chapter  12
The 1980 Nicaraguan National Literacy Crusade
ByRobert F. Arnove
Pages 24

The 1980 Nicaraguan National Literacy Crusade was born of the struggle to depose a repressive political regime and establish a new social order. This chapter describes the scope, organization, and content of the Nicaraguan National Literacy Crusade of 1980 and its aftermath. The imagery and vocabulary of struggle and a national war loomed large in the symbolism of the Cruzada National de Alfabetizacion (CNA). Ambiguous and even contradictory outcomes of involvement in the CNA may be a consequence of individuals' past biography and class position, as well as changing opportunity structures within the country. The mass organizations that were instrumental in overthrowing the dictatorship were the key to the success of the CNA. Despite the laudable goal of actively involving the mass of Nicaraguan citizens in social change, it is still open to debate whether or not the actual pedagogy employed fostered critical consciousness or top down indoctrination.