Importance of a Complementary Educational Agenda for DR-CAFTA


In September 2000, the member states of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration. That file served as the launching pad for the public declaration of 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – which consist of the whole thing from intention certainly one of halving excessive poverty to purpose two of presenting regular primary training; all to be done before the 12 months 2015.

Progress closer to the first seven goals is structured upon the success of purpose 8 – which emphasizes the want for rich international locations to decide to assist with the improvement of “an open, rule-based totally buying and selling and economical device, greater generous useful resource to countries committed to poverty reduction, and remedy for the debt problems of developing nations.”1

At first glance, Central American nations and the USA’s latest actions to liberalize change appear to aid, at least in part, hit the attention of MDG 8. However, upon nearer exam, the photograph blurs, and the final results seem unsure. Following only 12 months of negotiations, the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or DR-CAFTA (as a result of its current inclusion of the Dominican Republic), was signed by way of the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the USA in 2004. The agreement, committing every country to reduce its exchange boundaries with the other DR-CAFTA countries, became ratified by the USA Congress on July 28, 2005.2


Rather than researching all of the particular monetary and social intricacies related to liberalizing change in Central America, these short goals completely forged mild upon the overlap between countries’ efforts to implement the Millennium Development Goal 2/Education for All and their want to put into effect a complementary CAFTA timetable.

Specifically, this film highlights the importance of educational priorities if monetary improvement efforts are to be successful. The premise of the argument elaborated right here is that without sufficient prioritized emphasis with the aid of Central American countries, multilateral groups, and targeted donor countries on a complementary agenda that directs assets in the direction of schooling infrastructure, CAFTA will by no means reach supporting these countries in achieving an ever-elusive kingdom of “financial prosperity.” In truth, it can deter them from fully accomplishing the MDGs as well.


With the want for collaboration between economic and educational efforts in mind, let us study the modern repute of MDG Two implementation and broader instructional reform in Central America:

Over the beyond 15 years, maximum Central American international locations have implemented at least fundamental kinds of educational reform. As a result, more children are entering school and spending more days and years enrolled than ever before. To a combination degree, the bigger Latin American and Caribbean region has made sizeable development toward the aim of widely wide-spread primary schooling enrollment. In step with the most current UN Millennium Development Goals file, “Net enrollment rates on the number one degree rose from 86 percent in 1990 to 93 percent in 2001.

The area’s tempo of development in this indicator has been quicker than the growing world common (which rose from eighty percent to 83 percent between 1990 and 2001). Net enrollment fees in 23 international locations of the region (12 in Latin America and 11 within the Caribbean) surpass 90 percent.” 3 The fact is that big-scale disaster or different unforeseen event aside, all 6 countries are on the right track to attain the MDG enrollment objectives.

Unfortunately, progress towards completing 5 years of primary schooling has been slower, and few countries inside the place can boast success in this area. The lack of progress closer to the final touch of this target is maximum directly associated with inefficiencies in the education device and terrible kids’ socio-economic conditions. Both conditions bring about high repetition and desertion costs and both situations that must be ameliorated if CAFTA is successful.

Furthermore, even as the number of children to start with enrolling in college has extended, the terrible first-class of education in the course of Central America is also definitely an issue in children’s failure to finish their number one schooling. Quality has to be therefore also taken into consideration whilst considering academic infrastructure desires.

While no longer necessarily applicable to MDG Two but pretty likely applicable from the CAFTA perspective of wanting a professional group of workers, Central America’s educational woes maximum actually expand beyond the number one college environment. In response to the latest Millennium Development Goals Report 2005, an Inter-American Development Bank representative wrote, “It is tough to keep away from the impact that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are falling in the back of about secondary schooling. Although the MDGs do not cover this, it’s miles the single maximum essential academic indicator setting apart top and decrease income companies in the vicinity.” 4

When less than one 1/3 of a rustic city group of workers has finished the twelve years of training that you or I take with no consideration, how can they desire to compete in today’s generation-dense unfastened change environment?


Upon an exam of the Mexico of nowadays compared to pre-North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) instances, an upward push in the Mexican poverty charge over the last decade or so is apparent. Rather than being without delay due to the implementation of NAFTA, it is more likely that this increase in the poverty fee is resulting from Mexico’s failure to enforce a complementary schedule simultaneously; specifically, the inability of Mexico’s poorer southern States to enhance their poorly trained body of workers, infrastructural deficiencies and vulnerable establishments to participate meaningfully in a liberalized trade environment. Rather than gain, the southern Mexican states misplaced whilst the northern states benefited from NAFTA’s liberalized trade environment.

