Bolivia

Primary Image

(Left) Restorative Circle with teachers of a public school in Santiago de Okola, Western Bolivia. (Right) Educational trip to Lake Titicaca with adolescents from the city of El Alto. Photos by CCC-CHASQUI.


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Major Branches of Peace Education Observed in Bolivia. (click for details)
  • Democracy Education
  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
  • Human Rights Education
  • Restorative Practices

Significant Approaches and Themes of Peace Education in Bolivia. (click for details)
  • Divided Societies
  • Education for Decolonization
  • Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
  • Gender
  • Human Rights Education
  • Interethnic / Intercultural Education
  • Restorative Justice
  • Restorative Practices
  • Violence Prevention

Historical Context

Bolivia is located in the centre of South America, has nine departments and 339 municipalities, and a land area measuring 1,098,581 km2. As of 2018, the estimated population of Bolivia is 11.35 million. Of this number, it is estimated that more than 60% of inhabitants live in cities and the remaining population live in rural areas. A vast majority of Bolivians consider themselves to be Catholic Christians, yet a much smaller portion of the population participates actively in religious services. According to the 2009 constitution, Spanish and 36 indigenous languages are the official languages in Bolivia. Previously only Spanish, Aymara, and Quechua were official languages of the country. Approximately 39 percent of Bolivians live in poverty, one of the highest rates in South America. The Bolivian government's work towards a stronger economy has helped reduce poverty by 59 percent, but poverty rates remain significantly higher in rural areas.

Bolivia remains one of the most unequal and poorest countries of the Latin American continent (World Bank, 2021).  From colonial times to the present day, the country has experienced a long history of violence. For example, Bolivia has registered the highest level of social conflict and domestic violence within the Latin America family (UNIR/Rojas Ríos, 2013) and the basic human rights - such as health and access to education - of the (indigenous) populations have been historically neglected, by the state and its institutions.

In 2003, after years of neoliberal politics by the different governmental administrations and violent conflicts, President Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada had to step down, followed by years of political instability, until Evo Morales Ayma, a coca farmer and social-political activist from the Chapare región took office in late 2005. The Morales administration, Movimiento al Socialismo - Instrumento Político por la Soberanía de los Pueblos (MAS - IPSP, translates to Movement to Socialism - Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples) came up with a new model for society, that gave historically underrepresented indigenous groups a voice. This model aimed at working toward “shifting from a liberal development model to a mixed economy”, in which “the surplus generated by commodities contributed to the income distribution policy and was also used to fight against poverty through better education and health systems” (Arévalo Luna, 2015: 148).

Since then, Bolivia has made some promising advances in policy and legislation as it relates to peace work. These include:

Despite these efforts, research suggests that violence is a serious problem in the educational field. Research suggests that:

  • 7 out of 10 boys and girls are victims of physical and psychological violence in their home schools
  • 50% of students in schools have been victims, perpetrators or spectators of violence
  • 59% of students were frequently verbally assaulted, between 5 and 10 times each year
  • 1 out of 10 students is a victim of threats or coercion at least two times per week, in both rural and urban areas
  • 3 out of 10 students are victims of exclusion and marginalization
  • 4 out of 10 students are victims of beatings at least two times a week
  • 3 out of 10 students state that sometimes their teacher shouted at them or beat them
  • 30% of all students are hit by their parents and 1 in 10 by their brothers and sisters
  • 6 out of 10 teachers say that the parents authorize punishment to teach their sons or daughters a lesson
    (Gittins, 2016: 134).

