URACCAN participates in international conversation on the current challenges of indigenous universities
General Academic Director of URACCAN, MSc. Letisia Castillo.
Ricardo Guzmán, with collaboration from Neylin Calderón

Exchange of experiences and perspectives of intercultural higher education in the current context

On behalf of URACCAN, its CEO, MSc. Letisia Castillo participated this afternoon in the international conversation "Challenges of indigenous university education in the new regional educational context", organized by UNIBOL Guaraní and Pueblos de Tierras Bajas, where different indigenous universities shared their experiences on how they are facing the challenges imposed by the educational and regional situation around the intra and intercultural.

In this space open to the Latin American university community, professor Castillo, Professor Nora Dari, of the National University of Quilmes, Argentina participated; German David Mburuvicha, guarani Jujuy Language and Culture Athenaeum, Argentina; Abraham Tito Herrera, de la UNIBOL Aymara "Tupak Catari". The exhibition round was moderated by UNIBOL Guaraní representative "Apiaguaiki Tupa", Jorge Paredes Coimbra.   

During her speech, entitled "Challenges of intercultural community university education in the new regional educational context: the URACCAN case", the academic director reflected on the recognition of interculturality as a necessary cross-cutting axis in higher education, so that "the new generations may form in the competences of the 21st century with greater appreciation by the community, ethnic diversity , culturally and gender, becoming true agents of change."

According to Master Castillo, in the contemporary global context, where cultural diversity has emerged and where each social group fights for recognition of its distinctive features, the community intercultural approach is of great relevance. And that is where indigenous universities stand out, where a range of possibilities open up for them to decolonize thought and open themselves to a truly inclusive, equitable education focused on the dignity and particularities of communities.

Regarding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on indigenous peoples and their concerns at URACCAN, the academic director emphasized the alteration of spiritual balance and harmony with nature, which impacts on the world's vision and the ways of life of indigenous communities. In addition, this health crisis has highlighted social gaps, stripped away inequalities, where communities face major disadvantages in health, education and work, by centralizing state policies in urban areas.

Based on the above, the specialist argues that "the pandemic adds a more critical degree of complexity to higher education that, virtually around the world, but particularly in the region, already faced unresolved challenges such as growth without guarantees of quality, inequities in access and achievement, or progressive loss of public funding."

Faced with these structural gaps, Master Castillo highlighted the commendable work that URACCAN has been doing through its intercultural community model, through which she strengthens Regional Autonomy, accompanies peoples in their development processes with identity and professionalizes human talent, promoting their ethnic essence and revitalizing their languages.

"It is important," Principal Castillo concluded, "to think of an intercultural higher education for life, taking into account each of our contexts (...); an intercultural education that promotes a closer, more harmonious, complementary relationship with the different ways of educating (...); where their own educational systems and institutions are made visible in national frameworks and that they emphasize pedagogical processes that include the cultural logics, worldviews and spiritualities of indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples, which increasingly demonstrate their true validity and need."

Participation of the URACCAN university community

As a large family, the university community of URACCAN supported the representation of its academic director through active participation in the conversation.

In this sense, the action of URACCAN Vice-Chancellor General MA was noteworthy. Yuri Zapata, who within the framework of the University Planning module, of the Master's Degree in University Teaching, participated together with 30 teachers in this academic activity, attending the 4 presentations of the experts in higher education, where they shared the experiences of the indigenous universities they represented.