Towards an Intercultural Philosophy of Education on Universities in Colombia


Responsible Persons

Conducted by: Carlos Romero Otálora
Supervisor: Guido Meyer


The concept of education in German natural philosophy and the Latin American Buen Vivir (Good Life)


In Colombia, the paradigmatic theory of development is concretely reflected in the fact that higher education is determined by private and elite universities. The supposedly democratic ideal of "education for all" (Educación para todos) was established by the 1992 education reform. In accordance with the new state constitution, new universities were created by private capital to provide access to education for the middle social classes. This has increased the number of students, but this number says nothing about the quality and understanding of education at these universities. The precarious conditions for teachers, the lack of investment in research, the exclusion of minorities such as afrodescendants, small farmers and indigenous people, and the control of an excessive bureaucracy are some such effects of the dominance of private capital.

Neoliberal perspectives, combined with ideals such as "human development," have constituted a particular image of the human being that shapes everyone's worldview, educational institutions, and behavior. Certain desires, emotions, lifestyles, and expressions of the meaning of life represent the results of the impact of capitalist privileges that elites supposedly possess. In concrete terms, elites use people's skills, abilities, knowledge, and expertise to transform cultural capital into economic capital. To fulfill this image of human beings, it is elevated to the sole paradigmatic goal of life. This illusion is clearly communicated. For example, there are advertising slogans such as "We can do it", "One person makes a difference", "Bring your dreams and we will realize them together", which are nowadays used in educational advertising to influence thoughts, beliefs and views and to convince new customers and clients in the form of students. Education becomes a consumer item, as access to any private or elite university depends on the financial capacity of the families or the individual.

In this context, it raises the question of how other paths to a more open ideal of education can be pursued? How might other concepts of education counter contemporary capitalist and industrialized development theory without disqualifying themselves as irrational in the marketplace? Can listening to the others who are never heard (the aforementioned minorities) become a new source for other concepts of education?

To answer these questions, the development of an alternative philosophy of university education in Colombia is necessary. For this purpose, a dialogue between the German educational concept of natural philosophy (especially after Herder) and the Latin American concept of Buen Vivir (Good Life) is conducted in this dissertation. Therefore, intercultural philosophy has been chosen as the methodological horizon. The concept of Good Life in the Colombian context can be well compared with the meaning of education in the German Romanticism. The concept of education of the indigenous peoples is different, based on the complex interaction of spirituality and ecological community. The spiritual is the basis for the complementary relationship between individuals, humanity, culture and nature in a given area (ecology). From this emerges an alternative complex and complete model of knowledge that can promote the organization of society and to provide the Colombian nation with a new conception and basis of education in the university context and in educational policies.