The Politics of Nonformal Education in Latin America

By Carlos Alberto Torres | Go to book overview

FOREWORD: How SHOULD WE STUDY ADULT EDUCATION?

Martin Carnoy

Education can be a fundamental instrument of social change. Simultaneously, the way it expands reflects political conflicts and compromises in the "modernization" of conditioned capitalist societies or the transition from conditioned capitalism to some vision of socialist social organization. Educational reform also represents both the dominant (often changing) definition of knowledge and how the society intends to re-create individuals and reintegrate them into the state and the people-nation.

It is logical that the form and content of education should be a fundamental issue during the process of economic development and social change. This is true both in capitalist societies, where ideological formation and politics are significantly shaped by social relations outside the state in capitalist production, and in revolutionary societies, where the dynamic of social change is crystallized in the state itself. Particularly in the latter case, the educational system, as a principal ideological apparatus of the state and the definition of knowledge on which that system is based, necessarily reveals the shape of social relations and social change.

Adult education is a significant component of the educational effort in many developing countries (and with increasing unemployment and worker retraining, in the highly industrialized countries as well). To some extent, the rationale for such education is the same in all societies, independent of social organization or structure (capitalist or in transition to some noncapitalist political form). Both capitalist and revolutionary states seek to increase productive skills through literacy and other forms of adult training. States also attempt to use adult education to redefine the relationship that adults have with the state (and the production system). This is more than simply an effort to use education to legitimize the training that is now such an important part of adult education; it is also

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