Education as a tool for development. The influence of bilingual education on the livelihoods of indigenous people in Baja Verapaz, Guatemala.
Ginkel, J. van
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Inequality, poverty and a variety of indigenous groups have characterized Guatemala through history and are still prominently visible in present-day Guatemala. Guatemala is struggling with a high rate of social and economic inequality, a low education level and a large rural population. Its corrupt government, increased drugs violence and susceptibility to seasonal patterns, shocks and trends illustrate the fragility of the country in which its people are vulnerable to changes in their livelihood patterns. As a result of the signing of a peace agreement in 1996, the 36-year lasting civil war came to an end. Indigenous groups were no longer suppressed; equality and indigenous cultures were promoted throughout the country. This resulted in the establishment of educational reforms and the inclusion of bilingual intercultural education in the new educational curriculum. The aim of this type of education is that children receive education in their mother tongue in the first years of primary school and in the dominant language in higher grades, while learning about their own culture and getting familiar with multiculturalism at the same time. In order for this method to be effective, it must be implemented carefully and with full support of all stakeholders involved. In this research, special attention has been paid to issues relating to social well-being, vulnerability and social equity. By means of the sustainable livelihoods approach the concept of bilingual intercultural education was linked to the daily lives of indigenous people. Therefore, this research provided new insights into the livelihoods of the Achí (an indigenous group in Baja Verapaz) and an extensive analysis of the implementation and effectiveness of bilingual intercultural education.