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Educational policy analysis archives
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Educational policy analysis archives.
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Children's rights and education in Argentina, Chile and Spain / David Poveda, Viviana Gmez, and Claudia Messina.
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1 of 18 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 7 Number 31October 12, 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 Children's Rights and Education in Argentina, Chile and Spain David Poveda Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha Viviana Gmez Claudia Messina Autonomous University of MadridAbstractThis article is a first attempt to relate the UN Co nvention on the Rights of the Child to education policy. It compare s three countries, Argentina, Chile and Spain in an attempt to both pr esent particular problems that are of pressing concern in each and t o propose a framework that might reveal some possible obstacles to the implementation of children's rights. The article is divided into three sections. In the first section, a comparative revie w of the formal dispositions and legislative changes in the three c ountries is presented. Some of the most notable contrasts are b riefly contextualized in the history of each nation-state. In the second section, particular problems in each nation are rea ssessed through the lens of the Convention. Three cases are examined: i n Argentina, the funding and organization of public compulsory educa tion; in Chile, an instance of international cooperation in educati on; in Spain, the relations between public and private education and ethnic

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2 of 18segregation. Finally, a general framework is discus sed using these three cases as examples.Introduction A tenet of modernity is to consider edu cation as one of the most important means of advancing a society and enhancing the quality of life of its citizens. Contrary to common thinking, this idea (as captured in proposal s such as universal compulsory education or public funding of schools) has been fo rwarded by European, North American and South American countries since the mid dle of the nineteenth century. After World War II, with the consolidation of the welfare state," the commitment to education has been greatly increased; and the devel opment of strong state educational systems is currently considered a bastion of a coun try's social capacity. Such commitments represent general idea s that can lead to several different, and even incompatible, interpretations and consequences Therefore, it is necessary to try to understand how these expressions of commitment can be translated into specific and coherent proposals. The agenda set by the United Na tion's Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (also referred to here as "the Con vention") advances education as a fundamental right and provides guidelines for its i mplementation. However, many other problems remain unresolved, allowing for great vari ability among nation-states in how this right is provided to children. Some of the pre ssing concerns include issues such as: what are the resources needed to provide quality ed ucation? how can education act to lessen socio-economic inequalities? what is the nat ure of international cooperation programs? what is the commitment of countries with scarce (or not so scarce) resources to education? These questions work on two distinct bu t interrelated dimensions. At one level, there is the problem of interpreting the meaning of the articles of the Convention. The proposals of this document are the result of partic ular historical and social constructions of childhood (Casas, 1998). Discussions about the i mplications of the Convention can have more impact than would be apparent at first gl ance. As a binding document for those countries that have ratified it, it may be us ed as a legal instrument both at the national and supra-national level. For example, in the European Union the European Court of Justice has the capacity to overturn judic ial decisions and procedures established at the state level and may use as a ref erent the Convention on the Rights of the Child since it is a document ratified by all its members (Verhellen, 1997). Currently, this is becoming clear as the tragic and much publi cized "Thompson and Venables" case is being reviewed by the European Court with potent ial implications for legal procedures in England and Wales (Jones, 1997). At a second lev el, children's rights are social practices and in particular formal education is an institution that stems from the ideals and practical constraints that states and citizens put into operation. The heterogeneity, contradictions and divergent interests of different social groups and institutions account for the range of forms of schooling that one finds across and within nation. Interest in these topics has been incre asing in recent years and is supported by the existence of a European Network on Children's Right s and work currently being done on the topic in the Department of Developmental and Ed ucational Psychology of the Autonomous University of Madrid. As a result, the a uthors of this article began discussing these matters and contrasting our differ ent experiences. As researchers and educational professionals from three different coun tries (Argentina, Chile and Spain), several contrasts and questions emerged when we dis cussed some of the issues that the Convention poses. These three countries reflect div erse and complex realities and,