After more than a decade of relative political stability and strong economic development, Bolivia experienced cracks in the system, accompanied by heavy polarisation. Violence and social-political conflict exploded from October to November 2019, fuelled by both the allies and adversaries of Evo Morales. In 2016, during a referendum, there was discussion on a national level whether or not Evo Morales had the right to run for a fourth term. Surprisingly, Morales was “defeated at ballot box by 51% to 49%” (The Guardian, 2016), but did not accept the result of the referendum; his behaviour was seriously criticized as “dictatorial” by his opponents. During the elections of October 2019, there were allegations of tampering with votes and electoral fraud. This led to mass protests and an election audit by the Organization of American States (OAS). The OAS found significant irregularities in the electoral process and vote tallies. This influenced the resignation of Morales, after talks with and pressure by the military command, as well as many other high-ranking government officials. The result was a vacuum of power and the appointment of a transitional, and somewhat controversial, government, led by Jeanine Áñez Chávez.

During Áñez Chávez’s administration, Bolivia experienced serious social conflict. Many of these conflicts were marked by political radicalisation that went hand in hand with violent clashes, allegations of fake news and hate posts through the medium of social media, restrictions put on the press in relation to freedom of expression, threats to journalists and radio stations, burning of police stations, schools and private houses, cases of arbitrary detention, and other related human rights violations. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), over 30 individuals lost their lives during the conflict (OAS, 2019).

Informed by the above aforementioned dynamics, democratic elections took place in October 2020, with Luis Arce (MAS-IPSP) becoming the new President of Bolivia. As of February 2022, there is still international debate around the elections of October 2019. On the one hand, there are allegations of electoral fraud. On the other, a planned coup by oppositional groups. Up until the present moment, Bolivia remains a relatively divided nation, with considerable levels of fear and distrust.

Past issues and Conflicts

Current Issues & Conflicts

Besides the above, Bolivia is heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in the Eastern part of the country. According to the Seattle-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation of the University of Washington (USA), Bolivia will see approximately 20,844 total Covid-19 deaths by May 1, 2022 (figures based on current projection scenario) (IHME, 2022).)The quarantine measures during 2020 came at a time when Bolivia was already grappling with wide-ranging political, social and cultural tensions, a lack of work, food and adequate public health measures. Other examples of contemporary issues include: conflicts over resources, discrimination, gender and domestic violence, sexual abuse (especially as a result of the quarantine) and inequality, among others.

Additional Resources for More Context

Significant Peace Education Efforts & Approaches

Restorative practices is a significant approach to peace education in Bolivia. Bolivia has experienced a long history of discrimination against the country’s indigenous people. When it comes to peacebuilding, the voices and narratives of indigenous people have tended to be overlooked and underutilised. Context-specific approaches to peace education should work to include vulnerable groups - e.g. children and youth, pregnant women, elderly people, indigenous peoples - in decision-making and action related to peace, as a way to counter this exclusion, and as a way to leverage indigenous approaches to peacebuilding. Restorative practices (especially dialogue circles) and storytelling align with more traditional forms of indigenous practices and have effectively been implemented recently via pilot projects in public schools and the juvenile justice system in the department of La Paz. 

Article 77, of the Plurinational Constitution, for example, states “education is the highest function of the state”.  Meanwhile, ex-President Evo Morales maintained that education, in general, and teachers, in particular, are the “solution of liberation and decolonization” within the region (Ministerio de Educación de Bolivia 2010).  In line with this, the ‘decolonising’ education reform - which forms part of the broader political changes towards ‘vivir bien’ (live well, also called ‘buen vivir’) and is called Avelino Sinani Elizardo Perez (ASEP) - aims to help push Bolivia more towards development.  In brief, education is considered an important tool for dealing with conflict across Bolivia and an essential component for achieving MAS's ‘politics of change’ (Lopes Cardozo, 2011).  

However, in practice, education is often contested (see in particular the work of Lopes Cardozo, 2011; but also Regalsky & Laurie, 2007 and Rocabado, 2009).  Teacher education, with an emphasis on rote learning and memorization techniques, is still very much the norm in the education system (Dranger, 2007; Speiser, 2000: 236; Regalsky and Laurie, 2007: 236).  Too often, students lack the type of a problem-posing approach deemed necessary for helping to nurture the critical and active citizens that the governments’ new discursive education for transformation agenda purports to address.  This partly explains why schools are neither completely resistant nor fully cooperative to adopt policy reforms from the Bolivian state (Talavera Simoni, 2011: 19).

