Kusi Kawsay Andean School is a self-governed and non- profit school rooted in Andean tradition that empowers economically challenged children from Pisac region to become confident, free young adults and leaders of the future whose aim is to make the World a better place. We are a coeducational, independent school serving Kindergarten through 8th grade.
Kusi Kawsay uses alternative education that fuses aspects of Waldorf pedagogy, traditional Andean values and ecological sustainability to fully develop lifelong learners and citizens of the world. Our ecological ethic is a social ethic, in that we are all related, inter-related and interdependent on this existence. Taking ecological mindfulness a step further – into the realms of the heart, of truly respecting and loving the land.
Kusi Kawsay teaches all of the academic subjects, while following the Andean agrarian calendar, which honors and celebrates the local natural cosmic cycles. We provide a solid education that ensures a dignified sense of self-esteem and tools to increase economic and emotional levels of well-being. This will help children, and by extension their families and nation, to leave the marginalized state in which they live and empower them to protect their right to participate in modern society with all the richness of their culture; acting as advocates in the context of the greater world.
Kusi Kawsay hopes to serve as a model for other communities to adopt and adapt the approach so that Indigenous children in remote communities can also receive the benefits. Kusi Kawsay produces educational materials for use by other schools in Peru or any other schools who wish to teach a section on Andean life.
Lourdes Jibaja is an important part of Kusi Kawsay’s story. She is the founding Waldorf teacher and dedicated an incredible amount of her time, expertise, energy and love to the creation of this school. We recognize and thank her for such dedication and perseverance. Lourdes and her husband Martin now live in Tarapoto, working in their educational projects there. They will always be connected to and a part of Kusi Kawsay.
Providing access to education that is rooted in Andean culture, tradition and sustainability practices; Kusi Kawsay serves as an educational model that inspires other Indigenous schools to approach learning through a sensitive and stimulating environment while honoring and celebrating traditional ways of life.
By supporting traditional cultural practices, children will embrace the ecological mindfulness of their ancestors, and help foster a balanced ecosystem.
Kusi Kawsay envisions accompanying children in their development, respecting their integral being, customs, history, mythology, worldview and tongue. We provide equal opportunity for girls and boys alike to participate in society with developed problem solving, creative decision making and acute leadership skills, woven with a common thread of an intact self-esteem and a richly dignified sense of cultural identity.
May Kusi Kawsay students advance academically, emotionally and socio-culturally with increased self-esteem, cultural identity and pride and a sense of empowerment.
May Indigenous parents may feel more empowered and able to assume an active role and voice in their child’s education.
May the unique curriculum used at Kusi Kawsay be “transportable” to other communities.
May community members of all ages feel more connected and engage actively in support of the school.
May Kusi Kawsay be not only an educational program but also a strategy for broad cultural revival and social change to ensure the rights of Indigenous people.
May it inspire students at the school as well as members of other Indigenous communities to preserve and practice traditional Andean ways.
May Kusi Kawsay’s research and documentation of Quechua knowledge and customs ensure long lasting preservation of Indigenous wisdom and culture.
May all these efforts add up to ensuring long-term benefits locally and globally.
Kusi Kawsay is a critical part of building the movement to create longer-term change identified by the articles in the UN’s Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
College of Teachers
The College of Teachers consists of staff members who have a deep inner commitment to the principles of Kusi Kawsay, Andean heritage, and Waldorf Education and typically have served at our school for a minimum of one year. The College of Teachers is responsible for the integrity of the educational foundation of the school, and provides leadership for all pedagogical aspects.
Kusi Kawsay Educational Association – Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is the legal entity of the school and is responsible for financial and legal matters, strategic planning, and fund development; it oversees the corporate functioning of the school. The board consists of parents, faculty, and community members who are committed to the school’s mission and vision. The Board works closely with Administration and the College of Teachers to set long range goals for the school.
Administrative Staff functions in vital roles of support as the members see to the details of the daily running of the school so that students can learn, teachers can teach, and parents and Board members can be assured that the school is functioning well. The Administrative Staff members are present and accessible.
The College of Teachers, Administration and Board are jointly in charge of the day-to-day leadership and management of school operations, to ensure healthy communication between departments, faculty members and the parent community. The Leadership Team affirms the decisions of the mandate groups and makes other decisions as needed. Its leadership policies are informed by the work of the Collegium and mandate groups and implements business policies set by the Board of Directors.
