Intercultural Bilingual Education in the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua

  • David C. Edgerton
  • B. Gloria Guzmán JohannessenEmail author


This chapter was inspired by our work with Miskito, Sumo-Mayangna, and Creole-English populations in Nicaragua and by our deep understanding of the complex Latin American historical backdrop and current global challenges to the education of indigenous and other minority populations. Our discussion centers on sociolinguistic, economic, and educational conditions of Miskito and Sumo-Mayangna, predominant languages in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region of Nicaragua (RACN) and English-Creole in the South Caribbean Autonomous Region (RACS). We describe the Nicaragua Basic Education Project/BASE II, (1998–2005), a project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with the goal of launching and supporting bilingual intercultural education in these regions. Grounded on this goal, the project established and supported a national replication network of 170 Bilingual Model Schools, of which 28 were Miskito and Sumo-Mayangna bilingual schools located in the RACN and RACS. By 2004 these model schools equaled and/or surpassed Central and Pacific Spanish Model Schools on measures of academic achievement tests and active-learning indicators. The research, teacher training, and constructivist classroom activities employed in strengthening bilingual-intercultural education may contribute to a better understanding of bilingual intercultural education for indigenous and other minority language populations, and to the sociolinguistic, cultural, and economic challenges they face in a global society.


Nicaragua Bilingual-intercultural education Teacher training Miskito Sumo-Mayangna Creole-English Active-learning 


  1. Albrow, M., & King, E. (Eds.). (1990). Globalization, knowledge and society. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Altamirano Montoya, A. J. & Damiano Teixeira, K.M. (2016). Multidimensional poverty in Nicaragua: Are female-headed households better off? (Science+Business Media. Dordrecht: Springer).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arnove, R. F., & Carlos, A. T. (Eds.). (2013). Comparative education: The dialectic of the global and the local. London: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  4. Bächtold, M. (2013). What do students “construct” according to constructivism in science education? Research in Science Education (Springer Science+Business Media. Dordrecht: Springer).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Castro, V., Bravo, P., Enge, K., Johannessen, B. G. G., & Ramirez Mena, J. (2002a). Programa de Educación Básica de Nicaragua: Estudio Longitudinal 1999. Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deportes de Nicaragua, FHI360. Academy for Educational Development, and Juárez & Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  6. Castro, V., Enge, K., Johannessen, G. G., Ramirez Mena, J. (2002b). Programa de Educación Básica de Nicaragua: Estudio Longitudinal 2000. Washington, DC: Academy for Educational Development and Juárez and Associates, Inc. Available from FHI360.Google Scholar
  7. Choules, K. (2007). Social change education: Context matters. Adult Education Quarterly, 57(2), 159–176. American Association for Adult and Continuing Education. Scholar
  8. Cupples, J., & Glynn, K. (2014). Indigenizing and decolonizing higher education on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 35, 56–71. Scholar
  9. Edgerton, D. C. Schools, Education, Democracy: The Nicaragua BASE Project (2005). Washington, DC: Academy for Educational Development (AED). Available from FHI360.Google Scholar
  10. Enge, Kjell I. BASE II Ethnographic Study. (2003). Unpublished. Los Angeles, CA: Juárez and Associates. Available from Juárez and Associates.Google Scholar
  11. Freire, P. (1998). Teachers as cultural workers: Letters to those who dare teach. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  12. Gobat, M. (2013, December). The invention of Latin America: A transnational history of anti-imperialism, democracy, and race. American Historical Review. 1345–1375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hall, M. A. (1978). The language experience approach for teaching reading: A research approach perspective. Urbana, Il: International Reading Association.Google Scholar
  14. Halliday, M. A. K. (1973). Explorations in the functions of language. London: Edward Arnold Ltd.Google Scholar
  15. Johannessen, B. G. G. (1999). A new approach to bilingual education policy: A Nicaraguan experience. Education and Society, 17(2), 43–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Johannessen, B. G. G. (2000). Educación Bilingüe Intercultural, Costa Atlántica Nicaragua, Informe y Recomendaciones. Washington, DC: Juárez and Associates Inc.Google Scholar
  17. Johannessen, B. G. (2002). “Aspectos Sociolingüísticos que Influyen en el Rendimiento Académico y el Desarrollo del Bilingüismo dentro del Contexto de la Educación Intercultural Bilingüe en las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaragüense”. Basic Education Program of Nicaragua, BASE II. USAID Contract No. 524-C-99-00020-00.Google Scholar
  18. Johannessen, B. G. G. (2003, June). Teaching in a diverse society. Presentation at the World Association for Case Study Research and Application (WACRA) Annual International Conference, Bordeaux, France.Google Scholar
  19. Johannessen, G. (2011). The heart, mind, and soul of a multilingual society. Education Quarterly, College of Education, 69(1), 4–14.Google Scholar
  20. Johannessen, B. G. G., Dixon, B., Martinez, E., & Brown, A. (2002). Aspectos Sociolingüísticos que Influyen en el Rendimiento Académico y le Desarrollo del Bilingüismo Dentro del Contexto de la Educación Bilíngüe en las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaragüense. (2002). Washington, D.C.: Juárez and Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
  21. Lindenberg, A., Henderson, K. I., & Durán, L. (2016). Using technology and mentorship to improve teacher pedagogy and educational opportunities in rural Nicaragua. Global Education Review, 3(1), 66–87.Google Scholar
  22. Mogollón, O. & Solano, M. (2011) Escuelas Activas: Apuestas para Mejorar la Calidad de la Educación (2011). Washington: FHI360.Google Scholar
  23. Nicaragua Basic Education Project (BASE I), 1994-1998: Final Report. Washington, D.C.: Academy for Educational Development & Juárez and Associates, Inc., 1998.Google Scholar
  24. Raskin, J. D. (2002). An introductory perturbation: “what is constructivism and is there a future in it?” In J. D. Raskin, & S. K. Bridges, (Eds.), Studies in meaning: Exploring constructivist psychology. New York, NY: Pace University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Richards, M. & Martinez-Weber. (1998). Perfil Educativo y Sociolinguistico de la Costa Atlántica (PESCA). Proyecto BASE, AED-USAID. Managua, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  26. Rivas, T. de J., Villanueva, J. del S., & Nelson Ávila, J. (2016). Políticas y Programas Implementados para Reducir Pobreza en Nicaragua. Orbis, Revista Científica Electrónica de Ciencias Humanas/Scientific e-journal of Human Sciences/PPX200502ZU1935 / ISSN 1856-1594 / Fundación Unamuno/ /núm 33 (año 11) 33-50 Collection. Paper 406. Western Washington University.
  27. Teichman, J. (2001–2002). Latin America in the Era of Globalization: Inequality, Poverty and Questionable Democracies. University of Toronto CIS Working Paper.Google Scholar
  28. Vreeland, J. (2011). Gaining and realizing language rights in a multilingual region. In Luciano Baracco (Ed.), National integration and contested autonomy: The Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua. New York: Algora Publishing.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David C. Edgerton
    • 1
  • B. Gloria Guzmán Johannessen
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Education ConsultantBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.California State University PomonaPomonaUSA
  3. 3.Texas State UniversityTXUSA

Personalised recommendations