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

Introduction

The intent of this paper is to examine Latin American educational data for the 1990s within a worldwide context, and to compare certain statistics with data for previous decades, in order to observe the developments and trends that have occurred. This approach allows us to draw some conclusions about the extent to which Latin America is actually behind or ahead in the development of education, and to point to trends in the data that may demonstrate growth, stagnation or retreat, and whether growth has been rapid or slow, etc. The paper also attempts, to the extent possible, to highlight what appear to be some characteristics of the region in the distribution of education: the degree of equity between men and women, between urban and rural dwellers, and between youth and older people, since these are the categories most susceptible to analysis from the secondary data available from such sources as the census or education ministry figures.

These comparisons will be of interest to sociologists and students of comparative education, and others who seek to examine the interlinkages between educational levels and other socioeconomic characteristics. As will by now be clear, we are looking here at education from a quantitative point of view, one that can provide a context within which to conduct the required qualitative analysis.

It is also useful, in this brief analysis, to cast an eye over the differences existing between countries in the region. We limit ourselves here to the twenty countries that have traditionally made up Latin America, leaving aside the societies of the Caribbean, which for the most part have small populations and are for that reason scarcely comparable to the other countries. (In fact, they account for less than 1% of the total population of the region, which means that the overall figure will hardly change if they are included or excluded.)