Through our alliance with She´s First, girls from the school can be part of this program to be train as global citizens. She´s the First supports Kusi Kawsay School with and holistic, multi-pronged approach: Scholarships, Global Citizenship curricula and Partnership.
This work is complemented with the efforts of Warmikunaq Rimayni (“The voice of the women”), who perform workshops and trainings to the Kusi Kawsay community and friends about gender equality, self-esteem, women´s health practices, nonviolence communication, natural medicine using local plants, healthy nutrition, women´s empowerment among others.
The Kusi Kawsay Association (La Asociación Kusi Kawsay) is a nonprofit civil association, incorporated by public deed on March 6, 2008, inscribed in the Book of Associations of Legal Entities in the Cusco Registry Office with the certificate number of 11072048.
The Kusi Kawsay Educational Institution was duly authorized by the Board with Resolution No. 1576, dated July 9, 2009, issued by the Ministry of Education, DREC Cusco, and has been legally functioning since March 2009.
Awards and Recognition
Inspired by Sumak Kawsay (Good Living) philosophy, we have merged Andean cultural elements with Waldorf pedagogy and sustainability practices. This enables a focus that includes not only modern methods of education (complying with Ministry of Education) and promoting learning and knowledge, but also enlightens the children about our rich Andean culture and organic agriculture.
How do we prioritize Andean and Ecological Education?
The traditional Andean way of life understands all beings, humans, animals, plants, and minerals to be equal and alive. The ecological ethic is a social ethic, in that we are all related: interrelated and interdependent on this existence. Kusi Kawsay seeks to develop an ecologically and environmentally friendly consciousness through practicing traditions. Classroom events highlight the importance of conserving our environment, and this message is spread within our greater community to raise the collective conscience.
The curriculum is based on the rhythms and cycles of the Andean agrarian calendar. The verses, songs, music and stories are in Quechua. Above all, Kusi Kawsay honors and celebrates Andean spirituality and values at the very core of our curriculum.
What is Waldorf Education?
Dedicated to the whole being, and in alignment with Andean traditions, rich oral storytelling, hands on participation that follows natural rhythms with natural materials, handicrafts and agriculture are all at the heart of the work we do with the children.
Waldorf is defined as such: Waldorf education (also known as Steiner education) is a humanistic approach to pedagogy based on the educational philosophy of the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy. Learning is interdisciplinary, integrating practical, artistic, and conceptual elements. The approach emphasizes the role of the imagination in learning, developing thinking that includes a creative as well as an analytic component. The educational philosophy’s overarching goals are to provide young people the basis on which to develop into free morally responsible and integrated individuals, and to help every child fulfill his or her unique destiny.
How do we ‘fuse’ this with Andean/Ecological Content?
Waldorf pedagogy is a respected international network of which teach in “lesson blocks” of three to five weeks, following which students write and illustrate self-created textbooks on the covered material. Classes like music and foreign languages continue throughout the year. Lesson blocks include language and literature (starting with storytelling, phonetics, and grammar), arithmetic and introductory mathematics, life sciences and the environment (including farming, animals, plants, geology, and man’s dependence on nature), history and geography (emphasizing biography), one or two foreign languages, arts and crafts (including “form drawing”, sewing and embroidery, woodworking and basketry), and music (choral and instrumental).”
Kusi Kawsay applies the Waldorf block system with a main class and complimentary classes, integrating arts and language.
How do we move from ‘ideas’ to ‘sustainable change’?
Kusi Kawsay’s unique curriculum integrates a rich body of ancestral Andean knowledge that focusses on building skills. Students are developing skills in problem solving, creative thinking and ethical leadership. The intercultural education is based on respect and reciprocity, the guiding values of Andean worldview, while promoting a culture of peace, solidarity, ecological awareness and gender equality. By instilling a sense of cultural pride and self-efficacy, research has shown that students will perform better in school, gain confidence and be able to advocate for themselves and what they believe in. Fostering personal and cultural self-esteem and providing our students with the skills to navigate both modern and traditional worlds, grows the strength of our students, thus, strengthening communities. This is true sustainability and transformational education at work and we are so proud of the work of our staff and students.