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The Sixth International University Education Conference ""Universidad 2008"" will take place at the Havana Convention Center from February 11 to 15 under the motto "Universalization of the University for a Better World."

"This is an infrequent meeting in Latin America that allows teachers to exchange experiences and learn, hence its wide appeal. We share common concerns, and the development of talent is a current worry because it entails development," said Juan Vela, minister of Higher Education.

In a press conference, Vela pointed out that up to this moment 1,635 specialists from 91 countries have confirmed their participation in the congress; in 2006, there were 2,000 delegates.

Moreover, Education ministers from Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay and Dominican Republic will come to Cuba; as well as the prominent Brazilian theologian Frei Betto.

"There is a growing interest in participating in this meeting because people want to know about the Cuban experience. People wonder how a country, in just 50 years, passed from having 30 percent of illiteracy to 800,000 university graduates. And we hope to reach a million graduates in the 2009-2010 academic year," said the minister of Higher Education.

He noted that the "municipalization" of the university (a program aimed at taking the university down to community level), the great development of postgraduate courses and the principle of work-study "which begins with vegetable gardens at primary schools and extends up to the professional practice in higher education" are new experiences that will be shown by Cuba.

Vela pointed out that professors of the Municipal University Headquarters (SUM in Spanish) will be represented among the 1,000 Cuban delegates.

"Universidad 2008 has a special motivation, the 280 anniversary of the foundation of the University of Havana, and therefore, of the beginning of university studies in our country," he said.

Among the main topics of the conference are scientific investigation and technological innovation, the role of higher education, pedagogy at the third educational level and internationalization of the university.

"These are very current topics, in line with discussions taking place between university staffs and students in the search for answers and prompt actions," Vela added.

(Cuban News)

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