of most systems of education across the region. In addition, contrary to the conditions in other countries in Latin America, the Escuela Nueva effort was focused on the rural population and its efforts were directed at increasing the social and economic opportunities of an unprivileged sector of the population, since in Latin America, education is highly subsidized by the state but mostly the wealthy benefit as roughly half of the children that enter school never go beyond fifth grade.
When viewed in terms of repetition and dropout rather than initial access, the grim reality that primary education indicators portray is that compulsory education laws and tuition-free primary schooling are not sufficient to achieve equity and quality. The chief strategy of international organizations has been to fund non-formal community school projects and local partnerships, and this has permitted the people involved to develop some interesting new solutions. For the first time, Latin America is experimenting with models of educational change that are not centrally controlled. We are left, however, with a troubling question: How will the learning that is happening in these disparate projects across the region influence the prospects of a better education for the millions of Latin American children unable to benefit from the newly initiated reforms?
The trends toward decentralization and decreased social spending could severely disrupt the previous two decades of increasing educational opportunities for children in Latin America. As we approach the end of the decade, the continuation of this trend is increasing the risk of marginalization for the poor in these societies. For that reason, international organizations are focusing their educational efforts on providing health and education to the poorest in society.
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International Labour Organization. 1996. Impact of Structural Adjustment on the Employment and Training of Teachers. Geneva: ILO.
Mogallón, Oscar. 1998. New Knowledge: Studies in Girls' Education. Paper presented at the conference entitled "Educating Girls: A Development Imperative." International Trade Center, Washington, DC, May 6-8.
Naciones Unidas. Comisión Económica para América Latino y el Caribe. 1996. Rol estratégico de la educación media para el bienestar y la equidad. LC/G. 1919. Santiago de Chile: CEPAL.
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