3: Comparative Analysis of Education Reform in Central America: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, 1990–2010

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Central America is a region about which comparatively little academic literature is produced that focuses on the political-economic dynamics that constrain education reform. However, one research project stands out as an exception. This research project, carried out from 2018 to 2022 by a network of researchers from the region, was entitled ‘Quality Education in Central America: Dynamics and Tensions among Models of Education and Development’. It brought together scholars from four Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) to produce case studies on the global-, national-, and local-level tensions that have surrounded the development and implementation of education reform in these countries between 1990 and 2010. The present chapter presents insights from a cross-case analysis of these studies through the lens of international political economy. Findings focus on processes of policy making and how these are affected by such considerations as geopolitical constraints, capitalist pressures, and international organizations; the ways in which different reform visions are communicated, interpreted, and experienced; and the manner in which tensions across political-economic forces and interest groups are resolved. This last dimension refers to the way in which education helps to mediate and resolve tensions that arise between the state and capital in the context of capitalist development.

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