Progress in Latin America/Caribbean has been steady, putting the region on track to achieve the goal of universal primary completion goal by 2015. NE/AR grew by an average of 0.6 per cent a year between 1980 and 2001, and the region is now within touching distance of education for all.
While the region as a whole needs to continue improving its NE/AR by an average of only 0.4 per cent a year to meet the 2015 goal, some countries are much further away from universal primary education. Haiti, the poorest country in the region, will require a 3.3 per cent increase a year – it still had only 54 per cent of children in primary school in 2001, and recent civil upheavals and natural disasters have not helped its prospects. Guatemala, meanwhile, will require an increase of 1.07 per cent a year.
The region as a whole and the large majority of countries are on course to achieve gender parity at the primary level by the 2005 target, with a UNICEF-projected GPI for the region of 1.02. But these favourable indicators do not always translate into advances for women outside education.
In most countries in the region there are more girls than boys in school. The countries that will have to work hardest to ensure that boys’ participation in primary school matches that of girls are Caribbean nations such as the Bahamas (which has a GPI of 1.05), Haiti (GPI of 1.08) and Saint Kitts and Nevis (GPI of 1.12).
But in some countries, such as Grenada and Guatemala, the gender gap goes the other way, with more boys than girls in school.
Educational prospects in the region are particularly affected by the wide disparities within many societies. The disparities between rich and poor, and between urban and rural populations, are especially marked in Bolivia, Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Paraguay. The educational divide between groups of different racial, ethnic or linguistic origin is, furthermore, a notable problem in Bolivia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama (7).