Higher Education and Citizenship in Latin America

Higher Education and Citizenship in Latin America

Pablo Alberto Baisotti (Sun Yat Sen University, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7110-0.ch010

Abstract

In Latin America, public policies were promoted to encourage students to attend university and to create new institutions. However, the resources used for these purposes were scarce, as were those used to promote the integration of students from the most vulnerable social sectors. This research will carry out a comparative study and analysis of the evolution of government policies on education and education for citizenship in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru based on the analysis of two variables: (1) public policies for higher education for citizenship and (2) the reception and impact of these policies on public and private universities and their impact on the education system.
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Introduction

Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that everyone has the right to education and that access to higher education shall be equal for all on the basis of merit. A similar concept was reiterated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), stating that higher education should be made accessible to all (art. 13); and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), which reiterated the need for access to different levels of education on a free and compulsory basis. The following year in Jomtien, Thailand, the World Declaration on Education for All was issued1 establishing that education was a fundamental right that provided basic learning needs and enabled participation in society. This statement was confirmed during the Dakar Framework for Action2, Senegal, (2000) in which countries reaffirmed their collective commitment to ensuring Education for All (Orealc/Unesco, 2015, pp. 18, 26). The 2003 World Bank document, “Higher Education: Lessons Learned from Experience”. proposed funding for the Higher Education Improvement Programme to strengthen the legal framework for higher education by introducing incentives for efficiency, equity and quality improvement.

In Latin America, public policies were promoted to encourage students to attend university and to create new institutions. However, the resources used for these purposes were scarce, as were those used to promote the integration of students from the most vulnerable social sectors. During the 1990s, twelve such laws dedicated to improving access to higher education were passed in Latin America (López, 2015; Krotsch and Suasnábar, 2018, p. 12)3. In general, from the 21st century onwards, Latin America experienced sustained economic growth and a better distribution of wealth in its societies, which in turn led to a reduction in poverty4 and an improvement in the major indicators of social development - mortality, health, gender, child protection, infrastructure, access to basic services. These factors influenced government policies in almost half of the countries in the region including Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras and Ecuador - through new, more inclusive laws and sanctions established in the interest of developing higher education in Latin America. One the one hand these laws led to the expansion and diversification of the university system, but, on the other hand, an important variety of private higher education institutions also began to emerge in response to increased demand. However, two of the most urgent needs for higher education in Latin America were not addressed by the political elites of the countries of the region. These are: internationalization and collaboration between the university and the productive sectors of the economy (Holm-Nielsen et.al, 2005, pp. 41, 66; Lamarra & Pérez Centeno, 2016, pp. 123, 127, 131-135)5.

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