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Importance of a Complementary Educational Agenda for DR-CAFTA

In September 2000, the member states of the United Nations unanimously followed the Millennium Declaration. That report served because of the launching pad for the public announcement of 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which consist of the whole lot from purpose one in every of halving excessive poverty to the intention of offering popular primary schooling; all to be achieved earlier than the 12 months 2015.

Progress toward the primary seven goals is structured upon the fulfillment of aim eight – which emphasizes the want for rich countries to decide to support with the development of “an open, rule-based totally buying and selling and economic system, greater beneficiant resource to countries dedicated to poverty reduction, and alleviation for the debt issues of developing international locations.”1

At first look, the recent movements of Central American international locations and the US to liberalize change seem to assist, at the least partially, successful awareness of MDG 8. However, upon nearer exam, the picture blurs, and the outcome appears uncertain. Following handiest a yr of negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or DR-CAFTA (as a result of its recent inclusion of the Dominican Republic), changed into signed by way of the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and America in 2004. The settlement, committing every united state of America to lessen its trade limitations with the opposite DR-CAFTA nations, was ratified by using the USA Congress on July 28, 2005.2

Rather than attempting to analyze all of the specific economic and social intricacies associated with liberalizing alternate in Central America, this quick ambitions completely to cast light upon the overlap among international locations’ efforts to enforce the Millennium Development Goal Two/Education for All and their need to enforce a complementary CAFTA agenda.

Specifically, this document highlights the significance of educational priorities if financial development efforts are to be successful. The premise of the argument elaborated right here is that without sufficient prioritized emphasis by way of Central American countries, multilateral corporations, and focused donor international locations on a complementary agenda that directs sources in the direction of training infrastructure, CAFTA will by no means achieve helping those international locations in achieving an ever-elusive notion of “financial prosperity.” In truth, it may deter them from absolutely engaging in the MDGs as well.


Over the beyond fifteen years, maximum Central American international locations have implemented at the least primary academic reform types. As a result, greater kids are getting into college and spending greater days and years enrolled than ever earlier. On a mixture stage, the bigger Latin American and Caribbean area has made massive development closer to the goal of regularly occurring primary education enrollment. In step with the most latest UN Millennium Development Goals record, “Net enrollment quotes on the primary level rose from 86 percent in 1990 to 93 percent in 2001.

The location’s tempo of progress in this indicator has been quicker than the growing global common (which rose from 80 percent to 83 percent between 1990 and 2001). Net enrollment rates in 23 nations of the region (12 in Latin America and eleven in the Caribbean) surpass 90 percent.” 3 The fact is that massive scale catastrophes or different unforeseen occasions apart, all six countries are on course to reach the MDG enrollment goals.

Unfortunately, progress toward finishing 5 years of primary education has been slower, and few countries inside the place can boost achievement in this arena. The lack of progress towards the entirety of this target is maximum directly associated with inefficiencies in the schooling device and poor youngsters’ socioeconomic conditions. Each situation brings about excessive repetition and desertion charges, and both situations should be ameliorated if CAFTA succeeds. Furthermore, at the same time as the number of children initially enrolling in school has accelerated, the poor fine of education in the course of Central America is also clearly an element in kid’s failure to complete their number one training. Quality must consequently additionally be taken into consideration whilst thinking about instructional infrastructure needs.

While now not always relevant to MDG Two but quite likely relevant from the CAFTA attitude of wanting professional personnel, Central America’s academic woes most sincerely extend beyond the number one faculty surroundings. In reaction to the latest Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, an Inter-American Development Bank consultant wrote, “It is tough to keep away from the impression that the international locations of Latin America and the Caribbean are falling behind in regards to secondary training. Although this isn’t covered inside the MDGs, it’s miles the single most important educational indicator isolating upper and decrease income groups inside the area.” 4

Upon examining the Mexico of nowadays in comparison to pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) times, a rise inside the Mexican poverty charge over the past decade or so is obvious. Rather than being direct because of the implementation of NAFTA, it’s miles more likely that this growth within the poverty fee is on account of Mexico’s failure to put in force a complementary agenda simultaneously; mainly, the incapability of Mexico’s poorer southern States to improve their poorly skilled staff, infrastructural deficiencies and vulnerable institutions to take part meaningfully in a liberalized alternate environment. Rather than gain, the southern Mexican states were misplaced simultaneously as the northern states benefited from NAFTA’s liberalized exchange environment.

As become the case in Mexico, the general public of households in Central American nations likely stands to ultimately advantage from the price modifications associated with eliminating exchange boundaries for touchy agricultural commodities and other items. However, for this to manifest, as Dr. Lederman suggests above, every us of a need to now make appropriate investments in improvement efforts (maximum particularly in schooling) that allows you to assure an equitable distribution of the blessings of those efforts inside the future.


Simultaneously, it’s miles of vital importance that every u. S. A. Affords for the desires of their most at-danger residents. To guarantee that the children of these families are given the possibility to rely on amongst those in faculty, nations must identify assets, each internally and externally, to provide incentives for families “to invest in the human capital of their kids.” 6Examples of such incentives were implemented through investment from the Inter-American Development Bank and several other organizations in Costa Rica (Superemonos), the Dominican Republic (Tarjeta de Asistencia Escolar), Honduras (PRAF), and Nicaragua (Red de Protección Social).

Most at once, those incentives (often within the form of conditional coin transfers) serve to increase meal intake, faculty attendance, and use of preventive health care, a few of the extremely bad. In the longer term, they’re intended to help with poverty and malnutrition reduction and enhance training crowning glory charges. As suggested via the IDB, “consequences are proving that it’s far feasible to boom a family’s accumulation of human capital (measured using extended academic attainment and reduced mortality and morbidity) and, as a result, additionally increase potential labor marketplace returns for the beneficiaries, as well as typical productiveness. The packages have had an extensive nice long-term effect on the schooling, vitamins, and fitness of its beneficiaries, especially youngsters.” 7

In the World Bank’s expansive report studying CAFTA’s potential effect on Central America, entitled “DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America,” the authors, again and again, reference technology and emphasize the significance of a complementary educational agenda that is tied to every user’s stage of improvement and innovation. For instance, “for the one’s nations farthest far from the technological frontier -which include Honduras and Nicaragua– the pleasant generation policy is in all likelihood to be honestly sound schooling policy.

Within the more superior settings of Costa Rica and El Salvador, wherein edition and introduction of latest technologies are greater vital, issues of training exceptional and of the entirety of secondary education are extra vital.” 8 In reality, without ever making particular reference to the MDGs, the authors advise that the previous nation’s attention on the aim of achieving ordinary primary schooling while the latter nation’s cognizance their power on expanding and improving secondary level education. Failing to do so is choosing failure within the open marketplace.

Ultimately, in place of seeing CAFTA as a first-class ticket to a better monetary end – with no strings connected, countries need to know the important importance of first enforcing MDG 2 – target 3. This target, which says “via 2015, children anywhere, boys and women alike, might be capable of finishing a complete route of number one education” nine is a severely vital step closer to ensuring the emergence of a workforce that may reply to extended marketplace call for and evolving technologies. Without immediate funding in that future personnel via the schooling machine, CAFTA will, without a doubt, flounder and drag MDG Two together with it.

Furthermore, as referred to above, academic infrastructure has to be positioned into the area now with the intention to now not handiest assure a better exceptional training but may also be made handy and applicable to Central America’s most at-risk citizens. After all, based on Mexico’s enjoy, the probability of a fine outcome for each CAFTA and MPG Two is narrow. Yet, the possibility of financial fulfillment does exist if we agree to pick out “Education For All sincerely.”

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