The Country Strategy Papers (2007-2013) of Argentina, Guatemala and Uruguay highlight the existence of common and cross-cutting objectives such as eradication of poverty, sustainable economic and social development, integration into the global economy, promotion of democracy and respect of human rights, protection of the environment.
Education has a significant positive impact on poverty reduction, social and political participation, equal opportunities and economic growth rates, by providing the core skills that people need in order to access labour markets. In addition, education is essential to improve economic competitiveness.
Argentina is the second biggest country of Latin America and the third biggest in terms of population, with 37 million inhabitants. In 2001 the country suffered a dramatic political and economic crisis which brought an unprecedented deterioration in economic and social conditions, plunging over half the country’s population into poverty. Argentina defaulted on its debt, the education and health systems collapsed, and unemployment levels soared. A fundamental challenge remains the alleviation of poverty and the strengthening of social cohesion, as well as the reduction of the current imbalances in regional development.
Guatemala, the largest country in Central America, is a lower-middle income developing country with a population of 12.6 million. It has one of the highest poverty rates in Latin America: 56% of the population live in poverty, 22% out of which are living in extreme poverty (mainly indigenous). Poor population lives in rural areas with no main services such as electricity. The young people are dramatically affected by the social situation. The women suffer considerably from discrimination. In terms of access to social services, employment and salaries, women continue to labour under severe disadvantages as compared to men.
Uruguay is a middle-income country whose 3.5 million inhabitants have a high average level of education if compared to other Latin American countries, a strong sense of civic responsibility and a strong commitment to democracy. In order to reduce the number of poor people (about 6% of the population), the government has implemented a national plan (PANES) including education in critical areas and temporary employment. Uruguay is investing in science and technology, in innovation and in socio-economic development in order to create productive growth. Technical education is particularly problematic in the country, as there is a general perception that it is intended for less gifted students.