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3 of 18although they also share certain historical and cul tural ties, are located in different regions of the world with their own social and econ omic history. Currently, Latin America (including Chile and Argentina) is experien cing important social, political and economic changes. Formal education and the life con ditions of children are clearly part of these transformations and deserve attention. Spa nish educational policy is in a period of rapid and significant transformation, resulting from the full implementation of an educational reform begun at the turn of the decade of the 1990s and the political changes occurring at this time (Marchesi y Martn, 1998). The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) has been ratified by all three countries, a nd thus can be used as a lens to probe and contrast the characteristics of the three nations. Most importantly, it can be used as an instrument to highlight and interpret se lected problems being experienced by each country. This article is a first attempt to eluc idate this topic and is primarily concerned with establishing some base-line questions and data that may allow further research on particular problems. A description at the formal le vel, especially contrasting Spain and Latin American countries, can be of more interest t han initially apparent. As Spanish and Latin American educational research and policy are construed, it seems that Spain is placed in a consulting position, offering services and standards that Latin American countries have not attained. Such a claim may be su pportable as it relates to the economic and political resources that can be mobili zed currently in each nation. Yet, as we will see, this view is not accurate with respect to the intentions and efforts that have taken place in education in the second half of this century in Spain, Chile or Argentina. The political history and legislative developments in education on each side of the Atlantic have had their own evolution and ideologic al sources, without Spain being a specific referent for Argentina or Chile during mos t of this time. A case analysis of each situation allows us to delve into educational and s ocial problems that are of utmost concern. In particular, analyzing them against some of the tenets of the Convention introduces new possibilities that are less often ex plored in discussions of these topics. The presentation is divided into three parts. First, a comparative analysis of the formal arrangements and legal dispositions proposed by the three countries regarding education will be made. This permits an assessment of those aspects in which they converge, in which they diverge and what may be the underlying reasons for these commonalties and variations. Second, a case analysi s will be presented of each country. The cases analyses are not structured according to the same questions in the three contexts. Our choice has been to present instances in each nation that are both of interest to us and have been controversial in educational di scussions of each country, thus presenting a small portrait of trends and tensions in each region. Finally, we forward a conceptual framework, using the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) as a matrix, that may allow to make some generalizations on the type of situations these cases represent.Meeting Children's Rights and Education at the Form al Level A number of articles in the Convention make reference directly or indirectly to what goals and conditions should be part of an educ ational system that meets children's rights. Based on the content of the articles it is possible to arrange them under four thematic clusters: The means that make education accessible. The means that support education in groups with spe cial needs. Curricular and pedagogical goals.

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4 of 18 The rights of specific social groups. Table 1 Formalization of Rights Regarding the Means to Make Education AccessibleKEY RIGHTS ARGENTINACHILESPAIN FREE AND COMPULSORY PRIMARYEDUCATION(art. 28-1a). Compulsory Education from 5 to 14 years of age:Last year of pre-school (5 years of age)General Basic Education (6-14 years of age). Compulsory Education from 6 to 13 years of age:General Basic Education (6-13 years of age). Compulsory Education from 6 to 16 years of age:Primary Education (6-12 years of age).Compulsory Secondary Education(13-16 years of age). DEVELOPMENT OF ACCESIBLE PROFESSIONAL AND GENERAL SECONDARY EDUCATION (art. 28-1b). Polimodal Education(15-17 years of age):humanistic, social and scientific and technical (1 extra year) tracks. Secondary Education (14-18 years of age):scientific, humanistic and technical-professional (1 extra year) tracks. Pre-university Baccalaureate (16-18 years of age): humanistic, social and scientific tracks.Professional Education (two cycles, 16-19/19-21 years of age): multiple professional modules. ACCESIBLE HIGHER EDUCATION, BASED ON CAPACITY (art. 28-1c). Open admission to the General Basic Cycle at Public Universities.Upon successful completion, access to degree cycle. Access to Public University determined by National Aptitude Test developed by the Ministry of Education. Access to University determined by:Selective Exam organized by the public universities, and grades during pre-university education. DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMATION AND ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL COUNSELING PROGRAMS (art. 28-1d). Psychophysical Units at the district level: composed by social workers, psychologists and doctors.Orientation Departments at the universities. Psychopedagogical Teams at the district level.A professional and academic counselor in each secondary school. Psychopedagogical Teams at the district level for primary schools.Psychopedagogical Orientation Teams in each secondary school.

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5 of 18 Table 1 summarizes which dispositions i n each country make education accessible. Art. 28 aims at making at least basic e ducation compulsory (sect. 1a), developing secondary education both in its academic and professional strands (sect. 1b), making higher education accessible to larger parts of the population based on capacity criteria (sect. 1c), and providing counseling and s upport services to students during their education (sect. 1d). At one level there appears to be much agreement in these issues, since all countries have engaged in educational ref orms (all three passed legislation in the 1990's) that meet these demands, and these new poli cies mostly propose arrangements that address the same principles. However, there ar e a number of interesting contrasts, most notably the number of years of compulsory educ ation and the age-range in which it is placed. The beginning of compulsory education r anges from 5 (Argentina) to 6 years of age (Chile and Spain) and the ending ranges from 13 (Chile) to 16 years of age (Spain). Within the educational system, this allows for a va riety of arrangements, from making the last year of kindergarten compulsory in the case of Argentina to having separate secondary compulsory education in the case of Spain These variations are the result of the policy design and practical constraints in the arrangement of the educational system but may also reflect important social issues. At th e entry level, although preschool education is encouraged and supported for several t heoretical-pedagogical reasons, making it compulsory is intertwined with social fac tors. In Spain, the implicit push for early childhood education has been related to the i ncreasing number of middle-class mothers working outside the home; this began to bec ome a priority in the 1980's with some municipalities (primarily in large cities) est ablishing early education centers. However, in Chile and Argentina, early childhood ed ucation began over thirty years ago as part of the extension of education to larger sec tors of the population; thus in its origins it was directed to lower-working class children and families. With regard to school exit, it is important to consider how well "harmonized" are the legal minimum age to enter the workforce (or apprenticeship arrangements) and th e end of compulsory education--as we will see below the two are not always coordinate d, thus the mismatch has been a contributing factor in different legal reforms. Finally, Argentina's policy regarding e ntrance at public universities is noteworthy. An important political claim during its democratic transition was making university education tuition-free and open (unrestricted) acce ss to all students who had completed pre-university secondary education. This goal was a chieved, making Argentina the only country of those studied here (and also contrasting with many other countries in the world) with an open admissions policy that makes hi gher education accessible to a much larger student population than before. However, thi s has introduced other "mechanisms" that are not common in the rest of the countries, s uch as dividing higher education into a "general" cycle and a "degree" cycle with a series of selection exams between each stage.Table 2 Formalization of Rights Regarding Support Conditins for Populations with Special Need sKEY RIGHTSARGENTINACHILESPAINACCESS TO Legislation regarding Specialists in each Special Education

