The program is analyzed with a critical language policy lens that brings into consideration the historical and socio-political factors of the Colombian context. For this purpose, several news articles, policy documents, and academic essays are discussed. Key words: Colombian language policy, education policy, free trade agreements, manufacturing consent, transnational companies.
The NPB appeared as the first long term LP that established specific goals to be reached in the whole educational system by The multiple conversations and understandings of SLE presented in the media are the main motivation for the present paper. The objective of this essay is to contribute to the existing scholarship on the NPB by analyzing the socio-political context in which this policy was created in order to understand the ideologies and interests behind it.
This article begins by presenting its theoretical orientation and methodology, which are followed by a brief description of the linguistic and political neoliberal context in which this LP was created. Next, the discussion is followed by an analysis of the ideologies and interests behind the NPB, as well as how the media produce discourses which may serve to manufacture consent for the inadequacy of public education and foreign intervention through international trade agreements.
Theoretical Orientation and Methodology In discussing these issues, I will use a critical language policy CLP lens to analyze the data presented. He identifies three main components of CLP: a a critical position with regard to traditional mainstream approaches to LP analysis, b CLP includes research that attempts to produce social change and c CLP research is influenced by the use of critical theory , p.
This accumulated prestige of being proficient in English would be what Bourdieu refers to as symbolic capital; in other words, cultural and symbolic capital present privileged individuals with access to material capital such as opportunities for upward mobility Bourdieu, CLP analyzes the practices that become invisible because society often regards them as natural and they commonly occur without being questioned Tollefson, It is these common sense assumptions that get built into the institutions of society and work by legitimatizing what should be considered natural conditions that marginalized individuals and groups will not even question due to the characteristics inherent in or natural to ideologies that result in the manufacture of consent by the oppressed Tollefson, Accordingly, it is through ideologies that hegemonic practices are built.
Data are analyzed using the framework discussed above in order to come to an interpretation within the tradition of CLP. The Uribe Government was well known for introducing several important changes in Colombian legislation, many of them particularly benefitting national and transnational companies.
The labor reform, also known as Law of , extended day hours, depriving workers of earning night pay or holiday pay. This law also reduced the amount of termination pay that employers must pay in the case of wrongful dismissal. These employee pay cuts were made with the intention of giving , more people nationwide employment. This ad hoc group of researchers reported that unemployment rates did not decrease even though employers were saving approximately 4 trillion Colombian Pesos 3 CP per year by not paying their employees the wages that the Constitution had previously granted them.
The Uribe Government also continued the legacy of previous presidents that established unequal agreements with transnational companies and foreign governments. These agreements in many cases contained clauses that invalidated international treaties that Colombia had previously signed to protect its economy and biodiversity. Cases of litigation between the State and private parties are referred to private arbitration tribunals whose decisions always end up favoring the rights of multinationals over the rights of the nation, resulting in enormous losses for the public treasury.
Accordingly, by , all secondary graduates from both public and private schools are expected to reach the B1 level, a threshold level, which implies that language users can easily access and understand familiar matters regularly encountered in school, work and leisure activities Council of Europe, Finally, with regard to teacher education, new graduates of these programs must reach the C1 level which is described as users who possess an effective operational proficiency.
This last level expects language users to be able to produce more complex texts and interact efficiently in most academic and technical matters Council of Europe, It is important to highlight that C1 comes right before C2, which is the highest level of proficiency presented by the CEF. At the same time, legislation encouraged more regulated and goal focused EFL instruction throughout the country. This decree also required non-formal institutions that offer foreign language classes to establish clear goals, contents, methodologies, course schedules for their language programs, as well as the accreditation of language programs offered by universities Art.
The language policy laid out by the NPB through the proficiency just described is currently reflected on standardized national tests.
The first standardized test is administered to students at the end of secondary school in Grade 11, and is a requirement for access to postsecondary education, while Prueba Saber Pro is the standardized test for specific academic areas that new professionals must take in their last year of their undergraduate degree. The challenge! Thus, not all citizens of a low-income country such as Colombia may see English language proficiency as a priority Bruthiaux, Therefore, the decision of choosing English for the NPB is presented as common sense since the MEN is only responding to the needs of the modern world.
