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La Educación
Número: (126-128) I,III
Año: 1997

The Earlier Sociologist’s View of Latin American Education

Latin American sociologists have frequently attempted to compare the education patterns of countries in the region against the earlier experience of countries that had industrialized much longer ago. The processes of industrialization, urbanization, and demographic growth have all occurred differently in Latin America, because, among other reasons, they have taken place in a world that is greatly changed. Education sociologists have also focussed on the evolution of school systems and on comparing them with the patterns found in Europe and in other industrialized countries. 1

It has been observed that, in Latin America, intermediate and higher education has grown rapidly to the point where, in some of these countries, it has achieved a scale comparable to that attained at the same time in the more recently developed European countries. Yet in nearly all cases, the record of mass education in Latin America has been far behind that of Europe. It has been noted that many of the first Latin American countries to industrialize had already managed by the beginning of this century to provide generalized literacy and primary education to their people. If there is one pattern that stands out in the educational data for the region, it is this: post-primary education has expanded in the cities, thereby increasing the educational gap between urban and rural dwellers, between youth and older generations, and between the middle and upper classes, on one hand, and the poorer masses on the other. This inequality has been evident in the primary schooling gap (i.e. the proportion of children of school age who are not in school), which over the years has stood in sharp contrast to the rapid growth in middle and higher education.