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Education as Uncontested Terrain: Nicaragua, 1979-1993


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Education as Uncontested Terrain: Nicaragua, 1979-1993

  1. 1. Education as Contested Terrain Nicaragua, 1979-1993 Robert F. Arnove 1994 Presented by Alex Fraser
  2. 4. Arnove wrote this book because he wanted to "document as comprehensively and objectively as possible the transformations in Nicaraguan society and education over a fourteen year period." The author fully discloses his opposition to U.S. foreign policy in Central America and Nicaragua in particular during the 1980s.  
  3. 5. Major themes :  The revolution in Nicaragua occurred in 1979.  The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) was victorious.  The FSLN desired a complete socio-economic transformation of the country.  According to the MED, popular education was to be "essentially and necessarily linked to the strategic political project of the FSLN." 
  4. 6. Educational goals:  1)  Convert the formerly dispossessed and socially excluded into protagonists of their own education. 2)  Eliminate illiteracy and introduce adult education as priorities of the revolution. 3) Link educational process to scientific and technical fields. 4)  Realign educational system along new economic and social model.
  5. 7. How did it begin? Between March 23 and August 23, 1980, about 60,000 brigadistas, mostly high school students, mobilized to the countryside to work with, learn from, and teach the largely illiterate peasantry.    3.7 million texts were produced. National science fairs with rewards were organized to encourage students to solve real world problems. Young people were expected to be involved in military defense, manufacturing and production, and education.    
  6. 8. Milestones: Illiteracy rate reduced from 50 to 25% over 10 years of age. Drawbacks: Many volunteer instructors had minimal education themselves, . The major threat to the literacy campaign stemmed, of  course, from the counter revolution. Most government spending now was re-directed towards national defense and away from health and education. - Inflation hit 200% in 1985, 1000% in 1987. - Teacher's salaries shrunk drastically and became insufficient to live on
  7. 9. Impact of War . There was massive destruction and displacement in the countryside . Schools and clinics, the symbols of the revolution, were routinely attacked.  Teachers were killed. Many schools had to shut down for safety reasons. Thus, many children were left without schooling.
  8. 10. Other Conflicts The Catholic church viewed with alarm what it saw as an implacable march of the country down the path to a godless Marxist-Leninist dictatorship.  Students rose up in protest at a number of the catholic schools but they were no match for the Sandinistas who were far more numerous and well organized.
  9. 11. Education For the Sandinistas, all educational systems indoctrinate.  Education, by its y nature and etymology - educare (to lead ) - is a political act.  The Sandinistas were simply indoctrinating according to a new liberationist ideology.  They were replacing the ideology of the old Somoza regime.  - In addition to native volunteers and paid employees, outsiders were brought in to teach in the schools, especially Cubans and Soviet nationals, but also Americans and Europeans sympathetic to the regime. 
  10. 12. Results of National Literacy Campaign (CNA) -FSLN claimed a 13% illiteracy rate at the close of the CNA in August, 1980. -Arnove's calculation came to about 23%. - By 1988, the illiteracy rate was back up to about 35%, by 1993, over 40% in Managua, 50% in the rural areas (MED). - At the beginning of the CNA, the illiteracy rate was estimated at 50%, aged 10 and older