University of Oulu

Neoliberalism in Colombian education : a critical discourse analysis of the “Decennial National Plan of Education 2016–2026: the road to quality and equity”

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Author: Ariza Traslaviña, Adrian1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 54
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : A. Ariza Traslaviña, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-08-20
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Lehtomäki, Elina
Reviewer: Lanas, Maija-Liisa
Lehtomäki, Elina


The communism vs neoliberalism battle is not new to Latin America, and after a long process, it has resulted in turning anything related to socialism/communism into a sort of taboo in Colombia. It is in this context that neoliberal ideas have had freeway in Colombian policies and reforms, reaching the point where, all of what those ideas represent, is taken for granted, mostly criticized in terms of their positive or negative results, but only in few cases, deeply analyzed and questioned for their ideological nature. For this reason, in this thesis I made a critical analysis of the neoliberal discourse present in the policy document “Decennial National Plan of Education 2016–2026: the road to quality and equity”, which is the “roadmap” for Colombian education for the decade 2016–2026. To do so, the second chapter presented a theoretical framework of the meaning of discourse and ideology, and their relation to social constructivism and institutions, mostly based on the theories developed by Michel Foucault, Norman Fairclough and Teun Van Dijk. The third chapter introduced neoliberalism as an ideology, to later show its history in Colombia and its education. Several national and international policies and documents that have been influential in the introduction of neoliberalism to the system, were presented from my perspective and the perspective of different Colombian authors. The following chapter presented my critical stance, to later show the methodology used to analyze the selected document, based on Critical Discourse Analysis. Finally, the last chapters showed my findings and conclusions.

While analyzing the document, I found four main points: (1) there is an important direct influence of multinational organisms from the creation to the final evaluation of the document; (2) the document presents a strong neoliberal lexicon; (3) education, quality education, and human development are presented as the solution to several socioeconomic problems; and (4) throughout the sections of the document, the neoliberal discourse goes through a “institutional machinery” that contributes to naturalizing it in the Colombian society. Finally, I presented a short critique on the lack of self-criticism of the discourse, as well as a critique to the hegemony of neoliberalism as the dominant paradigm.

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Copyright information: © Adrian Ariza Traslaviña, 2019. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.