Educational evaluation in the Mapuce context

By Miguel Del Pino

    Educational evaluation in the Mapuce context

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    Miguel Del Pino
    Professor and Researcher
    Temuco, CL
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    Miguel Del Pino

    Miguel Del Pino: PhD in Education from the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Argentina (2015). Currently, I am a Tenured Professor and researcher at the Universidad Católica del Maule, Chile. In my academic career I have worked in university management, in pre and postgraduate teaching, and in research in indigenous contexts. I am a researcher at the Center for Research in Education for Social Justice, Ciejus, and at the Center for Research in Advanced Studies of Maule, Cieam. I am currently a Researcher in charge of the Fondecyt Regular Project 1220783 financed by the National Research and Development Agency of Chile.

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    The issue of educational evaluation in Chile is a sensitive one for all indigenous peoples, due largely to the technical and qualificative conception of it, which has no correspondence with the indigenous worldview. Therefore, this essay presents a participatory research experience that began in 2016 and involved forming a research community with a Mapuce community in Chile; they then decided to build an educational evaluation proposal that is relevant to their territory, culture and language. This proposal focuses on institutional decisions such as classroom evaluation, developing evaluation cycles that define the general guidelines, evaluation methodologies, evaluation procedures and their reorientation. This essay ends with comments on the experience thus far and its research community, its milestones and future prospects.


    I share this essay because it is a participatory research experience in the Mapuce context in Chile. An educational evaluation proposal for this context is presented, which has been very well received by the Mapuche communities with which work has been done. The essay offers a proposal for educational evaluation, which could be of interest to indigenous communities, education students, and researchers who develop participatory research. In turn, it offers a particular way of doing participatory research.

    Educational Evaluation in the Mapuce Context


    In November 2016, at an International Congress on Teacher Training for Mercosur/Conosur Countries held in the city of Talca, Maule region in Chile, I had the opportunity to learn about the experience of curricular construction for educational study programs in an elementary school (from 1st to 8th grade) in a Mapuce context. This experience was presented by a Lonko (Mapuce community male leader) and also director of the school, along with an academic, who had been collaborating with the experience since 2011. The question that arose was why did this Mapuce community decide to build their own study Programs when Chile has a Bilingual Intercultural Education Program?

    In this regard, in Chile, based on the indigenous Law, the Bilingual Intercultural Education Program (PEIB) was created, which materialized in classrooms through the Indigenous Language Sector in 2006. The PEIB aims to teach the culture and language of the recognized indigenous peoples in the country. To this end, due to the poor training of teachers in intercultural matters, the Ministry of Education had no choice but to include native Chileans belonging to an original people in the classrooms as pedagogical support for the teachers. This person belonging to an ethnic group is known as a traditional educator. However, seventeen years after its implementation, there are multiple criticisms of the PEIB, which we could summarize as:

      (a) The communities are not involved in the curricular construction of the Indigenous Language programs.

      (b) The teaching staff is not specialized in interculturality or in the language and culture of the ethnic group they have to teach. In addition to that, traditional educators do not have the necessary pedagogical preparation.

      (c) Finally, the curricular sequence (fragmented into units and contents) does not fit the indigenous worldview and there are no relevant evaluation criteria.

    Due to all of these reasons, the Mapuce community presented in the lecture rejects the instrumental interculturality promoted by the Ministry of Education. To this day, its curricular proposal has been validated by the same ministry, being the only school in an indigenous territory with this achievement.

    Once the presentation was finished, I had the opportunity to share with the Lonko and the academic, who invited me to participate in the experience, to collaborate in the construction of a study plan related to health and good living (Kvme mogen). Thus, since January 2017, along with a team of undergraduate students, we began working on the construction of the aforementioned Study Program (Del Pino, Pino & Manosalva, 2018). During the same year, the Mapuce community itself proposed that I should start a research process regarding educational evaluation for Mapuce Study Programs, which is described below. 

    The Mapuce People: A Brief Introduction

    Chilean indigenous law recognizes nine ethnic groups: Aymaras, Quechuas, Atacameños, Collas, Diaguitas, Mapuce, Kawashqar or Alacalufe, Yámana or Yágan, and Rapa Nui (Ministry of Cooperation and Development, 1993), of which the Mapuce are the indigenous people with the largest population.