Nonetheless, much has been said recently about peace and education in Bolivia, and the importance of both are recognised in various governmental and policy documentation.  Article 3.12, for example, illuminates the relationship between peace, education, and culture of peace, stressing the need to “promote peaceful coexistence and the eradication of all forms of violence in education, for the development of a society based on a culture of peace, with respect for individual and collective rights for all”.

Despite the legacy of structural and cultural violence in Bolivia, many educators think that the reason for social problems around issues like violence and conflict is the lack of morality and values in the family life. In consequences, many ask for students, in particular, to engage in education around values, as well as conflict resolution education. Ian Harris identified 5 categories of peace education. These are: “international education, development education, environmental education, human rights education, and conflict resolution education” (Kester 2010.). The Brazilian, Paulo Freire, in his educational approach revealed “systems of oppression, particularly through the exploration of language and identity” (Ibid.), still relevant issues in Bolivia. The Andean concept of “Vivir Bien” criticises an education, that is based only on western (colonial) values.

Public schools get instructed by the Ministry of Education to put the law (Ley No. 70 - Ley de la Educación “Avelino Siñani y Elizardo Pérez”) into practice, but as “peace education is relatively new and underdeveloped in Bolivia” (Gittins, 2016: 146) many educators lack the theoretical, pedagogical and didactical knowledge to adequately teach about a culture of peace in the classroom. This is particularly the case when it comes to concepts of conflict and violence and, above all, participatory learning approaches that have the potential to challenge students' and teachers' perception, attitude and behavior.

On a positive note, many public schools promote the reappropriation of original (indigenous) cultural practices. These activities are obligatory for students, aimed at helping them to gain self-respect and to reassess their own culture that is historically marginalised and discriminated by the elites. Many schools promote cultural expression through dancing, painting and theatre, among other activities. On the other hand, some private schools promote alternative forms of education, mainly to students of well-off families. These sometimes include peace education activities. For example, in the southern part of the city of La Paz. 

Much of the educational work in public schools that might be framed as peace education is put into practice by Bolivian and international NGOs, which receive some financial support from peace or development agencies. One such example is Eirene, a long running German peace organisation that works with Bolivian civil society groups, some of them from the educational sector, like CEBIAE and CCC CHASQUI. Many organizations focus their work on issues like the denial of the rights of indigenous people, women, children and youth (adult centrism), domestic violence, violence against women and femicides, trafficking and sexual exploitation, all rampant in Bolivia. 

Few organizations, if at all, have realised the need for intercultural dialogue in the educational field, as many Bolivians are suspicious about other nationalities (Peru, Venezuela or Chile, to name a few). Many students show less discriminating behaviour than their parents´ generation, when it comes to the judgement of people from other places. That is why intercultural dialogues could be an interesting field of work. Some progress has been made in the field of Restorative Practices (Restorative Justice), which is connected to peace education, because of its potential for behavioural change. During the government of Evo Morales, the Juvenile Criminal Law has been reformed, which opened up the discussion about the possibility of alternative, less punitive procedures in cases of minor crimes, which also echoed in the educational sector. The talking circle, for example, is a restorative instrument, that can be used both, in prisons and schools. It “gives pupils an opportunity to talk confidentially about their experiences and conflicts and (…) enables them to make a lasting contribution to the resolution of conflicts and to processes of reconciliation” (Riemann, 2018). There are few organizations that started to work with public schools, promoting restorative practices as a tool that creates a culture of peace. For example Progettomondo. mlal (in El Alto and La Paz) and Centro de Comunicación Cultural Chasqui (in El Alto).

