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UNESCO has some recommendations for further opening the door to all in higher ed. Photo: Yan Krukov

What efforts are being made to keep Latinos enrolled in college?

UNESCO considers that the provision of higher education an activity designed to promote equity and the equitable distribution of opportunities for all. 

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Times have changed. It requires a new perspective and approach that’s rooted in intentional coordination and collaboration to better impart educational changes. These advances should focus on individualized skill-building coursework that a person is able to utilize in the workplace. 

As a result, many efforts are being made, like The Commonwealth Education Continuum. It was created to address the moral imperative for students to have access and opportunity, especially underrepresented populations, to earn degrees and credentials that can lead to competitive-wage careers. 

But this is only part of the solution. There needs to be an active effort to improve communication with families about students’ postsecondary opportunities, and assistance available to make each student succeeds 

Lu Young, Chair of the State Board of Education, said “the state’s efforts aren’t just focused on academics, but also incorporate trauma-informed care, mental wellness and social and emotional learning.” 

Education is important if not crucial in the world we live in. Changes would not be possible without an education. Creating pathways for students’ to have accessibilities to resources is imperative. 

Education is intended to cater to the educational needs of youth and adults throughout their life cycle. To provide enough knowledge so the individual is able to thrive in society. 

The main issue with education stems from accessibility

During the 3rd World Higher Education Conference held last May, UNESCO stated “students from traditionally under-represented groups also have lower completion rates. They are usually enrolled in less prestigious HEIs (Higher Education Institutions), which means fewer labor market opportunities and lower results. Rising cost-sharing and the high number of private HEIs in many parts of the world are major sources of disparities in access and success in HED (Higher Education).” 

Technology as a Resource 

Technological advances play a vital role in higher education by facilitating “networks within and across nations to form connections with assist collaboration among groups of learners, instructors, researchers and learning communities,” mentioned UNESCO. The resources and expertise that a digital resource is able to provide continues to improve the way education is received. The emergence of a new learning paradigm enhances the open and distance education provision. 

The substantial growth of higher education institutions “has placed increased pressure on aspects of quality assurance at the systemic and institutional levels,” states UNESCO

The Pandemic 

COVID 19 impacted higher education, especially for Latino students. The Washington Post shared in 2021 that “minorities and lower-income Americans have contracted the coronavirus at higher rates and suffered higher levels of job losses. The financial disruption is forcing many Latino students to choose between their education and helping weather the recession.”  

Although the pandemic disrupted education, it provided a new form of educating, online or digital learning. This allowed for the continuity of teaching and learning, while still making it possible to meet financial obligations. 

As UNESCO stated, “online education poses significant opportunities for transforming the learning experience, whether remote or in person. Curricular and pedagogical practices could be reshaped to promote active, interactive, and experiential education, supported by aligned innovations in assessment and more flexible pathways and qualifications.”  

UNESCO has a clear vision of higher education. This vision consists of three tangible missions of producing knowledge, educating people, and social responsibility. The idea is that social responsibility needs to be embedded in the way higher education is taught by improving institutional practices that focus on gender equity internal policies, diversity of perspectives in each program, and policies protecting free speech and inquiry. A knowledge that can only be acquired through initiative and creativity. 

Academic traditions need to be receptive to dialogue about changes that foster logical argumentation and rigorous scrutiny of evidence in order to obtain and produce reliable knowledge, as stated by UNESCO

The beauty of higher education is that it deals with complex topics. UNESCO states “societal changes highlight the need for well-rounded professionals who are also fully-fledged citizens in a complex and interrelated world, and able to cooperatively address complex issues.” 

Here are UNESCO's recommendations for the future of higher education: 

  • Inclusion, equity, and pluralism 
  • Academic freedom and participation 
  • Inquiry, critical thinking, and creativity 
  • Integrity and ethics
  • Commitment to sustainability and social responsibility 
  • Academic excellence through cooperation rather than competition 

According to UNESCO, the right to education is not limited to compulsory or fundamental schooling intended primarily for minors, since it must be exercised throughout the life cycle and  encompasses different forms of meeting the educational needs of young people and adults, including higher education. Given that human rights are universal, the high levels of social inequality that have an impact on and are reproduced by education systems are striking. 

UNESCO considers the provision of higher education an activity designed to promote equity and the equitable distribution of opportunities for all. 

Despite the difficulties within higher education a common issue was always access. UNESCO states, “in unequal societies, merit, or capacity, as many different countries have shown, tends to be inequality in disguise.”

Educational systems should pay attention to social inequities that exist within higher education by focusing on underprivileged households, to help reduce chances for social mobility.

Transforming the higher education experience begins with admission policies changes. There needs to be more opportunities for women in STEM, and less segregation within education that can foster unequal treatment. If legal regulations, policies, and institutional cultures focused on equity and non-discriminative behaviors and actions, there wouldn’t be an emphasis on adding new guidelines to prevent such behaviors.

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