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Bolivia

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The ten universities that are public and autonomous are grouped in the National Coordination Organization, the Executive Committee of the Bolivian University (CEUB). Both the Catholic University and the Military School of Engineering are also affiliated with the CEUB. Altogether, they educate about 70 percent of the total university enrollees. As the private universities grew after 1985, they also formed their own group in 1992, the National Association of Private Universities (ANUP). This group functions under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports.

Ever since the beginning of the reform, the main concerns in the foreground of the Ministry's work show the ambition of its programs. Efforts include the improvement of standards through the accreditation of teachers; the subsequent combating of illiteracy; the integration of indigenous people through the creation of bilingual programs of education; the social participation by parents, teachers, and students in decision-making; and the integration of women to the educational system.

Another achievement is a teaching accreditation program for former students who had not graduated from UMSS. Launched in 1997, it consisted of refresher courses, updating of practices, workshops, and interdisciplinary and professional seminars lasting six months. Nearly 1,185 students registered for the program, 218 of these in the School of Humanities and Sciences of Education. These back-to-school teachers were organized in sub-modules.

Developed in 1994 as a result of the Reform Project Andes (PROEIB), the bilingual and intercultural educational training for countries in the Andes, the program directed a refreshers' sub-module in bilingual intercultural education. The first aim was to improve the quality of teachers, especially in the rural areas. The second aim was to improve the learning standards of the lower levels through better teaching. The third and ultimate aim remained the integration of indigenous people in education.

This training program is remarkable in many ways. Experience and evaluation are shared among five countries so that the program develops a true sense of collaborative work through interdisciplinary projects, workshops, material, and teachers in the organization. The countries are Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. They share common challenges due to the need to integrate the languages of their indigenous populations into the educational systems. In some special PROEIB programs, more than five countries are involved. PROEIB and other educational projects in the five countries receive wide support from international organizations, including UNESCO, OREALC (Regional Education Office for Latin America and the Caribbean), and UNICEF. They work with the help of Germany, the United States, Denmark, Mexico, France, Belgium, Spain, Guatemala, Panama, Brazil, England, Holland, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Canada, among other nations.

PROEIB is a Bolivian-based organization located at the University Mayor of San Simón in Cochabamba. Its headquarters are in the School of Humanities & Sciences of Education. The network the association created integrates 19 universities and 20 indigenous organizations in the different countries involved, together with the Ministries of Education of the five participating countries. Each of the other four countries has chosen one of its universities to serveas the focal point, or the PROEIB link institution, for the rest of the country's participating institutions. These universities are strategically placed to deal with indigenous matters, either because of their location or because of the special programs they offer. They are the University of the Amazon in Florencia, Colombia; the Institute of Indigenous Studies in the University of La Frontera in Temuco, Chile; The Cotopaxi Academic program in the Salesian Polytechnic University of Latacunga in Ecuador; and the Investigation Center of Applied Linguistics in the University Mayor de San Marcos in Lima.

The five countries organize workshops and accreditation programs, and they created a new Master's in Bilingual Intercultural Education (EIB) to efficiently help jumpstart their programs. The first group started with 50 students belonging to 9 different indigenous tribes native to the 5 countries. Students go through a strict selection program to enter this highly competitive EIB program. Investigators try to answer the questions that arise in the course of EIB programs to enrich the present vision and transform the programs as needed; they develop specific projects and study problems. The promotion of investigation is stimulated by competitions. An international jury evaluates the projects and awards three research grants valued between US$4,000 and US$8,000 depending on the project itself. The winners present their results in various workshops, thus enriching the program, and PROEIB publishes each study.

There is now a Regional Documentation Center in Cochabamba with a library specialized in EIB. It holds more than 8,000 books focusing on indigenous problems from the point of view of culture, language, and education. PROEIB wants to multiply the number of Regional Documentation Centers; several published titles are already available.

The creation of the Network of Bilingual Intercultural Education of countries in the Andes to encourage education among rural indigenous peoples helps to execute the actions promoted by the program. Within the whole program, the Beni Technical University of the Mariscal José Ballivián is in charge of the teaching and learning of Amazonian indigenous languages. This particular program started in the Beni region in 1994 with 60 students. In 1997, it already had 250 students, and 87 teachers from the teacher training programs defended their theses. By 1998, about 120 new students entered the program. These new teachers will have a strong impact in years to come.

