U.S. and Soviet Bloc Training of Latin American and Caribbean Students:

Considerations in Developing Future U.S. Programs

NSIAD-84-109: Published: Aug 16, 1984. Publicly Released: Aug 16, 1984.

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GAO undertook a study to determine: (1) past and present trends in the level of U.S. government and Soviet bloc scholarships and training in the Latin American and Caribbean region; and (2) kinds of training offered, types of individuals targeted, and methods of recruiting employed by the United States and Soviet bloc governments.

GAO found that, over the past two decades, Soviet bloc countries have increased recruiting and have outpaced the U.S. government in scholarship offers to students from developing Latin American countries. While Soviet bloc countries sponsor more students, favorable perceptions of the U.S. educational system, familiarity with the English language, and traditional ties to the United States lead far more students to privately finance their study in the United States. However, increased Soviet bloc recruiting in Caribbean countries has recently led the United States to focus on that area in providing additional scholarship opportunities, and Congress is considering legislative proposals concerning training programs in that area. The United States emphasizes graduate-level academic training and, therefore, seeks academically well qualified individuals. Participants in the programs are primarily from middle to upper social classes, are often influential, and are selected on the basis of their teaching or leadership potential. Soviet bloc countries emphasize technically oriented undergraduate programs and tend to select candidates with lower academic qualifications. In addition, Soviet bloc programs feature language training and preparatory courses to compensate for the shortcomings of these students. GAO found that Soviet bloc scholarships coupled with other Soviet bloc activities in the region could pose future security implications for some countries in the region and for the United States.

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