Justification

The Education for All (EFA) movement and its commitment to providing quality education for all children, youth and adults remains pivotal in the development of our knowledge society and is regarded as our most precious driver of talent and social entrepreneurship. As the Eurydice Network has observed, many of the problems identified at later stages of education originate in the quality of the education young people receive at pre-HE levels (Eurydice, 2014). The same report describes the problems involved in training education professionals and the obstacles that many students encounter when trying to begin or successfully conclude their university studies.

Organizations like UNESCO, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), the Organization of American States (OAS) and Mercosur (Southern Common Market) have provided the impetus for studies, research and congresseson the initial stages of teacher education. Likewise, the project “2021 Education Goals: the education we want for the bicentennial generations”, adopted in 2008 by the education ministries of Latin-American countries, seeks to “strengthen the teaching profession” and, more specifically, to“improve the initial training of primary- and secondary-school teachers” and “favour lifelong learning models to help teachers acquire new skills and develop their professional teaching career”.

The effectiveness of the universities’ response to the call for greater coverage (reach in society) and quality also largely depends on the social pertinence of university study plans and their teaching innovation programmes and institutional policies. In practical terms, this means that in order to guarantee quality those institutions must meet two main challenges: improving the retention rate of students from less favoured social sectors and ensuring that course offerings are more pertinent to those students’ training needs. In short, the universities need to implement institutional projects that take on board and integrate the social dimension and that can also exert influence on education policy.