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6 of 18 EDUCATION AND OTHER FORMS OF SOCIAL INTEGRATION FOR PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY HANDICAPPED CHILDREN (art. 23-3). the social integration for people with special needs.Special Education with specific professionals. school to attend students with learning difficulties.Special Education schools, organized by type of handicap.Mainstreaming for some students. schools.Mainstreaming programs. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE IN CASE OF NEED, AT ALL EDUCATIONAL LEVELS (art. 28-1b). Financial assistance during compulsory education: family subsidies, meal programs, grants for school materials.Scholarship programs for post-compulsory education. Free school texts in primary education.President of the Republic school grants (meal programs, school materials).Grants for secondary and higher education. Support during primary education and early childhood education: meal programs, school material grants.Grants for secondary and higher education. PROGRAMS TOINCREASE SCHOOL ATTENDANCE (art. 28-1e). Legislation regarding programs to facilitate and guarantee school completion. Very low attrition rates.Objective of financial support programs (see above). Social Work programs and action plans in rural areas and socio-economically disadvantaged urban areas.Objective of financial support (see above). LEGISLATION REGARDING MINIMUN WORK AGE AND PROTECTION AGAINST CHILD LABOR (arts. 32-1; 32-2a). Minimum work age: 15. Minimum work age: 15. Minimum work age: 16. To make educational rights effective, t he Convention explicitly discusses the arrangements that should be provided for certain gr oups. Art 23-3 discusses the accommodations that should be made for children wit h disabilities, including those that relate to making education accessible. Arts. 28-1b1e, 32-1 and 32-2a make reference to provisions that seem necessary to make education ac cessible to students from underprivileged circumstances. As reflected in Tabl e 2, at one level all countries seem to have formalized these points in the educational sys tem. Special Education arrangements for "gross disabilities" (physical, mental handicap ) exist from the beginning of childhood education, both in separate special-needs schools/u nits and in "mainstreaming" programs; and screening/educational adaptations for students with learning difficulties start in primary education. Some private organizations in ea ch country ( O.N.C.E in Spain,

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7 of 18 Teleton in Chile) play an important role in providing reso urces for children with special needs, both inside their institutions and in public schools. Also, several efforts exist to support underprivileged students, such as free-lunc h programs and nutritional supplements, scholarships and financial assistance. However, the disparity of circumstances in which these arrangements are imple mented make comparisons very difficult, since target populations range from urba n lowclass students to extremely isolated rural and indigenous populations. An important contrast is the minimum ag e for entering the workforce. Spain is the only one of the three nations in which this age is the same as the end of compulsory education, an arrangement that began with the 1990 educational reform (before this compulsory education ended at 14 years of age, whil e the minimum age to work was 16). In the rest of the countries, the minimum working a ge is one or two years above the end of compulsory education, which leaves an uncertain gap for youths who abandon school early.Table 3 Formalization of Rights Regarding Curricular and Pedagogical ObjectivesKEY RIGHTSARGENTINACHILESPAINEDUCATION GEARED TOWARDS THE FULL DEVELOPMENT OF CHILDREN'S PERSONALITY, PHYSICAL AND MENTAL CAPACITIES (art. 29-1a). Legislation states that "education should provide permanent and integral instruction so students can self-realize as persons". Legislation proposesthat education shouldenhance the correctdevelopment ofchildren’s personality,physical and mentalcapacities.At the beginning of the school year students pass a medical examination. Each educational level (pre-school, primary and secondary) states a series of curricular and educational goals. EDUCATION RESPECTFUL OF HUMAN RIGHTS AS EXPRESSED BY THE UNITED NATIONS (art. 29-1b). Legislation embracing these principles in education.Cross-curriculumthemes. Legislation embracing these principles in education.Cross-curriculum themes. Cross-curriculum themes. EDUCATION RESPECTFUL OF NATIONAL AND FAMILY CULTURAL VALUES (art. 29-1c). Legislation making this explicit. Legislation upholding the right for parents to choose schools for their children. Part of the curriculumRegional de-centralization allows for regional subject curriculum.

