Share Bilingual/Bicultural Literacy Focus with Peruvian Educators
BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – FEBRUARY 20, 2014 – Maria
Constancia Morales was among ten educators from
Peru who met with faculty members at The University of Texas at
Brownsville on Friday, Jan. 31 as
part of a trip to several Texas locations to observe bilingual literacy
UTB had a big significance for me as it allowed me to
find out about the Language, Literacy and Intercultural Studies degree,”
Morales said. “It is what we’re looking for to enrich our own bilingual
intercultural education because we have 15 indigenous languages where the
majority doesn’t have a normalized alphabet. This means that children learning
those languages cannot learn how to write them, only to speak them.”
The group represented San Martín and Ucayali, two Amazonian regions of northern Peru. Morales is Chief of Pedagogical Management in the Local Management Education Unit of Padre Abad, a territorial unit in the Ucayali region.
Dr. Juliet V. García, UTB President, greets Lord Salazar Rodriguez, Director of Pedagogical Management, Ucayali, and Gloria Ruiz Perez, Primary Education Specialist, Padre Abad, Ucayali.
convening in El Salón Cassia, the guests were escorted on a tour of the Main
courtyards and to view the Resaca Lozano Banco from the footbridge, where they
were greeted by Dr. Juliet V.
Duarte, Professor in the Department of
Teaching, Learning and Innovation, led a discussion on the challenges
facing bilingual education educators, especially in situations such as
multi-lingual Peru, a country where she has professional and personal ties.
Duarte spent her sabbatical in Peru in 2005 teaching at the Universidad de
San Cristobal-Huamanga in Ayacucho; she visits as often as possible, to see
family and friends in Ayacucho, Chinchero and Trujillo.
various indigenous languages of the Andes and the jungle regions of the country
make Peru fascinating, challenging and exciting,” Duarte said.
counterpart, Wilson Guerrero, Director of Pedagogical Management for the
Regional Direction of Education in the Region of San Martín, spoke of the need
for bilingual teacher education as well as the scarcity of educational
materials in various languages, including Quechua, the primary indigenous
language that is also the second official language of Peru.
“The unique cultural and spiritual connections to
the Andes make the Quechua population a challenge for the more urban Lima
administration where Spanish dominates the educational system, policies and
practices of the country,” Duarte said.
Dr. Dania López
gave the delegation an overview of the new University of
Texas Rio Grande Valley and the plans to become a university where a key
principle is to build bilingual education.
presenter, Dr. Edith Galy, Associate Professor and Graduate Program Coordinator
for the School of
gave a presentation on the Spanish-language Master of Business Administration
degree being proposed by the School of Business.
Peruvian educators were very interested in hearing how we intended to establish
a program in a second language and what the expectations were for our
professors and students,” Galy said. “They shared their experiences as teachers
and program directors in Peru, and they expressed their commitment in the
difficult but important endeavor to build fluency in two languages: their
native tongue and Spanish.”
to their short visit to UTB, the group spent several days in Austin where they
visited with leaders of A Community in Education (ACE) at the Charles A. Dana Center of The
University of Texas at Austin, and they also visited KIPP Austin
Ringo Coral Vela, Chief, Primary Specialist, San Martín, engages in discussion between Peruvian delegation and UTB faculty.
group proceeded to Brownsville, spending two days with Brownsville
Independent School District representatives and making observations at several
the Peruvian delegation were three representatives of Family
(FHI360), based in Durham, N.C., an organization that facilitates educational
initiatives in Peru, with the support of the United
States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Desirée Pallais, a literacy consultant
for FHI 360/USAID, organized the study tour at the request of Evelyn Rodríguez,
chief of the USAID Office of Health and Education in Peru. Pallais has been a
frequent visitor to Peru since 2012, promoting evidence-based pedagogy among
education officials and practitioners, in a context of discussion and
collaboration about early grade reading.
was an extraordinary visit, an authentic cultural encounter that went beyond
the expectations of the tour group,” Pallais said. “They engaged in a
productive dialogue about literacy, taking into account cultural realities and
the different perceptions of literacy.”
said the visit to UTB was a fitting culmination to the week.
came to Texas and saw Americans who are generous, hard-working and supportive –
who are blind to social classes, and that was so important,” Pallais said.
“They saw Americans who identified with them and support their efforts and
extended information and shared ideas.”
literacy efforts in Peru are implemented in partnership with the SUMA Project,
a five-year initiative of USAID that aims to improve the quality of basic
education in the most disadvantaged communities of Peru, specifically in the
regions of San Martín, Ucayali, Ayacucho, Lima Province, Amazonas and
the group visiting the U.S. was Reading Specialist Verónica Caffo, who directs
the reading component of the USAID SUMA Education
Project in the targeted regions, including San Martín and Ucayali. Under SUMA,
USAID helps the Peruvian Ministry of Education streamline its organizational
structure at the national level and improve education management, information
systems, and in-service teacher training in the sub-national regions.
end their visit, the group was treated to dinner at South Padre Island, where
they were excited to see the Gulf of Mexico – a first-time event for the
“I believe this group of culturally responsive
educators has a vision of embracing their home language while sensitively
responding to the cultural nuances across the four major geographical regions
of Peru,” Duarte said. “This is not easy in a country where there are terrains
that have created many isolated communities. I believe their time with
Texas educators was well planned and implemented, and I look forward to future
learn more about the project, visit El Viaje de
Estudio a Texas: “Visitas y Conversaciones en Lecto–escritura.”