Through this unquestioned assumption, the MEN presents English: Spanish bilingualism not only as the most prominent option for the NPB, but the entity also legitimizes this reductionist notion of bilingualism. These three common assumptions are a result of misinformation among members of the public sphere with regard to what the MEN presents as bilingualism, as well as their lack of participation in the creation of a top-down policy like the NPB.
The lack of information that the public sphere has about the NPB, as well as the restrictive notion of bilingualism that this policy promotes are producing inaccurate assumptions about what bilingualism is and what learning or teaching a foreign language implies.
It is precisely in this political and economic context where globalization discourses favor English as a tool for economic development in outer circle and expanding circle countries Kachru, that see English as a tool for development Bruthiaux, , especially due to the opportunities that it presents for process outsourcing as part of these free trade agreements Matear, In fact, Plan Colombia , a U. Congress by Occidental Petroleum and other U. This plan required the placement of Colombian military anti-narcotics bases in three different zones of the country.
Massacres and other violent attacks perpetrated by military and paramilitary groups supported by U. Situations like these were also seen in Putumayo, where agencies of the U.
CIDA and CERI became actively involved in Colombia during the period when new legislation for mining, petroleum and environmental regulations for mineral extraction was being created. More recently, in , the Colombian Government attempted to pass new legislation that favored multinational companies by providing them with significant tax cuts, which went from These new legislative changes would also go against the interests of small-scale miners by establishing standards that could be met by only transnational companies Robledo, All of these exam-related costs in a country where the minimum wage in was , CP Even though Colombia is mostly fiction, it provides valuable insights concerning what the Uribe Administration projected for the future of Colombia, whose legacy can also be seen in the present Administration of Juan Manuel Santos , even though their relationships are currently tense 9.
The government argued that this reform aimed to change the existing Law 30 of of higher education and expand access by providing greater autonomy to educational institutions through deregulation, encouraging the participation of private industry in funding public institutions as well as the creation of for-profit educational institutions, and, thirdly, providing a system of financial aid in which Colombian citizens could get loans to pay for their education Arango, Concluding Remarks The main objective of this paper was to provide an overview of the socio-political context in which the NPB was created with the intention of analyzing the ideologies and motivations behind this policy.
This LP was envisioned as a response to globalization which aimed to allow Colombian citizens to participate in the rapid creation and exchange of knowledge and information made possible by English language proficiency. However, as devised, not only does this policy generate processes of exclusion and stratification through the standardization and marketization of English language teaching see Usma, a , but it also serves as a means to manufacture consent among Colombians for the intervention of foreign governments and transnational companies, as well as the implementation of neoliberal education reforms aimed at dismantling publicly funded education.
Consequently, this LP, as well as the proposed reform to tertiary education, can lead the education system to ultimately serve the interests of transnational companies that require both highlyskilled and less-skilled workers. Due to space limitations this paper focused only on the NPB and the Colombian context. However, a comparison between LP and education policy reform in Chile with its English Opens Doors Program Matear, ; Menard-Warwick, , as well as how student movements in both countries have been actively collaborating with each other to resist neoliberal education policies is an area that presents valuable opportunities for future research due to the observed effectiveness of these transnational student movements in resisting top-down education policies associated with globalization.
Further research should also analyze the Law of Bilingualism Congreso, recently discussed in the Colombian Congress and its future implications. All further conversions were made using this exchange rate. See www. Uribe y Santos representan lo mismo, la extrema derecha. Deslinde, 48 , With kiss-ins and dances, young Chileans push for reform. The New York Times. El Heraldo. Critical discourse analysis.
Annual Review of Anthropology, 29 , Bowles, S. The capitalist economy. Gintis Eds. Schooling in capitalist America revisited. Sociology of Education, 75 1 , Bourdieu, P. Language and symbolic power. Cambridge, uk: Polity Press. Bruthiaux, P. Hold your courses: Language education, language choice, and economic development. Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.
Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement. Bilingual Colombia: Are we ready for it? What is needed? Colombia aprende. La red del conocimiento. Altablero, Centro Virtual de Noticias. Ley Ministerio del Trabajo. Colombia Proyecto de Ley 40 de Senado. Gaceta del Congreso. Ministerio de Comercio, Industria y Comercio. Tratados de Libre Comercio-Colombia.