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Educational policy analysis archives
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University of South Florida.
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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 7, no. 2 (January 23, 1999).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c January 23, 1999
Educational research in Latin America : a response to Akkary and Perez / Mariano Narodowski.
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v Periodicals.
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Arizona State University.
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1 of 9 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 7 Number 2January 23, 1999ISSN 1068-2341 A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal Editor: Gene V Glass, College of Education Arizona State University Copyright 1999, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES. Permission is hereby granted to copy any article if EPAA is credited and copies are not sold. Articles appearing in EPAA are abstracted in the Current Index to Journals in Education by the ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation and are permanently archived in Resources in Education Educational Research in Latin America: A Response to Akkary and Prez Mariano Narodowski Universidad Nacional de QuilmesAbstract In a recent article which appeared in Educational Policy Analysis Archives 6 (7) 1998, "Educational Research in Latin America: R eview and Perspectives," Abdeljalil Akkari and Soledad Prez envisage carrying out a general analysis of the sit uation of educational research in Latin America, in an attemp t to describe the context of its historical formation. They focus on the main theore tical framework, they identify the principal institutions involved in educational rese arch, and consider the priorities for future research in the region. This article does not claim to provide a global reply to the work presented, although it does hope to elaborate upon certain asp ects, to clear up matters which are presented in an over-simplified manner, and to exte nd the analysis in order to capture the intricacies of the problem in all its complexity. T he Education Policy Analysis Archives considered one of the top level journals, is consul ted by a wide range of international readers who often possess only superficial knowledg e of educational research in Latin AmericaDefining "Latin America" The work of Abdeljalil Akkari and Soledad Prez attempts to analyze the development of educational research in Latin Americ a. In the article, the authors seem to


2 of 9take for granted a sort of homogeneity among Latin American countries. The conclusions they reach never specify differences or contrasts which exist among these countries: the article creates a Latin American pan orama without bothering with factors specific to each country, and even takes for grante d the existence of some sort of "identity" as regards educational research. In our opinion, this analysis deserves a more rigorous approach. That which is usually termed "Latin America" includes more than t wenty independent nations which, despite sharing many common characteristics, displa y many varying features. Among these are: different languages (Spanish, Portuguese as well as another several dozen existing languages of the native indians), differen ces in terms of systems of government (for example, presidential systems in Argentina and Mexico; a semi-presidential system in Brazil; "socialist democracy" in Cuba, etc.); et hnic, immigrant, political, economic, cultural, and even territorial differences. One mus t bear in mind the war-like confrontations between Argentina and Chile; Colombi a and Venezuela; or the latest one between Peru and Ecuador, only to mention those whi ch are most recent. Within the limits of this article, it would certainly be impos sible to cover each and every one of the similarities and differences which exist among Lati n American nations. From the educational, academic, or scient ific point of view, there are still more differences, and the supposition of an identity of processes calls for closer examination. There are countries with universities which have ex isted for more than four hundred years, while others have only recently established universities. There are countries where some investigators have been awarded Nobel Prizes i n science. There are countries where the growth in the indices of basic schooling are similar to those of the most highly developed European countries, while in some others, the indices are the lowest in the world. One could take as an example the Latin Am erican countries from Central America, where the situation would appear to be hom ogeneous. Nevertheless, certain studies have shown the differences which exist in u niversity development between Costa Rica and the rest of the Central American countries in terms of the different dimensions of academic activity (Levenberg, 1995). Disparities have also been found among Caribbean nations, some of which are not "latin" (D achary and Burne, 1995). As regards science and higher education, the situations are very heterogeneous. According to data from the World Bank, between 1992 and 1995, in comparison with Korea, Argentina produced more than twice the numbe r of publications in international scientific journals. As for Mexico, during the same period the amount it produced was similar to that of Argentina, but both of them prod uced half the number of papers from Brazil and only 1% of those from the United States. One further piece of data substantiates the diversity of the experiences: Lat in American countries such as Paraguay, Guatemala, and Honduras can barely sustai n research programs, and their presence in the international context is minimal (A lmada, 1979). In the words of Garcia Guadilla (1998: pp. 432-433), and in reference to r esearch investigation on higher education: "Although a small group of countries has achieved i nitial institutionalization, the rest of the countries sti ll lack the basics needed to develop this area as a field of study, due to a lim ited production of research as well as to the nonexistence of research centers and/or specific training to develop autonomously in this area of knowledge


3 of 9 These examples are not directed at refuti ng the possibility of the existence of a single identity as regards Latin American education al research, but to advance in the idea that that single identity should be more the result of the evidence of an investigation and less an assumption providing a starting point for f urther work. In fact, in other works we have emphasized the need for the development of com parative studies in Latin American educational research which allow for the r ecognition of both the national peculiarities and the regional identities (Martinez Boom and Narodowski, 1998). In the Akkari and Prez study, the lack o f a more thorough investigation of these peculiarities results in the analysis of common pro cesses. The case of Mexico is a perfect example of this as in the article it is men tioned only once and there, to name a non-governmental organization dedicated to educatio nal research. The article neglects the work carried out in prestigious and traditional institutions dedicated directly or indirectly to educational research such as the Univ ersidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, the Colegio de Mexico, or the Departamento de Investigaciones Educativa of the Instituto Politcnico Nacional This omission is not irrelevant considering that Mexico is the Latin American country with the great est proportion of investigators carrying out their activities in public institution s. This lack of specification and its hurrie d generalization produce results which are equally partial and, to say the least, questionable The analysis of the situation of educational research in Latin America calls for the development of local studies and comparative examination which has barely begun. Obv iously, this response hopes to begin to complete the work of Akkari and Prez and not to substitute it but rather to point out, schematically, certain areas which requi re deeper examination.History and Theoretical Structures There are no studies which analyze the hi story of educational research in Latin America in a global and detailed manner. Despite th is, we can point out that diverse experiments in educational research began around th e end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth and did not merely b egin in the decade of the thirties. Furthermore, Argentina was able to achieve a level of excellence in its investigators in education when, in 1914, the University of La Plata created the Laboratory of Experimental Pedagogy (Dabat, 1992). In Brazil, the first study of the history of education ,of Pires de Almeyda, was published in 18 89. Therefore, sufficient evidence does not appear to exist which would affirm that in the region, educational research "...most research has primarily been descriptive ra ther than empirical or applied." In fact, in Latin American academic institutions, a traditio n still exists which recognizes research only if it is of an empirical or even expe rimental nature. In Mexico, the implementation of courses for the masters and docto rs degrees in the University of Mexico in 1955, indicated a clear emphasis upon the training of investigators in education with specific stimulus towards empirical projects. (Ducoing, 1990). The reactions provoked by this tradition would appear to be proof of the importance of applied and experimental research in Latin America. Towards the end of the 1920’s, the educational philosopher, Juan Manov ani, in a journalistic interview, complained of the excess of experimentalism in educ ational research, criticizing psychology and experimental didactics and what he t ermed "the reign of the method". (Carli, 1955). On the other hand, in several countries, Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, starting in the 1930’s, the development of the educ ational system generated great challenges in educational research, especially the trend towards didactic methods and


4 of 9active or radicalized positions in psychology which resulted in a high number of Latin American participants in the Ligue International de l’Ecole Nouvelle and their active participation in international discussions which to ok place there. This urgency to improve educational practices generated a tendency towards research applied to teaching methods, as in the case of the Instituto de Investi gaciones Educacionales (in Brazil), under the direction of Anixio Texeira, a pedagogue who was able to combine political management with research and teaching (Gonalves Vi dal, 1996). This rich and heterogeneous history preve nts a quick categorization of the principal theoretical structures or of those which have played a more important role in educational research. It is true that the three the oretical tendencies pointed out in the paper of Akkari and Prez were and are notably rele vant: the one created by the ECLAC, the so-called Theory of Dependence, and the pedagog y of Paulo Freire. However, several relevant theoretical positions have maintai ned and/or currently maintain a central position in the Latin American academic debate and must not be discarded. Establishing significant theoretical tend encies implies in the first place carrying out the detailed job of collecting and checking all the Latin American publications related to educational research, a task which has b arely begun and presents many difficulties. For example, a study was recently pub lished which provided a list of existing studies on the Argentine educational syste m from within the period 1976-1994 (Feldfeberg, 1995). This work, of unquestionable bi bliographical value, lists 284 published studies. Moreover, it leaves out the educ ational research of the rest of the countries and even Argentine educational research i tself dedicated to other subjects, besides the obvious (and perhaps unavoidable) omiss ions of the study. A quick perusal of the listed studies shows that a categorization o f all these works greatly exceeds the theoretical inclinations suggested by Akkari and P rez, and one could even affirm that none of these 284 could be placed within the tradit ion founded by Paulo Freire, one of the theories considered of great importance by Akka ri and Prez. Something similar occurs with the annual meetings of the Associao Nacional de Pesquissa e Posgraduacao em Educaao (ANPED and not ANPE as it appears in the Akkari and Prez article). There alone, hundreds an d hundreds of papers are presented by the participants. To determine the principal the oretical trends, the shades, and the ideological slant of the investigations calls for r esearch which has only just been begun by Aedo-Richmond (1996) For this reason, great features of theore tical structures of importance in Latin American educational research will now be presented which are or have been part of its development. Due to the circumstances described, th e aim is not to deal with the totality of the tendencies but only to contribute to the com pletion, although if only partially, of an extensive, heterogeneous panorama. In the field of sociology of education, t he functionalist and structuralfunctionalist positions have generated numerous studies which pro vide empirical evidence about different aspects which are relative to the schooli ng process. Some of these studies have been influenced by the works of CEPAL while others have maintained an orthodox point of view (Tedesco, 1987). The Marxist and reproducti vist points of view, influenced as much by Latin American Marxism as by the Althusseri an critical trends, reached their peak between the 1970’s and the beginning of the 19 80’s (Labarca and others, 1977; Vasconi, 1988). Theoretical and methodological ruptures h ave been occurring in this field for more than three decades. As regards the theoretical side we should point out the current popularity of multicultural studies and of those fo cused on categories such as gender, ethnicity, or class. It is impossible to name all t he authors who adhere to this position. It


