Project Citizen

This project reflects the national effort in Peru to improve the “values” component of education, as well as the Embassy’s efforts to improve English language instruction. The US Center for Civic Education played a key-role to support the US Embassy efforts from the very beginning of the process. The Center for Civic Education shared its materials, teacher trainers, funds and expertise at all times.

Project Description

The goal of the project is to incorporate democratic values into the broader education system in Peru. PAS believes that USG resources to improve civic education can most effectively be channeled through the existing English language teaching centers, specifically the BNCs with whom the Embassy works closely. This project started in the northern Peruvian city of Chiclayo in 2002. The Embassy’s pilot course at Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano de Chiclayo has enjoyed tremendous success. The BNC itself took the initiative to work with other English teachers at public and private schools in Chiclayo. All BNCs expanded this effort in 2004 with the continuing support from the U.S. Center for Civic Education.

Goals of the Program

The goals of the program – summarized by the development of participatory citizens in Peru through education and training — are long term. Indicators of the project’s success in the shorter term which are tied to the Embassy’s MPP goals are:

  • Creation of a civic education project for young adults that can be duplicated in various BNCs. This will dovetail with PAS’ civic education project for English language teaching, as well as the Narcotics Affairs Section’s secondary education project entitled “The Culture of Lawfulness.” Layering education for democracy, that is, designing and implementing specific projects for different audiences, will have a reinforcing effect.
  • English language teaching materials that include civic education themes are used, including the excellent materials donated by CIVITAS. This meets the Embassy’s objective of democratic institution building through education, focusing on decentralization, that is, outside Lima.

Civic Education Project at the Peruvian Binational Centers

The teachers and administrators of the Peruvian Binational Centers envision the Project as a fusion of curriculum development, professional development, and service learning—with the ultimate goal of engaging the institution as an agent of individual and social change, and sustainable community development. The project has three principle components which branch out to sub-components as time goes by. The three principle components are:

Read (Chiclayo, Cusco)

A Community Reading Workshop is an intergenerational reading workshop between the Peruvian Binational Centers advanced level students and children from their own community, addressing reading achievement and civic education. “Read” brings students together as readers. Recent trends in Literacy Education research have highlighted the benefits of older students reading aloud to emerging readers in a non-threatening environment. Schools have identified achievement in reading as a key to long-term academic achievement. Such achievement largely depends on establishing a love of literature among students.

“READ” specifically addresses this directive in the form of an innovative partnership between learning communities as they strive to improve reading achievement. At the same time, “Reading is a civil right”—and is one of the prerequisites for participation in Democratic society. To that end, the project engages Peruvian Binational Center students as community activists personally engaged in the promotion of community literacy. Some 20 Peruvian Binational Center advanced level students spearhead the project from Peruvian Binational Center libraries. Cultural Directors and teachers collaborate to provide a module of training for the readers, and to subsequently monitor and support the community sessions. At least two major goals are achieved here:

  • Advanced students learn to serve the community at the same time enhancing their language learning through teaching little kids.
  • Public school kids who could never afford to take such a course now get it absolutely for free, including all the material they need.
  • For the last three years BNCs have worked with over 300 primary public school kids and over 175 of the advanced students have collaborated with this component of the project. This work is done in collaboration with the regional office of the Ministry of Education.
  • To engage Peruvian Binational Centers teachers as agents of community development
  • To provide national school teachers with critical language development (Intensive Intermediate Review of Language Functions and Structures plus civic values)
  • To create a community of professionals

Summer Language Institute for National School Teachers (Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cusco, Huancayo, Trujillo)

The Summer Language Institute engages Peruvian Binational Center teachers as agents of sustainable community development as they provide national schoolteachers of English with critical professional development for their success in the English language classroom and a complete program of Foundations of democracy and Project Citizen. What was originally designed to be a-two-month institute is now a year round training program which has three primary objectives:

During the last three years BNCs have trained over 340 public school teachers and currently a new curriculum has been developed to make this a standard and an on-going program that Peruvian Binational Centers would offer year after year, completely free of charge. Every year BNCs sign an agreement with the Regional Director of the Ministry of Education who co-signs with them the final diplomas awarded to the graduating public school teachers.

Advanced Courses (Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cusco, Huancayo, Piura, Trujillo)

By integrating critical thinking skills into the TEFL curriculum, by building communication strategies, by practicing pedagogy of tolerance, BNCs can contribute to the strength of a new generation in their ability to contribute to their own governance. It is essential that language classrooms not only encourage and affirm self-knowledge, but also promote mutual understanding and appreciation for difference. Thus Peruvian Binational Centers has integrated readings in civic education and analytical writing into two courses for the Advanced Reading and Writing and topics in civic education into Advanced Listening and Speaking courses. BNCs have also been using “Project Citizen” as the culminating course of the advanced program. The Diplomas awarded to the students, who have participated in a community problem solving project “Project Citizen”, bare the logos of the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy, the Center for Civic Education and the BNC and co-signed by the Cultural Affairs Officer and the BNC Executive and Academic Directors.

A Project Citizen booklet – version Peru has been printed with the participation and suggestions of all the Peruvian Binational Centers academic directors and civic ed. Coordinators.

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