A Sponge for Learning
Like many of the world’s most brilliant minds, Waman, an indigenous activist from Latin America, is happiest when he’s learning something new. After his family, books and information are his greatest treasures. Waman is known colloquially in his village as El Sponjee, because he is “like a sponge for information." Waman is a proud and humble man. He is one of the most skilled and educated people in his community, having completed primary and secondary school in both Spanish and his indigenous language. His favourite subject was natural science, where he enjoyed learning about agricultural techniques, botany and ornithology. Waman also knows basic English, which allows him to occasionally enjoy some side work opportunities with local tourism agencies.
“There are an estimated 370 million indigenous persons worldwide. Indigenous people have historically been, and continue to be, subject to social and political marginalization that has undercut their access to development.”
Waman’s educational success was made possible because of the government’s efforts in the past decade to include indigenous communities in the national education system. There are schools that teach through secondary school in local indigenous languages, alongside a Spanish curriculum. Some schools include English instruction as well. These schools also provide more culturally appropriate texts in all three languages. There are many indigenous communities in the region, however, and not all are given the same attention in the school system.
“Indigenous peoples continue to experience economic, social and political marginalization.”