Tag Archives: education access

Museum Education in ‘La Llajta’

Posted by Arlean Dawes – MA Candidate at CLACS /Museum Studies Concentration at NYU

Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia is affectionately referred to as ‘La Llajta’ which in the Quechua language means community or town. The name Cochabamba itself also derives from Quechua. La llajta has become my second home over the past several years and this summer it is serving as my base for field research. As a CLACS student with a concentration in Museum Studies, my experience is rather unique in that I get the opportunity to work within a museum here in Cochabamba and apply certain themes from my thesis to the projects I am heading up at the museum INIAM.

When I initially arrived at INIAM (Anthropological Research Institute and Archaeological Museum), I immediately got started on creating educational materials with Sr. René Machado, the director of the interactive program at the museum. This program was designed by Sr. Machado several years ago with the intention of providing the opportunity for school students to not only have a regular visit touring the museum and seeing artifacts, but rather experience and interact with the collection through activities such as an archaeological excavation, analyzing the Pre-Columbian products found today among the various Bolivian regions and climates. Within my first week in the museum we had planned more or less what we wanted to include in the first 3 doblados and had finished a rough draft of the first two.

The materials and ‘doblados’ or educational foldables are based on six themes which are covered throughout the interactive program—fossilization, migration, stratigraphy and ecological conservation, large civilizations in Bolivian territory, Pre-Columbian agricultural products, and cave art. These foldable will be used to complement the interactive program school children participate in when they visit, however what about schools that are located too far from the city to send their children and don’t have easy access to the museum?

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Ever the Twain Shall Meet?: Poor Students and the Public/Private Divide in Colombian Higher Education

Understanding access to education for Colombia’s lower-income students – “estudiantes de escasos recursos” seems to be the most common, politically correct term while “los pobres” is the most frank – has required reconsidering certain assumptions based on the U.S. education system. There are plenty of similarities on the surface: racial minorities and poor students are at a greater risk of dropping out; affirmative action programs have noble intentions and difficult goals; everyone has a four-letter word to share about student loans. Stringing these issues together is a ubiquitous debate about the privatization of higher education, and what sort of education reform the country really needs.

Again, much like in the U.S., the “scarce resources” of the students in question refer to more than income. Key amongst these resources are solid primary and secondary education and “social capital” – which is, loosely speaking, knowing how to dress, talk, and behave in order to successfully navigate society. This can include things as simple as a parent showing a child how to shake hands before an interview, or knowing how to write and speak in proper Spanish – that is, the Spanish that employers and university professors want to hear. This is why, if I have to generalize, I use the term “disadvantaged” students. “Lower-income” implies that the problem is merely a lack of money, and can thus be solved with more money (spoiler alert: it can’t). Continue reading