There are several school networks that work on issues of peace education. For example, the Friendly and Safe Schools Network - an initiative of COMPA foundation - is an alliance of public schools with the goal to implement measures that strengthens peace culture in schools. The bottom-up initiative encourages students to take initiative at their schools in cooperation with teachers and organize activities against bullying, discrimination and in favour of gender equality, participation and so on. Allies from civil society support students in their activities. COMPA, as coordination, organizes gatherings of the network, like the assembly, where network wide activities are decided.

With the above in mind, it is worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to educational challenges in Bolivia. Social distancing, coupled with poor internet connection, negatively impact the quality of education offered in Bolivia via distance learning. As of February 2022, the practice of in-person formal education is fragmented, with some face-to-face work taking place - but this is not mainstreamed across the country.

Legislative and Policy Initiatives
  • Law Nº 1565: Education Reform Law
    • In 1992, Bolivia saw its first National Congress of Education. Two years later, in 1994, during deep neoliberal times, the Educational Reform Law (Ley Nº 1565, Ley de Reforma Educativa) was passed, laying the bases for an educational reform, and focussing on interculturality and bilingual education, although these changes were not put into practice (Educabolivia, 2018)
  • Political Constitution of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
    • Introduced in 2009, the Plurinational State of Bolivia promotes peace and the right to peace. Chapter II (principles, values and objectives of the state).
  • Suma Qamaña (Vivir Bien)
    • The term Suma Qamaña refers to an element of the Andean philosophy, which translates as “The Good Life”. It is promoted by The Bolivian Constitution. (Chapter 2, Art. 8). Its postulates and values are often seen as the basis for a contextualised (Andean, Bolivian) concept of peace.
  • Law Nº 70: Education Law - Avelino Siñani  yElizardo Pérez
    • In 2010, a new school law (Ley No. 70 - Ley de la Educación “Avelino Siñani y Elizardo Pérez”), named after two Bolivian pioneers of indigenous education, that includes the promotion of a culture of peace, was introduced, with the objective of “creating a participative, communal, decolonizing, productive and unitary education” (Ley de la Educación “Avelino Siñani y Elizardo Pérez”, 2010, Art. 3:12).
    • The law talks also of an education that develops peaceful coexistence and contributes to the eradication of any form of violence in the educational field, in order to create a society, sustained by a culture of peace, good treatment and respect of individual and collective rights” (Ibid.)
    • Article 3:12 (Foundations of Education) speaks of education as a tool to promote “Peaceful Coexistence”, that contributes to the eradication of all forms of violence in the educational field, to develop a society based on a Culture of Peace”, “Good Treatment” and the “Respect of Individual and Collective Human Rights of People and Peoples”.
    • Law 70 is set within a broader context. “In line with the “indigenous awakening” (Baud, 2007) and a wider “turn to the left” (Lazar & McNeish, 2006: 157), Bolivia is pushing back against the processes of globalisation and working towards regionalisation and nationalism (Lopes Cardozo, 2013).  Though not uncontested (see Lopes Cardozo, 2011), Bolivia’s Education Reform, entitled Avelino Siñani y Elizardo Pérez (ASEP) includes a focus on decentralising education. (ASEP is also referred to as Proyecto de Ley ASEP (or the ASEP Law).  See ASEP (2006, 2007).)  Inspired by regional debates on coloniality (Ministerio de Educación de Bolivia, 2010), and in accordance with Bolivia’s envisioned “politics of change,” ASEP states that the “curriculum must respond to the necessary characteristics of the region” (ASEP, 2006: 24) and seek to “recover, develop, protect and defend the knowledge of indigenous and afrobolivian nations” (ASEP, 2006: 9-10).” (Gittins, 2017).
      For more details, see:
      - LEY Nº 070 LEY DE 20 DE DICIEMBRE DE 2010
      - UNESCO: Bolivia: Education Law “Avelino Siñani y Elizardo Pérez”
  • Year of the Cultural Revolution for Depatriarchalization
    • In November 2021, the Bolivian Government announced it will declare the 2022 administration as the “Year of the Cultural Revolution for Depatriarchalization” as a structural response to the persistent cases of sexist violence, femicides and cases of domestic violence in the country.
  • Boys, Girls and Adolescents Code
    • Ley 548 – Código Niña, Niño y Adolescente – was passed in 2014.  According to Art. 1 (Objective), this law “aims to recognize, develop and regulate the exercise of the rights of girls, boys and adolescents. The law promotes a culture of peace in different spheres of society, for example the family and the educational system.
  • Conciliation and Arbitration Law No. 708
    • Ley No. 708 – Ley de Conciliación y Arbitraje de Conciliación – was introduced in 2015.
    • The objective of the law, according to Art. 1 is, “to regulate emerging alternative methods of dispute resolution, like conciliation and arbitration, of contractual or no contractual character. Art. 3 (principles) talks of “Good Faith”, “Celerity”, “Culture of Peace”, “Equality”, “Impartiality”, “Voluntariness”, among others.