Regardless of whether university students want to be teachers, nurses, veterinarians, economists, or agronomists, all students are required from the fourth semester on to take native languages and cultures; the hope is that this requirement will better prepare graduating students to work in the Beni region. They will have the option to learn the Trinitario language but also any of the 17 other languages of the region. Grants are available for indigenous students. These efforts represent a complete reversal of former politics in favor of the conservation of the very same languages that historically had been regularly ignored throughout the Bolivian educational system.

One of the latest indigenous events backed by the Education Ministry was the historical gathering in November 2000 of at least 200 Guaranies Capitanes from the 23 Guarani settlements in the city of Monteagudo-Chuquisaca. The aim was to integrate the indigenous educational demands with the municipal management of the region. This meeting validated the Guaranies' organization and recognized the importance of their demands. It marked the beginning of the Guaranies' participation in the future of their children's education through their involvement in the management and through the sharing of responsibility in local educational programs (PREMU).

To answer some of the shortcomings of the public school programs, the Redes Educativas Urbanas en Marcha (Urban Educational Network on the Go) was created as a means to diffuse information to the PEN (Nucleus Educational Projects) to improve infrastructures and teaching. Each network covered 8 or 12 educational units and around 6,000 or 7,000 school children. As of September 2000, some 33 network workshops had taken place in La Paz. In 2001, these networks will be organized and put to work, including 370 public schools responding directly to the seat of the government.

International conferences and workshops in the different programs established in the five countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru) are organized regularly for feedback. Teachers share their experiences and exchange ideas with others. Bolivia has also participated in several important international conferences that helped create the climate to stimulate changes. Among these was the March 1990 World Conference on Education in Jomtiem, Thailand, a conference that helped foster the 1994 reform; conference participants pledged to combat illiteracy, to promote primary education, and to provide basic education for all. Another important conference was the Childhood World Summit in New York. Also, conferences like the Cairo, Egypt, 1994 Conference on Population and Development; the 1995 Conference on Social Development in Copenhagen, Denmark; and the Beijing, China, Conference on Women positively reinforced Bolivia's commitment to "Education for All."

In view of this worldwide concern for literacy, the 1993 Bolivian Law recognizing indigenous languages and the 1994 Education Reform Law didn't come a moment too soon. Other world conferences like the one in Amman, Jordan, in June 1996, certainly helped Bolivia keep track of progress and renew its commitment and accountability. The Dakar, Senegal, 2000 Education For All (EFA) Forum must have had the same consolidating effect.

After these reform laws were passed, the first major change was a shift of priority by the Bolivian government. The educational investment budget jumped from 9 million Bolivianos in 1994 to 143 million in 1999. As of 2000, about 71.5 percent of schools participated in the educational reform, and it is expected to be 100 percent by 2002. There are now 1,324 qualified pedagogical specialists helping teachers in their classes. By 1999, about 83 percent of primary teachers received pedagogical training, and the retention rate in schools increased 30 percent from 1997 to 1999. By the year 2000, precisely 13,069 out of 14,000 schools received sports equipment, and 13,695 schools received class libraries and teaching materials; however, the distribution of teaching materials remained a problem in many educational units.

Bolivia has approximately 758 pedagogical recourse centers open in the country, and they all received furniture, audiovisual equipment, libraries, and other materials. Altogether, in the year 2000, US$265,000 worth of teaching materials was distributed to Institutos Normales Superiores (training institutes); US$14,664,000 worth of material was distributed by the Education Reform, as well as a total of 2,879,963 kilos of sports and teaching materials. Thirteen thousand PTA-type organized school groups, called juntas escolares, already participate in a quality control program for children's education.

It is impossible to speak of education in Bolivia without going into the external help that Bolivia received, and still receives, from a variety of foreign states. This help, apart from debt relief help, always seems to come earmarked for education in one form or another. Even when it does not seem to be directly related to any schooling, it educates communities about health problems, the eradication of drugs, the substitution of crops, or environmental issues. The aid may fund a university research project, improve economics or agriculture, or teach development and management, but ultimately foreign help programs educate people, laying a foundation for a transition towards self-reliance.

