World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education 2011

Performers at the start of the opening ceremony

I had the great privilege of attending the 2011 World Indigenous People’s Conference on Education last month. Held in Cusco Peru, I quickly learnt the highs and sometimes lows of attending an international conference in a non-English speaking country at high altitude. I’m not complaining though, since its conception twenty four years ago, this was the first time the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education (WIPCE) was held in Latin America.

One of the Elders calls everyone together

Along with many great presentations on Indigenous education, the conference saw Guaranies, Aymaras, Mayas, Mapuches and Quechuas communities attending for the first time since it was last held in Latin America. One fantastic initiative of this year’s conference was the allocation of forty-five percent of our registration fee going directly to a local Quechua community.

The overall theme of WIPCE 14 was Living Our Indigenous Roots. There were a variety of presentations to choose from for each day – Day 1 – Indigenous Education for Future Generation,  Day 2 – Living Indigenous Language, and Day 3 – Indigenous Wisdom for Common Welfare

I particularly enjoyed the presentation by Wilbert G. Rozas who talked about his experience of the struggles to getting Indigenous languages recognised as a valued body of knowledge to succeed in mainstream society, and including having recognised bilingual education in Peru. There were approximately 60 pilot schools at the start of their initiative, with only 2 currently in operation. He argued that there is an assumption that if students do not learn Spanish (Peru’s official language) that they won’t succeed in ‘civilised’ society.

I also learned about fracking during a presentation by Mike Bruised Head (Chief Bird – Ninaa Piiksii) from Standoff in Alberta Canada. His presentation was on Environmental Education: A means of survival for Indigenous People. He also talking about hydrolic fracking, and it’s impact on Indigenous communities. You can read more about this topic here. 

Overall it was an excellent experience in a very different community. I hope to write up more about the speakers over the next few weeks. I also look forward to attending the next conference in Hawaii in 2014.

You can read other educator’s blogs about WIPCE 2011 here: