Washington DC, January 16th, 2015 — This week, the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) met with America Solidaria in Washington, D.C. to sign a cooperation agreement that aims to foster youth development in the Americas by including young volunteers from America Solidaria in the process of the IV Young Americas Forum and carrying out other activities related to education, health and productive development.
Moreover, YABT and America Solidaria took advantage of this meeting to conduct a virtual dialogue where volunteers deployed in Haiti, Colombia, Chile and the United States discussed about the obstacles that faces the Americas in the realms of education and health. To this end, they set up a comparative analysis on health and education policies in order to identify priorities and new paradigms to tackle both access and quality.
Marisol Ortiz, a volunteer in the education sector working in Port au Prince, Haiti, explained how the Haitian government invests less than 3% of its GDP in education and compared it with Chile’s performance – the South Cone’s most advanced economy which invests more than 5% of its GDP in education. Nonetheless, the most shocking fact was that 40% of the Haitian population is under 30 years old and the lack of interest coming from the government in making things right. Marisol noted the poor quality of Haiti’s education system, which is based on memorizing and repeating lessons instead of focusing on improving analytical capacity of students.
Meanwhile, Humberto Solorzano, a volunteer deployed in Colombia, underlined that a misconception of a good education vs. access to education still prevails in Colombia. Additionally, Jessica explained how social class discrimination and lack of equal opportunities are factors that still prevail when in Colombia’s education system. According to Humberto, there are no programs adapted to the lifestyle of the rural youth able to provide them with the necessary opportunities that prevent them from opting out at an early age.
On the subject of health, Nicolás Torres, volunteer deployed in Washington D.C., United States, said that although the United States is the world's largest economy, appearances can be deceiving. In the United States, the problem of drug abuse and harmful substances as well as malnutrition and obesity significantly affect Americans of African and Latino descent. Moreover, Nicolás highlighted that not only is it difficult for minorities to access public health without private health insurance but also to have access to fresh food in segregated areas of Washington D.C.
Also, Johanna Olmos, a volunteer working in Santiago de Chile, Chile, talked about the restricted access of health services in Chile. At least 1 in every 8 Chileans has a disability and only 1 in 100 has access to medical services despite of the ubiquitous presence of the health organization Teletón.
Against this background, participants in this virtual dialogue concluded that education and health must be universal goods and everyone must have access to them. In order to guarantee greater equality in our societies, they asserted that a paradigm shift that takes into account the diverse cultural and social backgrounds must take place. Finally, participants talked about the upcoming activities that they are planning, e.g. a training network aimed at teachers in Haiti and a cycle of conferences that touch on racial segmentation and its negative effects for the United States, to tackle these two priorities of the VII Summit of the Americas.
On Monday, January 29th there will be a second virtual dialogue that will involve young people from Peru, Ecuador, Chile and United States.
Young people of the Americas can also express their views through the virtual consultation that is permanently available here.
For more information, you can contact YABT via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.