Latin American Economic Outlook 2012

Transforming the State for Development

image of Latin American Economic Outlook 2012

Even in the midst of a global financial crisis, Latin American and Caribbean economies find themselves in better condition than in years past. Latin America must seize this opportunity to design and implement good public policies. The greatest of the long-term objectives of Latin American states remains development: economic growth and structural change that is rapid, sustainable and inclusive. In particular, governments must reduce inequalities in income, public-service delivery and opportunities, as well as promote the diversification of economies, often concentrated on a few primary-product exports.

Improved efficiency of public administration is crucial to address both the short-term and long-term dimensions of these challenges. The real change, however, will come if Latin American and Caribbean states carry out meaningful fiscal reforms, making them not only more efficient but also more effective. The increased effectiveness of fiscal policy holds the promise to provide resources needed to address the key challenges of economic development. Three key priority areas for investing additional resources have been highlighted by many governments in the region for their potential to raise competitiveness and social inclusion: education, infrastructure and innovation. In each of these areas, more efficient administration and more effective strategic action is needed from states.

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Reforming education systems

OECD Development Centre

The progress that Latin America and the Caribbean has achieved in recent years in terms of coverage, expenditure and performance in education creates the space for new challenges to be considered. The fundamental task for the region involves using the potential of education policies as an instrument for equal opportunities, social inclusion and the shaping of qualified human capital. For this reason, a number of reforms have looked to extend the access, quality and management, with a central role for the State as regulator and provider of quality education. This chapter presents a panorama of the state of education in Latin America, and the role of these reforms to attain this objective: decentralisation policies, national evaluation systems, reforms in higher education and management of teaching staff. The chapter presents a series of recommendations for the design and implementation of policies: allocating more funds for management at sub-national levels; fostering a population trained in the use of new technologies; strengthening technical-university education, adapting it to the demands of the production sector; consolidating national evaluation systems and extending them beyond schools; and promoting efficient management of teaching staff through a true professionalisation of the teaching career through improved selection, evaluation and incentives. These aspects should be at the core of education reforms over the next few years.

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