    This ethnic group has different territorialities which give their name to the communities that inhabit them: “pewenche, pewen people or fruit of the araucaria in the mountains; wenteche, people of the plains, also called arribanos by the Spanish; nagche, people of the lowlands, also called abajinos, and finally the lafkenche, people of the sea or who live near the coast.” (Cayuqueo, 2017, p. 41).

    Their language is called Mapuzugun (mapu means land and zugun refers to the act of speaking). Mapuzugun means the language of the land where man lives and spends his life in close communication with all living beings and other elements of nature. Their language allows them not only to speak with one another but also with the entire universe. Thus, there is a reciprocal relationship between the territory where each Mapuce community lives and the economic activities they perform; they have a strong religious sense in the Mapuce worldview, which seeks a balance between heaven, earth, waters, people, different natural manifestations and nature, where they live alongside with the geh, who are invisible beings and caretakers of some territories. This balance is fostered through rites, such as the quijatun, a prayer ceremony aimed towards collective well-being.

    In order to build knowledge together with the Mapuce people, we must begin by decolonizing our minds and the ways of conducting research. This means re-humanizing ourselves and recovering our brotherhood with all beings of the Earth, dialoguing with our knowledge and recovering the epistemes of our indigenous peoples. For this, it is essential to understand that the Mapuce do not see nature as a “natural resource” in the same way it has been taught in the West, but that the Mapuce “being” (ce) is part of nature as “one more”. For this reason, the construction of knowledge incorporates human intelligence integrated with the biodiversity (Ixofij mogen). For professor Elisa Loncon (2023), the “Mapuche paradigm of knowledge considers that to be wise one must respect family, community, nature, their life and spirituality” (p. 72). This notion of participation and reciprocity between humans and nature fosters a type of research that is non-extractivist, but communitarian, which seeks a balance between knowledge, knowledge and the positive transformation of reality, without harming natural spaces or their people.

    The foregoing is what we have been developing together with indigenous communities in a type of participatory research, which has not only been worked on in an indigenous context but also in productive contexts such as coastal, industrial, agricultural, among others, although here we will refer to the work within Mapuce culture.

    Participative Research in a Mapuce Context

    I would like to highlight some relevant points that we have learned by developing our participatory research with the Mapuce community. Along with academics and different undergraduate and graduate students, we have had the opportunity to work with Mapuce communities from different geographical areas of the La Araucanía region, better known as the “Mapuce country” or “Wallmapu.

    We have adopted a participatory way of doing research with these communities which we call “dialogic-kishu kimkelay ta che” (Ferrada & Del Pino, 2018). The dialogic aspect understands that dialogue is an essential part of what makes us human, which implies always being open to the possibility of generating a new meaning (Bakhtin, 2020). The Mapuce concept of “kishu kimkelay ta che” implies understanding that knowledge is always built in a participatory way, based on the historical legacy of the people.

    Thanks to this experience we have been able to expand our own conceptions of life and our relationship with people, and at the same time, with invisible beings, nature and the interpretation of life from the indigenous language “Mapuzugun”. Our expanded understandings include:

      (a) Research is not applying a pre-existing method or an educational model, but building investigative praxes with the participation of those who wish to work with the goal of transforming the educational reality of their context.

      (b) According to this, the research problem does not come from the researcher but from the community itself: they identify a problem and seek how to reverse it, to transform reality. This is what we call “situated problematization”.

      (c) Through our experience, we seek to level the positions of those who participate in the research, deciding together what and how to research for, thus forming a research community. Everyone assumes the role of researchers.

      (d) We value all forms of building knowledge as long as they are free from power and imposition. Due to this, all local knowledge and practices have the same value and regardless of who possesses them, they can all be questioned or reflected on.

      (e) All people possess relevant knowledge and practices, whether they have school and academic training or not.

      (f) A flexible research agenda is generated, not rigid like a Gantt chart; its timetable can be accommodated as per the needs of the research community.

      (g) We situate ourselves epistemologically,

               (g1) from the possibility of naming that which has no name, that is, from an                         epistemic thinking

               (g2) valuing all diversity of knowledge, respecting the origin, language,                                 culture, territory and historical context, that is, the historical-situational                     diversity

               (g3) respecting that the construction of knowledge is produced in inseparable                     processes of both learning and teaching, that is, processes of                                             epistemological reciprocity

               (g4) operating on the basis of the dialogue between Western rationality and                         the vision of the world of the indigenous communities that have a                                   different rationality, that is, we assume the research from an expansive                         rationality.

