Sunday, July 23, 2006

Bolivia: Educational Mess - Controversial Bilingual Proposals

In Bolivia right the government is in the middle of plans to revamp education. The biggest row right now is with the Catholic Church, over religious instruction. Part of that is because the proposed changes affects religion classes in the basic curriculum.

But underneath this whole back and forth is a more radical proposal, that has slipped un-noticed. The Bolivian Minister of Education interviewed in El Deber stated that to in order to end colonialistic practices, they want to spread bilingual teaching (in native languages and Spanish) beyond the urban and rural areas, with native majorities, to all of Bolivia. For that matter, they want to require teachers to be proficient in Spanish and one native language, which will be taught in schools, depending on the area. That means that in La Paz it would be Aymara, in Santa Cruz Guarani.

-¿Por qué se elimina la Reforma Educativa?
- Era un sistema que mantenía la colonialidad en la educación. Dividía la población en indígenas y no indígenas. En las Normales se preparaban para la educación bilingüe y monolingüe. Esa división de la población es mantener la colonialidad. La educación era sólo bilingüe en áreas rurales y en áreas de población indígena, y donde no se hablaba ningún idioma nativo, seguían con el castellano. Ahora en áreas rurales y urbanas se van a convertir en idiomas de enseñanza: uno nativo, según la región, y el español. Profesores y empleados públicos deben hablar dos idiomas. Estamos elaborando un decreto que va a obligar a los funcionarios públicos en los ministerios a saber al menos una de las 32 lenguas indígenas del país. En Santa Cruz sería el guaraní, el chiquitano u otro. El ministerio, en coordinación con las universidades e institutos, implementará un sistema de enseñanza de idiomas nativos. Se aplicará en un par de años.



While teaching a native language to the general population is a laudable goal in areas with are de-facto billingual, they should keep in mind that India another multi-lingual society puts a lot of emphasis on teaching English so its citizens can be comptetitive on a global scale.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Being bilingual is a good thing, proficiency in another language keeps your mind flexible. Anecdotal evidence also points to the ease of learning new languages if one is bilingual. Holding on to your native tongue is good, to have another language is better. The Indian example is a great one. They are truely screwed if there's not another language to bridge the language divide. English, for them, cuts across the language and caste system that would preclude their entry in the world economy. Spanish can, and will do the same for Bolivia, still though, proficiency in English is needed, specifically American English, which is (debatably) becoming the de facto language of the web.

Icepick the Mad!

Boli-Nica said...

Being bilingual is a good thing, proficiency in another language keeps your mind flexible. Anecdotal evidence also points to the ease of learning new languages if one is bilingual. Holding on to your native tongue is good, to have another language is better.

I agree 100%, Aymara is a complex language with differet spatial and time notions - fluency in it and Spanish, certainly would aid learning other languages.
Problem is using limited resources efficiently

Diego said...

I'm agree with you, I know that our native languages, specially aymara are very rich and historically important, but we can't still believe that we live in a bubble without a world around, at least a Bolivian has to understand portuguese and of course if we want to be competitive English, but I think that this measure is created in order to provocate and not to improve education in Bolivia.

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