Technical Education in Colombia Between Expansion and Legitimacy: A Neo-Institutional Perspective

  • Pedro Pineda
  • Jorge Celis
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Technical education is a fascinating field to study the processes of expansion and convergence that sociologists of education (Benavot, Sociol Educ 56(2):63, 1983; Meyer et al. Sociol Educ 50:242–258, 1977; Schofer and Meyer, Am Sociol Rev 898–920, 2005) have analyzed in other educational areas. However, few studies in Latin America and in Colombia have identified these growth dynamics and the factors that may explain the organization of this sector. In this chapter, national databases on enrollment and funding are used to examine growth patterns in Technical Education from 2000 to 2013. The analysis of these indicators highlight: (a) the puzzling recent expansion of a sector that has multiplied by more than four times its number of students since year 2000; (b) the decline of proportional funds from the government; and (c) new isomorphic trends at the governmental and organizational level such as government’s decision to move technical education as part of the system of “higher education,” and as a result, since 2002, explore newly created research groups, accreditation processes, and self-funding bodies in technical institutions. These findings support the thesis that Technical Education is marked by both a process of massification and a lack of legitimacy due to the preference of policy makers to focalize national efforts in higher education and, more specifically, universities. Other strategies such as maintaining smaller sizes of the technical sector and differentiating it from higher education have been automatically disregarded by the national governments in the last 15 years. The Colombian case allows outlining how a neo-institutional framework may be pivotal in explaining the modern organization of Technical Education.


Technical education Community college Massification Educational inequality 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Education and Faculty of Psychology (Adjunct)Pontificia Universidad JaverianaBogotaColombia
  2. 2.Upper-Secondary and Higher Education Research Group, Department of SociologyUniversidad Nacional de ColombiaBogotaColombia

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