The Q’ero are a Quechua speaking tribe from the central mountains of Peru. Their lands cover some of the highest, most rugged and most isolated terrain in the Andes and their Pacos, or Shamans, are considered the best, most knowledgeable and most powerful of the region. There are currently about three thousand Q’ero living in 6 villages isolated throughout their territory.
Two schools, grades one through five, situated in the outlying villages currently serve Q’eros. The schools offer only the most basic education and are highly lacking in educational materials and teaching supplies. The teachers themselves are imported and for the most part unfamiliar with the Q’ero traditions and their shamanic practices. Most do not even speak the traditional Quechua of the region. Parents want their kids to receive an education however, when the Q’ero children enter the school house, they leave their language and traditions at the door and are taught only a western style education.
In addition, many students must walk three to four hours each way, everyday to attend class. Many days children from the further villages must stay at the school instead of returning home due to bad weather and the teachers have neither the supplies nor the funding to house and feed the children on these occasions. By attending school, the Q’ero children do not have time to learn their traditions and ancient shamanic ways which are an equally important part of their education. Also, in order to receive any education beyond fifth grade, students must travel the 2 day journey to to Cuzco and many Q’ero families are making the move to the detriment of their community.
Along with the need for basic supplies and teaching materials, the Q’ero would like to see their school system revamped to have a curriculum that encompasses both the necessary western subjects as well as their shamanic traditions. They are in need of another school to serve more students locally, as well as expanded education so that students may continue through high school in Q’eros. The Peruvian government has said they will provide funding for these once the buildings have been constructed and the schools have been established. CSEE has committed to supporting the Q’ero in this endeavor to support their education and the preservation of their traditions.