5 of 9is worthwhile mentioning, as an illustration, a rec ent book edited in Brazil comprising original work of European, North American, and Lati n American authors working along this line of research (da Silva, 1998). The exclusi on of this tendency is misleading considering that this tends to cause one to think t hat in the 1990’s in Latin America, post-structuralist discourse prevails in most of th e educational research. Also of great importance are the studies undertaken by several groups which base their research on the contributions of M. Foucault. In Colombia, an inter-university group developed which has produced books and papers from this perspective (Diaz Villa, 1993). These contributions, and the theoreti cal tools of "critical pedagogy" have also been utilized in the curriculum field, as can be seen in numerous studies produced in several countries especially in Mexico (Diaz, 1989). From the methodological point of view, mo dern positions such as the ethnographic approach attempted by many investigati ons, particularly in Mexico and Chile are worth pointing out. Both the empirical st udies as well as the epistemological proposals about the utilization of ethnology in edu cational research arising in this area are very well known. The socalled participatory r esearch must also be mentioned (Rockwell, 1991). A fundamental chapter in the present theo ries which have the most influence upon educational research is given by the constructivist theory, based on the work of Jean Piaget in the field of educational psychology and d idactics. The investigations of E. Ferreiro and A. Teverosky have been the center of a huge debate and have been published in books and re-edited many times. They c onstitute one of the theoretical positions most akin to the daily reality of teacher s. The Brazilian journal Educao & Realidade has devoted several issues to the debate around co nstructivism, its epistemological foundations, the evidence that it p roduces in research, and its consequences in educational practice. In addition, one should not discard the importance of many research groups dedicated to cognitive psyc hology applied to education. Educational research in the field of the history of education has been one of the most productive types of investigation in the last decades. Especially in the 1990s, journals and scientific societies dedicated to this field of study have appeared, and four international congresses on Latin American Educatio nal Historiography have taken place. Some authors already propose a positive bala nce of this experience (Sanchez Gamboa, 1996) although it would not appear easy to reach generalized theoretical conclusions in meetings where more than four hundre d papers are presented. As is asserted by Tellez (1996, p. 10), one cannot aspire to a unity of points of view but at best to generate "a map which allows us to create a view both of the diversity of matters which occupy the investigators’ attention...and of the keys of research which are involved." In several Latin American countries, a ve ry important field of research exists which has to do with the relationship between the S tate and education (Torres and Puiggrs, 1995). It is probable that works on the p olitics, administration, financing and economics of education are those where it is the ea siest to detect theoretical influences and where these are the easiest to generalize. Stud ies generated by governmental, intergovernmental, and international organisms have give n a definite slant to educational research to such a degree that in another study we have proposed the existence of a sort of "State pedagogue" in Latin American countries (N arodowski, 1997). However, it is not easy to determine the theoretical contents of t he positions presented, especially at the time when divergences or peculiarities between appa rently congruent theoretical positions are detected. To sum up, this examination of Latin Amer ican educational research reveals a