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8 of 18 EDUCATION IN TOLERANCE AND RESPECT FORGENDER, ETHNIC, RELIGIOUS AND CULTURAL DIFFERENCES (art. 29-1d). Mentioned as a general principle of the Federal Law of Education. Mentioned as a general principle of the Organic Law of Education. Cross curricular theme. EDUCATION RESPECTFUL OF THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT (art. 29-1e). Cross-curricular themes. Ecology as a curricular subject. Part of the Natural Sciences curriculum.Cross curricular theme. DISCIPLINE RESPECTFUL OF CHILDREN'S RIGHTS AND DIGNITY (art. 28-2). Legislation banning physical punishment as a disciplinary measure. Legislation banning physical punishment as a disciplinary measure. Legislation banning physical punishment as a disciplinary measure. The Convention throughout Article 29-1 makes a series of general recommendations about the values and objectives tha t education should pursue. Education should contribute to the full development of the child (art 29-1a) and teach respect and appreciation for human rights (art. 291b), national and personal values (art. 29-1c), values and cultures others than one's own ( art. 29-1d), gender equality (art. 29-1d) and the natural environment (art. 29-1e). Table 3 r eveals that the three countries have some curricular arrangements or general statements that attempt to develop these ideas. These are developed either as cross-curricular them es--the preferred arrangement in Spain--or specific subjects--as in Chile where Ecol ogy is a distinct content area in schools. Finally, all countries (in line with art. 28-2) have banned physical punishment as a disciplinary measure in schools.Table 4 Formalization of Rights Regarding Specific Social G roups KEY RIGHTSARGENTINACHILESPAINRIGHTS OF ETHNIC, LINGUISTIC, RELIGIOUS AND INDIGENOUS MINORITIES TO HAVE THEIR OWN CULTURAL LIFE (art. 30). Legislation regarding:The right of indigenous populations to preserve their cultural life and the learning of their mother-tongue language. Legislation recognizing Mapuche (the largest indigenous group) as an official language.Used as language of instruction in Basic Education Catholic Religion as an optional subject, other religions not available unless specifically organized at the school.Autonomous communities with co-official languages

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9 of 18 The development by the state of indigenous educational programs.The adequacy of the educational resources to regional needs.The right of students to preserve their religious, moral and political convictions. Catholic Religion as an optional subject. (Euskera, Galician and Catalonian) have bilingual education. CAPACITY OF PARTICULARS TO RUN THEIR OWN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS (art. 29-2). Legislation regarding the supervision and granting of capacity to set-up private schools.Subsidized private schools by the state. Legislation allowing particulars or private entities to collaborate with the State in Educational matters. Subsidized private schools by the state. Legislation regulating the functioning of private schools.Concert systems to state-fund privately run schools. All countries have a number of social g roups that have made claims for special arrangements in education. Table 4 shows how on the one hand, in all countries private groups have been able to develop educational instit utions parallel to state-run schools (cf. the convention (art. 29-2)). Institutions in all countries are required to meet a series of legal dispositions and criteria set by the state (o r public educational authority), and all countries have arrangements for providing financial support to certain private schools. For example, in Spain the Catholic Church was the p rimary provider of education until the 1980's; the concert system was developed to allow the Church to contin ue playing this role without expense to families. Indigenous populations and other minori ties must be acknowledged in the educational system as proposed in art. 30 of the co nvention. In the case of Argentina and Chile, several instructional (including bilingual e ducation or native culture curricula) arrangements exist for indigenous populations. In t he case of Spain, the main developments have been made at the regional level, including local-regional history as part of the curriculum and bilingual education in t hose regions with languages other that Spanish. However, very little is developed regardin g minority populations in the country such as gypsies or immigrant groups that are not pa rt of compensatory education programs. Finally, Catholic religious education is available as an optional subject in public schools of Chile and Spain. This summary reflects how children's ri ghts have been introduced at the formal level in the educational policies of each country. An overview of these data shows a wide degree of consensus and some particular contrasts. However, children's rights as social practices are poorly reflected at the formal level. It is the real conditions of the day-to-day schooling of children that reflect how rights are p ut into effect. To analyze this completely for each country is an insurmountable ta sk, however it is possible to present a particular aspect of each nation. This choice to fo cus on a few particular aspects is justified both because it captures current debates in the educational community of that society and highlights a relevant dimension of chil dren's rights.

