Collection: Trends for a common future
Author: Noel F. McGinn
Title: Toward International Cooperation in Education for the Integration of the Americas
1. I am deeply indebted to Leonidas Cajar, Sylvia Rabionet,
Fernando Reimers, Ernesto Schiefelbein and Thomas Welsh for help in
the preparation of this paper. They are of course in no way responsible
for its limitations.
2. International agencies may have been “cooperating” in a more active fashion for some time, but with fewer fanfares. For example, in the early 1970s officials of the World Bank urged that they take an active role when a weak government was pursuing policies considered unacceptable to the Bank. C.L.G. Bell, “The Political Framework”, Redistribution with Growth, Eds. H. Chenery, M. S. Ahluwalia, C. L. G. Bell, J. H. Duloy, & R. Jolly (London: Oxford University Press, 1974) 52-72.
3. For the difference in practice between policy dialogue as persuasion, as negotiation and as participation and organizational learning see F. Reimers and N. McGinn, Informed Dialogue: Using Research to Shape Education Policy Around the World (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997).
4. For example, the loan might be made contingent upon the national government decreasing total spending, total spending on a particular sector, or patterns of spending within a sector.
5. The effects of structural adjustment on education were not as severe as in Latin America, primarily because of government policies protecting basic education. J.B.G. Tilak, “The Effects of Adjustment on Education: A Review of Asian Experience”, Prospects XXVII.1 (1997): 85-108.
6. A detailed critique is provided in A.A. Boron and C.A. Torres, “The Impact of Neoliberal Restructuring on Education and Poverty in Latin America”, Alberta Journal of Educational Research XLII.2 (1996): 102-114.
7. This section is based extensively on the excellent review of research provided by E. Schiefelbein, et al., Education in the Americas: Quality and Equity in the Globalization Process (Washington, D.C.: Organization of American States, 1998).
8. The best-subsidized private schools are those run by religious organizations. In these schools learning gains can be appreciable, especially for children from families with low levels of education and income. This result in Latin America matches the performance of Catholic parochial schools in the United States.
9. Stokke classifies the aid of most but not all European bilateral agencies in the first category. O. Stokke, ed., Foreign Aid Towards the Year 2000: Experiences and Challenges (London: Frank Cass, 1996).
10. When cooperation is motivated by an attempt to improve the position of the giver “assistance” is a misleading euphemism –”exchange” would be a more accurate term.
11. Several of the international assistance agencies base their “recommendations” on the results of studies carried out in the country to receive assistance. The primary function of these studies appears to be the justification of loans or grants to decision-makers in the headquarters of the assistance agency. To maximize the “quality” of the studies, expatriates who seldom have a detailed understanding of the context of the country in question most often carry them out. Usually the time allocated from the problem identification research is short. The resulting reports are based on limited analysis of limited data, and often read as though they would apply to any number of countries. For a detailed critique of sector assessments in Africa, see J. Samoff, “African Education and Development: Crisis, Triumphalism, Research, Loss of Vision”, Alberta Journal of Educational Research 42.2 (1996): 121-147.
12. To some extent cooperation involves a reduction in sovereignty, as whether assistance or collaboration, one or both countries give up control over internal decision processes. For concern about sovereignty issues in aid and cooperation see T.J. Farer, Beyond Sovereignty: Collectively Defending Democracy in the Americas (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996); and M.N.S. Sellers, The New World Order: Sovereignty, Human Rights, and the Self-Determination of Peoples (Oxford: Berg, 1996).