While developments have been made in legislation, many point to how there is a gap between rhetoric and reality. In other words, much more can be done to translate policy into practice and programming – and for this to happen serious investment is needed.

Policy / Legislation (click for details)
  • Direct

Teacher Training (click for details)
  • Optional

SDG Indicator 4.7.1 Data / Analysis (click for details)

No formal reporting for indicator 4.7.1 is currently available. For a general overview of SDGs in Bolivia, see: Andersen, LE, Canelas, S., Gonzales, A., Peñaranda, L. (2020) Municipal Atlas of the Sustainable Development Goals in Bolivia 2020. La Paz: Universidad Privada Boliviana, SDSN Bolivia.

Preliminary analysis of SDG Indicator 4.7.1 was conducted in 2018 by UNESCO (based on 2016 data) that provides a ranking according to Bolivia's inclusion of global citizenship education and education for sustainable development across five indicators. The scores are denoted by numbers (the higher the number, the greater the inclusion): High = 3, Medium = 2, and Low =1. M is used to refer to missing national responses.

National Education PoliciesCurricula: ContentCurricula: ResourcesTeacher EducationStudent Assessment
M233M

From the UNESCO Report: “TCG4/16 Development of SDG thematic indicator 4.7.1(2018)

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Photo Caption

(Left) Carnival in the city of El Alto, where the sign reads: Say stop to violence against children. (Right) Children from the region of Northern Potosí, central Bolivia. Photos by CEBIAE.

Peace Education Organizations, Projects, & Models

Peace education, as examined in more detail elsewhere (e.g. Gittins, 2016a, 2017, 2020), is relatively underdeveloped in Bolivia.  Still, there are a number of peace education-related initiatives underway across the country. Notable examples include:

  • Paz, Conflictos y Desarrollo is an international consulting firm towards a culture of peace and relating to peace, conflicts and development. The trainings, courses and workshops offered are under the frame of the four lines of work focused on promoting resilient cities, two of which are Peace Education and Nonviolence Education, and Education for Cooperation and Development. 
  • Association of Women for World Peace Bolivia (AWPB) is a Nonprofit Organization in Bolivia working to connect peacebuilders across the country, especially women peacebuilders. They do this through a range of means, including webinars, workshops, and capacity building activities. AWPB is part of The Women's Federation for World Peace (WFWP), a “women's organization that promotes women as an essential ingredient in creating a peaceful global society”. WFWP operates in more than 100 countries worldwide.
  • Cebiae – Centro Boliviano de Investigación y Acción Educativas. As one of the oldest organisations specialised in education, the Bolivian Center for Investigation and Educational Action´s mission is to contribute to the transformation of society, using education as a tool. They work in education and human rights; education about production, technology and plural economy; education about ecosystems and biodiversity, education and social participation, as well as education and social justice. They also work with Eirene in peace education, in El Alto (see below). Here, school development and the implementation of alternative approaches are its strengths. Cebiae has worked in peace education for at least 10 years, in El Alto and other places.
  • Comundo. Comundo is a Swiss aid agency that sends international experts abroad to work with children and youth. Together with Bolivian partner organisations, Comundo works for a life free of violence and for an adequate social and ecological environment for children and youth and the empowerment and livelihood of marginalised groups of society, in different parts of the country. They also work with victims of violence (domestic, gender/women, social) and human trafficking.
  • Cámera de Comerico de Cochabamba. The Chamber of Commerce of Cochabamba has built a peer mediation programme, as part of their commitment to corporate responsibility, that seeks the strengthening of students and educational communities (schools), working with 250 volunteers in more than 20 public schools. It is the biggest peer mediation project in the country. The programme depends on the Conciliation and Arbitrage Center of the Chamber of Commerce, whose work is based on the Bolivian Conciliation and Arbitrage Law. 
  • Eirene – International Christian Peace Service. Eirene is a German NGO that sends German and international peace experts abroad to work with and strengthen civil society groups. In Bolivia, their partner organisations concentrate their work on the democratisation of public sectors, dialogue efforts, the empowerment of indigenous youth and women, citizen’s participation, peace and quality education, school development, peer mediation and recently also on new masculinities and restorative practices. The Bolivian organisations that work on peace education, connected to the programme are Cebiae (see above) and Centro de Comunicación Cultural Chasqui (photos above made by Cebiae and CCC Chasqui).
  • Fundación UNIR Bolivia.  Perhaps one of the most well-known national and local efforts for peace in Bolivia thus far is Foundation UNIR Bolivia.  Created in 2005, UNIR’s broader objective is to contribute to the construction of a country that is united, intercultural, and equitable, guided by values that make it possible to live peacefully in Bolivia.  Its vision is subsequently broad, encompassing a number of activities.  Within this is an integral focus on strengthening a culture of peace and the transformation of conflicts.  To this end, UNIR concentrates its work in four areas: peace education; constructive management of conflicts (conciliation, mediation); investigation and analysis of conflict; and democratic communication.  In line with the broader literature, UNIR considers peace education a political action that involves teaching about responsibility, compassion, and the constructive management of conflicts.  Their approach rests on the assumption that peace education should aim to foster growth in four pillars or types of learning: learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together. (UNIR’s conceptualisation of peace education is more directly based on the work of Jacques Delors (1996), as well as being informed by Fisas (2010).)  One of the authors of this piece (Gittins) contends that a fifth pillar can be added: learning to inform personal and societal transformation.  As of 2016, over 50 schools across the country have been impacted by the work of UNIR and its partners (in El Alto, La Paz, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Chuquisaca, and Tarija).  This work took many different forms and was referred to by many different names, including peace education, culture of peace, conflict resolution, conflict transformation, education without violence, and education for values.  Based on the experiences of this work, it became clear that peace education in Bolivia has the potential to be transformative, in that it is an invaluable tool through which to contribute to social change in Bolivia.  However, in spite of UNIR’s immense efforts to mainstream peace education, there is still a lack of, and need for, this type of education in Bolivia (Gittins, 2016a).  At best, peace education is offered on an ad-hoc basis.