      (h) Due to the previous points, the research community works with procedures to build knowledge or to systematize existing knowledge. The procedures are dialogical and oral. We distance ourselves from the traditional “techniques” of gathering data because, in an indigenous context, they are extractivist.

      (i) The educational reality is understood in the indigenous language. It is important to understand that the only way to adequately interpret knowledge is in one’s own language, respecting its dialectal variation according to the local territories and expanding from a phonetic conception of the language to an echo-sonority conception of its sound (Rivas & Del Pino, 2023).

       (j) The way of validating knowledge must be relevant to the context, to the language and it must fulfill a useful function to improve the educational reality. That is why, once all the constructed and systematized knowledge is gathered, it is organized into transformative, conservative or excluding knowledge. The first, corresponds to all knowledge built to improve reality prior to the research process. The second, refers to knowledge that already existed and that the research community itself decides to maintain because it does not harm the processes of improvement of the reality that is pursued. Finally, the third corresponds to all knowledge that has been harming the educational reality prior to the research process and that the community itself decides has hindered educational change and transformation. However, once all this knowledge is systematized, the excluding knowledge helps us to redirect our research and start a new research cycle. 

    A proposal for educational evaluation in the Mapuce context

    The concept of educational evaluation is a highly sensitive topic for teachers and students in the Mapuce context due to several reasons:

      (a) Traditional evaluation mainly aims at the qualification and measurement of learning

      (b) Grading in Chile is based on a scale from 1 to 7 (with 1 being the lowest score and 7 the highest), which does not have a sense of cultural relevance to the indigenous cultures of the country

      (c) The formative evaluation that is promoted by the Ministry of Education is instrumental, with the sole purpose of obtaining good learning results so that students can get better scores on standardized tests

      (d) The summative evaluation promoted by the Ministry of Education has a unique qualification connotation

      (e) The aforementioned means that Chilean evaluation conceives people from a perspective of homogeneity, which makes cultural, social, territorial, cognitive and linguistic diversity invisible (among other limitations)

      (f) In short, traditional evaluation is not sensitive to indigenous axiological, ontological, epistemological and methodological dimensions.

    All of this led in 2017 to the creation of a research community that has been operating with a wide array of members: kimeltucefe (Mapuce teachers), kimce (wise people), lonko (community male leaders), papay (elderly wise women), gütancefe (bone healer), students’ families, undergraduate and graduate students, and other researchers. This research community decided to build an educational evaluation proposal that was relevant to their Mapuce study programs. From the participatory research process, we have developed a proposal for “Communicative Evaluation-kvmecegeam.” The “communicative” rescues dialogue as a space for dispute and consensus from the Western episteme, which in terms of Bakhtin (2020), is relevant to understanding reality as a polyphony of voices. For its part, “Kvmecegeam” in the Mapuce indigenous language means the “formation of good people,” which, in evaluative terms, has to do with a comprehensive training process for people, in balance between Chilean-Western knowledge such as Mapuce, strengthening their indigenous identity, so that they are norce (fair person), kvmece (good person), newence (brave or strong person) and kimce (wise person). Therefore, we define evaluation as a training process that is concerned with generating learning opportunities, on the one hand, recognizing the diversities in the following areas: cultural, linguistic, territorial and socio-emotional, and on the other hand, generating spaces for equal participation in educational processes. The purpose of the evaluation is to create a sense of life and promote collaborative, affective and fair environments. Along with the above, it is a process that is understood in the development of life, of pu picikece (boys and girls) in the family environment, their community (lof), the school, respecting time and diverse space, permanently that is reflected in the day to day.

    For the development of the evaluation, two large dimensions are distinguished. The first dimension accounts for the general orientations of the evaluation at the institutional level of the school. This dimension considers teachers, indigenous scholars, indigenous authorities, the community and the families of the students as the main decision-makers. This dimension reveals four components:

      (a) The territorial component, which accounts for a criterion associated with the geographical and spiritual space, favoring the ethical (axiological) nature of the evaluation regarding the construction of people’s identity.

      (b) The cultural component, which accounts for the fact that the evaluation focuses on the formation of boys and girls who are good people (ontology), with a sense of obedience to cultural patterns towards other people and invisible (spiritual) beings.