13. At least one study argues that bilateral and multilateral assistance agencies share and act to institutionalize “a uniform ideology, structure, and practice by nation-states” in the provision of education. C.L. McNeely, “Prescribing National Education Policies: The Role of the International Organizations”, Comparative Education Review 39.4 (1995): 483-507. Those who make this assertion point to the remarkable similarities in structure, content, and practice of education systems around the world as well as in the Americas. A. Benavot and D. Kamen, The Curricular Content of Primary Education in Developing Countries (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, 1989) Staff Working Paper No. 237; A. Puiggros, “World Bank Education Policy: Market Liberalism Meets Ideological Conservatism”, NACLA Report on the Americas XXIX.6 (1996): 26-31; F. Ramirez, “The Nation-State, Citizenship and Educational Change: Institutionalization and Globalization”, Handbook of Modern Education and Its Alternatives, Eds. W. K. Cummings and N. F. McGinn (Oxford: Elsevier Science, 1997) 47-62.
14. The OAS Charter precludes “any…intervention which threatens the personality of the state and the political, economic and cultural elements which constitute it.” Organization of American States, Charter of the Organization of American States (Washington, D.C.: General Secretariat, OAS, 1972).
15. The following list of negative practices attributed to one agency operating in Africa has relevance for agency practices in the Americas as well. The agencies control education programs by:
1) providing loans only for agency-specified programs;
2) establishing conditions (changes in policies and practices) that must be met before loans can be implemented;
3) influencing the hiring of foreign consultants to help in implementation;
4) providing overseas training and education in institutions approved by the agency;
5) organizing communication among policy-makers in various countries;
6) using research to justify recommendations for specific programs. Samoff argues that the particular research orientation of the World Bank excludes attention to goals such as:
a) national unity and integration of ethnic, cultural, religious, racial and regional communities;
b) values such as sense of national responsibility, respect for manual labor, sense of individual and collective competence;
c) participation in democratic institutions. J. Samoff, “The Reconstruction of Schooling in Africa”, Comparative Education Review 37.2 (1993): 181-222.
16. Some policy advisors argue that their task is to make country officials accept what scientific research has demonstrated to be the best practice. See, for example, L.A. Crouch, E. Vegas, and R. Johnson, Policy Dialogue and Reform in the Education Sector: Necessary Steps and Conditions (Research Triangle Park, NC: Research Triangle Institute, Center for International Development, 1993).
17. Sagasti comments on how emphasis on scientific knowledge for development has worked to the disadvantage of poor countries. F. Sagasti, “Editorial: Development, Knowledge and the Baconian Age”, World Development 25.10 (1997): 1561-1568.
18. The seriousness of the problem of remaining up-to-date is reflected in the periodic reforms that take place in the agencies. Some average an internal reform every two or three years. Technical advice from the lending agencies seldom is requested outside of the loan process. Several of the international agencies currently are making serious efforts to correct this problem. The World Bank, for example, has reversed a policy that severely limited staff time on external training.
19. To the extent, for example, of funding schools controlled by the rebels in El Salvador during the civil war in that country. B.H. Smith, More than Altruism: The Politics of Private Foreign Aid (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990).
20. For example, universities such as Harvard, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Stanford and California Berkeley have had long-term relationships in Latin America characterized by “horizontal cooperation”. J.P. Farrell, “Educational Cooperation in the Americas: A Review”. Education, Equity and Economic Competitiveness in the Americas: An Inter-American Dialogue Project, Eds. J. M. Puryear and J. J. Brunner (Washington, D. C.: Organization of American States, 1994) 67-102.
21. Optimists will hope that the “opening” of the economies of the region and massive increases in private foreign investment have generated sufficient employment to reduce the loss of highly educated persons to the United States. There is some evidence that major flows of skilled human resources are now within the region, but systematic research is limited. J. Martinez Pizarro, “Intraregional Migration of Skilled Manpower”, Cepal Review 0.50 (1993): 127-146. On the other hand, the number of doctorates in science and engineering earned by Mexicans in U.S. universities has continued to grow, as has the proportion of those who plan to stay in the U.S., about 37%. J. Johnson, Statistical Profiles of Foreign Doctoral Recipients in Science and Engineering: Plans to Stay in the United States (Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 1998).
