Footprints for life

“The Right Path”

Preserving indigenous language and culture through quality education.

Thousands of Colombian children have to walk long distances when going to school, finding several matters such as insecurity, street gangs, and robbery, making school life difficult, especially for those living in rural areas. Moreover, Wayúu indigenous children face another issue that impacts their school access: preserving cultural traditions through quality education.

The Wayúu people make up 45% of La Guajira’s population in Colombia and have their own ethnic-educational schools to preserve their culture, language, and identity through education.

Elyañis, an 11-year-old Wayúu girl living with her family in Colombia’s Uribia municipality, recently enrolled in an ethnic-educational school. “Going to school is very cool for me because I didn’t have the opportunity before due to a lack of space in the schools where my culture is preserved!”

Elyañis a wayúu girl recently enrolled in ethnic schools to preserving cultural traditions through quality education

Moreover, she was identified as an out-of-school child by the “Todos al Cole” initiative. This is a joint project by Education Above All’s Educate A Child program and Fundación Pies Descalzos (FPD), which aims to increase access to quality education in Colombia.

Elyañis loves computer class

Elyañis loves computer class and aspires to be a Spanish teacher. Before enrolling in school, she helped her mother with household chores. The school employs strategies to promote Wayúu culture and preserve cultural traditions through quality education, and Elyañis is proud to be learning.

The initiative uses door-knocking campaigns, school-feeding programs, and teacher training to assist parents in enrolling their children in education that preserves Wayúu cultural traditions while offering Spanish language instruction.

Elyañis’ mother, Isabel says, “I’m very proud of her… I had some worries about her being comfortable at school, [but] I knew education was the right path…. I really want the best for all my children – to be excellent, finish school, and improve their lives.”

Clearly, there is plenty of room for children like Elyañis to access an inclusive education experience that upholds her culture, heritage, and identity.

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