College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences Theses and Dissertations

Graduation Date


Document Type


Department/Program Conferring Degree

International Studies


literacy, Guatemala, Bolivia, women and development, critial pedagogy


The comparative case study will analyze the education reform policies pursued by Guatemala and Bolivia from the 1980s to the present. Education reform projects and international aid were provided as development strategies in Latin America to improve gender equality in education and literacy rates during the 1990s. Female literacy was view as an important goal in obtaining human and economic development in the region of Latin America. Guatemala and Bolivia were two countries of interest because of high poverty rates, illiteracy rates and gender disparities in education. Both Bolivia and Guatemala signed on to educational goals of Education for All (EFA) in 1990, and renewed those interests with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of 2000 when the goals of EFA remained unmet. Following Bolivia’s shift towards a leftist form of government in 2006, new laws and programs have created different education and literacy strategies that emphasize elements of critical social theory. The new education laws in Bolivia deviates from the dominant human capital theory methods used and promoted by various international development programs. This paper will argue that education methods and policies based on critical social theory, such as those being implemented in Bolivia, will be more effective than the currently dominant human capital theory methods and policies of international institutions, which continues to prevail in Guatemala, in addressing gender equity in literacy and education as well as society as a whole, particularly among the indigenous populations of Latin America.