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Inclusion and Education in Latin America: Critical Issues and Challenges

Tue, April 16, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Hyatt Regency, Floor: Pacific Concourse (Level -1), Pacific G


Latin America and the Caribbean (LATAM) is the most unequal region in the world. According to CEPAL (2017), countries in this region exhibit the highest income gaps in the world. The average Gini index in LATAM is 0.47, while it only reaches 0.32 on average in OECD countries (OECD, 2018). These high levels of income inequality are an expression of a long standing feature of Latin American societies, characterized by unequal underlying formal and informal political, social and economic institutions. Educational systems are among these unequal institutions. They tend to reproduce structural inequalities from one generation to the other, excluding and marginalizing children from vulnerable groups, hindering their rights to education and thus jeopardizing their future.
Analytical Framework. This research focuses on 9 equity dimensions that have been identified as crucial when analyzing inclusion: 1) social class (poverty), 2) ethnicity, 3) migration, 4) rurality, 5) gender, 6) LGTBI, 7) young people not in education, employment or training (NEET), 8) disability, and 9) juvenile incarceration. Naturally, the situation of children is not unidimensional and these variables interact most of the time, worsening their conditions to access quality education. For instance, ethnicity is related to rurality, NEET is affected by gender, incarceration is related to poverty, and so on. Despite this complexity, the aim of this research is to provide a diagnosis of the educative situation of school-age children in these groups alongside an analysis of human, institutional and financial resources allocation, in order to state critical issues and challenges that limit the pursuit of equity in education. The presentation begins by examining each equity dimension in terms of group size and their level of access to school. For those enrolled in school, we present disparities in learning outcomes, followed by an in-depth analysis on the distribution of resources directed towards education for the disadvantaged populations. The presentation will conclude by offering policy proposals to tackle the identified challenges.
Data Sources. The paper draws on data from several sources: i) population projections and demographic characteristics from the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC); ii) access to education, learning outcomes, and distribution of resources from CIMA (Education Statistics Portal the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)); iii) socioeconomic indexes from the World Bank and the OECD; and iv) systematization of public budgets, legal frameworks, and programs that promote equity in education in analyzed countries. In all cases, data allows for comparisons across LATAM countries. Additionally, we perform a systematic review is of studies from ECLAC, IADB, OECD, UNESCO, UNICEF, and the World Bank, among others, to take into account the perspective of international organizations.
Contribution. The analyses are supported by a strong theoretical framework related to human rights, human capital formation, the relevance of education for societies, and the importance of diversity (Becker, 1983; Benson et al. 2006; Dewey, 1998; Durkheim, 1999; Parsons, 1959). This study contributes to consolidate valuable information about education in LATAM. More importantly, the results will enrich the contents of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, hosted and published by UNESCO. Specifically, starting in 2020, a new accompanying edition of the report will be introduced, which will focus on a theme in one region. In particular, this first regional report, will study inclusion and education in LATAM. Hence, this study constitutes a pivot for the basis of all background papers of the 2020 GEM Regional Report.


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