6 of 9large amount of divergent studies and diverse theor etical and methodological positions, where a proliferation of metatheoretical studies ca n be observed. Furthermore, this review shows that the theoretical tendencies which dominate in the different stages of the development of educational research are the sam e as those which predominate in Europe or the United States. If we set aside the analysis of the perio ds when the Latin American investigators had limited freedom due to the presence of military dictatorships (which in the last ten years have not played a role in almost any of the c ountries of the region) (Braslavsky, 1991), we can assert that the principal theoretical tendencies appear in the different geographical areas. This situation appears to have been accentuated in the last decade thanks to the popularization and reduction in cost of technology for the transmission of information such as Internet. Obviously, it remains to be investigated whether the characteristics and use of these theories have a particular bias which constit utes some sort of single identity in all of Latin America or in some of its countriesReferencesAedo-Richmond (1996), Ruth. Education in Latin Amer ica: A Selected Bibliography (1986-1995). Compare ; v26 n2. Almada, Martn (1979) Paraguay: educacin y dependencia Buenos Aires, 1974. Akkari, Abdeljalil & Prez, Soledad. (1998). Educat ional Research in Latin America. Review and Perspectives. Educational Policy Analysis Archives Vol. 6, No. 7. Braslavsky, Cecilia (1991). Education at a Time of Democratic Transition in South America. Prospects; v21 n4..Carli, Sandra (1995) Entre Ros escenario educativo 18831930 Cuadernos, Paran. Da Silva, Luiz (ed.) (1998) A escola cidada no contexto da globalizaao Vozes, Rio de Janeiro.Dabat, Roque (1992) El positivismo argentino. Ingeniera social y educa cin I Congreso Iberoamericano de Historia de la Educacin Bogot. Dachary, A. & Burne (1995), S. "Educacin en el Car ibe" en Puiggrs, Adriana & Lozano, Claudio(Comps.), Historia de la Educacin e n Iberoamrica, Mio y Dvila, Buenos Aires.Daz, Angel (1989) "Debate en relacin a la investi gacin curricular en Mxico," Furln, Alfredo & Pasillas, Migel (comps.) Desarrollo de la investigacin en el campo del curriculum UNAM, Mxico. Daz Villa, Mario (1993) El campo intelectual de la educacin en Colombia Universidad del Valle, Cali.Ducoing, Patricia (1990) La pedagoga en la Universidad de Mxico 1881-1954 CESU-UNAM.


7 of 9Garca Guadilla, Carmen (1998) La investigacin sob re la Universidad latinoamericana desde la segunda mitad del Siglo XX en Tllez, Maga ldy, Educacin, cultura y poltica. Ensayos para la comprensin de la historia de la ed ucacin en Amrica Latina Universidad Central de Venbezuela, Caracas.Gonalves Vidal (1996), "Arte pratica ou ciencia ap licada: o dsicurso pedagogico e a formaao docente" en Gvirtz, Silvina (comp.) Escuela Nueva en Argentina y Brasil. Visiones comparadas Mio y Dvila, Buenos Aires. Labarca, Gullermo y otros (1977) La educacin burguesa Nueva Visin, Mxico. Levenberg, Rubn (1995) "Educacin y poltica en Ce ntroamrica" en Puiggrs, Adriana & Lozano, Claudio(Comps.), Historia de la Educacin en Iberoamrica Mio y Dvila, Buenos Aires.Martnez Boom, Alberto & Narodowski, Mariano (1996) Escuela, historia y poder. Miradas desde Amrica Latina Ediciones Novedades Educativas, Buenos Aires. Narodowski (1997) "Del pedagogo de Estado al pedago go de la diversidad" Propuesta Educativa Nro. 17. Rockwell, Elsie (1991), Ethnography and Critical Knowledge of Education in Latin America. Prospects; v21 n2.Snchez Gamboa, Silvio(1996) As tendencias teoricometodologicas nos congressos ibero-americanos de historia da educaao III Congreso Iberoamericano de Historia de la Educacin, Universidad Central de Venezuela, Car acas. Tedesco, Juan Carlos (1987). Paradigms of Socioeduc ational Research in Latin America. Comparative Education Review ; v31 n4. Tellez, Magaldy (1996) "Miradas en torno a la histo ria de la educacin latinoamericana" III Congreso Iberoamericano de Historia de la Educa cin, Universidad Caentral de Venezuela, Caracas.Torres, Carlos Alberto; Puiggros, Adriana (1995). T he State and Public Education in Latin America. Guest Editorial Essay. Comparative Education Review ; v39 n1. Vasconi, Toms(1988) Contra la escuela. Lucha de clases y aparatos educa tivos en el desarrollo de Amrica Latina, Cuadernos de Educacin, Caracas.About the AuthorMariano Narodowski is Full Professor at the Univers idad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina. His principal areas of interest are the history of schooling processes and trends in educational policies.Correspondence:Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Roque Senz Pea 1 80, (1876) Bernal, Argentina. E-mail:


8 of 9 Copyright 1999 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, or reach him at College of Education, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-0211. (602-965-96 44). The Book Review Editor is Walter E. Shepherd: The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Andrew Coulson Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov Thomas F. Green Syracuse University Alison I. Griffith York University Arlen Gullickson Western Michigan University Ernest R. House University of Colorado Aimee Howley Ohio University Craig B. Howley Appalachia Educational Laboratory William Hunter University of Calgary Richard M. Jaeger University of North Carolina--Greensboro Daniel Kalls Ume University Benjamin Levin University of Manitoba Thomas Mauhs-Pugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education William McInerney Purdue University Mary McKeown-Moak MGT of America (Austin, TX) Les McLean University of Toronto Susan Bobbitt Nolen University of Washington Anne L. Pemberton Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo Richard C. Richardson Arizona State University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Center Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin


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