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Cablegate: Amb Wayne Meets with Outgoing Education Minister (And

VZCZCXYZ0009
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBU #2309/01 3411550
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 071550Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9860

UNCLAS BUENOS AIRES 002309

SIPDIS

STATE FOR R, F, ECA, IIP, WHA/BSC, WHA/EX, WHA/PDA
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: KPAO OEXC SCUL AR
SUBJECT: AMB WAYNE MEETS WITH OUTGOING EDUCATION MINISTER (AND
SENATOR ELECT) DANIEL FILMUS

1. Summary: In a November 29 meeting with outgoing Education
Minister Daniel Filmus, Ambassador outlined ongoing US
Embassy-sponsored educational programs, thanked Filmus for MOE
cooperation on the Youth Ambassador Program, and reviewed future
areas for collaboration. Filmus said he was in the process of
finalizing a decree to increase funding to the Fulbright program and
identified English training and science exchanges as areas for
enhanced cooperation. He will become the Chairman of the Senate's
Environment Committee and continue to advise President Fernandez de
Kirchner on educational issues. Filmus said that the new Minister of
Education, the current Vice Minister of Education Juan Carlos
Tedesco, shares Filmus' priority on English teacher training and
increased science and technology exchanges and will be a good
partner for the U.S. End Summary.

2. Ambassador Wayne met with outgoing Education Minister Daniel
Filmus November 29 to thank him for his cooperation on educational
issues generally and the Youth Ambassador Program in particular.
Ambassador Wayne noted that, as part of the US government's
investment in Argentine youth (over $6 million from FY 04-07), the
number of Youth Ambassadors would double this year from 5 to 10
participants. The embassy is also doubling the number of micro
scholarships for disadvantaged youth, so that 120 students will
study English at bi-national centers this year. Among other
initiatives, the embassy has sent 33 English teachers to the US for
intensive training over the past two years and will continue this
important training opportunity in 2008.

3. The Ambassador noted the overall decline in the number of
Argentine students studying in the US despite the global upward
trend. He and the Senator-elect discussed ways of increasing the
number of educational exchanges including private-public
partnerships. They praised programs such as Inte's Education
Initiative that has had enormous impact in training almost 40,000
teachers to date in 14 provinces and donating damage-resistant
computers to students. Filmus noted the particular need for
exchanges in science and technology since the Argentine educational
system is weak in this area.

4. As a first step toward increased exchanges, Ambassador Wayne
mentioned the importance of GOA compliance with the Argentine-US
agreement by which Argentina is obligated to provide US $200,000 in
funding each year for the bi-national Fulbright Commission. During
the economic crisis Argentina's contribution fell to US $68,000
annually and has remained there since. The outgoing Minister
responded that he had received a letter from Fulbright board member
and president of La Nacion newspaper, Julio Saguier, to the same
effect, and with a draft decree in hand for his signature, stated
that he was prepared to increase Argentina's contribution to
$100,000 this year, "as an indication of our intent to increase
funding to the full level next year." Ambassador Wayne thanked him
and expressed hope that GOA funding would be restored next year to
the agreed upon amount in view of the importance of providing
Argentine youth more opportunities to study in the US. Ambassador
described the new ten-year Fulbright program in Chile and the
increased number of doctoral candidates sent by Brazil under
Fulbright.

5. Minister Filmus reiterated the importance of teacher training as
in the Intel program so that technology is properly integrated into
classroom instruction. He noted the large number of US students in
Argentina (some 4,000) and gave the Ambassador a copy of "Study In
Argentina: A Guide for International Students," which identifies
Argentine universities for graduate studies, semester abroad
programs, and Spanish studies.

6. The outgoing Minister also underscored the vital importance of
improving English teaching so that Argentina can compete in the
global market. "These students need English to fully take advantage
of these exchange opportunities and to study the science and
technology skills Argentina needs," he said. He referred to the
urgent need for English teacher training and identified three
priorities: teacher training at the Ministry's new teacher
institute; use of national educational TV channel "Encuentro" for
English instruction; and the need for more English books for public
schools and other libraries. He said his Ministry would be
particularly interested in any English teaching TV program that
Argentine public TV could utilize.

7. The Ambassador offered to explore assistance in these areas: the
possibility of extending English studies to over 68 Globe Schools
that are participating in a US-sponsored science and technology
program for climate monitoring, and using visiting American science
and technology experts to address groups of teachers at the national
training institute. In closing, the Senator-elect reiterated the
strong interest of his successor - Vice Minister Juan Carlos Tedesco
-- in these same areas, and of his own intention to continue working
in the field of education as a key advisor to the new President
-elect to make these additional exchange possibilities happen. He
predicted that Tedesco would be a good partner for the U.S.

8 Comment: The meeting with Filmus was cordial and productive. Not

only was he forthcoming with more cash for Fulbright, but he also
identified several areas where the Embassy and the MOE could
cooperate going forward. Moreover, he said that he would continue to
be involved in educational affairs from his perch in the Senate and
that the incoming minister was predisposed to work with us in the
same spirit of cooperation. End comment.

KELLY

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