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10 of 18Case Studies of Children's Rights and Education Focusing on particular examples provide s another perspective on children's rights. The political and daily realities of work i n schools are put on the foreground. The goal of this section is to present examples of this The problems facing educational resources in Argentina serve as an example of the o bstacles that may exist to providing compulsory education to all (art. 28-1a). Chile's c ooperative experience is a good example of how to pursue international cooperation in line with art. 28-3. Spain's distribution of students in schools along ethnic an d class lines reflects the political controversies around art. 28-1 and 29-2 regarding e quality of educational opportunity and private education.A. Children's Rights and Quality Compulsory Educati on in Argentina Argentina is a large and complex countr y of which it is difficult to make reference to a single national reality. On the one hand, it has an area of more than 2 million square kilometers, with vast regional and c limatic differences. On the other hand, the population is distributed very irregularl y: 46% of the population lives in the capital, Buenos Aires, and its province. These char acteristics account for important social differences that make the discussion of aver ages and general indicators (illiteracy rates, schooled population and the like) neither ve ry informative of differences inside the country nor illuminative of international contrasts (van den Eynden, 1993). Argentina, like other Latin American co untries, is confronted with high external debt that greatly affects its chances of developmen t. This economic situation has led to a series of adjustment policies that particularly aff ect social and educational funding. Another important aspect of these policies has been the privatization of public services. All these measures have increased unemployment and a widened the socio-economic division in the population. The effect of this situ ation is not clearly reflected in quantitative assessments of education nor in the el aboratin of formal policy, but it has had an important impact on the quality of the educa tion that students receive in Argentina (van den Eynden, 1993). Since 1993, Argentina operated under ne w educational policies developed in the Federal Law of Education. According to this legislation, the educational sys tem is divided into three levels: initial (3 years), General Basic Education (9 years) and Polimodal (3 years). Compulsory education covers the last ye ar of the initial level (pre-school) and the nine years of G.B.E. This reform represents a very important step, since it restructured a highly outdated educational system developed over a century ago ( Law 1.420 written in 1884) in very different political cond itions. This reform not only extends compulsory education but modifies important aspects of it such as: implementing a democratic and federalized education al bureaucracy, a reaffirmation of the state in educational matters, a formalization o f financial mechanisms and a commitment to procedures geared towards quality edu cation ( Ministerio de Cultura y Educacin de la Nacin, 1994). As part of these principles, the govern ment has established programs aimed at the improvement of educational outcomes in populati ons "that have not covered their basic needs" (as they are defined by the Ministry o f Culture and Education). In a recent letter to the Argentinian representative of the Int ernational Monetary Fund, the Minister of Education, Susana Decibe (1998), claimed that th e quality of education has been enhanced between 12% and 24% in different regions, this improvement being highest in

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11 of 18Discussion and Conclusions Considering children's rights, in this case as they relate to education, effective practices are a complex matter that is not automati cally guaranteed by making them explicit in a formal document. Rights, as principle s that regulate social organization, are intertwined and complicated by the ideological and day-to-day tensions of our current societies. In the case of educational rights it is possible to describe a series of principles that explain why the application of these rights is troublesome. The process can be problematic because: Condition a ) As they have been articulated by different social groups, educational rights can be incompatible with (or in conflict wit h) each other. Thus, although all groups have a legitimate claim to the rights they d emand, the development of these rights by one group implies the withdrawal of other rights in an opposing group. Condition b ) Implementing certain rights implies having a seri es of material, social and psychological prerequisites necessary to make them effective. These prerequisites, in some cases, can be considered hum an/children's rights themselves, which often leads to the proposal that human/children's rights are organized in a hierarchical-pyramidal manner ( Condition b1 ). In other cases, the determination of prerequisite conditions is the res ult of some form of "rational analysis" (e.g., scientific research, political dis cussion), which although an important form of knowledge construction is charact erized by a high degree of uncertainty ( Condition b2 ). Furthermore, as pointed out by Verhelle n (1994), educational rights can be construed as rights to education, rights in education and rights through education. This organization is very helpful in articulating how ed ucational rights should be effective. However, as we will see below, assigning a priori each article of the Convention to the different categories is not as univocal as presente d by Verhellen (1994). What is interesting in these two frameworks is that they sh ed much light on our understanding of the implications of the three nation case studies p resented above. In Spain, it is obvious that different social groups defend each ideological position regarding the basic mechanisms of educatio n. Furthermore, these two groups have polarized their discussion around the developm ent of public or private schooling. Since in the end the discussion is about the alloca tion of funds and resources, as well as the pedagogical-policy lines that should govern edu cation, it is reasonable to suggest that they stand in opposition as discussed above ( Condition a above). The argument that defends "freedom of choice," especially as it impli es forms of private education, is a claim about a right to education: the right to choo se the type of schooling one wants (availability of private institutions) and to guara ntee state support of that education, so it is accessible not only to the economically capable (development of concerted schools). As such, it is picked-up in art. 29-2 of the Conven tion, which delineates the rights and responsibilities of private educational institution s. The argument that defends "equality of educational opportunity" is also explicitly stat ed as a right in art. 28-1 of the Convention (including basic measures to make it eff ective). However, although Verhellen considers it a right to education, "equal ity of educational opportunity" is mainly a right through education, especially when presented as an outcome that makes effective equality of social opportunity (Green, 19 71), which is how we think it should be construed.

