The Ford Foundation has given the Harvard Center for Studies in Education and Development, a branch of the Ed School, a $500,000 grant to finance a two-year study of nearly every aspect of education in Latin America.
The Center's researchers plan to use the grant, announced yesterday, to find ways to better educate isolated rural populations and the migrants who are flooding into the burgeoning industrial centers. They will also work to improve vocational and technical training and the teaching of mathematics and science in secondary schools and universities.
Latin American universities will be studied with an eye toward making them more effective in meeting the manpower needs of developing countries. Most of the universities are completely dependent on national governments for funds, but rarely cooperate with them in economic planning.
"In Latin America, human resource development is presently harrassed and may soon be overwhelmed," Russell G. Davis, associate director of the Center and head of the two-year study, said recently. "There are too many people to educate in the first place, and there are many more on the way if present generations are left uneducated. Resources, both human and fiscal, are too scanty to provide education to even present generations."
In 1900 there were some 200 million persons in Latin America, about 45 million more than ten years earlier and 61 million less, it is estimated, then will live there at the end of the decade. Now, half the people live on farms and half in cities; but by 1970, urban centers will bulge with some 60 per cent of the population.
The averagte rates of unemployment, birth and illiteracy are all higher than in any other part of the world.
Fifty-five per cent of the population is between 1 and 19-years old--and the average child figures to spend 1.9 years in school before having to look for a job. In the United States, a child gets, on the average, 9 years of schooling.
"The school must be concerned with populations control," Davis said. 'We are not proposing that the school be in- volved in the medical or mechanical aspects of this problem but it must play a key role in disseminating information and promoting thought and discussion."
The Catholic Church, widely regarded as the single most powerful political force in the region, has steadfastly opposed such innovations.
The Harvard program, Davis said, will focus on the education of the rural and urban poor. Most Latin American school systems, he explained, are managed from remote ministeries in the capital cities. They do not provide adequat education or training to the rural populations, who are now accessible and demand these services.
At the same time, he said, migrants from the countryside to cities are denied health services, education, and housing because they haven't the learning to earn the income and produce the reveneu to support these facilities.
Adolph Wilburn, a research associate at the Center, commented yesterday that "in many ways the poor in Latin America are like the kids in center-city American slums." Though the Center's project, he said, will be mainly concerned with administrative reform, there may be some attempt to apply the results of recent psychological studies on the education of culturally deprived children.
To find solutions to these problems, the Center will send research teams to widely scattered cites to gather information.
Two men from the Center have been working under the auspices of the MIT-Harvard Joint Center for Urban Studies with the schools in the zone around Santo Tome de Guayana, Venezuela; and it is likely that at least one of the new projects will be conducted in that area. It is rumored that Davis, now in Venezuela, will negotiate some agreement concerning the study with the country's government before returning here.
Richard G. King, research associate at the Center and director of the Office of Graduate and Career Plans, is now in Argentina, and it is probable that he, too, is arranging for a study project.
Other research teams could be sent to Central America or the Caribbean counties.
The Center has already done preliminary work in streamlining the administrations of Central American universities, where poor libraries and laboratories make it impossible to attract a single scientist with a doctorate. One way of up-grading the faculty, Davis suggested, is to bring visiting professors to train the local teachers. Such methods might also be used on the secondary school level, another researcher suggested.
The Center, which was established in the summer of 1962 with a $250,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation, will become a repository for significant documents in education and development in Latin America