Contributions from international donors have averaged US$500 million annually throughout the past decade; nevertheless, one must also credit Bolivia for taking an active role in its future. It was the first country of the hemisphere to create a Ministry of Sustainable Development, which collaborates economically with international aid programs. A leader in such help programs is USAID, which has helped bring issues to the front and has devised and promoted programs to remedy problems. This organization works in close collaboration with the Government of Bolivia (GOB). It has been very influential, not only in helping many of the poorest indigenous people through a variety of programs, and developing and expanding social marketing projects, but also in revamping the justice sector itself. Recently it has worked in association with other donors to avoid duplication or overlapping of programs and to become more efficient. In 1997 other donors included the Official Development Assistance (ODA), which contributed US$163 million; Japan, $65 million; the Netherlands, $59.8 million; Germany, $47.5 million; and Sweden $20.1 million. Since 1997, donations have almost doubled, probably due to the trust Bolivia gained with its positive results. By 1998, some 26 countries and international organizations at the Paris Consultative Group (PCG) committed about $940 million, representing a 45 percent increase in donations in only one year; of this, 44 percent was in the form of grants to support Bolivia's socio-economic reforms and investments program. The recognition of the success of these efforts is, in part, due to the development of indicators to measure progress. This constant feedback and self-evaluation process have helped the right recommendations go forward and have raised the confidence of other countries in the effectiveness of their investments.

In the Bolivian fiscal year 2000, USAID contributed $75.9 million to continue eradication of illicit coca, to strengthen the social base of democracy and governance, to help increase income and opportunities for the poor, to improve production technology and the health of many Bolivians, and to reduce the degradation of forest, water, and bio-diversity resources. All of these efforts showed dramatic results; goals have been met or will be met by 2003. For example, it is estimated that in the period 1996-2002, about 19 Bolivian municipalities will have been assisted. The USAID plan will be completed with the participation of at least 60 percent nongovernmental organizations (ONGs). In the period 1994-2002, coparticipation funds (the 20 percent share of national revenue distributed to municipalities on a per-capita basis) will have been raised from 0 to 65 percent.

The number of clients involved in loans from micro-finance institutions is expected to increase 200 percent between 1997 and 2002. In 1999 and 2000, two thousand rural families per year benefited from production, marketing services, and technical assistance, which represents a massive educational achievement in the limited areas that have been targeted. Production units receiving technology services are expected to rise from 1,430 in 1994 or 1995 to 9,200 in 2002. The number of production units receiving marketing services will rise from 230 to 5,290 during the same period, and the number of households with access to credit will also rise from 130,877 to 320,000. The number of communities that will have seen infrastructure constraints resolved will also rise from 130 to 870.

Also encouraging is the fact that in 2001 some 100,000 children per year receive free school meals programs, helping reduce considerably the dropout rates and the grade repetition rate, especially for girls. This program, directed at the poorest primary students in rural areas, complements World Bank programs. In 1999 both the World Bank (WB) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) initiated large health projects to improve infant and maternal health. The aim was to reduce infant mortality, which was 75 deaths per 1000 live births in 1994, to 52 in 2000 and 47 in 2002. Likewise, they aim to reduce maternal mortality, which was 390 per 1000 live births in 1994, to 220 in 2000 and 194 in 2002, by increasing the percentage of births attended by a trained provider and by reducing malnutrition.

Private universities are recognized by article 190 of the state Constitution and the Educational Reform Law number 1565 of July 7, 1994. A general director of university and postgraduate education, helped by a secretary office, manages them. The areas of knowledge taught in private universities all come under the following headings: humanities, healthcare, economy and finance, sciences and technology, arts and architecture, and social sciences. The educational research published in 1997 by Charles N. Myers and Miguel Urquiola analyzed the educational system as a market in which the state, the private sector, and some ONGs (especially the Catholic Church) compete to provide services. They based their analysis on works done by the National Statistics Institute (INE) in 1990 and 1992, work by the Technical Support Team of the Educational Reform (ETARE), and work by the Ministry of Education's Secretary for Human development. The strength of Urquiola and Myers' research resides in the fact that it links the levels of education completed with the improvement rates of agriculture, fertility, and child health, as well as with the industrial production and labor market.


Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceBolivia - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education