The Center for Intercultural Bilingual Community Education Yachay Wasi is an institution for education that receives both funds from the government and from outside sources. Yachay Wasi serves students in grades 1-7. It was founded to strengthen indigenous communities of the Andes.
Our mission is to give to our students an intercultural and bilingual education with cultural pertinence and ecological justice to the Andes Mountains, with the purpose of re-invigorating the knowledge of the original people of this land in combination with contemporary, modern, knowledge of the people today; recuperating the respect of all forms of expression of human life, nature, and deities.
In the 90s, after the indigenous uprising, we proposed a different system of education based in the on the values and beliefs of indigenous farmers and respectful of our mother earth. Even with these protests and uprisings, discrimination was against indigenous people was rampant in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Because of this, I, Laura Santillan, and my partner, Fernando Chimba, did not want to put our children in a school where they would be marginated, mistreated, beat up, or discriminated against for thinking differently, for being different, for feeling different, for being indigenous. The normal education system degraded us, like redskins, like natives; they alienated us culturally, and destroyed us ideologically. So we decided to start educating ourselves. Various friends of ours who shared our ideologies joined us and of this dream, in 1990, together we created Yachay Wasi with three students, my oldest son, Jumandi Amaru, and two of his friends. In the following years, my two other children, Sinchi and Nina, would attend as well. In the year 2001 we legalized the school with 30 students, indigenous children of families that did not want to lose their culture, that did not want their children to simply memorize facts. Families that wanted a distinct education where the principle was “to form humans caring of diversity, and caretakers of the mother earth, la Pachamama.”
This is why the inclusion of a biodiverse field, "la chackra" is a must in our educational space.
Our vision for Yachay Wasi for the year 2019 is to affirm the cultural diversity of children, adolescents, young adults, and families, invigorating the local knowledges and cultures of their respective communities, with respect to the time and space of the Andean cosmovision and with the dialogue of balance with western, modern knowledge.
Yachay Wasi receives funding from the state to pay three teachers and the service for internet connection. They receive the rest of their funding through the Foundation Pakarinka Sisari for Early Development. This organization maintains itself through donations from people who recognize Yachay Wasi as a space for alternative and ancestral education, that does not reject the old or new ways, but combines them for a rich educative experience.