Bolivia completes literacy campaign

On Dec. 20 the government of Bolivian president Evo Morales announced that a three-year literacy campaign had concluded successfully, making Bolivia the third Latin American country to end illiteracy, after Cuba (1961) and Venezuela (2005). The government said the campaign had succeeded with 819,417 (99.5%) of the 824,101 people who had been identified as illiterate. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) considers that a country has eliminated illiteracy as a social phenomenon when the illiteracy rate falls below 3.9%. However, the correspondent from the left-leaning Mexican daily La Jornada reported that some of the program’s graduates “scarcely learned to sign their names and recognize some letters.”

The campaign employed Cuba’s “Yes I Can” audiovisual method, which is used in 38 countries, including Mexico and Haiti, with variations for local languages and conditions. Cuba supplied 30,000 televisions for the campaign, and 130 Cuban advisers and 47 Venezuelan advisers trained the 46,457 Bolivian facilitators and 4,810 supervisors. Bolivian education minister Rafael Aguilar said the cost to Bolivia was 260 million bolivianos ($36.7 million). According to Cuba’s ambassador to Bolivia, Rafael Dausa, 85% of the people who benefited from the campaign were women. But the organizers were disappointed that most Bolivians chose to learn to read in Spanish rather than in the two main indigenous languages; only 13,599 completed the course in Quechua and 24,629 in Aymara. (LJ, Dec. 20 from correspondent; Adital, Dec. 22 from Prensa Presidencial de Bolivia)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Dec. 21

See our last post on Bolivia.