Dr. Daniel Lederman, co-writer of the World Bank report entitled “NAFTA is Not Enough” (and issued ten years after NAFTA was at first enacted), explained in a National Public Radio (NPR) interview in 2003 that Mexico’s economic crisis inside the 1990s turned into sure to deepen poverty there with or without NAFTA. Dr. Lederman stated:

Mexican earnings dropped in 365 days, 1995, with the aid of six percent. Wages across the board for all Mexican people, in common, fell by using 25 percent in less than a year. Still, NAFTA helped Mexico restrict the harm, lifting in step with capita profits at the least 4 percentage points above wherein it might have been otherwise. The bottom line is, Mexico might be poorer without NAFTA nowadays. Clearly, trade alone won’t alleviate poverty. But if Mexico makes the proper investments, particularly in schooling, the following decade should be higher. 5


As was the case in Mexico, it’s miles probable that most households in Central American countries stand to in the end grain from the price adjustments associated with putting off-exchange barriers for touchy agricultural commodities and other goods. However, so as for this to manifest, as Dr. Lederman indicates above, every u. S. A. Must now make appropriate investments in improvement efforts (maximum particularly in schooling) for you to guarantee an equitable distribution of the benefits of these efforts in the future.

Simultaneously, it’s far from the essential significance that each country offers for their most at-chance residents’ desires. To guarantee that the youngsters of those households are allowed to count amongst those in college, nations need to discover assets, each internally and externally, to provide incentives for households “to make investments in the human capital in their kids.” 6Examples of such incentives have been applied thru funding from the Inter-American Development Bank and numerous other companies in Costa Rica (Superemonos), the Dominican Republic (Tarjeta de Asistencia Escolar), Honduras (PRAF), and Nicaragua (Red de Protección Social).

Most straight away, these incentives (regularly in the form of conditional cash transfers) serve to grow meal consumption, school attendance, and the use of preventive health care, a few of the extremely bad. In the long run, they are supposed to help with poverty and malnutrition discounts and improve education, finishing touch quotes. As mentioned using the IDB, “effects are proving that it is possible to boom a circle of relatives’ accumulation of human capital (measured with the aid of accelerated instructional attainment and decreased mortality and morbidity) and, as a result, also improve potential hard work market returns for the beneficiaries, in addition to ordinary productiveness. The applications have had a large positive long-term effect on the education, nutrients, and health of its beneficiaries, mainly children.” 6

In the World Bank’s expansive record analyzing CAFTA’s capacity impact on Central America, entitled “DR-CAFTA – Challenges and Opportunities for Central America,” the authors repeatedly reference technology and emphasize the importance of a complementary academic timetable this is tied to each united states of America’s level of development and innovation. For instance, “for the one’s nations farthest away from the technological frontier -including Honduras and Nicaragua– the fine era coverage is possible to be honestly sound training coverage.

Within the greater advanced settings of Costa Rica and El Salvador, in which edition and creation of new technologies are greater critical, problems of education best and the entirety of secondary schooling are greater crucial.” eight In reality, without ever making a unique connection with the MDGs, the authors endorse that the previous nation’s recognition at the aim of accomplishing popular primary schooling at the same time as the latter countries awareness their strength on increasing and improving secondary degree schooling. Failing to achieve this is deciding on failure inside the open marketplace.

Ultimately, in preference to seeing CAFTA as a first elegance price ticket to a higher financial stop – with no strings attached, international locations ought to renowned the important significance of first imposing MDG Two – target 3. This goal, which says “with the aid of 2015, kids everywhere, boys and ladies alike, might be able to finish a complete path of primary education” nine is a severely essential step closer to making certain the emergence of a group of workers which could respond to accelerated marketplace demand and evolving technologies. Without instantaneous investment in that destiny team of workers thru the schooling gadget, CAFTA will really flounder and drag MDG Two at the side of it.DR-CAFTA

Furthermore, as noted above, academic infrastructure needs to be positioned into an area now so one can assure higher-excellent schooling and be made handy and applicable to Central America’s maximum at-hazard residents. After all, based on Mexico’s enjoy, the likelihood of a fantastic outcome for each CAFTA and MPG Two is slim. Yet, the possibility of monetary achievement does exist if we agree to choose “Education For All truly.”

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