Why is it necessary to teach inter-culturality?
According to figures from the Ministry of Education, 70% of the country’s schools have students of indigenous origins, and an education programme that is moving towards respecting and valuing diversity cannot ignore that fact. The situation has led the Ministry of Education to implement its Bilingual Inter-Cultural Education Programme, in order to develop strategies to shape schools into education spaces that:
• Guarantee children’s access to knowledge handed down by their ancestors.
• Invite students to play an active role in the education process, where their language and culture are a starting point for developing competencies (skills, knowledge, and attitudes).
• Promotes indigenous languages as a key element in opening a real discussion of inter-culturality.
For these reasons, it is vital to develop curriculum proposals that bear the hallmark of promoting cultural diversity and identity, in order to eliminate discriminatory practices in Chilean schools and to promote a framework of coexistence as the basis of a society that demands equality.
What are the main challenges to continue advancing in Chile?
The Inter-Cultural Education Programme’s mission for the future is to advance towards building a society that does not discriminate, through the development of inter-cultural competencies and bilingualism among students, including those with and without indigenous roots, with a special emphasis on those who participate in education centres with a high concentration of indigenous students.
What are the consequences of the existence of a law that defends children’s rights to learn in their own languages?
Faced with the phenomenon of globalization, the cultures and languages of indigenous people help build local identities that promote a different image inside and outside of a nation. Nowadays, nations cannot be seen as closed entities, as the value of coexistence and of social and cultural diversity becomes ever more apparent, contributing not only to the creation of a national identity but also to enriching humanity as a whole. A nation that is rich in diversity is a nation that is rich in life.
There are currently 350 schools with more than 50% of the students enrolled of indigenous origin. Is there a classroom subject called indigenous language? Who teaches and learning this subject?
The Aymara, Quechua, Mapuzugun, and Rapa Nui languages are taught and learned in the classroom as a teaching method and a sequence of learning events, including specific methodologies and activities to address the Obligatory Minimum Contents specified for the subject, with a view to achieving the stated Fundamental Objectives.
This teaching method takes into account the unique linguistic features of each of the languages taught, adopting the flexibility required by the different contexts in which it is implemented. It also emphasizes language learning and fosters activities that bring students closer to the culture, as through learning a language one can learn fundamental aspects of a culture, such as the circularity of time, the relationship of all things with nature, the position and definition of the individual in relation to the environment, and harmony between peers.
In methodological terms, language teaching and learning are organized based on semantic characteristics, understanding how the construction of a language is directly related to the cultural meanings ascribed by the people using it. Therefore, it is not enough merely to learn to speak an indigenous language and to memorize its linguistic elements; it is also fundamental for learners to draw in the cultural meanings that form the subject matter of the language.
What is the role and background of the traditional educators who are teaching at these schools?
This subject is implemented in schools by traditional educators, who have gained teaching skills or work with the support of the course teacher in matters of teaching and assessment.
What actions and activities are planned for the near future?
Planned actions for the Bilingual Inter-Cultural Education Programme are:
• In 2017 the implementation of the Indigenous Language subject will be completed at all levels of basic education (implementation: 2010-2017).
• Design of a methodology to define and assess indigenous language skills in the school system.
• Ensure the design of a system for the training and professional certification of traditional educators.