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12 of 18 Therefore, we a have a situation of con flicting rights and social groups that make claims on different domains of education. Also, as shown in the data presented above, this double system has created an ethnically and so cio-economically segregated student body. One way of assessing this is to see how other educational and children's rights can be developed within an educational system with thes e characteristics. Segregation, given that the "separate but equal" suggestion has never proven true, hampers many aspects of equality of educational opportunity and may eventua lly put at serious risk the meritocratic principles by which many attempt to ju stify social inequalities in Western democratic societies (Rivire, Rivire y Rueda, 199 7). Furthermore, preparing children to live peacefully and with tolerance in multicultu ral societies is a right (art. 29-1d) that is made effective through and in education and is clearly incompatible with segrega tion along ethnic and economic lines. Given these consid erations, it seems that current policy trends in Spanish education should be critically re -assessed through the lens of children's rights. Argentina's current educational system faces important financial restrictions that result in limitations of infrastructures and human resources. The outcome is a diminished capacity to undertake its role adequatel y. Art. 291a of the Convention asserts that education should help to develop child ren's full capacities: intellectual, physical and personality. It is easy to understand that "on the part of" the child this means that he or she should meet a series of physic al and psychological conditions (security, physical well-being and the like) that w ill allow him/her to cope with the demands of schooling and take advantage of the poss ibilities it offers. These conditions themselves are considered rights and are explicitly reflected in the Convention (this would be a common example of Condition b1 above). "On the part of" the school, it is also possible to speak of necessary circumstances. The institution and people who work in it should also meet a series of conditions so they can face the demands placed on e ducation and the principles reflected in the Convention. As Verhellen (1994) pointed out, educational rights in important aspects are made effective by adults. This obviousl y refers to parents being able to assert their children's rights; but on the part of the sch ool (and the adults that work in that school), it also signifies having the means to make effective these rights. Providing quality education is something that cannot be met w ithout a firm legislative commitment, proper infrastructures, resources for p rofessional development and positive mid-term and long-term expectations for educators. All these can be considered prerequisites that are part of the child's educatio nal rights ( Condition b1 above) and should be made effective through social and economi c policies that guarantee the accomplishment of these goals. Argentina has made important investment s in time, human and economic resources to undertake its educational reform. Howe ver, international institutions and expert consultants have apparently not been able to fully understand these efforts. Some of their suggestions have been especially unfortuna te because they did not take into account the complex and diverse reality of the coun try. Cooperation between Chile, Sweden and D enmark puts into effect art. 28-3 of the Convention and represents one of the most impor tant intervention areas between states with differing economic resources. However, intervention programs rest on a series of important principles that are not easily defined. First, intervention is based on an "assessment of needs," but justifying how, who, what, and why these needs are put forward is not clear-cut. Second, educational coope ration as defined in the Convention (art. 28-3) should be aimed at providing access to "technical knowledge" and "modern educational methods," but explaining exactly what t hese constitute is again a difficult

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13 of 18task. Therefore, making operational proposals const itutes an important part of the elaboration of the program (is a process-result of a "rational analysis", Condition b2 above). When considering developing countries o r "emergent economies," these questions have often been very controversial and as sume a series of characteristics (lack of knowledge and skills or absence of professional staff in the receiving country), that by being absent make the 900 Schools Program a good model. Cooperation is usually highly asymmetrical with the "target" country playi ng a minimal role in the intervention process. However, the Chile-Sweden-Denmark experien ce showed that the "target" country (Chile) was capable of generating useful in formation for the decision making process, formulating objectives and program framewo rks, implementing the program, assessing progress and giving a global appraisal of the intervention. Past theorizing (still proposed today) considered "developing countries" t o be helpless, incapable of formulating mid-term and long-term goals for their progress and unable to act on their reality. In contrast to this, the 900 Schools Program showed that an intervention approach that on the part of the "cooperating" coun try provides adequate financial resources and shows trust in the professional capac ity of the "host" country will produce encouraging results. Carlos Rodrguez (1998) captur ed this attitude well when stating that "if the poor are given the opportunity and ade quate incentives they apply with rationality their resources and progress" (p. 14). Chile's cooperative experience shows how these ideas can be put into practice, even in s ocio-economic and politically unfavorable conditions. The data presented here illustrate how children's educational rights travel a long journey from the Convention to national legislation to actual day-to-day practices. We believe that daily practices are what constitute ch ildren's rights as real principles by which to measure life standards. However, using thi s criterion does not relegate the other two dimensions (the Convention and legislation) to an insignificant role. In fact the relationship between these three dimensions is dial ectic; this dynamic among them is what legitimizes and delegitimizes real situations. The Convention is a statement in many c ases too vague to provide univocal suggestions as to what to do in schools. Legislatio n tries to advance this process and give directives at the national or regional level o n how to manage schools. However, writing and implementing legislation is a political process characterized by power and resource struggles between different constituencies This does not mean that the resulting configuration cannot be assessed, since i t is in the light of how it captures children's rights that we can consider it legitimat e. Research into these questions, however preliminary, is part of this process.ReferencesAbajo, J. E. (1997). La Escolarizacin de los nios gitanos: el desconci erto de los mensajes doble-vinculares y la apuesta por los vnc ulos sociales y afectivos Madrid: Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales.Akkari, A. and Prez, S. (1999) Investigacin en educacin en Amrica Latina: una continuacin del debate. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7, (10) (Available online at http://epaa.asu.edu)Bartolom, M. (1997). La escolarizacin de los hijo s de inmigrantes extranjeros en la Educacin Primaria en Catalua. In M. Bartolom (ed .). Diagnstico a la Escuela

