The Alma Children’s Education Foundation has recently begun working with leaders and parents from the community of K’enko to improve access to secondary school education for 40 students who, at the moment, walk five hours a day to get to the nearest secondary school.K’enko is a small highland community approximately 1.5 hours by car from Pisac. It is accessible only by a single lane, unpaved, mountain road leading up from the main highway that links Pisac to Cusco. K’enko has a primary school but no secondary school, so for the children to continue their education, their only option is to walk to the nearest secondary school, Inca Ripaq, which is in Ccorao. The road that the children walk on a daily basis is prone to mudslides in the rainy season and at risk of rockslides all year round. In addition to steep drops, sections of the road are characterized by blind turns that cars often take at aggressively high speeds. On a number of occasions, children have been injured on their way to and from school. Moreover, the long walk alone has a direct impact on the young people, limiting the ability of the students to learn in the classroom.
The children set off for school between 6am and 6:30am every morning in order to arrive on time at 8:30am, often exhausted and, during the rainy season, wet and muddy. A small breakfast exacerbates the effect of the lengthy, two-hour walk and diminishes the children’s ability to concentrate in the classroom, thereby limiting the student’s ability to learn to his or her full potential. At the end of the school day, the children face an arduous, three-hour trek uphill to get back home to K’enko. With such obstacles in place, families often choose to pull their children out of school and, instead, send them to work in the fields or to graze animals, where they can directly contribute to the family’s income. K’enko is a poor community as potato farming is the primary source of income. Limited economic resources mean that the community cannot afford to provide transportation for its children. Community leaders and parents approached the Alma Foundation with a proposal to fund transportation to and from the secondary school. Working closely with the community leaders, the parents’ association, and the Inca Ripaq Secondary School, the project will formally begin the first week of June 2011, providing transportation for all 40 children from K’enko who attend the secondary school. Having met with a number of students from K’enko, we found truly inspirational the dedication and commitment they demonstrate on a daily basis to complete a secondary school level of education. With the support of the Alma Foundation, it is our hope that the students, with improved access to the school, will be able to learn to their full potential and have more options for their future and that of their community.
This project is being funded in 2011 by the students of Voice Intermediate School in Toronto as part of their “local2global” fundraising initiative.
September 2011 Update
Drivers are now signing in at every pick-up to ensure children are arriving and departing school on time. Each of the four cars has an assigned group of children, including one student coordinator who takes attendance. The photocopier is working well and is much appreciated. Alma has begun talks with the community of K’enko and the District Municipality of Coya about methods of transporting the children (a bus) or constructing a new school in the area.
July 2012 Update
This project has been completed.