Sinéctica 51

 Call for papers Sinéctica 51*

 (July-December 2018)


Theme: Upper Secondary Education in Ibero-America: Contributions to policy and practice in the region

Submissions deadline: February 28, 2018

Coordinator: Marta Azaola (University of Southampton, Reino Unido)

Upper Secondary Education (USE), also known as Bachillerato, is not compulsory in most countries of Ibero-America. In recent decades, the impact of international organizations of neoliberal nature has been very influential, at the global level, in terms of setting the objectives of the population on age to access and complete USE. For example, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the aim of USE is to prepare students to continue into higher education or enter the competitive labour markets. According to the OECD, it is at this level that the basic skills and knowledge of students are consolidated. In most of the member countries, USE is the most commonly attained level of education, which allows higher levels of employability and better economic remuneration (OECD, 2012). However, the statistical and comparative analyses that this organization produces tend to ignore the historical and cultural characteristics of each educational system and, yet, the OECD manages to modify and establish educational policies at local, national and global levels (Sellar and Lingard, 2013).

The benefits gained through the completion of higher levels of education can go beyond simply acquiring knowledge and skills useful to the labour market. Individual gains achieved through USE such as higher levels of health, well-being and citizenship, as well as the possibility of life-long learning, can also be translated into higher levels of social equity (Raudenbush and Eschmann, 2015). However, educational research on current USE problems in Ibero-America has been scarce. Some statistical analyses have demonstrated persistent levels of dropout, low enrolment, retention and graduation rates in Ibero-America (Busso et al., 2013, Cárdenas et al., 2015, Kattan and Székely, 2017). However, these studies, although useful, cannot account for the complexities within schools and the teaching-learning process, which are conditioned by historical, social and cultural characteristics.

According to the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) for Education, Science and Culture (2014), USE gross graduation rate in 2012/13 was 57%, although with significant differences across countries. In the academic programs of USE, the gross graduation rate reached 36% in 2012/13. As for its professional programs, the gross graduation rate reached 25% in the same period but, as with the previous indicators, there are significant differences across countries. These figures indicate that, irrespective of the net rate, that is, the ratio of students of official school age who should attend USE (generally between 15 and 17 years of age) as opposed to gross graduation rate (the ratio of total graduation regardless of age), Ibero-America generally has a low participation in USE both in its academic programs that seek to prepare students for higher education as well as in its professional programs that can either place them into the labour market or prepare them for further levels of education. 

In Mexico, for example, USE results were recently published by the National Institute for Education Evaluation (INEE, 2017). These results show that in language and communication, as well as in mathematics, the majority of the students at USE present serious deficiencies in their learning. The results show that for every 100 students entering primary school only 56 are able to complete USE. The results also show that the lower the economic capital of the families and the lower the educational level of the mothers, as well as when both parents speak some indigenous language, the results of the students are more deficient. Likewise, important lags were found in the afternoon shift schools. In 2010, the OEI set out the Education Goals 2021, one of which is the completion of 12 years of education amongst young people in Ibero-America in order to help them to achieve a better future. How far is Ibero-America from fulfilling this goal and what are the obstacles to achieving it?

Sinéctica, Revista Electrónica de Educación, calls for academic unpublished articles from a multidisciplinary perspective focusing on the analysis of the complexities within schools and the teaching-learning process, as well as adolescents who drop out from USE. The aim is to provide recommendations to better educational practices and policies in the region. Some thematic lines of special interest for this issue are:

  • Evolution and direction of educational policies 
  • Causes of school failure and dropout with respect to the teacher-student relationship
  • Problems of teacher training and continuous professional development 
  • Effective experiences of inclusion for those who have dropped out from USE
  • Factors contributing to a positive transition towards USE and from USE into higher education or the work environment
  • Success stories that can be shared across the region regarding the school climate amongst schools inserted in socially disadvantaged contexts
  • Common problems associated to the professional and vocational technical education in USE



Busso, M., Bassi, M., & Muñoz, J. (2013). Is the Glass Half Empty or Half Full? School Enrollment, Graduation, and Dropout Rates in Latin America. IDB Working Paper No. IDB-WP-462.

Cárdenas, M., De Hoyos, R., & Székely, M. (2015). Out-of-School and Out-of-Work Youth in Latin America: A Persistent Problem in a Decade of Prosperity. Economía, 16(1), 1-40.

INEE (2017). Resultados Nacionales de PLANEA. Educación Media Superior. INEE.

Kattan, R. B., & Székely, M. (2017). Analyzing Upper Secondary Education Dropout in Latin America through a Cohort Approach. Journal of Education and Learning, 6(4), 12-39.

OECD (2012). Equity and Quality in Education: Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools. OECD Publishing.

OEI (2014). Miradas sobre la educación en Iberoamericana 2014. Avances en las Metas Educativas 2021. OEI.

Raudenbush, S. W., & Eschmann, R. D. (2015). Does Schooling Increase or Reduce Social Inequality? Annual Review of Sociology, 41(1), 443-470. 

Sellar, S. & Lingard, B. (2013). The OECD and global governance in education. Journal of Education Policy, 28(5), 710-725.


Note: We remind you that Sinéctica is open at all times to receive manuscripts, research reports, essays and reviews on various topics of the educational field not related to the theme of this issue.

Papers must be submitted online.