  • Huellas & Futuro. A local NGO based in Cochabamba that strives to prevent violence through education. They work mainly with school communities, involving students from 4 to 18 years old, parents, principal, teachers, regional authorities and local leaders. They operate under three pillars: raising awareness, capacity building and empowerment of women. Huellas & Futuro addresses the causes and the consequences of violence aiming to shift the mindset of current and future generations and fostering agents of change. Huellas & Futuro is part of the Network Against Violence in Cochabamba, the Network Against People Trafficking in Bolivia and the Movement ‘Vuela Libre’ against Sexual and commercial exploitation of children and youth in Latin América.
  • Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS).  KAS centres its efforts on peace within the realm of consolidating democracy, the unification of Europe, the strengthening of transatlantic relations, and development cooperation.  It defines itself as a political foundation, think-tank, and consulting agency, which uses scientifically researched concepts and current analyses to offer a basis for possible political action.  It is world-wide in scope, with 76 offices in more than 120 countries. KAS has worked in Bolivia for more than 45 years.  In line with the foundation’s overall mission, its work in Bolivia has been broadly focussed on the promotion of freedom, liberty, peace and justice through a range of civic education programmes.  Some of this work has focussed on the following areas: strategies for development and the fight against poverty, the promotion of principles and values in civil society, the formation of young leaders, supporting freedom of expression, state reforms, political participation of indigenous people, and political education. Globally, KAS is assisted in their work by a “circle of friends”, both inside of the country as well as abroad.  In Bolivia, these include a range of universities, foundations, associations, and general institutions who also work in the broad areas of peace and development.
    In 2015, KAS commissioned one of the contributors to this piece (Gittins) to conduct research in Bolivia around peace issues. This work led to a nine-chapter book, Peace and Conflict in Bolivia (Gittins & Velásquez-Castellanos, 2016), which included six single authored chapters by Gittins. At time of writing, KAS and Gittins are currently in discussions around an updated version of this project (July 2020).
    The book has been well received by the policy -making, practitioner, and research community, in Bolivia. The book launch, which took place in La Paz and Santa Cruz, were attended by more than 250 people from government and civil society. Notable attendees included an ex-Vice President of Bolivia along with high-ranking government officials and noted academics and practitioners.
  • La Paz por La Paz.  This is a broad campaign that seeks to contribute to a collective consensus for, and the pursuit of, a culture of peace in La Paz.  The main objective of its work is to assist in the promotion of peace as a right, and the practice thereof in every-day life.  Another objective of its work is to contribute to the broader goal of La Paz becoming one of the cities around the world known as United Nations Peace Messenger City.  9 pledges guide the work of La Paz por La Paz, each of which broadly relate to peace.  These pledges have been communicated through a variety of workshops, seminars, forums in schools and universities, and in cultural, artistic, social and sports events, thus far.  To date, over 300,000 have signed the pledge, with the overall objective being 1 million. Given its lofty goals, La Paz por La Paz has developed strategic partnerships with organisations that can assist them in their work.  
  • Lets Make the Change Foundation (LMCF).  LMCF works to address malnutrition and undernourishment in Bolivia. It does this through a wide range of service including nutrition, health care, dentistry care, mental health and well-being, physical rehabilitation, social work, and laboratory test. Another area of their work is to enable those that they work with to engage in sports or arts activities. Part of the goal here is to organize community events and raise money that can directly feed back into the foundations work to maximise impact and widen the sphere of influence. All of LMCF’s work is aimed at contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at a local and national level, including promoting peace and supporting people to learn a new trade.
  • Model United Nations (MUN).  MUN is an educational activity in which high school and university age students learn about the UN and practice diplomacy and international relations through simulations.  The goal of the MUN is to advance understandings of international issues and prepare participants to “be better global citizens through quality educational experiences that emphasize collaboration and cooperative resolution of conflict”. Discussions between one of the authors of this piece (Gittins) and the UN National Information Officer revealed how participants going through the MUN Model could benefit from organised peace education and peacebulding training.  Accordingly, Gittins, in collaboration with others, developed an initiative that enabled to young people to gain access to the frameworks, insights and practical skills of 21st century peacebuilding with the potential to deepen and enhance dialogue and debate through a “peace lens”.  