Education in indigenous languages resists

Photo by Junior Machado on

In Peru, there are 48 native languages and approximately 28,000 bilingual schools, within the modalities of regular basic school, alternative basic school and special basic school, serving more than 1,200,000 students nationwide, at the pre-school, primary and secondary levels.

In order to continue with the proposals for progress in rural bilingual education policies, within the Peruvian Ministry of Education there is the Directorate of Alternative Basic Education, Intercultural Bilingual Education and Educational Services in Rural Areas, which, through its professionals, is responsible for designing and proposing improvements in education in rural areas, through proposals for educational improvements and training for bilingual teachers, in order to ensure the education of thousands of students in an inclusive manner and to avoid school dropout.

However, despite continuous efforts, the lack of budget and bilingual teachers only widens the inequality gap. Furthermore, the ongoing political crisis in the country not only generates an atmosphere of uncertainty in general, but it also stops further proposals and investments in order to meet the main demands of students from indigenous peoples.

Rural bilingual schools are not only spaces for the dissemination of academic knowledge, but also of ancestral knowledge. Peruvian indigenous peoples are spaces in which there is a living culture of ancestral knowledge, which is passed down from generation to generation. Ensuring bilingual education through teacher training, funding, educational policies, but above all respect for ancestors who have resisted through the centuries, would contribute to reducing the inequality and indifference with which these peoples have been living. The current political situation, and the current violation of human rights in the country, especially in sectors where there is a high presence of indigenous people (the Department of Puno is the most affected, with citizens murdered during the demonstrations against the current president and is home to the Quechua and Aymara population), only affects a student community that is faced with indifference, lack of basic services to study and lack of quality education; However, it also empowers students who are aware that they are the voice of the future and seek to be heard in order to feel included in a country that is highly centralised in the capital Lima.

The challenges facing the Peruvian state in order to ensure the development of students from indigenous peoples is to continue to coordinate with various institutions such as the Ministry of Culture (which has a directorate that promotes policies for the protection of indigenous peoples), civil associations that have a professional staff to meet the main demand for social projects, curators who would help students to continue generating spaces for dialogue and ancestral knowledge, enhancing through education everything they have learned through their community sages; But above all, the Ministry of Education must ensure educational policies that ensure that students can receive the same quality education that students who have Spanish as their mother tongue receive.

The 48 native languages resist in a country that seems to be more and more indifferent every day and whose colonial construction still persists. However, what Peruvian society does not count on is a large native student community, who through meetings try to make their own demands visible, try to denounce open secrets that are like assassinations of community leaders defending their territories, as well as systematic violence that they constantly experience. Rural schools are therefore not only spaces of knowledge, but also of resistance, in the face of a country that looks at them with indifference.      

Ana Claudia Baltazar Diaz


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