HANGZHOU, China — The Institute of the Americas, in cooperation with the Institute of Latin American Studies at Zhejiang International Studies University and Beijing Normal University, held a conference titled “Education Reform and Innovation in Latin America and China” on Oct. 18, 2014, in Hangzhou, China.

Institute of the Americas Vice President Lynne Walker delivered opening remarks and moderated the first panel titled “The History and Current State of Latin America’s Education Development.” During her presentation, Walker noted that Mexico is now producing graduates in engineering and technology at rates equivalent to its international business competitors, including its No. 1 trade partner, the United States.

The Mexican government reports that 130,000 engineers and technicians graduate each year from its universities and specialty high schools, more than Canada, Germany or Brazil. University enrollment in Mexico has tripled in 30 years, to almost 3 million students.

“These aspirational students want to build something for themselves and their country,” Walker said. “Mexico is laying the groundwork for a more technology-based economy.”

Patricio Palacios, Counsellor at the Embassy of Ecuador in China, spoke about the centerpiece of education reform in Ecuador – the Yachay Project. This project contemplates a model city that combines educational opportunities that respond to the needs of technology-based businesses, while also providing comfortable, safe neighborhoods for the workers and their families.

Juan Gonzalez, director general of scientific communication at Mexico’s Universidad de Colima, informed the audience of 100 business executives, researchers and scholars, about the advances in Mexico’s educational reform while underscoring the deficiencies in the system that must be addressed. Cesar Bustos, a professor at the Universidad de Colima who studied for several years in China and speaks fluent Mandarin, shared his knowledge of international programs offered by Mexico’s higher education system with a focus on Mexico-China cooperation.

He Linli, a professor at Southwest University of Science and Technology in Mianyang, China, compared the higher education systems in Chile and China, highlighting the lessons that China can learn from Chile’s model.

Xu Shicheng, director of Institute of Latin American Studies of Zhejiang International Studies University, made closing remarks in Mandarin and Spanish, using his own experiences and knowledge of the advances being made in educational reform in China and Latin America as an example of the important efforts being made in the two regions.