10×10 is built on a foundation of partnerships with NGOs, corporations, policy makers, and grassroots organizations – all working to change minds, lives, and policy. 10×10′s coalition of NGO partners provide life-changing services to girls every day, and are among the best practitioners of their kind. They include: A New Day Cambodia, CARE USA, UN Foundation’s Girl Up, Partners in Health, Plan International USA, Pratham USA, Room to Read, and World Vision. We are proud to present our weekly Partner Series, where we highlight the wonderful work that they are doing on the ground.
The Peruvian branch of CARE, a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, has been working to improve education in the country for the past 7 years.
CARE Peru, a 10×10 Partner, focuses its work on empowering the South American country’s most vulnerable groups, including women, indigenous people and rural populations. The group runs programs whose goals are to achieve the Millennium Development Goals through programs tackling climate change, economic development, education, emergency and disaster risk reduction, gender equality, health, HIV & AIDS, nutrition, Governance & Dialogue in Extractive Industries, and integrated water resource management.
Q: CARE has been working for decades to improve education in Peru. Could you describe some of your programs?
Elsie Ralston: CARE is the oldest NGO in Peru, with presence in all of the regions. The Intercultural and Bilingual Education Program started as it is, around seven years ago with a strong focus on girls, as part of our transversal gender approach. We are trying to have all children learn in their first language, whether it’s Spanish, Quechua, Aymara or one of the others, because they learn better in their native language. We are also a multicultural country, so we try to get curricula that include the best parts of the children’s culture along with the best parts of our national culture in one Program.
It began to be a priority for the Peruvian State not long ago, and we are supporting the right of children to have the proper educational program, whether they live the highlands or rainforest or the coast.
We’re also working closely with a group called the Florecer Network, to spread the idea that girls should finish school on time and appropriately. Many don’t because they stay home to take care of their brothers and sisters or because they become moms.
Q: What are the sources of Peru’s problems achieving educational goals and gender parity?
Gabriela Ayzanoa Vigil: There are several difficulties mostly seen in rural, isolated areas, like in the Andes or the Amazon. Extreme poverty means families work at home instead of sending girls to school, which are often very far from home. High Schools can be insecure places for girls where they experience psychological violence and discrimination. In some cultures, there is also a preference to send boys to school instead of girls. A CARE study found that around 150,000 girls don’t finish high school on time and properly in Peru.
That’s why we work in Puno [A program to improve the quality of education for 7,900 Quechua-speaking rural children of primary school age in the highlands of Southern Peru. –Ed.]. We are working with schools and trying to change the situation.
We hold workshops to make teachers conscious of the problem and train them that boys and girls should be treated equally. We give the teachers technical assistance and provide science, math and communication books with intercultural perspectives. In the south, for instance, we provide books in Aymara and Quechua because those children speak those languages.
Q: Do you have any special plans to recognize International Day of the Girl on Oct. 11?
Elsie Ralston: We will launch our national campaign on Oct. 10, the first-ever International Day of the Girl, that will last until next March. We’ll launch the campaign in a public event with public figures that are joining us in this effort and our special invitees: girls from Puno.
At the event, we’ll screen a 10×10 short documentary made for CARE USA in Puno-Peru. There will also be music, art and the presentation of our public petition asking the Education Minister to include in the next year’s agenda the important issue: all girls in our country should finish high school on time and properly.
Q: Why have you joined 10×10 to raise awareness about the importance of girls’ education around the world?
Elsie Ralston: We agree with 10×10’s position that educating girls prevents or helps many problems like malnutrition, violence, discrimination, illiteracy, and ultimately, extreme poverty. As a young woman, is not hard for me to see the difference between the opportunities I got thanks to my high school education and the ones I could have gotten being born someplace else in my country. At CARE, we think Peru has both the obligation and possibility to bring every Peruvian girl the education they deserve.
Gabriela Ayzanoa Vigil: Our national government has put social inclusion in its agenda and education is important for social inclusion. Many talk about the problems with education but they don’t look at the center of the problem, which is poor education for girls. Peru’s first lady also sees the problem and agrees with us. We think that the power of videos like 10×10 is doing is very important to have for a campaign. This is the first time we’ve been part of a video campaign, but we’ve seen from other countries how powerful it can be.
We’re happy to be working with 10×10 because we need to have more visibility in the work we do for girls.