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Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI)

Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 2024

Founded in 1949, the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI) is an international intergovernmental organization that pursues collaboration between Ibero-American countries on issues such as education, science and culture within the context of equality policies and the defence of democracy. Headquartered in Madrid, with nineteen offices in the same number of countries, its current secretary-general is Mariano Jabonero. The official languages of the OEI are Spanish and Portuguese. It is made up of twenty-three countries: Andorra, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Under the motto “We make cooperation happen”, the OEI simultaneously undertakes an average of 600 cooperation projects each year which have a direct effect on 12 million beneficiaries. The institution boasts 3900 professionals, including managers, officials and technicians. It works in five fields: education, science, culture, language and human rights. In terms of education, it carries out projects within the context of infant through to higher education, as well as in the spheres of vocational training and adult literacy. It is committed to improving the quality of education, promoting digital transformation and thus promoting teacher training. Each year it provides assistance to an average of 450 000 students and trains 40 000 teachers. Support for science takes the form of the development of public policies to further scientific and technological development, as well as the transfer of knowledge, so that all this can be implemented by public administrations. The average number of research studies amounts to 200 per year. Highlighting the cultural richness and diversity of Ibero-American communities is another of the OEI’s priorities. One of the tools to further this goal is the Ibero-American Cultural Charter, which especially focuses on all things related to intellectual property rights and digital culture. As regards language, the organization encourages the promotion and dissemination of Portuguese and Spanish, in addition to supporting the hundreds of languages native to the region. Finally, the Ibero-American Programme for Human Rights, Democracy and Equality seeks to strengthen sound democratic institutions that guarantee human rights and promote “responsible citizenry, fostering citizen empowerment and engagement”. Allocating some 160 million dollars per year in project management, the OEI is funded through the fees and contributions made by the twenty-three Member States, as well as contributions from institutions, foundations and organizations for specific projects.

In 2023, the UN General Assembly declared the OEI an associate observer member and UNESCO decided to maintain it as Ibero-America representative member of the senior management committee of the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which focuses on equitable quality education.

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