2: The Political Economy of Education and Development in Central America and the Latin Caribbean: Regional Dynamics and a Framework for Analysis

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This chapter concerns itself with three tasks: first, to depict some key historical and regional dynamics in Central America from a political economy perspective; second, to contextualize education reform in relation to international political-economic forces affecting the region; and, third, to outline the framework that informs the analysis and commentary presented in subsequent chapters. The purpose is not only to provide essential background context relevant to all the chapters in this volume, but also to make explicit the dimensions and tensions to which the chapters in this volume speak. In order to address the purposes set out earlier, the chapter first characterizes regional political-economic dynamics from a historical perspective from the 1800s to 1970. The chapter then turns to contextualizing education reform in relation to international political-economic forces affecting the region. This section is likewise historically and regionally focused. It attends to the pressures facing the education systems of Central America from the 1950s to the 1980s, the period in which education systems began to expand dramatically – and often with assistance from international organizations. The final section of the chapter pivots to present the framework – rooted in international political economy – that serves as the overarching analytic lens for the present volume.

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