- De onechte wereld van het schoolboek
- Book title
- Heilige huisjes: anders kijken naar internationale samenwerking
- Number of pages
- Den Haag: IS Academie & Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Education is a popular yet highly controversial theme in the development debate. Bolivia’s present move towards ‘decolonising’ education is in line with a wider Latin American trend
towards an alternative development model, which rejects a one-size-fits-all international ‘recipe for success’ in educational reform. Education can contribute to social and cultural emancipation only if it is relevant to its setting. The creation of a relevant curriculum that incorporates diversity yet also stimulates a sense of unity requires a complex cooperation process involving representatives from different groups in society, educational experts and policymakers.
Under the indigenous President Evo Morales, Bolivia is following its own path. Although the 1994 educational reforms already focused (in policy terms) on intercultural and bilingual education, there is now strong demand for change. The teachers’ unions, indigenous groups and the present government want to create an education system that values and protects indigenous know-ledge, cultures and languages. They argue that the 1994 reforms were imposed by international players, and that education still lacks relevance. Not everyone in Bolivian society agrees, however. Non-indigenous Bolivians fear
the emergence of new forms of exclusion through education.
Donors must be aware of such mechanisms of exclusion and racism operating through education. Inconsiderate policy plans can have unintentional negative outcomes. Do donors feel it is appropriate to support absolutely any kind of education system? With the new education laws currently in preparation, Bolivia seems to be heading for an anti-neoliberal and anti-Western course, in line with similar initiatives in Venezuela and Cuba. If
a sudden cessation of aid and negative outcomes in education are to be avoided, in-depth analysis and constructive dialogue between local, national and international stakeholders will be crucial. A critical analysis of the sociopolitical and educational reality in each context is indispensable for any donor planning to fund education. Local (and foreign) practitioners, academics and policymakers should cooperate in their efforts to guarantee
context-sensitive and relevant education for all groups in society. Only then will well-intentioned development aid be able to avoid unintended negative outcomes.
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