Education is clearly an appropriate context for discussing the potential of capability-promoting policies. Certainly, in keeping with their explicit commitment to abstraction, Nussbaum (2000) and Sen (1999) do not necessarily make reference either to education or other policy fields. However, the United Nations Development Programme has included education in its Human Development Index since the early 1990s. Moreover, for the past decade, a growing literature has been discussing the underlying implications of the Education for All (EFA) goals for human capabilities. This chapter draws on the human capabilities approach in order to appraise to what extent an array of public policies may either contribute to (or dampen) the ‘values of education’.
In 2015, the debate on education and development posited a good occasion for this discussion. Remarkably, the Millennium Development Goals and the EFA goals for 2000-15 were blamed for isolating education from other public policies (HLP, 2013; UNDP, 2013; EFA GMR, 2015). However, nowadays the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) not only foresee new educational targets but also entail an ‘integrated approach’ to the connections between these targets and the complementary goals regarding poverty, public health, the environment, inequality, cities, industrial policy and other areas (United Nations General Assembly, 2015, p 6; see § 17).
In this vein, the chapter discusses whether in recent decades a variety of public policies have affected the instrumental values of education in Latin American countries, with a particular focus on Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The first section outlines some theoretical arguments underpinning the relevance of the theme, the point being that the concept of instrumental values is very useful for identifying the crucial challenges. The next section comprises a general description of educational development in these countries, and the following section discusses the connections between education and social, employment, urban and language policies. The final section revisits these very general introductory comments to suggest more concrete indications of the current challenges to the global governance of education.
Public policies and the instrumental values of education
According to the human capabilities approach, freedoms are both constitutive of human development and instrumental to this aim. Freedoms are constitutive of development to the extent that they widen people's capabilities and functionings.