Special Education in Latin America: Experiences and Issues

Special Education in Latin America: Experiences and Issues

Special Education in Latin America: Experiences and Issues

Special Education in Latin America: Experiences and Issues

Synopsis

Comparative special education is a topic rarely covered in research. This is a ground-breaking assessment of special education services for students with mild disabilities in eight Latin American countries (Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, and Uruguay). Considering that people with mild disabilities comprise more than two-thirds of the disabled population in the world, this is an important area of study. The editors have identified two broad areas in which experiences could be recounted: the provision of services and the preparation of personnel. The focus is on the elementary education level, although early intervention and secondary education are also discussed.

Excerpt

Educational reform is high on government agendas throughout the globe. Developing countries see education as underpinning the cultural and economic changes that drive development, and developed countries pin their hopes for economic competitiveness and a responsible citizenry on better and more relevant education.

Within the developing world, a major stimulus for educational reform has come from the World Declaration on Education for All (EFA), which was promulgated at Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990. This served to put the spotlight on education in many countries and has facilitated the necessary mobilization of resources. The EFA framework of enhancing basic learning opportunities for everyone provides a good context for developing educational provision.

This framework is no less relevant to special education, with its emphasis on rights for all regardless of individual differences. There is a risk, however. Extending and reforming basic education presents many challenges and puts pressure on budgets that are already constrained. En some cases, the danger is that children and young people who have difficulty in learning will come low in the priority order. This is doubly unfortunate when it happens: not only do those with the greatest learning needs miss out on the reforming zeal that might transform their learning situation, but also, the gap in educational achievement between them and their peers is magnified.

Special Education in Latin America is singularly welcome on this count. Every effort must be made to ensure that children and young people who have difficulty in learning remain on the education agenda, since . . .

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