UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An assessment of the Colombian government's commitment to the goal of universal primary education Blown, Vivienne Nerys


Universal primary education is the goal of many developing countries. It is a high priority in the educational planning of Colombia. The law in Colombia states that five years of 'educación primaría' is free and compulsory. Since 1955, Colombia has investigated the problems and legislated reforms to make this law an actual fact. In Latin America, reform laws and planning studies very often remain just that: the implementation of the reforms is delayed or forgotten in the maze of planning boards and government offices. This thesis examines the reforms passed by the Colombian government in the period 1955 to 1965, and assesses their implementation in public primary education. The problems that were encountered in the attempts to achieve the goal of universal primary education are studied, and the effects of the continued emphasis on the expansion of primary education are discussed in the conclusion. The information for the study was derived primarily from secondary sources, as the original Ministry of Education reports were not available. The Colombian government and United Nations statistics were used to make conclusions about the 1965 situation of primary education. The most recent comprehensive statistics were from the 1965 census. A general view of Colombia was gained from a short stay (one month) in 1970, and, a discussion with a Colombian, who visited Canada in 1972, helped to give some insight into the country's educational problems. Universal primary education was still an ideal in Colombia in 1965. Many of the reforms, because of governmental bureaucracy and the economic situation were only partially implemented. There was a percentage increase in enrollment statistics and the government demonstrated its commitment to the goal by increasing the educational budget. Generally, the targets set by the government were too optimistic; the ideals expressed in political statements were far from reality. The thesis concludes that there are two options for the educational planners of Colombia: the first, to continue to aim for the goal of universal primary education, devoting a large percentage of the budget to the primary sector, with little hope of achieving this goal in the immediate future, and the second, to distribute the money available throughout the education system to enable a greater segment of the population to obtain secondary education and thus increase the middle class, but, at the same time, accepting the fact that a proportion of the population would remain illiterate.

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