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This chapter focuses on the dynamic but often conflicting global forces and local responses in the field of education reform. Global economic forces drove certain aspects of the case of Costa Rica. For instance, pressure from multinational corporations induced the Costa Rican government to change its national curriculum. These corporations needed more skilled labour to continue their operations in Costa Rica and called on the government to modernize its education system to meet the needs of capitalist development. In 2015 the Public Education Ministry (Ministerio de Educación Publica [MEP]) implemented education reforms containing a new curriculum to retain technology companies and satisfy capitalist development. With Costa Rica being a hybrid social-democratic, capitalist system, the MEP had to find a way to blend the concepts and practices that underlie the traditional Costa Rican vision with that of the foreign investors. This blending undermined the legitimacy of the reform effort and threatened to exacerbate gaps in student learning across the country. In response, the MEP turned to international guidelines for planetary citizenship to inform their inclusive education efforts and developed the Tecno@prender programme to ensure students in socioeconomically vulnerable zones had full access to technology.

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In 2005, the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) introduced the National Basic Curriculum (CNB). While innovative in its scope and design, financial constraints limited curriculum distribution and implementation. To facilitate access, a Guatemalan citizen living in the US began digitizing CNB onto cnbGuatemala.org in 2012. The wiki website modularized CNB by grade level and content area, while also including hyperlinks to relevant open educational resources (OERs). Through an analysis of institutional documents, website analytics, survey data, and focus group feedback, this chapter investigates the development, use, and growth of cnbGuatemala.org’s local, national, and international network of developers, allies, and users. This chapter uses four concepts articulated within Actor–Network Theory (ANT) – problematization, interessement, enrolment, and mobilization – to better understand how the network was assembled and reconfigured over time, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, where website traffic grew significantly, suggesting opportunities for replication or scale. Finally, the discussion highlights limitations and opportunities for further OER development and use, particularly through wikis.

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This book brings together researchers of – and research on – Central America and the Latin Caribbean (CALC) to explore the dynamics of global forces that challenge education systems in the region and to highlight the local efforts that seek to address, mitigate, and even counteract these forces. Examples of the global forces to which chapters in this volume are attentive include macro-economic pressures, geopolitical intervention, neocolonial relationships, global pandemics, international policy trends, the influence of international organizations, and transnational gang networks. While there exists literature on the global forces that have historically and generally affected CALC, and while some literature documents the challenges that face the education systems of this region, there are few publications that bring these two sets of issues into conversation. This is an important gap that warrants critical attention, for both sets of issues are intricately related.

This book addresses questions related to how education is contributing to maintaining and overcoming challenges and inequalities in the face of global and national pressures, and how national and local educational initiatives play out within the constraints imposed by their contexts. While the volume is oriented by an international political economy framework, each chapter presents recent empirical work that speaks directly to global-local dynamics.

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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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This book brings together researchers of – and research on – Central America and the Latin Caribbean (CALC) to explore the dynamics of global forces that challenge education systems in the region and to highlight the local efforts that seek to address, mitigate, and even counteract these forces. Examples of the global forces to which chapters in this volume are attentive include macro-economic pressures, geopolitical intervention, neocolonial relationships, global pandemics, international policy trends, the influence of international organizations, and transnational gang networks. While there exists literature on the global forces that have historically and generally affected CALC, and while some literature documents the challenges that face the education systems of this region, there are few publications that bring these two sets of issues into conversation. This is an important gap that warrants critical attention, for both sets of issues are intricately related.

This book addresses questions related to how education is contributing to maintaining and overcoming challenges and inequalities in the face of global and national pressures, and how national and local educational initiatives play out within the constraints imposed by their contexts. While the volume is oriented by an international political economy framework, each chapter presents recent empirical work that speaks directly to global-local dynamics.

