From Christopher Columbus to Evo Morales : indigenous exclusion and inclusion in urban education in El Alto, Bolivia


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Høgskolen i Oslo. Avdeling for lærerutdanning og internasjonale studier

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Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning


This thesis looks into the educational system in Bolivia, with a main focus on the implementation of intercultural and bilingual education (EIB) in the urban areas. According to the current educational reform from 1994, Reforma Educativa, the education in the country is supposed to be intercultural and bilingual; however, little progress has been done to achieve this in the urban schools. The reasons for this are many, and there seemed to be a combination between a vague reform, a misconception of intercultural and bilingual education being meant for rural schools only, lack of competence and commitment from the teachers and resistance from the parents. Consequently, in the migrant city of El Alto, Aymara children do not receive the education they are entitled to. Moreover, they are deprived of their indigenous language, culture and traditions, both in the school and, for many, in the homes. The result is an already observable language and cultural shift among the migrant population. Another consequence is that the castellanización or forced assimilation process towards the indigenous groups continues through alienation and exclusion of their language, culture, history and knowledge. In addition, the learners seem to be victims of an oppressive, monolingual and monocultural education where they learn to listen and repeat the teachers‘ ―Truth‖, rather than discuss and think critically. However, the table seems to be turning. Bolivia, under the new president Evo Morales, is trying to challenge the Western hegemony in the country, through a counter-hegemonic educational reform that reinforces the aims to decolonize the Bolivians and re-dignify the language, culture and knowledge of the country‘s indigenous population. Moreover, Morales appears to be a long anticipated role model for young, urban Aymaras who grow up in alienating, Westernized surroundings with adults who distance themselves from their indigenous background. The Evo effect is both causing conflicts and tension, but also hope and pride among the young Aymara generation that now challenges 500 years of oppression and silence by speaking up and preparing for an education for liberation rather than oppression.


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