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La Educación
Número: (123-125) I,III
Año: 1996


I. Introduction

The present consolidated evaluation report on the Multinational Education for Work Project was drafted by Dr. Keva Bethel (Bahamas), Dr. Françoise Coupal (Canada), and Dr. Graciela Riquelme (Argentina), who were contracted by the General Secretariat to conduct an external on-site evaluation of the Multinational Projects in the participating countries. This paper is a summary of the reports submitted by the evaluators based on the trips they made to the countries involved. The report was drafted by the external consultants at a meeting held at OAS headquarters in Washington D.C., in October 1995. In addition to the assistance rendered by the Department of Educational Affairs (DAE), the external evaluators had access to the background data and documentation available from the country reports, pursuant to the evaluation guidelines approved in due course.

The external consultants visited the following countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Grenada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

No provision was made to cover all the countries participating in the project owing to budgetary reasons and the time constraints on the consultants.

To date, the following country reports have been received: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominica, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Paraguay.

II. Background

The multinational projects of the OAS were created by the CIECC based on the “Evaluation of the Resolution of Maracay” (CIECC/RES. 736/87), which divided the regional education programs into three areas: Basic Education, Education for Work, and Secondary and Higher Education.

Resolution CIECC/RES. 770/88 defined 12 priority regional areas in education, science and culture in order to promote integration, multinationality, and horizontal cooperation. The resolution adopted goals, fields of work and emphasized cooperative regional programming beginning in 1990, with a view to attaining comprehensive development.

Resolution CIECC/RES. 771/88 called upon CIECC to focus on its policy-making functions in the area, based on a diagnosis of conditions in the region and on a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of the regional programs. In the new programming system (1990-1995), the following aspects were emphasized: the gathering of financial resources; cooperative action of a multinational nature; horizontal cooperation; and the ability to find and promote real solutions to the problems given priority by the countries of the region.

The evaluation missions were conducted in August and September 1995. The overall framework of the evaluation called for adherence to the general purposes of the evaluation process defined by the OAS working through the CIE, as follows:

1. To comply with the mandates and guidelines of CIECC on the evaluation of multinational projects.

2. To foster an understanding, comprehensive analysis and overall view of the project activities, as well as the major results and impact derived therefrom, both at the country-institutional and multinational level of the Regional Educational Development Program (PREDE).

3. To make recommendations to the decision-making bodies of the OAS and the member States, including those in charge of the project executing agencies, on the course and future direction of the cooperative activities in 1996 and thereafter.

The methodology used in the evaluation was composed of three basic components: 1) the retrieval, processing and analysis of data, reports and documents; 2) interviews and surveys covering a broad range of people having a bearing on the projects in the area of basic education; and 3) field trips.

The countries participating in the projects are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

III. Implementation of the PMET Project

A. Contribution to the Priority Areas of PMET

As a general rule, the theoretical framework of PMET was defined as a response to the challenges and new economic forces influencing the Latin American and Caribbean economies. Liberalization of the world economy, its implications on the division of labor, the introduction of new technologies and increased competitiveness have led to emphasis on the need to modernize education and the work force in Latin America. At the same time, there are broad sectors of the population alienated from the job markets and social services with consequent high levels of poverty.

In more specific terms, the multinational project set out four priority areas:

1. Assistance in designing flexible informal training programs and support for services that will give young people and adults access to opportunities in the job market.

2. Promotion of self-employment through the development of administrative, entrepreneurial, and productive skills, focused specifically on adults and young people in disadvantaged rural and urban communities.

3. In-service post-literacy programs to improve the performance of working adults or those running a small business but who need help in order to survive in the face of growing competition or in order to take advantage of technology changes.

4. Support for multinational seminars and workshops geared to analyzing and making suggestions conducive to change in formal and informal schooling.

The evaluation showed there were various degrees of compliance in addressing the above priority areas. It would have been better, however, to have concentrated on some of the key education and work issues (see the annexes on the executive summary drafted by the outside evaluators).

