sector.
But Eduardo is also part of a new breed of young leaders in Mexico. Having developed his career in the era of globalization and NAFTA, he holds a unique outlook on life and business, and has imprinted that vision on his work, which he carries out with both social responsibility and entrepreneurial spirit.
I like to say that North America´s southern border should include Central America, drawing the border at the Darien in Panama and not the Suchiate in Chiapas. Eduardo, through his successful business ventures in the US and Central American markets, has bet on this region for the future. Visionary businessmen like him will greatly contribute to making this region the most economically successful one in the world.
But his engagement and vision do not stop at business. His leadership generously extends to other areas such as education. More generally, he moves forward the discussion of what North America can become in the future. Eduardo, this is no easy task, but you are an indispensable part of the team. Thank you for your leadership.
Worldfund’s impact on improving the quality of basic education in Brazil and Mexico through programs such as the Inter-American Partnership for Education (IAPE) for public school English language teachers, its training of school principals through LISTO in some of the most socioeconomically disadvantaged regions in Mexico, and of science and math teachers has been externally validated, as shown by President Moreno. There are nearly half a million students that benefit annually from these programs, and that number is expected to surpass one million by 2016. Moreover, as those students will see, the benefits of education multiply over time in the form of new opportunities. Collectively, those new opportunities will make our nations stronger and more prosperous.
As Ambassador of Mexico to the United States and someone who originally comes from the business world, I am keenly aware of the importance and value of collaboration between the public and private sectors as a way to develop innovative programs and ideas. This is particularly salient in the complex and critically important area of education.
Under President Peña Nieto, Mexico has undertaken a flurry of reforms which include transformative changes to education, election laws, labor, telecommunications, financial services, competition policy, fiscal policy and energy. While energy reform has garnered the most attention, perhaps it is education reform that will have the most lasting impact over the medium and long term on the future prospects of millions of Mexicans.
Just a few days after he took office, President Enrique Peña Nieto presented a bill to Congress to amend several articles in the constitution in order to improve the quality of education in Mexico through a greater emphasis on assessment, transparency, accountability, and a strictly merit-based career path for teachers.
In the context of Mexico-US relations, both our countries recognize that education is the key to progress in our entire region and improvements cannot be achieved without cooperation between governments and the private sector. Today, for the first time in many years, education is front and center on the bilateral agenda.
Just last month, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Mexican Secretary of Foreign relations José Antonio Meade formally launched the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research (FOBESII; for its Spanish acronym), a shared vision for educational cooperation with a view to expanding economic opportunities in both countries and developing a workforce attuned to the needs of the 21st century economy.
In close collaboration with academia, business and other stakeholders, FOBESII is developing initiatives on, among other issues, workforce development; student and academic mobility; research, technological development and innovation partnerships; and language instruction.
The Mexican FOBESII Advisory Group has already presented the “Proyecta 100,000” initiative, which aims to send 100,000 Mexican university students, professors and researchers to the US by 2018, and is part of the proposed “100+50 Strategy”, which also aims to send 50,000 US students to study in Mexico by 2018.
Through education reform in Mexico, FOBESII, and initiatives such as those spearheaded by Worldfund, we will ensure that quality education is available for all Mexicans, regardless of their place of residence or their social or economic status, and that where you are born does not dictate your destiny.
For our children to truly succeed we must provide them with creative environments that unlock their potential. When renowned Mexican chemist and Nobel Prize winner Mario Molina was a child, he constructed a laboratory in his family home to conduct his own chemistry experiments. Every child should have a space where their curiosity can be cultivated and their talents nurtured. Successful programs like the ones implemented by Worldfund help do just that, encouraging and preparing children to pursue their dreams, just as Mario Molina did.
Thank you again for the invitation. I am honored to be part of Worldfund’s Tenth Annual Education Leadership Award Dinner.