The Young Women of the Dorm Talk About the Recent Teacher Strikes in Ollantaytambo
During July and August, teacher strikes and a regularly scheduled winter break caused the girls of the Sacred Valley Project to miss several weeks of school. While the schools were closed, the young women either remained at the dormitory studying and participating in special projects with tutors and volunteers or enjoyed some extra time in their rural communities.
We asked six of the girls how the time off impacted them and how each of them felt about the teachers’ strike. The young ladies are developing the ability to recognize how social and political events influence them personally and enjoyed the opportunity to express their opinions. Here are what some of the girls had to say:
Dina: Though Dina understood that the government made promises to the teachers and owes them money, she did not agree with the strike since she felt that the teachers were more concerned with their own problems than the education of the students. She also suspected that some teachers were genuinely worried about the students’ progress but may have felt pressured to join in the strike. For Dina, the time spent at home was very pleasant. She helped her family with the daily cooking and washing, but especially enjoyed weaving textiles with her mom.
Nohemi: Nohemi was quite concerned that she was falling significantly behind in her studies. Nohemi reported that she initially agreed with the strike. She felt the teachers should be paid fairly for the amount of time they spend in preparation for classes, in grading papers and for all of the hours they put in outside of the classroom. She expressed a change in her perspective as the strike continued. She also noted that some of the teachers’ own children did not attend public schools, but went to private schools and had not missed any school. Being at home for Nohemi was a good experience since she remained active and busy making adobe blocks with her family, taking care of the animals and practicing with her community dance group.
Maria Elena: Maria-Elena worried that she and the other students were not given enough homework to prevent them from falling behind. While she understood that the teachers were asking for past payments, she did not agree with the strike and felt that it went on too long. While at home she guided bulls while plowing the fields, cooked food for the dogs and grazed cattle. She would have preferred spending more time on household chores and crafts.
Maribel: Maribel was not sure of the reasons for the strike though she felt that the teachers did not care enough about the students. While she did some cooking and “a little bit” of homework at home, she admits to having been quite bored.
Elizabeth: Elizabeth expressed real conflict as per the teacher strikes. She initially agreed with the strike and felt the teachers had valid reasons. However, since she is an extremely motivated student and loves to learn and challenge herself, she began to feel that far too much school and instructional time was being lost. Nonetheless, she enjoyed being at home and helping her mom and family with the daily chores.
Sylvia: Initially, Sylvia reported that she was glad there was a strike. She felt that the teachers were honestly owed money. However, as she continued to reflect on how she had spent that time out of school, she did realize that it was a bit “boring” and that the length of the strike was too long. She enjoyed the time home with her family, but realized it was “too much free time.”