The first initiative was held in August 2016 at Unifranz University in El Alto,  31 young leaders participated in this work.  The average age of participants was 21 (range: 17-34).  Evaluations show that participants gained new knowledge (about peace or ways to solve problems specifically) and connect with others in a meaningful way.  They also show that: 1) all 31 would recommend peace education workshops to a friend or classmate; 2) all but 1 would be interested in future opportunities to participate in NGP programmes; 3) much of the content and activities were new to participants; and 4) that the experience helped participants to recognise violence in its various forms, think through ways to deal with conflict more constructively, and recognise a variety of strategies for peace.  Common responses to the question, “what is the key idea, concept, or tool that you will ‘take away’ from the workshop as you prepare for the MUN model/other projects”, included ‘learning about the different types of violence’, ‘understanding different ways of thinking about peace’, ‘analysing the symptoms and root causes of conflict’, ‘understanding human rights’, ‘measuring peace’, and ‘how to practice active listening’.
  • Network Against Violence Cochabamba. This Network, operating for more than 25 years, brings together 35+ public and private institutions working against violence from different perspectives and addressing the different aspects of violence such us post violence assistance, legal support, shelter, political incidence and prevention.  
  • ProgettoMondo.MLAL. The Italian NGO ProgettoMondo MLAL (Movimento Laici America Latina) works in the fields of sustainable development and justice. For some years now they have worked on restorative practices in schools and prisons. In 2019 they organised the first international congress on restorative justice and juvenile justice, held in the city of La Paz. They are active since 1980.
  • Rotary.  Conflict resolution/prevention is one of the areas of focus informing the work of Rotary worldwide (see Chapter 1, Gittins & Velasquéz-Castellanos, 2016). Historically, part of this focus has involved devoting attention to the role of youth in peace.  Globally, clubs and districts have been spending their time, money, and resources to make youth peace education programming possible, through NGP.  In Bolivia, Rotarians have historically worked on issues that revolve around health, water and sanitation, basic education, and construction projects.  As a result, they have not had a strategic focus on supporting peace initiatives. There is some ground for some encouragement, however.  Recently there has been increased recognition by Bolivian Rotarians to (re)orientate their work more towards peace, given the country’s history of conflict and lack of peace opportunities available to youth. See Gittins (2016b) for a Rotary supported initiative.
  • United 4 Change Centre (U4C): U4C promotes social justice and peace.  It works alongside vulnerable groups to strengthen their resilience by engaging its partners in highly collaborative ways. U4C works side-by-side with beneficiary communities and individuals, and partner organizations in strengthening local resilience and capacities in ways that are sustainable and that affirm and dignify those its serves. U4C’s work is guided by local conditions, cultures, and concerns because it has become abundantly clear that meaningful change is best realized when beneficiaries are fully engaged in respectful ways and when they experience ownership of any initiatives. In 2021, U4C led the launch of the first International Peace Program in Bolivia (PIP Bolivia): “Educate, Equip and Engage Young Peace Leaders”, in collaboration with Mediators Beyond Borders and NewGen Peacebuilders. This project empowered young leaders across Bolivia with learning opportunities related to peace and development. After engagement in a comprehensive online peace education course, young people received mentoring and coaching from trained adults to design and implement 10 peace projects addressing urgent community needs in eight departments in Bolivia:  Pando, La Paz, Oruro, Cochabamba, Santa Cruz, Potosí, Chuquisaca (Sucre), Tarija.

News on Peace Education in Bolivia

Access the comprehensive archive of news articles related to Bolivia on the Global Campaign for Peace Education website.
For a more customizable search, please visit the Global Campaign for Peace Education Clearinghouse.

Research on Peace Education in Bolivia

Access the comprehensive archive of research articles related to Bolivia on the Global Campaign for Peace Education website.
For a more customizable search, please visit the Global Campaign for Peace Education Clearinghouse.

Where to Study Peace Education in Bolivia

The initiatives discussed above (Peace Education Efforts) take place in predominantly non-formal learning settings and do not lead to formal qualifications.  There are initiatives, however, that take place in formal educational settings that lead to formal qualifications in peace education and peace and conflict studies broadly defined. Notable examples include:

(Gittins helped to either design and/or teach on all of the above programmes).

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Photo Caption

Presentation of the book "Peace and Conflict in Bolivia", in the city of La Paz. Photo by Konrad Adenauer Foundation La Paz - Bolivia.