The Golden anniversary dream! This is a large public high school in Urubamba that gets little government funding beyond teachers’ salaries. We have worked with Nexos Voluntarios, a Peruvian charity with deep roots in Urubamba, on previous projects with staff and students from GOU, so we have a good understanding of stakeholder needs and assets. Two teachers and the principal, who care deeply about the quality of education at GOU, approached us with a long-term business plan to improve the school. In 2010, the school celebrated its 50th anniversary; our dream is to help them build an arts building. Arts education can be an extremely effective method of educating children in Peru. Furthermore, high school does not provide vocational training, so most students graduate with few marketable skills. Arts, in an area close to Machu Picchu, can provide a living. The thousands of tourists in the area buy “artisan” crafts, especially woven products. If students can be taught weaving, they will have a skill that will provide some income.
The arts building has additional benefits. It has been difficult to integrate indigenous young people from the mountain villages with those in the town of Urubamba. Currently there are only four students from small mountain communities attending the school. The teachers and community leaders with whom we met suggested that an arts program focusing on indigenous weaving would attract more children from the rural communities. The school and Nexos have run a pilot project employing three teenage girls from the mountain community of Huelloc to teach weaving in an after school program. Some 30 students participated and another 40 have signed up for future classes.
This proves that the focus on weaving and the pilot project have been successful. The arts building will allow these young women, and others from the mountains who are skilled in the art of weaving, to teach their craft and integrate with the broader student body. The arts building is the basis from which several arts programs will be run. The project will provide vocational training to all students, a sense of self-esteem for the mountain young people, and a source of pride for youth and teachers alike.This type of project would not be funded by the government. Together with the GOU team, we created a detailed business plan with costs broken down to each individual brick. The school, along with parents and students, raised one-third of the construction costs; Alma paid for the balance. The parents and teachers also helped in building the two-storey arts building.
The building was completed in November 2010. A group of ScotiaMcleod employees and two Alma Directors attended the opening ceremony on November 8. Over 200 students now use the facility daily, and we are helping the school create arts programs and outreach programs utilizing the Alma arts building.