22. These kinds of difficulties, as well as financial constraints, have made it difficult for UDUAL and OUI to sustain their valuable programs of collaboration.
23. The Revista Latinoamericana de Estudios Educativos published by the Centro de Estudios Educativos in Mexico has a long publication record, but limited circulation.
24. For an earlier assessment of research production and dissemination in Colombia, Mexico, and the Caribbean, see respectively C. Chiappe and R. Myers, “Strenthening Education Research Capacity: The Colombia Case”, 1960-1981, Educational Research Environments in the Developing World, Eds. S. Shaeffer and J. A. Nkinyangi (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1983): 27-50; J.L. Quintero Hernandez, C. Tamez Munoz, P. Medina Pegram, and G. Villarreal, “Analysis of Education Research Capacity in Mexico: Guidelines for its Development”, Educational Research Environments in the Developing World, Eds. S. Shaeffer and J. A. Nkinyangi (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1983) 51-82; E.L. Miller, “Research Environment in the English-speaking Caribbean”, Educational Research Environments in the Developing World, Eds. S. Shaeffer and J. A. Nkinyangi (Ottawa: International Development Research Centre, 1983): 83-112.
25. For a review of experiences with education research networks in developing countries see N.F. McGinn, ed., Crossing Lines: Research and Policy Networks for Developing Country Education. (Westwood, CT: Praeger, 1996).
26. There is less than 10% overlap between the content of REDUC’s collection and the abstracts found in ERIC, a bibliographic database organized in the United States. REDUC, like ERIC, includes along with research findings, proposals, official documents, and essays.
27. Inter-American Council for Integral Development,
Anteproyecto de Seguimiento del Plan de Accion en Materia Educativa:
II Cumbre de las Americas (Washington, D.C.: Organization of American
28. I am indebted to Thomas Welsh for this concept.
29. “As long as there is a scarcity of public resource to finance public education demands, there will be an international trade for educational reforms.” S. Heyneman, “Economic Growth and the International Trade in Educational Reform”, Prospects XXVII.4 (1997): 501-530.
30. For a more detailed discussion see C. Muñoz Izquierdo, (1990), “La transformación de los sistemas educativos latinoamericanos ante los nuevos requerimientos de las economías de la región”, La Educación XXXIV.106 (1990): 5-39.
31. Although assistance agencies express capacity building for policy analysis as a primary objective, a large fraction of their budget is spent on their own staff and expatriate advisors who invade national policies and politics. K. King, “The External Agenda of Aid in Internal Educational Reform”, International Journal of Educational Development 12.4 (1992): 257-264.
32. A review of experiences of NGOs and grassroots organizations (GROs) suggests that direct support by international assistance agencies has a negative impact. Donor support reduces legitimacy of the NGO or GRO, and distracts from service to local clients. “...it may be better to channel official donor funds to NGOs and GROs via an independent public institution which can protect them from undue donor influence”. M. Edwards and D. Hulme, “Too Close for Comfort? The Impact of Official Aid on Nongovernmental Organizations”, World Development 24.6 (1996): 961-973.
33. Some work has been done on how to build a consensus favoring international cooperation in general. H. Helmich, “International Development Cooperation in Transition” Development 40.4 (1997): 66-72.
34. See J. Arboleda, Participation and Parntership in the Colombian Escuela Nueva (Paris: UNESCO, International Institute for Educational Planning, 1992); N.F. McGinn, “Resistance to Good Ideas: Escuela Nueva in Colombia”, Education Reform in the South in the 1990s, Ed. L. Buchert (Paris: UNESCO, 1998) 29-52; G. Psacharopoulos, et al., “Achievement Evaluation of Colombia’s Escuela Nueva: Is Multigrade the Answer?”, Comparative Education Review 37.3 (1993): 263-276; E. Schiefelbein, In Search of the School of the XXI Century: Is the Colombian Escuela Nueva the Right Pathfinder? (New York: UNICEF, 1991).