MEXICO AND CENTRAL AMERICA
Marian A. Aguilar
The literature related to social work education in Central America in the English language is very sparse. While material in Spanish is available in a few libraries, the publications are limited and are not current. Even travel to Central America to obtain data does not guarantee access to recent information. Most developing countries do not have the resources to maintain and upgrade their data collection methods and publications. The professionalization of social work education in Mexico and Central America has enhanced the social development of these countries. Although professional social workers have contributed to changes in the social order through their practice, little is known of their work.
The purpose of this chapter is to add to our knowledge of social work education in the developing countries of Mexico and Central America. The chapter focuses on Mexico and secondarily on the Central American countries of Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The chapter includes information on the historical development of social work as an academic discipline; the influence of culture, values and religion on social work education; the structure and range of social programs; the client groups served; the form of program funding; the training qualifications, the evaluation process used for gatekeeping; the role of the political climate and government in the profession, the curriculum decision makers; and the role of research.
The early origins of social work education in Mexico and Central America can be viewed in the context of the historical development of Latin America. It began in Latin America with the founding of the first school, Alejandro Del Rio, in Chile, which based its curricular structure on the European model of that era ( Torres Diaz, 1987).