Indigenous Peruvian Teacher Scholarship Fund

Teachers who can speak to their students' hearts must speak their students' heart language. 

Meet Glinda, age 31, from the Awajún community. Her desire is to promote quality education for the children of her community. “A títulos will permit me to access greater professional opportunities as a woman. It is particularly difficult for indigenous teachers—and even more so for women—to access education. There are very few women studying to be teachers and few complete their studies if they do try. As a result, there are very few female teachers.”

If you are familiar with SIL LEAD, you know that we are constantly talking about the benefits of classrooms having local teachers who know the mother tongue and culture of the children they teach. The indigenous languages of the Peruvian Amazon are seriously threatened because of pressures toward Spanish and a lack of mother tongue school books. Children who no longer hear their language in school are rapidly losing not only the ability to speak their heritage language; they are losing their ability to read their language. So much is at stake!  

Recent changes to the laws governing Peru’s educational system may result in thousands of teachers being fired and losing their pensions in the near future. These changes, which require all teachers to have teaching certificates (títulos), disproportionately affect indigenous teachers.

By some estimates, one-third to one-half of the indigenous teachers in the Peruvian Amazon may soon be forced from their jobs.

Although these teachers were able to complete four years of university coursework, the prohibitively high cost of completing their thesis requirements has made it impossible for them to earn their títulos. It is particularly difficult for them because of the very low salaries indigenous teachers are paid and the great distances that they tend to live from the institutions where they studied. These teachers are passionate about teaching the children from their language communities, and often tried to complete their thesis requirements.

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Nehemías is from the Shipibo-Konibo community. He studied at the Universidad Nacional Intercultural de la Amazonía but needs a scholarship to complete his thesis requirements.

“My purpose and aspiration after receiving my títulos is to help my community, family, and indigenous children that so desperately need bilingual education so that they can learn in their mother tongue.”

Based in Yarinacocha, a local nonprofit organization called AIDI (Asociación Indígena de Desarrollo Integral) desires to provide scholarships to such teachers so that they can complete their thesis requirements. AIDI has carefully selected teachers who have demonstrated good character, academic capability, and teaching skills. Because of the lack of indigenous teachers in Peru, AIDI believes that these teachers will be given teaching positions within their communities once they complete their thesis requirements. AIDI has worked closely with a number of past and present SIL members and has also partnered with SIL Peru.

With your help, SIL LEAD would like to fund a pilot project of 24 scholarships. To do so, we need to raise $2,400 per scholarship ($57,600 for the whole project). We are looking for partners like you and your community group, school, church, business, etc. to help us reach our goal.