The U.N. Millennium Development Goals, adopted by 189 nations in the year 2000, has set the ambitious target of providing universal primary education for children throughout the world by 2015. While many countries in Latin American are on track to achieve this goal, there remain major deficits in secondary education throughout the region. For example, in countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala the rate of education for youth aged 14 to 18 is a mere 35 percent. According to a 2006 World Bank on secondary education in Latin America, such gaps in human development threaten to compromise further economic development in the region, by excluding millions from a globalized economy that increasingly relies on knowledge creation and exchange.
To help improve access to secondary education in low- and middle-income countries, this project evaluates a novel, low-cost vocational training program called the Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT). This peer-led alternative to formal schooling, developed by a Colombian non-governmental organization in the early 1980s, is now being adopted by the government of Honduras, providing the opportunity for a rigorous evaluation of its impact on community development.
The SAT program aims to reach rural youth in the poorest and most isolated regions of Central America, providing them with science and technology skills needed to promote their own development. Indeed, the stated goal of the SAT program is to "help students develop capabilities that enable them to take charge of their own intellectual and spiritual growth and at the same time to contribute to the building of better communities and the transformation of society."
The impact evaluation in Honduras will provide critical information about the effectiveness of the SAT model. It will also inform future implementation of the program in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Importantly, the study addresses key questions about how to improve the quality of, and access to, secondary education in developing countries—particularly for women, who achieve lower rates of education throughout Latin America.