“The State and Mass Media for Education in Colombia” by Milciades Vizcaino

estado y medios masivos

Disobedient children

A very old man
advice me to learn to read and write
because his children did not want
to hear his words
and all his children, when
he spoke to them, used to say:
“Why paying attention
and listen to him respectfully
f this old man
does not even know the alphabet!”

But the old man, for being old,
many things knew
and teaching them to his children
was his intention
because he did not want all
his children to keep saying:
Why paying attention
and listen to him respectfully
if this old man
does not even know the alphabet!”

One day he decided
to promptly learn to read
to prove them that they should
believe his words
because he did not want all
his children to keep  saying:
“Why paying attention
and listen to him respectfully
if this old man
does not even know the alphabet!”

When he learned the letters,
is children obeyed
and from his great experience
many things they learned
and now his children change
he verse to say:
“Our old man knows a lot
and knows the alphabet
and we pay attention to him (twice)
and we respect him.”

Song of the state program Educational Television for Adults


The State was the architect of the modernization of society and its development means. It played an outstanding role in the arrival of technical innovations to the country and channeled them to fulfill its functions, including education, since the 1920s. Colombia has had a long tradition in the use of mass media for education. However, projects have been barely known and therefore undervalued by Colombian society. Recovering these projects, their history and developed processes are the focus of this book based on the study of four projects:

  1. The hjn, a cultural radio station that operated between 1929 and 1937 and fulfilled non-formal educational functions intended to invite the Colombian population to join, as citizens, the national project led by the State during the 1930s.
  2. Educational television aimed at the school population as a complement to the educational activities of classroom teachers that was developed between 1954 and 2004 with the technological infrastructure of the State.
  3. Educational television aimed at adults who were outside the regular system and could access levels of literacy and primary education.
  4. High School by Radio, aired from 1973 to 2004, continued the fulfillment of the purposes of educational television for adults and offered an alternative at high school level.

What was the initial design of these projects? What policy did they respond to? What educational model was implemented? What results were obtained? Why were the projects closed? These are some of the questions posed by the book, whose answers involve making a journey through much of the history of the twentieth century in Colombia, marked by the emergence of modernity and the neoliberal economic model.

It is from the power of the State that national identity is consolidated. The radio plays a supportive role needed for its capacity of coverage, simultaneity, and unidirectionality in the transmission of messages. From the twenties, the radio acquired such importance in news companies and audiences that it got close to the level of importance of the written press. Moreover, “popular education” and “cultural dissemination” were the two thick lines that fueled the interest of implementing the television in Colombia. Experiences with the radio, cinema and texts were precedents that capitalized and got involved in the television project. Television plays a very important role in the reconstruction of national identity and other identities, where images, ideas, and metaphors that speak of social groups and how they perceive themselves (self-perception) and they are perceived by other groups (heteroperception) circulate.

Millions of Colombians were impacted by these projects, in all regions of the country, to the extent that signal range and coverage increased. This is the story, therefore, of a country that sought progress in the country and the city through education. It is the story of our ancestors who saw the world through radio and television signals. It is also the story of projects that have been discontinued and should be reactivated for the sake of future generations.




Camilo Cuellar

Camilo holds a bachelor in Critical Literature from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. He is also a researcher of the Faculty of Humanities at Universidad Santo Tomas, and the books editor at Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia.