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Education and knowledge: basic pillars of changing production patterns with social equity



Foreword In its proposal on changing production patterns with social equity (1), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) put forward a central idea around which all the others intermeshed: that the deliberate and systematic incorporation and spread of technical progress is the hub for changing production patterns and for ensuring that they are consonant with political democratization and growing social equity. The proposal clearly brings out the difference between a form of international competitiveness which makes it possible to raise the standard of living of the population through increased productivity, and another form of competitiveness based on the plundering of natural resources and the reduction of real wages. In the first-named form, it is technical progress which permits growing identity between competitiveness and social sustainability, and, basically, between economic growth and social equity. Many different factors enter into the incorporation and spread of technical progress. Among these, the ECLAC proposal highlights in particular the strengthening of the entrepreneurial base, the technological infrastructure, increasing openness to the world economy, and above all, the training of human resources and the whole set of incentives and mechanisms which favour increased access to and generation of new knowledge. In this latter respect, shortcomings in the area of education and knowledge jeopardize possible advances in other aspects of the incorporation and spread of technical progress. Human resources and development are two subjects which are very closely interlinked. In view of this, ECLAC in conjunction with the UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC) has embarked on a systematic effort to gain a more detailed knowledge of the interrelations between the educational system, training, research and technological development, within the context of the central elements of its proposal: namely, changing production patterns, social equity and political democratization. The present document represents a first attempt to outline possible action with regard to policies and institutions which could further the systemic links between education, knowledge and development in the light of the conditions prevailing in the 1990s. As a methodological approach, it has been considered that in the design of human resources strategies and policies for changing production patterns with equity, it is necessary to make use of the experience accumulated inside and outside the region, to take account of the theoretical contributions made in the 1980s with regard to the linkages between education and economic development, and also to incorporate the current perceptions in Latin America and the Caribbean regarding the results of the present interrelation between education, the economy and society, and the shortcomings observed in this respect. On this basis, a strategic proposal is formulated, a set of policies for putting it into practice are identified and analysed, and finally an estimate is made of the order of magnitude of the resources needed for this purpose. This proposal is enriched by the consideration of various initiatives already under way in the countries of the region, which also serve to illustrate it. The aim of the proposed strategy is to create within the coming decade certain conditions with regard to education, training and the incorporation of scientific and technological progress which will make possible the transformation of the production patterns of the region against a background of growing social equity. This aim can only be achieved through a wide-ranging reform of the existing educational and training systems of the region and through the generation of endogenous capacity to take advantage of scientific and technological progress. This proposal represents a particular expression of the notion of the complementarity between changing production patterns and equity set forth and justified in Social Equity and Changing Production Patterns: an Integrated Approach (2), prepared by the ECLAC secretariat for the twenty-fourth session of the Commission. In part one of this study, a brief summary is given of the development pattern of Latin America and the Caribbean since the end of the war, the painful lessons" of the 1980s and the challenges of democratization during the 1990s. It then goes on to refer to the ECLAC proposal for changing production patterns with social equity, current trends in the area of international production, and finally, the nature of the strategy proposed in the new document, which is designed to secure both changes in production patterns and social equity. The strategic guidelines and policies proposed in this document are the result of the diagnosis contained in part two. This section analyses various initiatives being carried out by individual countries with the aim of making changes in education, the training of workers, and scientific and technological training, as well as recent theoretical contributions on the links between education and economic development. In an annex to the document, a review is made of the debate currently under way on these subjects in some developed countries and newly industrializing nations of other parts of the world. Part three of the document contains the broad lines of the educational strategy proposed, expressed as idées-force, with special emphasis on basic and secondary education, secondary vocational training and the strengthening of technological development. The strategy revolves around certain key objectives (modern citizenship and competitiveness), the criteria underlying the policies (equity and performance), and the main guidelines for institutional reform (national integration and decentralization). On the basis of the background information analysed and in the light of the guidelines in question, part four of the study proposes a set of policies for putting the strategy into practice. The proposed actions and measures are accompanied by boxes illustrating experience, designs, methodologies and applications of the policies in various contexts both inside and outside the region. In the last part of the document (part five) an estimate is given, purely for purposes of illustration, of the order of magnitude of the resources needed for implementing the proposed policies. Notes (1) ECLAC, Changing Production Patterns with Social Equity. The Prime Task of Latin American and Caribbean Development in the 1990s (LC/G.1601-P), Santiago, Chile, March 1990. United Nations publication, Sales No. E.90.II.G.6.) (2) Social Equity and Changing Production Patterns: an Integrated Approach (LC/G.1701(SES.24/3)), Santiago, Chile, 1992."

Includes bibliography

Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL) - Biblioteca Hernán Santa Cruz

Héctor Aracena

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