Eventos Académicos, 39 ISCHE. Educación y emancipación

Tamaño de fuente: 
El movimiento de la reforma de 1918: El primer año
Christian K. Anderson

Última modificación: 2017-07-17


“Men of a new free Republic, we have just broken the last chain of the twentieth century that tied us to the old monarchical and monastic domination. We have resolved to call all things by their proper name. Córdoba is redeemed. From now we count ourselves as part of a country with one less embarrassment and one more freedom” (Manifesto, 1918 [all translations by author]).  So declared a group of revolutionary students at the University of Córdoba in Argentina in their 1918 “Manifesto Liminar de la Reforma Universitaria,” published in the student newspaper, La Gaceta. How did this Reforma movement come about and how did the student leaders create a foundation for it to be sustained and grow during the first year?

The students at Córdoba demanded that universities be autonomous from political control; that students, professors and deans each have a role in shared governance and in selecting the new rector; that the curriculum be modernized and secular, free of Catholic dogmatism; and that attendance be free of fees or tuition (Mejía-Ricart, 1999a; Tünnermann Bernheim, 2008). From this Manifesto grew a movement that rapidly spread throughout Latin America and had lasting effects on student life and on university governance.

Though permanent reforms due to student activism are typically difficult to achieve and sustain (Altbach, 1991a; 1991b), the Córdoba reforms both lasted at that university and spread throughout Latin America where they have endured (Hermo & Pittelli, 2009; Mejía-Ricart, 1999a, Theiler, 2005). Within a matter of years many of the ten tenets of the Manifiesto Liminar of 1918, including the establishment of free universities as autonomous entities, would become statutory or constitutional law in countries such as Perú (Sánchez, 1966), Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela, and the countries of Central America (Mejía-Ricart, 1999a, Tünnermann Bernheim, 2008), Mexico (Ordorika, 2003), and Caribbean nations (Dario Genao, 2008; Mejía-Ricart, 1999b). University students in these countries used the model of Córdoba and pushed for the same kinds of reforms.

For example, in Cuba the students invited the rector of the University of Buenos Aires to address them in their Aula Magna (Grand Hall) in 1922 to explain the reform movement. For Havana, “The bell had been rung for reforming the University of Havana, which had been a nest of corruption and outdated teachings, inept professors…and [this speech] acted as the spark to a bonfire” (Civeira 2001, p. 47).

The focus of this paper will be on the Movement’s first year: how it was built on a foundation during that time in such a way that it was strong enough to sustain itself not only at Córdoba but also grow throughout Argentina and Latin America. What was the relationship of the students with the University, with its Consejo Superior and other bodies during this formative period? In addition to published materials in Spanish and English I have obtained copies of a wide range of primary documents from four archives in Argentina during a recent visit.