The Future of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Possibilities for United States Investment and Engagement



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Inter-American Dialogue


This report looks at: 1)The State of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. This section focuses on major education trends in the region over the past decade and a half. Specifically, it examines student outcomes, considering both coverage and quality. Using a variety of tools and measures, it provides a broad overview of strengths and weaknesses at each level of the educational system across the region. The section also considers LAC countries within a broader international context, using assessment data to determine how students are performing and where the most pressing concerns lie. 2) The Challenges to Education Policy in Latin America and the Caribbean. This section examines country capacity to improve education outcomes, in particular whether countries have a clear vision for their education sector, the tools to establish and evaluate standards to meet those goals and the fiscal commitment necessary to support their implementation. Combining this capacity analysis with the outcomes discussed in the previous section, we develop a typology of countries in LAC that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of each country along these two dimensions. At the same time, the analysis remains cognizant of the significant bottlenecks affecting country capacity to implement effective education. 3) Opportunities: The Current Development Landscape and the Future of Education. The third major section of the report examines the current development context in LAC, in particular within the framework of multi- and bilateral development agencies and their investment levels and strategic priorities in LAC over the past decade and a half. It seeks to identify key trends in funding by country and sub-sector and place USAID’s commitment within this broader context. It also analyzes how these investments and priorities correspond with the education outcomes and policy environments discussed in the first two sections. Finally, the section uses strategic planning documents and historic funding trends to identify potential areas of future focus for USAID and other development actors. 4) Possibilities: The US and the Future of Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Given shifting US priorities, as well as a new set of challenges and opportunities within the education sector in LAC, the final section seeks to identify potential pathways for new and continued engagement between USAID, other government agencies, the private sector and education systems in LAC. The purpose is to identify high-priority areas where USAID has a particular advantage and can maximize the impact of every dollar invested. In particular, we propose an increased focus on workforce and skills development given the possibilities for leveraging USAID’s existing commitments and promoting US national security, foreign policy and economic interests across the region.


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