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When compared to other world regions, there is very little research on how the trend of ‘low-fee private schools’ (LFPSs) has shaped educational provision in Central America and the Latin Caribbean. Arguably, the region is ripe for LFPS expansion, given that universal access to basic public education is still a major challenge for many countries and that government inaction provides an opportunity for private involvement in education. This chapter responds to this gap by explaining and comparing LFPS trends in Honduras and the Dominican Republic, and by situating these changing trends within the larger and deeper conditions and characteristics of these two contexts, which, as we will show, are witnessing both new and previously unacknowledged forms of privatization as opportunities emerge at the intersection of global and local constraints. In concluding, we suggest that more research is needed that attends to larger political-economic constraints, dialectical relationships, and what we label the ‘ethos of privatization’. Research will help to shed light on – and to problematize – the often simplistic assumptions and concepts that are employed to make sense of global-local dynamics in education policy, both in the so-called Global South and the Global North.

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This chapter analyses governance changes in the Honduran education system during the 1990s, while also closely examining the global discourses that oriented the content and local agendas of the educational reforms in this period. In so doing, it addresses the complexity of the global-local interface by: (a) analysing the economic conditions under which educational reforms were prompted in the period; and (b) paying special attention to how the recontextualization of such reforms gave rise to singular, highly idiosyncratic enactments of global education policy prescriptions. Taking as a starting point the economic circumstances of the Structural Adjustment Program, the chapter analyses the role of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in the production of a new, neoliberal economic order in the country, and shows how this order provided the basis for the educational reforms that were subsequently promoted. In this regard, it focuses on the flagship policy of educational decentralization and analyses how recontextualization gave way to a mild form of decentralization – that is, deconcentration – that was integral to maintaining centralized control of education.

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One characteristic of the relationship between education and development in Central America and the Latin Caribbean (CALC) is its dialectical nature. Although research on the region rarely speaks to this characteristic, it is clearly evident when looking across the cases presented in this volume. By dialectical nature, this chapter refers, first, to the reality that education helps to resolve or reduce tensions between the state and capitalism and, second, to the fact that the ways in which this tension is resolved repeatedly creates new opportunities for a range of international actors to insert themselves into education reform dynamics in the region. Involvement by these actors, together with counterparts from state agencies then proceeds – typically while ignoring or without input from teachers, students, and families – until a new crisis emerges, at which point the cycle repeats itself. The goal of this chapter is to make explicit that which is typically unacknowledged or insufficiently addressed in research on education in CALC – that is, the extent to which education is inextricably linked to and constrained by tensions and incentives produced as a result of the relationship between the state and the global capitalist economy.

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Access to quality education in the Republic of Panama is a topic of growing concern. The COVID-19 pandemic served to highlight the importance of this issue and its connection with information and communications technology. As remote learning assumed a critical role during the global pandemic, education technology (edtech) became a familiar concept and a determinant of families’ abilities to access instruction for their school-aged children. The situation prompted complex questions about the political economy of edtech, digital inequality, and the future of learning. This chapter examines edtech and equity in Panama, focusing on mobile technology as a potential means to levelling the learning playing field. It discusses two collaborative low-tech projects to propel basic skills acquisition for children in their early years of schooling that were implemented nationwide in 2020 while schools were closed. It links the knowledge generated from the study of these projects to the broader discussion of global forces that shape education delivery and local responses that work to drive equity and inclusion.

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Global Forces and Local Responses

Rooted in an international political economy theoretical framework, this book provides unique insights into the global forces and local responses that are shaping education systems in Central America and the Latin Caribbean (CALC).

The book covers all Spanish-speaking countries of the CALC region and examines the effects of macro-economic pressures, geopolitical intervention, neo-colonial relationships, global pandemics, transnational gang networks, and the influence of international organizations. Chapters analyse the challenges and opportunities these global forces present to education systems in the region as well as highlighting the local efforts to address, mitigate, and counteract them. In doing so, the book illuminates how education can contribute to either maintaining or challenging inequalities and exclusion in the face of pressures from the global to local levels.

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