Communities Support Bilingual Education
By CARE USA
“Before, classes would begin in mid-April or late March, and only a few attended. We had to go from house to house so they would come to school,” said Professor Ezekiel Huamán, Director of Huacrán primary school. “This year, for the first time, the school year started on March 1st, with the attendance of all the boys and girls, and they came with their parents on first day, which was exciting for everyone.”
Huacrán primary school is a multi-grade elementary school located at an altitude of 3,200 meters in the middle of the Andes. It serves 42 students in Grades 1 through Grade 6, and has two teachers, one of which is the Director. This isolated indigenous community, consisting of 46 families, previously had little to no engagement in educational development.
In December 2008, Credit Suisse and CARE launched a partnership to address the educational needs of historically excluded indigenous children in the province of Carhuaz, in the region of Ancash, Peru. Mushuq Naanintsiq is a bilingual education project, which means “Our New Path” in the local Quechua language. Through the project, CARE has increased the number of children and adolescents in Peruvian preschool, primary and secondary schools who have access to a quality education that is pertinent to their language, culture and social context.
Through the Mushuq Naanintsik project, CARE has worked with teachers, educational authorities and community members to build an intercultural curriculum that includes the use of both the local Quechua and Spanish as languages of instruction, but goes beyond traditional bilingual education models by making ancestral indigenous knowledge an integral part of subject content. By training teachers and working directly families, we have increased the number of students passing key subjects like Math and Spanish. We have observed an increase in the Grade 6 graduation rate. Additionally, commitment and support to bilingual education has been built amongst parents, community members and the government. Fundamental to the project’s success has been CARE’s working to influence education policy and advocating for the model’s continued and expanded uptake by government, which has helped to ensure that indigenous children continue to receive and succeed with quality, bilingual education.
Outcomes have included increased confidence and enthusiasm among teachers, students and community members about the educational experience, improved teacher planning, and increased attendance and performance among students. Teachers like Ezekiel are also training other district level teachers in the intercultural methodology. CARE commits to working with partners to bring about sustainable change so that all children can enjoy their right to education- no matter their gender, where they live, or what language they speak.
CARE has long focused its attention on the most marginalized groups, and believes that every child has the right to a quality education, and every government as a responsibility to education all children- even in the most difficult circumstances and for the most vulnerable groups. To learn more about CARE’s work in education, please visit www.care.org.