An analysis of the activities undertaken is indicative of the different priorities that received country-by-country attention. For example, Brazil was more involved in the issue of technical education, whereas Argentina worked on the reform of secondary education; Colombia focused on adult education and Uruguay on training disadvantaged young people. In the cases of Chile, Bolivia, Mexico and Nicaragua, human resource development was the predominant profile. These latter countries are also engaged in work relating to advisory services for the design of flexible informal training programs. Bolivia, acting through CREFAL, applies training methodologies for adults. Chile does the same through educational efforts in the Alahue Commune (CPEIP) and through the productive workshops for elementary-technical adult education (ETEA Universidad Catolica). CEDeFT and more directly CREFAL focused on human resource development in adult education. In terms of coverage, however, only Nicaragua reached out to broad sectors of the population with methodologies tailored to domestic conditions.

The promotion of self-employment is indirectly addressed in Chile through adult education techniques. This is true even more so in the case of CEDeFT, Mexico. Nicaragua undertook a greater number of direct efforts of its own, though it was not always able to join other countries in multinational efforts.

Uruguay and Colombia engaged in activities addressing disadvantaged population groups, but satisfactory results were achieved only in Uruguay where over 2,500 deprived people were given vocational training to develop specific skills for entry into the job market.

In Colombia, despite the effort to promote productive activities, few activities have generated self-employment, and the status of the Self-Managed Adult Education Centers (CAEPAs) is still weak after four years of support. Argentina, which devoted most of its resources to curricular reform in secondary education, engaged in efforts of a multinational nature, but there was little use of past experience and accrued know-how.

In addition to the four priority areas of PMET, the project set out 16 specific goals as a guide for the program. Their number and breadth have given the countries great flexibility in interpreting the priorities to suit their interests or needs (see the annexes of the executive summaries of the outside evaluators). Nevertheless, its disadvantage is the lack of focus and the support given to weakly inter-related activities at the national and international level.

B. Evaluation of PMET Activities

The evaluation conducted in each country took into account the following criteria: relevance, internal consistency, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, lasting effect, equity, innovation, participation and multinational status, as set forth in the General Secretariat’s guidelines forwarded in due course to the countries.

1. Relevance

The theoretical framework of PMET is very relevant given the conditions in the region as it faces the challenges and restructuring going on in the world economy, the increase in the number of displaced workers, and the highly competitive world market. Nevertheless, the country projects or activities have little substantive relevance in terms of the world of education and employment, except for the PMET projects in Uruguay and Nicaragua. Such is the case of the Master’s Program in Planning and Development in Mexico, Costa Rica and Chile, and CREFAL’s adult education diploma. The substance of these programs is centered on global development theory and planning, not on more specific aspects having to do with education and work at the local and micro-regional level.

2. Administrative efficiency

The administrative efficiency of PMET’s projects in some of the countries evaluated is consistent with the type of agencies running them. For example, CEDeFT and CREFAL in Mexico, as well as CPEIP in Chile, have a long institutional and operational history (the Mexican agencies with international profiles and CPEIP with major national impact on teacher training). PMET’s resources, despite a decline in relative terms over the entire five-year period, were administered efficiently by the aforementioned institutions. The same was true of the Universidad del Valle in Colombia, CEFET in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and the Ministry of Education in Uruguay.

3. Effectiveness

The effectiveness of the projects varies from country to country due to institutional changes, budgetary cuts, changes in coordinators, and political changes. The projects in Uruguay and Nicaragua, which provided training for disadvantaged sectors and set out to comply with their goals as proposed, were outstanding for their stability.

4. Sustainability

There was a good chance for long term of sustainability in projects that had a political commitment to support a given area or issue. For example, in Brazil there is a political and financial commitment to implement new computerized communication systems country-wide. In the case of Uruguay, the government is expanding training centers such as CECAP in various regions of the country. In Argentina, INET intends to operate an electronic network country-wide.