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14 of 18Multicultural. (65-81). Barcelona: CEDECS. Casas, F. (1998). Social Representations of Childho od. In A. Saporiti (ed.). Exploring Children's Rights: Third European Intensive Erasmus Course on Chldren's Rights. Milano: FrancoAngeli.Clarn (21/5/98). Cuando los datos marcan diferencias, p 56. Clarn (17/5/98). Los alcances de la reforma, p. 5 (supl emento de educacin). Decibe, S. (1998). Carta de Lic. S. Decibe al Dr. M Figuerola. available at: http://www.mcye.gov.arDaz, N. (1997, Feb. 3rd). La reforma educativa: as ignatura pendiente del PP. El Siglo de Europa, 254. 31-37. Feito, R. (1991). Concapa y Ceapa: Dos modelos de i ntervencin de los padres en la gestin de la enseanza. Educacin y Sociedad, 9, 35-57. Ferrandis, A. (1988). La Escuela Comprensiva: Situacin Actual y Problem tica Madrid: MEC/CIDE.Gajardo, M. (1994). Cooperacin internacional y desarrollo de la educac in Santiago de Chile: Agencia Internacional de Cooperacin de C hile/Ediciones Salesianas. Gmez, V. (1999). Efectos del Programa de Educacin Compensatoria en el Desarrollo Psicolgico del Nio: Es Realmente Compensatoria l a Educacin Compensatoria? Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation, Universidad Aut noma de Madrid. Green, T. (1971). Equal Educational Opportunity: Th e Durable Injustice. In R. Heslep (ed.) Philosophy of Education 1971: Proceedings of the Tw enty Seventh Annual Meeting of the Philosophy of Education Society-Dallas, Apri l 4-7. Dallas: Studies in Philosophy and Education.Jones, M. (1997). The Case of Thompson and Venables and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In P. Jaffe, H. Rey and D. Rot h (eds.) The Future of Children's Rights: Student Contributions from Across Europe Genve: Universit de Genve. Knipmeyer, M. (1980). El Polgono de la Cartuja de Granada: el sistema escolar y sus problemas. In M. Knipmeyer: M. Gonzlez Bueno and T San Romn. Escuelas, pueblos y barrios: tres ensayos de antropologa educativa (11-92). Madrid: Akal. Marchesi, A. y Martn, E. (1998). Calidad de la enseanza en tiempos de cambio. Madrid: Alianza.Marchesi, A. (1996). Calidad y Equidad Frente a Pro ximidad. El Pais Digital-Debates 2/7/96, originally available http://www.elpais.es/p /d/debates/marchesi.htm Ministerio de Cultura y Educacin de la Nacin. (19 94). Ley Federal de Educacin: la Escuela en Transformacin Buenos Aires: Secretaria de Programacin y Evalua cin Educativa.

