In order to pursue higher education, indigenous youth in the northern Peruvian Amazon must travel far from their communities to the city of Iquitos. The pandemic has aggravated the multiple challenges they already face. Classes are exclusively held through virtual platforms, but many lack permanent computer and internet access, risking their studies. We provide academic, personal, and logistical support to over 120 indigenous youth belonging to 15 different Amazonian peoples.
Only 3.25% of the indigenous population in Peru's Loreto region complete higher education. There are multiple difficulties for indigenous students; the lack of economic resources, lower educational level, limited mastery of Spanish, and the absence of intercultural programs at local universities. The pandemic adds a new obstacle: all classes are now held online. While only a few students have access to a computer and the internet, many are now at a higher risk of dropping out of university.
We provide IT education, in-person academic tutoring, and personal support. We also organize artistic workshops and dialogues on culture and identity. We aim to purchase additional computers and provide internet access at the temporary student-residency while continuing our political lobbying and advocacy for the permanent student residency project in Iquitos. All our activities are carried out with an intercultural approach and with the necessary bio-security measures the pandemic requires.
More students will reach their potential as professionals and will be empowered to work in the city or to return home and support their communities. While higher education is perceived as a way to reach higher positions in society, the conventional education system is often in conflict with indigenous knowledge and values. By strengthening the indigenous students' identity and cultural engagement they will become key advocates for their rights and culture throughout the Amazon and beyond.
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