PRIVATIZATION AND VOUCHERS IN COLOMBIA AND CHILE

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Abstract

The voucher model of financing schooling is becoming increasingly common throughout Latin America, with at least 12 countries using vouchers or voucher-like schemes. The present study focuses on the voucher models of Colombia and Chile, which have the most extensive programs of this type and those of the longest standing in the region. Using empirical evidence, the author compares the two models along four evaluative dimensions: educational quality, segregation, choice and socialization. After weighing the successes and weaknesses of each system, he concludes that, among other characteristics, the most effective and equitable voucher model features: (a) a flexible interpretation of educational quality; (b) financial grants which target solely the poor; (c) vouchers which cover the entire cost of tuition; (d) open enrolment at participating schools; (e) the participation of both secular and religious private schools; (f) accessible and meaningful information to parents; and (g) strong systems of accountability.

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