" Régénérer la race ". Politique éducative en Bolivie (1898-1920)

Abstract : The years 1898-1920 in Bolivia marked a revival in the State's preoccupation for public instruction. An ultra-pessimistic analysis of the country's situation incited the new liberal elite in power to reconstruct the educational system as the most reliable instrument of social transformations it could imagine to allow the country to integrate the concert of "civilized nations". A "national regeneration" was undertaken as an integral part of educative policies aspiring to create modernity and national unity by extending the presence and influence of a scholastic institution under State control. "Civilizing" the people through schooling seemed in fact, in the early XXth century to be an indispensable prerequisite for moving towards the norms and forms of thought considered to be the unique road to progress. The liberal elites were impregnated with evolutionist, Darwinist and positivist currents, which they attempted to implement, from their own perspective, to Bolivian society. The "regeneration" project therefore inevitably became a "de-indianization" one of society. To achieve this aim, the liberal elite thus engaged at once an enterprise of restructuring the educative system, extending its over and redefining its content. Tensions grew with the Catholic Church which controlled a large proportion of the country's establishments, but at the same time the country welcomed religious congregations susceptible of supporting the liberal educational project. Creating public schools, nationalizing curricula and pedagogical methods, initial state initiatives in rural areas, constitution of a professionalized corps of educators, system of inspection control are among the many measures implemented during these years. The initial goal seemed to be to provide the greatest amount of scholastic baggage, of national and general culture. But this homogenization project of the first decade gave way, after 1910, to what we have designated as an educative policy of differentiation. The educative system which developed and consolidated consequently was clearly compartmentalized, according to the public being educated, be they privileged urban sectors, mulatto and working families in the cities, women, or rural populations. Likewise, teacher training was distinguished between urban and rural educators. While the whitening of the population undoubtedly remained an ideal, it was in no way conceived as a means for achieving equality. National regeneration was transformed into specific ethnic regeneration. The educational system would endeavor to eliminate certain distances... while maintaining others. The study elaborates this back-and-forth process characterizing liberal educational policies, between the search for rapprochement in some cases while reasserting distances from The Other...he/she considered to be ill, degenerate, in any case different... yet nevertheless ever so necessary.
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Contributor : Françoise Martinez <>
Submitted on : Thursday, February 2, 2012 - 11:42:13 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 10:04:23 AM

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Françoise Martinez. " Régénérer la race ". Politique éducative en Bolivie (1898-1920). IHEAL-La Documentation Française, pp.455, 2010, Travaux et Mémoires. ⟨halshs-00665577⟩

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