19 de Enero de 2018
Portal Educativo de las Américas
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Colección: Trends for a common future
Autor: Noel F. McGinn
Título: Toward International Cooperation in Education for the Integration of the Americas


The performance of the education systems of Latin America and the Caribbean resembles that of a malnourished person barely able to carry out the minimal tasks required for survival, bereft of the energy required to escape from starvation, easily distracted, with diminished memory and reasoning ability. Systems of education are underfinanced in both absolute and relative terms. The education systems of the region are inefficient in use of funds they have, but much of that inefficiency results from insufficient funding of management. Expensive investments in infrastructure, for example creation of management information systems, go to waste because governments are not able to provide funds for their staffing and maintenance. Inefficiency and underfinancing constitute a vicious circle that contributes to increased criticism of public education and results in further reduction in society’s willingness to provide the funds, and human capital, required to break the circle and begin improvement of education.

The problem of low levels of overall funding of education and inefficiency is exacerbated by a highly unequal distribution of resources. Low levels of spending on public education accompany high enrollments in private schools; Latin America has the largest proportion of students in private schools in the world. Within public education there are gross disparities in spending on urban and rural schools (Eichelbaum de Babini, 1997) and by gender (Stromquist, 1996). As a consequence, many children spend years in schools so poor in quality that they have little lasting effect on their students. Use of public funds to subsidize private education results in at best minor improvements in quality (Parry, 1995) and tends to worsen the already unequal distribution of access to schooling. Efforts to generate increased private sector spending on education have not yet made a significant difference in overall levels of funding and in recent years countries have increased their reliance on external sources of funding for capital development projects in education.

Finally, the dominant technology of instruction in schools in Latin America and the Caribbean is inadequate to respond to the demands being made on education. This technology defines teachers as the primary source of knowledge for students, and places them in relatively isolated work sites that raise the cost of on-the-job training and continuous improvement through professional meetings and workshops. Participation in the world economy, meanwhile, has raised salary levels of persons with university education, reducing the pool of persons seeking employment in teaching. Improvement of the quality of the teaching force will require significant increases in teacher salaries, increasing the unit cost of education. The resulting cost burden makes simultaneous expansion of access and improvement of quality difficult if not impossible.

Governments are the major source of finance and policy for education in all the Americas. The problems of education arise in deficiencies in governments’ decisions about finance, operation, and content. But governments do not stand alone. Within countries they reflect the ambitions and beliefs of some mix of stakeholders in society. Others countries influence government decisions directly and indirectly through aid and through collaboration. The next section describes current forms of cooperation and their consequences for education.

[INDEX] [Presentation] [Introduction] [The Evolution of International Cooperation in Education in the Americas] [Cooperation After Nationalism] [International Cooperation as Supranationalism] [Cooperation for International Development] [Resistance to Aid] [Cooperation as Collaboration within Latin America] [Cooperation as Structural Adjustment] [The Current Situation of Education in the Americas] [Current Status of Education] [Summary] [Current Forms of International Cooperation] [Aid as a Form of International Cooperation] [Varieties of Aid] [Uniformization as a Consequence of Aid] [Aid or Assistance from Bilateral and Multilateral Organizations] [Cooperation by Transnational Corporations] [Aid and Assistance from NGOs] [Aid by Philanthropic Foundations] [Aid Mediated through Educational Institutions] [International Cooperation in the Form of Collaboration] [Examples of Collaboration in Higher Education] [Obstacles to International Collaboration in Higher Education] [Examples of Collaboration Between Non-governmental Organizations] [Other Instances of Collaboration] [Summary] [Globalization and International Cooperation] [The New Industrial Paradigm] [Implications of the New Industrial Paradigm for Education] [The New Development Model] [An Outline of a New Paradigm for Education] [Alternative Approaches to International Cooperation in Education] [An Example of Regional Collaboration to Develop a New Paradigm] [Notes] [References]