Canada-Caribbean-Central America Education Partnership Forum Science and Technology Capacity-Building The CSUCA Perspective By Efraín Medina Guerra CSUCA, General Secretary St. John´s, Canada 11.1.08
Central America Context
Territory : 523,800 km 2
Population : 41, 300, 000 people (2007)
International situation : Corrosive geopolitical security due to drug trafficking, vulnerable to international economy insertion, high food and oil prices.
Internal situation : Poorly qualified labor, high migration rates, degraded environment, high dependency on fosil fuel, weak rule of law, demographic transition population (demographic bonus), current young population, health and education needed to increase productivity and become a strong developing drive.
Central American University Superior Council –CSUCA-
Origin and status: 1948 Central American University Congress. University organization with an International Mission legal status in Guatemala and Costa Rica, member institution of SICA.
Mission : Being the organization of the Central American Integration System that promotes the development of universities through cooperation and joint work with State and society.
M embers : 19 public universities of the 8 Central American countries members of SICA.
Organization: Central American University Superior Council, Administrative Committee, General Secretariat , Regional Systems, Programs and Projects.
Council: 39 members, Rectors, Students and the General Secretary.
Central American University Superior Council –CSUCA-
Number of Universities: Costa Rica (57), Nicaragua (45), Panama (33), El Salvador (26), Honduras (20), Guatemala (11); Belize (1), Dominican Republic (10).
Total of 203 universities; 24 public and 179 private universities.
About 58 % of the students attend public universities .
Central American Higher Education System
CSUCA University Members
Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, USAC
University of Belize, UB
Universidad de El Salvador, UES
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, UNAH
Universidad Pedagógica Nacional "Francisco Morazán", UPNFM
Universidad Nacional de Agricultura, UNA
CSUCA University Members
Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería, UNI
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, UNAN-Managua
Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, UNAN-León
Universidad Nacional Agraria, UNA
Universidad de Costa Rica, UCR
Universidad Nacional, UNA
Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica, ITCR
Universidad Estatal a Distancia, UNED
CSUCA University Members Panamá Universidad de Panamá, UP Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Chiriquí, UNACHI Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, UTP Universidad Especializada de las Américas, UDELAS República Dominicana Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, UASD
Third Plan for the Integration of the Central American Higher Education (PIRESC III)
Strategic plan approved in 2004 at the VI Central American University Congress (2005 – 2015).
Priority areas of work grouped in 6 p rograms : 1. Quality assurance, 2. Regional academic harmonization and mobility, 3. Regional research and teaching, 4.Student affairs, 5.University-Society-State relationships, and 6. Communication and university spreading.
Several projects within each program are implemented by the Regional Systems.
R egional Research and Teaching Program
Strengthening of Regional Research.
Foster research on higher education.
Establishment of the Central American Research Council.
Central American Scientific Research Council -COCI-
To strengthen scientific research capacity in Central American universities.
To support scientific research and technology; adaptation research projects carried out within Central American universities in cooperation with different sectors of society.
To modernize and strengthen productive processes in Central American societies and to improve the standard of living of Central American people.
Main activities of the Research Council :
To define criteria and procedures to fund research projects on a regional competitive basis.
To allocate research funds and to follow-up research projects.
To organize debate and training activities for researchers and research managers of the region.
Projects under Implementation with International Support University-Business Sector Program for Sustainable Development (PUEDES), Supported by the German Technical Cooperation Agency (GTZ), 2008 - 2009. European Union Program for Supporting the Regional Integration Process in Central America (PAIRCA). Program for Research and Training on Central American Regional Integration, 2007 – 2008, 2008 -2013. Research Capacity Building in Nature-Induced Disaster Mitigation in Central America, supported by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), 2008 – 2011.
Partnership with Central American Univerisities and Canada
CARA Network was created in 1999, sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the University Partnership and the Cooperation and Development Program (UPCD).
The Network was integrated by: Universidad de Costa Rica, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua-Managua, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras, Universidad de El Salvador, University of Calgary (Canada) and University of Waterloo (Canada).
CARA Network has supported Master programs in these Central American universities in the field of water management and in scientific and technological research.
In the Masters Program, 74 students from UCR, UNAN-Managua and USAC, have been trained; 33 of which are female and 41 male.
A UNAH professor was trained at the University of Calgary and one UES professor was at the University of Waterloo.
Regarding short courses and workshops at UCR, UNAN-Managua and USAC, 1,760 professionals have been trained (564 female and 1,196 male).
Publications: 15 water resource studies and text books published to support the Masters program.
More than 30 short courses carried out by each university with CARA Network speakers. Professor and student participation in more than 50 updating activities at national and international level.
Research centres were equiped with basic equipment for the study of superficial and underground water resource.
Current CARA Network Situation
Currently, the Network works in El Salvador, Honduras and Bolivia as part of a second phase.
Programs established in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica are in a stand-by position due to a lack of scholarship funding for full-time students.
Central American programs are strengthen by group work and trained Ph.D. professors. However, due to the fact that the program is full-time, to date, there are no candidates and only two cohorts were directly supported by CIDA.
International scientific exchange and cooperation, among universities, is an important tool for innovation and scientific growth.
Cooperation activities might include mutual visits and internships, joint research and joint study programs (PhD and M.Sc.)
Joint study programs (PhD and M.Sc.), when done in the developing country partner institution, has the added value of directly supporting capacity building in science and technology.
International scientific exchange and cooperation, that involves the business sector and students from both sides, could be a powerful factor for developing entrepreneurship within universities.
University-industry relationships are somewhat scarce and weak. International education partnerships that includes the participation of the business sector could foster these kinds of cooperation links within the region.
International Partnerships among Educational Institutions to Reinforce Science and Technology Research and Entrepreneurship
Issues and Chanllenges
Long distance education to broaden the educational reach as well as the technical education.
Guarantee food and nutritional security for the people.
Natural resources management and alternative energy sources usage.
Natural disaster prevention, of which the region is vulnerable.
Region´s biotic resources use and conservation.
Strengthening the integral and philosophical educational systems to regain values and social living together.