De un Día al otro : expressions and effects of changing ideology in national curriculum and pedagogy in Nicaraguan secondary schools
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Nicaragua has undergone several major upheavals in the last three decades that have fundamentally shaped and reshaped society. The Sandinista government (1979-1990) ended with the election of Violeta Chamorro in 1990 that ushered in 16 years of neoliberal government. In 2006 former president and leader of the current Sandinista Party, Daniel Ortega, was reelected to the presidency. At every step, education has been an essential component of the struggle to shape the state according to certain ideological precepts. Each administration has produced its own educational reforms that are ostensibly in the name of improving quality, but more precisely about developing schools consistent with the philosophy of the ruling classes. In this study, I seek to examine the Nicaraguan educational system as a site of multiple global and local processes that interact to produce lived experiences for teachers and students in and out of the classroom. In examining the most recent iteration of educational reforms and their effects in the communities of San Marcos, Estelí and Bluefields, I ask the questions: What role or function does education play in society? How does it “work” to (in most cases) normalize certain values, ideas and beliefs? And what forms do resistance and acquiescence to these processes take in an educational system like that of Nicaragua that has numerous internal and external forces attempting to condition it in contrasting ways? Major themes that emerge from the research include the prominence of social, historical and geographical factors that people use to fashion their language and perceptions of the world and the dominant influence of local power relations in conditioning people’s behaviors and actions. Analysis of responses to the current educational reform efforts demonstrates that local social connections and networks are paramount to studies of ideology and hegemony. The overriding message from Nicaragua is that chronic underfunding and constant reform have weakened the ability of the educational system to disseminate ideas, beliefs and values, particularly when they run counter to those of other powerful institutions in society.