Bolivian Teachers’ Agency: Soldiers of Liberation or Guards of Coloniality and Continuation?


  • Mieke T. A. Lopes Cardozo University of Amsterdam



teachers, agency, Bolivia, decolonisation, reform, teacher education


This paper investigates the problems and promises of teachers’ agency associated with Bolivia’s current “decolonising” education reform. The Avelino Siñani Elizardo Pérez (ASEP) education reform is part of a counter-hegemonic and anti-neoliberal policy that aims to advance the political project of the government of Evo Morales, with teachers as its most strategic leading card. The article draws on theoretical insights from the Strategic Relational Approach (SRA) and applies this frame to analyse teachers’ agency for change in Bolivia’s contemporary socio-political context. This framework allows for a critical reflection of current discourses and educators’ efforts to decolonize the education system, in a context of political and societal tensions and inequalities. The article argues that the current political discourse and socio-political changes open up some spaces for teachers’ agency. However, the reality in rather conservative teacher education institutions and schools, together with teachers’ daily struggle for survival, provide serious constraints for teachers to become “committed or transformative intellectuals”. 


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Author Biography

Mieke T. A. Lopes Cardozo, University of Amsterdam

Mieke T. A. Lopes Cardozo is an assistant professor in International Development Studies and Education at the University of Amsterdam. She is the coordinator of the ‘IS-Academie’ co-funded research project of the University of Amsterdam and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She coordinates a Research Consortium on Education, Social Justice and Peacebuilding in collaboration with the University of Sussex and the University of Ulster, including a research partnership with UNICEF on Peacebuilding Education and Advocacy. Her research is focused on education policy and practice in relation to development and social justice, (inter)national education and peacebuilding policies, teacher education and teachers’ agency and roles in transforming or reproducing inequalities in society. She conducted research on teachers and social change in Bolivia (2007-2012). Other research areas include the role of (non)formal peace education in Sri Lanka, the role of female education leaders in the Islamic context of Aceh, Indonesia and the relation between education policy, teachers roles’ and young people’s agency in Myanmar. 




How to Cite

Lopes Cardozo, M. T. A. (2015). Bolivian Teachers’ Agency: Soldiers of Liberation or Guards of Coloniality and Continuation?. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23, 4.