The Politics of Nonformal Education in Latin America

By Carlos Alberto Torres | Go to book overview

the process of adult education policy formation in a capitalist dependent state. As a preliminary attempt, it sets out distinct analytical dimensions, such as (1) the state's goals and policy targets, as revealed in the social history of the state apparatus; (2) the extent and type of bureaucratic organization; (3) the ideologies of the educational bureaucracy involved in policy planning, as internal determinants of policymaking; (4) material and nonmaterial policy outcomes; (5) the role of educational policy within the overall public policy of the state; and (6) the struggles by groups and social classes to resist the hegemonic practices of the capitalist state. However, if they are somehow inserted within the state apparatus, the task will then be to study how they have tried to consolidate or enlarge their positions.

Several questions and queries have been advanced, questions that call for concrete empirical research on adult education policies and programs in Third World societies. At the same time, this agenda for research points out the need for a dialectical theory of adult education in dependent societies, a theory that is still to be developed in order to overcome the analytical weakness of the conventional views on adult education and development. The next chapter win present an elaborated perspective on adult education policymaking.

In conclusion, it is suggested that the ambiguity of the field and its amorphous nature are not due to the lack of a precise definition of adult education's goals and social functions. Instead, it is due to the lack of a consistent historical and structural theorization of adult education policies and programs in the light of recent findings on the political economy of education and the newly emerging political sociology of education. Without theory, empirical research, and evaluation, adult education policies and programs will continue to have the dominant flavor of the conventional adult education literature: guesswork and wishful thinking. But, what is even worse, such educational research would continue to be instrumental only in advancing the interests and needs of policymakers without addressing the real needs of the communities and the subordinate social classes for whom such programs are supposed to be developed.


NOTES

I would like to thank M. Kazim Bacchus and R. S. Pannu from the University of Alberta, Thomas J. La Belle from the University of Pittsburgh, and Jorge Padua from El Colegio de México for their helpful comments on an earlier draft of this chapter.

Modified version of an article published in Prospects, No. 67, Vol. 23:3. © UNESCO, 1988.

1.
To this extent, it is instructive to mention that according to the Economic Commission on Latin America (ECLA), almost half of the total active economic population (ages 15-60) in Latin America should be considered functional illiterates, that is, with less than four years of schooling ( CEPAL, 1976).
2.
In Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, the So

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