Friday 27th January, two of the Directors of Alianza Arkana – Brian Best, Director of Community-Based Solutions and Dr. Paul Roberts, Intercultural Education Director – signed a ‘Convenio Marco de Cooperación Interinstitucional’, that is a general agreement of inter-organizational cooperation, with Ing. (Engineer) Augusto B. Montes Gutiérrez – the Academic Vice-President of the National Intercultural University of the Amazon (UNIA).
UNIA, founded 5 years ago, is the only indigenous university in Peru, and it is the University that our 8 Shipibo scholarship recipients are currently attending. Located just outside of Yarinacocha, close to the regional capital of Pucallpa, UNIA has at least 16 different ethnic groups represented in its student body – each of which has its own language, culture and cosmovision.
Part of the uniqueness of UNIA is that all its degree programs are grounded in and supportive of indigenous realities and cosmovisions. At the same time, students need to learn and understand Western-based forms of knowledge in the courses they are studying. It is precisely this respect for and creative interplay between indigenous and Western systems of knowledge that leads to an effective intercultural education.
The agreement signed between UNIA and Alianza Arkana is significant because it sets out a broad frame of reference for both organizations to work together.
Specifically, this agreement commits UNIA to: offering Alianza Arkana’s scholarship students places within its subsidised student cafeteria, free entry to its library and computer labs, and free transport to and from Pucallpa to UNIA; providing Alianza Arkana information each semester about the academic performance of the scholarship students; and supporting the development of multidisciplinary projects within UNIA such as courses conferences and symposia.
And in return, Alianza Arkana is committed to developing further projects within the framework established between the two organizations; finding funds for these projects from other Peruvian and International sources of funding; help organize lectures, conferences and other events at UNIA; and pay the costs of food and lodging for the students who have received scholarships from Alianza Arkana.
These projects currently include: offering scholarships this year to eight Shipibo young people to study at UNIA for five years to become intercultural teachers – for the next year we plan to offer twelve five-year scholarships across all UNIA’s Degree programs; and, in the near future, constructing an ecological residential accommodation to house both the current group of eight scholarship students and also for the twelve students to whom we plan to offer scholarships next year.
Monday, 20 February 2012