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15 of 18Ministerio de Educacin de Chile (1997). Programa de Mejoramiento de la Calidad y Equidad de la Educacin Bsica. Santiago de Chile: MEC. Ministerio de Educacin de Chile (1993). Sistemas educativos nacionales: Chile Santiago de Chile: Organizacin de Estados Iberoame ricanos para la Educacin, la Ciencia y la Cultura/Ediciones Mar de Plata.Molt, M; Palafox, J; Prez, F; Uriel, E. (1997). G asto Pblico y Privado en Educacin. In SSAA. Educacin, vivienda e igualdad de oportunidades (II Simposio sobre Igualdad y Distribucin de la Renta y la Riqueza) (163214). Madrid: Argentaria-Visor. Poveda, D. (1997). Un Anlisis Etnogrfico de la Interaccin en el Aul a en Relacin a la Alfabetizacin. Doctoral Dissertation Project, Universidad Autnoma de Madrid. Puiggros, A. (1996). Para el gobierno la educacin es una mala inversin. Clarn Digital .(4/9/96). available at http://www.clarin.com.ar/di ario/96-09-04/puig_01.htm Rivire, A; Rivire, J. and Rueda, F. (1997). Igual dad Social y Educacin. In SSAA Educacin, vivienda e igualdad de oportunidades (II Simposio sobre Igualdad y Distribucin de la Renta y la Riqueza) (9-42). Madrid: Argentaria-Visor. Rodrguez, C. Pobres Pobres. El Pais 6/6/1998, p. 14. Turner, S. y Goicoa, A. (1988). Spain. In G. Kurian (ed.). World Education Encyclopedia, vol. II (1115-1134). Facts on File Publications. van den Eynde, A. (1993). La Educacin en America L atina. Infancia y Sociedad, 19. 51-67.Verhellen, E. (1994). Convention on the Rights of the Child Leuven: Verhellem and Garant.About the AuthorsDavid PovedaFacultad de Ciencias de la Educacin y HumanidadesUniversidad de Castilla-La ManchaAvda. de los Alfares 4416002 CuencaSpainDavid Poveda currently teaches in the Psychopedagog y program of the University of Castill-La Mancha. His research focuses on classroo m interaction, cultural diversity and literacy.Viviana GmezViviana Gmez currently teaches in the School of Ed ucation of the Universidad Pontifcia Catlica de Chile. Her research interest s focus social inequalities in education. She has recently completed a study of compensatory education in Spanish schools. Claudia Messina

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16 of 18 Claudia Messina has been a secondary school teacher and counselor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Currently, she is completing her doctora l degree in the Universidad Autnoma de Madrid. Her research focuses on teacher training and practical reasoning.Copyright 1999 by the Education Policy Analysis ArchivesThe World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is http://epaa.asu.edu General questions about appropriateness of topics o r particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, glass@asu.edu 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: shepherd@asu.edu The Commentary Editor is Casey D. Cobb: casey.cobb@unh.edu .EPAA Editorial Board Michael W. Apple University of Wisconsin Greg Camilli Rutgers University John Covaleskie Northern Michigan University Andrew Coulson a_coulson@msn.com Alan Davis University of Colorado, Denver Sherman Dorn University of South Florida Mark E. Fetler California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Richard Garlikov hmwkhelp@scott.net 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 MauhsPugh Green Mountain College Dewayne Matthews Western Interstate Commission for HigherEducation 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 apembert@pen.k12.va.us Hugh G. Petrie SUNY Buffalo

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17 of 18 Richard C. Richardson New York University Anthony G. Rud Jr. Purdue University Dennis Sayers Ann Leavenworth Centerfor Accelerated Learning Jay D. Scribner University of Texas at Austin Michael Scriven scriven@aol.com Robert E. Stake University of Illinois—UC Robert Stonehill U.S. Department of Education Robert T. Stout Arizona State University David D. Williams Brigham Young University EPAA Spanish Language Editorial BoardAssociate Editor for Spanish Language Roberto Rodrguez Gmez Universidad Nacional Autnoma de Mxico roberto@servidor.unam.mx Adrin Acosta (Mxico) Universidad de Guadalajaraadrianacosta@compuserve.com J. Flix Angulo Rasco (Spain) Universidad de Cdizfelix.angulo@uca.es Teresa Bracho (Mxico) Centro de Investigacin y DocenciaEconmica-CIDEbracho dis1.cide.mx Alejandro Canales (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicocanalesa@servidor.unam.mx Ursula Casanova (U.S.A.) Arizona State Universitycasanova@asu.edu Jos Contreras Domingo Universitat de Barcelona Jose.Contreras@doe.d5.ub.es Erwin Epstein (U.S.A.) Loyola University of ChicagoEepstein@luc.edu Josu Gonzlez (U.S.A.) Arizona State Universityjosue@asu.edu Rollin Kent (Mxico)Departamento de InvestigacinEducativaDIE/CINVESTAVrkent@gemtel.com.mx kentr@data.net.mx Mara Beatriz Luce (Brazil)Universidad Federal de Rio Grande do SulUFRGSlucemb@orion.ufrgs.brJavier Mendoza Rojas (Mxico)Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicojaviermr@servidor.unam.mxMarcela Mollis (Argentina)Universidad de Buenos Airesmmollis@filo.uba.ar Humberto Muoz Garca (Mxico) Universidad Nacional Autnoma deMxicohumberto@servidor.unam.mxAngel Ignacio Prez Gmez (Spain)Universidad de Mlagaaiperez@uma.es

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18 of 18 Daniel Schugurensky (Argentina-Canad)OISE/UT, Canadadschugurensky@oise.utoronto.ca Simon Schwartzman (Brazil)Fundao Instituto Brasileiro e Geografiae Estatstica simon@openlink.com.br Jurjo Torres Santom (Spain)Universidad de A Coruajurjo@udc.es Carlos Alberto Torres (U.S.A.)University of California, Los Angelestorres@gseisucla.edu