Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Problems and Challenges of Educational Policies in Latin America. the Argentina Viewpoint

Academic journal article Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research

Problems and Challenges of Educational Policies in Latin America. the Argentina Viewpoint

Article excerpt

1 INTRODUCTION

In Latin America, the Washington Consensus involved applying privatisation, economic opening and deregulation policies. Those policies were implemented in some cases through plans which were designed by multilateral credit institutions such as the World Bank or the Inter-American Development Bank. Related to the emergence of the "knowledge society" model, the Region experienced the resurgence of human capital theories, which consider education an essential matter regarding the competitiveness of any country. It was considered that investing in the development of people contributed to the development of the whole society. That is why, in 1990, a period of deep transformations started in the Latin-American educational systems. Those transformations were linked to the restructuring processes of the area's regional economies and to the relations established between the State, the society and the market.

However, in the first decade of the 21st century, a number of political leaders and parties that were more concerned about social issues such as education, assumed the government of some countries and revised the measures which had previously been applied (Bentancur, 2007).

Some years later, in a meeting which took place at El Salvador on May 19th 2008, the Ibero-American ministers for education agreed to drive a project called Educational Goals 2021: the Education We Want for the Bicentennial Generation (Metas educativas 2021: la educación que queremos para la generación de los Bicentenarios). Their main aim was to "enhance quality and equity in education in order to confront poverty and inequality and, thus, favour social inclusion" (Organización de Estados Iberoamericanos, OEI 2010, p. 9). They considered it essential to deal with unsolved problems: illiteracy (especially in rural areas and among indigenous peoples, women and populations of African origin), early school dropout, child labour, low learning level among students and poor quality of the education offered by states. They also considered the need for incorporating ICTs in the teaching-learning processes and to enhance the development of research and scientific progress.

That way, the policies which had been proposed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) in a document called Education and knowledge: basic pillars of changing production patterns with social equity (1992) were promoted: the need to interrelate educational systems, training, research and technological development. This document set the bases which served as a reference for the transformations which took place in most Latin-American countries.

The main objective was to "create over the next decade (the 90s) certain conditions related to education, training and scientific and technological progress which would allow for the transformation of the Region's productive structures, framed within increasing social equity" (UNECLAC, 1992, p. 16).

Based on that background, this article will try to explain, from Argentina, what has been done in the whole of Latin America during the last two decades with regards to: a) decentralisation of educational systems; b) autonomy in the management of educational institutions; c) increase in the quality of educational programmes; d) training of teaching personnel and e) financial resources. After that, the main goals for the future will be outlined.

This article faces two problems which are difficult to solve:

(1) The heterogeneity of the countries which are being analysed: "America is multiple, heterogeneous, immense, almost infinite... It owns a geographic, historical, political and cultural diversity: it is a multicoloured tile with rough and smooth edges; it is a cloth made of disparate colours and weaves; it is a whole of remnants sewed only by the connecting thread of the Iberian languages" (Mayor, 1995, p. 5). The issues tackled in this article are treated based on Argentina, which is one of the countries with the highest standards of life and education in the region

(2) The limited capacity Latin-American societies have to generate, spread and apply knowledge: "Certainly, education cannot avoid the complex problems derived from the use and application of knowledge produced in the various spheres related to professional practice and public policies. …

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