5. Equity

The criterion of equity is underscored in just a few countries such as Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Colombia, where efforts focused on disadvantaged sectors of the population, young people, indigenous groups and senior citizens.

C. Problems and Drawbacks

Aside from particular problems in each country, the survey showed several problems and drawbacks that were common to all the countries evaluated. These factors influence the implementation of the program’s activities and include:
  • Predominance of the institutional profile over and above PMET’s goals. This means that country efforts are often more keyed to the specific goals of each institution than to those of the project itself. As a result, given the vast number of goals, all actions were deemed appropriate but may not necessarily have been so.
  • Changes in country coordinators as a result of political and organizational changes, which means a great lack of continuity in project implementation at local level and in the inter-relationship among the different countries.
  • Limited implementation of the project’s electronic network despite the fact that the equipment was available locally. Purchase of the equipment and assembly of the installations was not coupled with proper promotion of the relationship between production and potential network users at the various levels. Nor is there visible concern to attend certain local needs.
  • There was a perceptible time lag between scheduled activities and actual execution, inasmuch as the latter was subject to the financial contributions made by the OAS member countries. This meant that many multinational activities, which had originally been planned bearing in mind mutual financial and operating linkages, had to be rescheduled.
  • Several countries pointed to problems caused by a lack of clarity in PMET’s goals. This happened when there was a lack of continuity in the office of National Coordination.
  • The drop in the amount of funding originally programmed forced the originally proposed goals to be downgraded to less ambitious ones.
  • There were no verifiable links between these activities and the work sector and NGOs active in job skills training.
  • Lastly, PMET had insufficient funding for proper monitoring from the time of its inception on through the implementation and follow-up phase.
IV. Principal Results

The results varied quite a bit from one country to another, since they depended on a number of factors: whether the activities were well focused; the country commitment with the project and PMET; continuity of coordinators and their experience in project management; the availability of technical teams; and a good linkage with experts at the regional level.

A few project results on a country by country basis are given below:

1. Argentina

The project helped provide support for a number of changes at the national level, such as: the adoption of a new set of standards for the sector in the Federal Education Act on decentralization of educational services to provincial jurisdictions, and changes in the curriculum for secondary education with a view to multimodal education.

2. Brazil

CEFET, in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, succeeded in developing the electronic information network and implementing it nationally. This network will connect 70 industrial and agricultural schools nationwide. Start-up of the network at the multinational level was less successful, given the cost of communications, changes in personnel and the limited focus of the network on vocational education, whereas other countries worked areas like adolescent development and adult education.

3. Chile

CPEIP recorded successes in horizontal technical cooperation with Paraguay and Panama. Working through the Universidad Catolica, a methodology was developed for the inclusion of productive workshops in elemental vocational education for adults.

4. Colombia

Whereas the CAEPAs are still weak, the team at the Universidad del Vallebenefitted from the experience of working in the communityand improved the thrust of adult education and related methodologies. Both the training of grassroots teachers and the learning patterns are more flexible and better tailored to actual communityconditions as a result of participation in PMET.

5. Mexico

CEDeFT (Mexico) succeeded in encouraging a Master’s in Planning and Development, which, though not substantively relevant to schooling and the work place, represents an effort to provide a more flexible alternative curriculum-wise for the development of technicians and officials at the graduate level. The Master’s program’s contribution at the multinational level should also be highlighted, especially in Chile and Costa Rica.

CREFAL (Mexico) has helped train personnel for PMET’s electronic network. It also designed a course for experts in adult education which provides a linkage between education and the work place. CREFAL also published the Inter-American Review on Adult Education, which developed into PMET’s official publication, and served as a means for publishing news in the field of education and work.

6. Nicaragua

Important achievements are direct worker training efforts (young people and adults), in which Nicaragua applied the lessons learned through its participation in multinational events and set in motion a network to multiply methodologies applicable in Nicaragua.

