The Politics of Decentralisation in Latin America

  • Ernesto Schiefelbein

Largely following the advice of and loans from the World Bank, many Latin American countries decentralised education to the state, municipal and local levels. Such decentralisation was part of an effort to provide universal access to primary education with massive investments near one billion dollars per year during the 1990s. The rationale was simple and appealing: The more local the decision, the greater the voice of the voter-consumer was supposed to be; while the larger number of suppliers was assumed to lead to greater variety. Research documented here shows that while authority and resources could be transferred downward in the system in a short amount of time, the so-called ‘autonomous schools programs’ failed to generate significant improvement in pupils’ achievement. Decentralisation could be successful, however, when combined with reliable strategies such as good initial teacher-training employing a wide set of teaching models; the use of well-tested scripts, guides or frameworks; and the systematic assignment of the best teachers to first grade.


Latin American Country Achievement Level Socioeconomic Level High Student Achievement Human Capital Development 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ernesto Schiefelbein
    • 1
  1. 1.VitacuraChile

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