A large part of disparities in Latin America derive from inequalities of opportunities in access and continuation to education. Public support to education is crucial to reduce personal and territorial inequalities,because talent is not linked to the socio-economic status and/or to the residence of families, while access to education is. Decentralization is credited to be a crucial component of an improving education national strategy. At the same time, decentralization of education, when not properly structured, can simply shift the same old problems to levels of government less capable of solving them. Similarly, decentralization of education finance can end up reinforcing preexisting inequities. Indications from actual experiences are extremely important and empirical analysis of reform strategies becomes crucial. At the same time, this assessment, particularly in the case of international comparisons, is constrained by analytical problems and information constraints about the effective outcomes of education.
The paper provides a methodological approach to the comparative analysis of decentralized systems with a view also to extracting valid suggestions for reform.