7. Uruguay

The Training and Development Center (CECAP) meets a critical need by reaching out to disadvantagedyoung people outside the school system. More than 2,500 young people have been trained for entry into the work force. The workshops of the Center were modernized and the PMET electronic network was placed in operation. Still more important is the apprenticeship model that was designed and is potentially replicable throughout the region.

Multinationally, Chile and Mexico are the countries that have brought about the most transfers of know-how through a variety of multinational endeavors, such as technical assistance rendered for local projects, joint production of materials and implementation of the Master’s program through exchanges of professors and, in some instances, students. Other significant country experiences should be disseminated on a regional scale (the projects in Nicaragua and Uruguay).

Uruguay has exploited its regional contacts to the benefit of the staff of CECAP by way of internships to SENAI and REDELET in Brazil, and CREFAL in Mexico. It has also organized international meetings.

V. Conclusions and Recommendations

The main conclusions and recommendations for PMET are summarized below.

A. Conclusions

1. It is important to mobilize the teams of country experts and specialists to attain results in the field of education and job skills, by awakening a clearer awareness of the problem in the Ministries of Education in Latin America and in other agencies working in this field, such as the NGOs, the private sector, and Ministries relating to jobs or young people.

2. It is essential to promote exchanges in the area of human resource development for teaching and technical assistance. Better conditions should be provided for instituting and systematizing teaching innovations in the area of education and job skills.

3. The analytical effort within the context of the globalization processes should continue since it is conducive to systematizing teaching innovations in the area of education and job skills.

4. It is important for the OAS to keep up its support of efforts conducive to exchanges of experience, know-how, advisory services and methodologies at the multinational level.

5. Given the major effort already devoted to the electronic network, it is essential to continue funding the program to expand its availability and emphasize the relationship between network producers and users.

B. Recommendations

1. Efforts should be increased to have a basic project document available in each country. This document should contain a description of objectives and related activities, expected results and verifiable indicators during the five-year life of the project and specific details on how to help meet multinational goals.

2. Each country should formulate a comprehensive project tailored to existent local conditions at the start of its programming. The evaluation of the PMET’s activities between 1990-1995 demonstrated that some countries undertook activities with goals which were too broad.

3. The multinational projects should concentrate on one or two priority areas at the most, so as to avoid scattering resources and energy. Rotating priorities might be established in the various subject areas during the time of execution in order to better promote exchanges of experts.

4. The specific type of education and development efforts should be clearly pinpointed. The efforts should have a favorable impact on job placement and the development of workers’ skills in times of crisis and in the face of a shrinking job market in the wake of industrial reconversion.

5. More theoretical contributions concerning education and work should be pursued in order to retrieve and record research findings and expertise that has not been combined.

6. Master’s programs and other courses and graduate studies should revive and make use of the theoretical contributions made by PMET and focus on a critical understanding of the education/work relationship.

7. The countries should ensure the continuity or permanence on the job of coordinators in charge of the country projects and see that they have sufficient experience and are properly qualified to manage the multinational projects.

8. The OAS should look into a decentralized means of monitoring and following up projects with periodic evaluations. It should ensure that the local offices have sufficient funds and human resources to cooperate in this area.

9. The project follow-up activities should allow for the greatest number of possible exchanges at the multinational, subregional and local level.

10. No matter what approach is adopted in the future, it is critical for the OAS to guarantee funding for the projects independent of country contributions. Whenever the availability of funds is contingent on country contributions, provisions should be made for two years of funding in order to give the countries time to review their activities in the wake of budgetary adjustments.

11. The multinational project should promote better linkages with the private sector, NGOs, and other government agencies active in the area of education and work.

12. Horizontal cooperation may be optimized if the countries concentrate on one or two areas and exchange experts and know-how in those specific areas.

13. The electronic information networks should be linked with existing information and communication networks such as the INTERNET and the Latin American Education and Work Network.