      (c) the social component, which accounts for the rescue of indigenous and non-indigenous methodological practices to develop an educational evaluation.

      (d) the linguistic component, which accounts for the practices that revitalize and recover indigenous knowledge (epistemology) based on their own language.

    The second dimension refers to classroom evaluation, which takes place through evaluation cycles. The first cycle considers the general guidelines of the evaluation which must be participatory (Kejuwvn), formative (Cegeam), focused on learning by doing and not only theoretical (Kimkantun), comprehensive and relevant (Ixofij Kimvn), respectful of cognitive, cultural, territorial and linguistic diversity (Kakewme cegen), focused on good living (Kvme Feleam), and fostering an echo-sonority awareness of indigenous territory (Zugun Az mapu).The second cycle refers to classroom evaluation methodologies. Circular and oral methodologies are mainly promoted, in coherence with the Mapuce worldview. For example: participatory groups which consist of arranging the classroom space with different evaluation activities that must be carried out in groups by the students. Students are encouraged to rotate through all the arranged activities; and pici nvxam, a classroom distribution in a circle or semicircle that allows for the evaluation of the student in front of himself and his peers through orality.

    The third cycle refers to the procedures to formatively evaluate the development of learning, which seeks to be relevant to the mentioned methodologies and tries to rescue the local ways to assess learning, respecting the grade obtained but promoting a conceptual assessment of the learning progress in the students. Finally, the fourth cycle is called reciprocity in the evaluation; once an evaluation process is finished, this allows for a review of the successes and failures, thus helping to make better decisions for a new evaluation cycle.

    The Experience Today

    As a research community, we have two milestones in our history to date: the award of two highly competitive priority projects in Chile, which are financed by the National Agency for Research and Development within the framework of its Fondecyt programs, during these last few years (first project 2018-2021, second project 2022-2025, ongoing). The last project awarded, in 2022, has allowed us to expand our interests in developing an educational evaluation for social justice, not only in the Mapuce indigenous context, but also encompassing other cultural, linguistic, territorial, social and cognitive diversities. Thus, today we work with a team of more than 50 people, including academics, professors and research assistants, in four regions of the country: Maule, La Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos, hence covering central and southern Chile. As a research community, our interest is to propose general guidelines for a fairer evaluation for boys and girls who attend Chilean public schools, who are the least advantaged, both in learning results (measured by standardized tests) and economically. That is why our concern lies in strengthening public education, where indigenous, immigrant, Chilean and disabled children attend.

    Footnote. This essay adopts the Bafkeche Mapuce dialect variant, out of respect for the community with which it has worked. The experience presented is part of the Regular Fondecyt Project No. 1220783.


    Bakhtin, M. M. (2020). The Dialogic Imagination. Four Essays. University of Texas Press.

    Cayuqueo, P. (2017). Historia Secreta Mapuche. Catalonia.

    Del Pino, M., Pino, M., & Manosalva, G. (2018). Salud y sanación: kvme mogen como ámbito del saber educativo mapuce. En Ferrada, D. (Ed.). Reflexiones y experiencias educativas desde las comunidades. Investigación en educación para la justicia social (pp. 19-37). Ediciones UCM.

    Ferrada, D., & Del Pino, M. (2018) Dialogic-kishu kimkelay ta che educational research: participatory action research. Educational Action Research, 26:4, 533-549, DOI: 10.1080/09650792.2017.1379422 

    Loncon, E. (2023). Az mapu. Aportes de la filosofía mapuche para el cuidado del Lof y la Madre Tierra. Ariel.MINISTERIO DE PLANIFICACIÓN Y COOPERACIÓN. (1993). Ley 19.253, Establece normas sobre protección, fomento y desarrollo de los indígenas, y crea la corporación nacional de desarrollo. Gobierno de Chile. Disponible en:

    Rivas, M.C., & Del Pino, M. (2023). Enseñanza del mapuzugun en Chile: Ecosonoridad como apresto a la adquisición de la lengua indígena. Revista Educación, XXXII (62). To view a preprint, go to: either or The published product will be shown here:

    To cite this work, please use the following reference:

    Del Pino, M. (2023, May 7). Educational evaluation in the Mapuce context. Social Publishers Foundation.

    Copyrighted by Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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