Educators from 23 countries convene at World Conference on Transformative Education in Puerto Rico

Educators from 23 countries convene at World Conference on Transformative Education in Puerto Rico
The educational conference’s theme for this edition was “Transformative Education in the Americas”.

The historical event, hosted by nonprofit Nuestra Escuela, concluded with a resolution supporting the University of Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, PR (April 9, 2024) – Educators from 23 countries convened in Puerto Rico for the Third World Conference on Transformative Education (WCTE), a three-day event in which they shared pedagogical solutions to the issues of social inequality and poverty in developing nations. The historical conference, celebrated for the first time in the Americas, concluded with a resolution in support of the University of Puerto Rico.

Hosted by alternative education center Nuestra Escuela, the WCTE was held at the University of Puerto Rico’s Rio Piedras campus. Conveners highlighted educational, cultural and community projects in Puerto Rico, South America, the United States and Africa. An international panel discussed how education must change in the 21st century.   

In the plenary session that concluded the educational event, a resolution in support of the UPR was approved unanimously. The resolution stated that, given the public university’s budget cuts promoted by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, the participating educators “declare our support for the preservation of the mission for which the institution was created and we call on the Puerto Rican community to combat the efforts of academic neoliberalization to which it is being subjected, and to redouble efforts to reinforce and expand the democratizing and transformative mission of the University at the service of the common well-being of its people, especially its most disadvantaged sectors. Likewise, we urge the university authorities and the Government of Puerto Rico to be proactive in defending the autonomy, financing, and institutional mission of the University of Puerto Rico.”

The educational conference’s theme for this edition was “Transformative Education in the Americas”. The event had strong representation from countries in the Americas region, such as Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, the United States and Canada. There were also representatives from the Netherlands, Cameroon, Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and Gaza (Palestine).  

“Who has experienced any form of violence or crime at one point? Who has cried with indignation before the injustices of the world? Education must be integral and consider all aspects of a human being’s life”, declared Ana Yris Guzmán, executive president of Nuestra Escuela, at the onset of her keynote lecture “Education for Liberation: Towards a Profound Transformation”. She conveyed Nuestra Escuela’s satisfaction and pride at hosting the excellent educators that convened in Puerto Rico this year to share their knowledge.

Guzmán noted that, according to data from UNICEF, 1.2 billion boys and girls live in conditions of multidimensional poverty around the world; almost 600 million boys and girls do not reach minimum reading levels; 35 million boys and girls suffer from severe acute malnutrition; every day, 14,000 boys and girls under the age of five die from preventable causes, such as diarrheal diseases and malaria. “Profound reasons to work on transforming education”, she said.

Other keynote speakers included Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico’s president Dr. Nelson Colón Tarrats with his lecture “Weaving Networks: the ecology of a school in transformation”. Michael T. Ndemanu, of the Global Institute of Transformative Education, from Cameroon, presented the keynote lecture “Undesigning and redesigning education for the present and the future: What would it take and how would transformative success be measured?”.

In a roundtable on Education in Africa, Kennedy Oronjo, director of the educational project Shule Yetu (which means “Nuestra Escuela” in the Swahili language) from Nairobi, Kenya, and Rosemary Bosu of Ghana, discussed the topic of how to teach equality in an unequal society. They explained how this requires transformative leadership from educational directors to achieve a quality education for disadvantaged students in their schools. The Shule Yetu project has the support of Puerto Rico’s Nuestra Escuela.

Other diverse conferences and workshops included:

· Pedagogy of the Imagination: the Artistic and Cultural Practices of Teatro Agua, Sol y Sereno;
· Recognizing Parents as Coeducators, the competency-based curriculum in Kenya;
· The Magic Word, Transformative Vocabulary Development in Spanish Heritage Language Children in SE Michigan;
· Interculturality and Creativity in Multilingual Students in a performative course of Peruvian identity in San Antonio, Texas;
· Education, transformation and joy, by the project Semillero Brasil;
· Ecopacifism, ecopedagogy and peace culture;
· “Transforming education in industrial engineering: the use of rubrics and project-based learning”.

The roundtable “Rethinking Transformative Education in the 21st Century” had participation from an international panel: Justo Méndez Arámburu and Ana Yris Guzmán, cofounders of Nuestra Escuela in Puerto Rico; Michael T. Ndemanu, from Cameroon, and Serafín M. Coronel Molina, of Perú, cofounders of the World Conference on Transformative Education; Tom J. McConnell, David Akana, Edmund Folefac; Juanita Rodríguez Colón; and Carlos E. Severino Valdez.

Méndez Arámburu, WCTE’s general coordinator for this edition, expressed that in this event in Puerto Rico “we were talking, learning, teaching how to move forward with an education capable of building a world without inequality, with sustainable, decolonized and inclusive development… a better world.”

The WCTE began in 2018 in Kenya, Africa. The conference’s second edition, delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, was held in Ghana in 2023. This year, for the first time, the conference was held in the Americas and Puerto Rico was chosen. Nuestra Escuela and the Alliance for Alternative Education were the hosts of this third conference in Puerto Rico, co-sponsored by the Global Institute for Transformative Education (GITE) and the University of Puerto Rico, among other organizations. On 2025, the Conference will return to African continent, on Cape Town, South Africa. In 2026, it will be held in the Americas once again, this time in Chile.

Professors, social researchers, teachers and students attended the WCTE. The conferences were open to the general public. For more information on the WCTE, visit .

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