MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay (ViaNews) – It´s the first time a President of the Institution visited the country.
Last Thursday, the President of the World Bank Group Jim Yong Kim visited Uruguay to take part of the event: “The Human Factor: Investing in people today to address the challenges of tomorrow.”
Kim tight agenda included a meeting with Uruguay President Tabaré Vázquez in the morning.
The event´s conversation platform was centered on education, technology, the development skills, and the future.
The event took place at Uruguay capital city, Montevideo, and went on for over an hour with the presence of a full audience.
Jim Yong Kim highlighted Uruguay commitment to reducing poverty, promoting equity and to broad-based growth.
“Uruguay is a formidable example in many areas, but the economy is changing.”
As “any other country” must “keep up to date” to go along with the most successful education systems – quoting Singapore as an example.
“Investing in human beings today is the most important investment any country can make in its future,” Kim said.
According to a World Bank analysis: 60% of Latin America wealth lies in its human capital.
On His Own Words
About 250 million children worldwide cannot read or write despite having gone to school, the World Bank President stated.
Today we are “in the middle of a crisis of human capital” he added.
“With more emphasis on education, it could better prepare for the future. The world is changing at breathtaking speed.”
The ultimate goal, Kim stressed, is to offer “each child the opportunity to become what he wants.”
Uruguay has been an example of innovation in many fields of development, but the World Bank President made it clear there´s still plenty of work to be done in a country where 38% of Uruguayans do not finish their university studies.
An Example to the World
Miguel Brechner President of Ceibal Center was a featured speaker at the event.
Over ten years ago, Uruguay created a plan for inclusion and equal opportunities with the aim of supporting Uruguayan educational policies with technology, that plan is called Ceibal.
Every child who enters the public education system in any part of the country is given a computer (Ceibalita) for personal use with a free Internet connection at school.
The vision of the Ceibal plan is “to inspire every child and adolescent in Uruguay to develop their learning potential, their creativity, and their critical thinking in the age of knowledge.”
Among the International awards that plan Ceibal has received is the First Prize in Development Capacity, awarded by UNDP-United Nations Development Programme for Development at the “Knowledge Fair”, and the Prize for Public Management, awarded by RED GEALC-Network of e-government Leaders of Latin America and the Caribbean “ExcelGob08”.
Sports and Education
Diego Lugano former captain of the Uruguayan soccer team joined Kim at the stage to a one on one meeting.
Kim: How do you lead others to do more than they think they can do?
We just had this conversation and what I said was, if people in Uruguay could get as excited about ensuring that their children learn in schools as they do about the Uruguayan National football team then Uruguay would be in a different path.
In Korea, as you said, when they did well in the world cup, the whole nation, and Koreans all over the world went crazy.
We´ve made it to the semi-finals, and no one thought that would be even possible, but at the same time, the parents pushed their kids so hard to do well in school, when a young child is admitted to the University, the entire family celebrates.
How do you think you can apply what you´ve done with the team to other issues, I know you´ve been very committed to creating opportunities for children – such a great thing, but if people had your leadership ability and had the performance of the Uruguayan National team had in things like education, and the adoption of new technologies, Uruguay would be ahead of everybody. How could you do that?
Diego Lugano: We´re working in that direction we took on this responsibility as top players to transmit that concept.
In Uruguay football/soccer among children is also unique, three, four-years-old already start playing soccer.
Many parents think that the future of the child is in soccer, but only 0.27% become “Lugano”, you don´t need to be a genius in mathematics to realize this is very difficult, but nevertheless many parents believe that is the future of their children and encourage them to do so, and not so much to promote studying.
As public individuals, we´re working towards that direction to make parents understand that soccer is a secondary issue, education is the top priority.
I live in Brazil right now, people speak with a lot of respect for our society in that regard (education), internally we know we have many things on the pending list. When you are someone that is widely exposed these are the things we have the responsibility to do, to encourage children to read, to study.
Soccer in our country carries a very powerful message in that sense.
We receive many letters from teachers, parents, grandparents thanking us because their children have started to read, on football/soccer nevertheless they´re reading, or they go to school encouraged by our advice.
Kim: I meet with President Vázquez this morning, we talked about football, and he said that when he visited Russia, he did a Press Conference with President Putin. He (Putin) said: How can such a small country have such great soccer teams?
And Vázquez said, well, it´s very simple they eat Uruguayan beef and because of that, you should import more Uruguay beef to Russia.
Then Kim asked Lugano if he would be willing to join and work with the World Bank Group.
Diego: It could be. Sports need to grow. I´m asking for your advice, Lugano said to Kim and then asked:
What can we do for our football to get investment from multilateral organizations, agencies and so on?
Next time if we play against Korea we´ll try to be kind to them, I promise you in return (laughs and applause from the audience) he added.
Kim: Ok, let me put it in this way; Diego if you join us in a campaign to improve piece scores of Uruguay students and once the piece scores go 20%, I will find people to invest in Uruguay football.
The event ended with Diego Lugano signing his official National team t-shirt and offering it as a present that Mr. Kim accepted gratefully.