Decolonizing education in Bolivia – a balance between the colonial and the indigenous

Start date: 29 May, 2013 End date: 3 July, 2013 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A22209 Countries: Bolivia Institutions: Roskilde University (RUC), Denmark Grant recipient: Stella Elisabeth Wengel Hansen and Karina Krichau Total grant: 30,000 DKK



In 2009 a new constitution in Bolivia declared the state to be a plurinational state. With this transformation of the state the cultural, social and linguistic diversity of the Bolivian peoples is acknowledged by especially acknowledging the indigenous peoples and their right to education, territory, autonomy and political participation. Thus the plurinational state is articulated through an awareness of the need to decolonize the country and clear it of colonial power structures that are still present in the Bolivian state today.


The goal of this thesis was to analyse how this decolonization is articulated in the Bolivian educational law from 2010 and which effects and challenges are seen in the implementation of this law in primary schools in the plurinational state, Bolivia.

To do this we have looked at the differences between the former and the present educational law to see which new actions are taken in the educational law from 2010 towards a decolonized educational system. Here we have seen a focus on inter- and intracultural, plurilingual, communitarian and productive education as well as the implementation of the indigenous philosophy Vivir Bien in education and the community as a whole. We have used these findings to form the background for a case study in Bolivia, where we have interviewed parents, teachers and stakeholders in the Bolivian educational system about the implementation of the new law. With these interviews we have analysed which effects and challenges the different actors see as a result of the implementation of the law.

Throughout our analysis we have found that decolonization is articulated through equality between and recognition of the different peoples in Bolivia and the coexistence of different cosmovisions and world views. We see a general positive attitude towards the implementation of the new educational law and many believe that the changes will give the children and Bolivia as a whole better opportunities in the future. Unfortunately we find a great many challenges to be in the way of implementing the changes, especially the lack of resources is emphasised.