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A case study on discrimination in a public school in Cusco.

Under the supervision and direction
of José Carlos Agüero (Consultant)

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Study prepared by members of Nexos Voluntarios: Claudia Evans from Bristol
University in the UK; Emily Mininger from Waterloo University in Canada;
Anota Christus-Ranjan, Carly Hayes, Erika Malich, Imaan Sandhu, Marianne
Poirier, and Victoria MacArthur from Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada.
With the support of Sean Cornelissen and under the direction and supervision
of José Carlos Agüero, historian and Human Rights consultant, responsible for
this version.

Nexos Voluntarios 2013
Urubamba – Cusco.
Electronic Version.

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This study would not have been made possible without the support of teachers,
students, and parents of the Public Educational Institution of Urubamba who shared
with us valuable testimonies and allowed us to approximate ourselves to their lives
and experiences.

We also thank all the volunteers and team members of Nexos Voluntarios that
contributed to this work, specially the group from Carleton University, Claudia Evans
from Bristol University and Emily Mininger from Waterloo University, for their desire
to contribute to field work and learn new realities in an open and sensitive manner.

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1. OUR RACISM………........................................................................................8
2.1 Interviews with the students
2.2 Interviews with teachers
2.3 Some findings: discrimination in small things
THE QUESTIONNAIRES...................................................................................42
4. OBSERVATIONS……….................................................................................47
4.1 Classroom interactions
4.2 Playground interactions
4.3 Interactions between teachers and students
5. A FEW FINAL REFLEXIONS……….........................................................50
5.1 Main problems
ANNEX - Limitations.......................................................................................52

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In the past few years, Nexos Voluntarios (NeVo) has worked against discrimination in
Urubamba, in various areas: promotion, development, and most recently, research.
There was an investigative study realized in 2012 with the purpose of determining
which public institutions were perceived as discriminatory and, as such, acted as
barriers to the population, particularly of rural origin, in their access to rights. As a
continuation of this study, NeVo took on the task to investigate how discrimination
could reproduce itself in a space of particular interest: a Public Educational

Since Nexos Voluntarios is a promotional institution of development actions and not
an academic entity, its efforts in the field of research are not able to be on a large
scale. Nevertheless, it maximized the potential of visits from young volunteers –
students or graduates of fields in the Social Sciences in Canadian and British
universities – to test a cooperative method, not centred in the transfer of resources,
services or technology but instead in the application of their research skills.

We decided to realize a case study and chose a homogeneous school in terms of its
ethnic and socio-economic composition. This institution, hosts the children of
peasants from the poorest zone, giving us an interesting, yet limited, approach at the
same time.

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The research methodology included: interviews with a small fraction of students and
teachers, a questionnaire about the interpretation of an iconic image, and non-
participatory observation.

The qualitative data was analyzed with the objective of learning the themes, ideas,
personal relations, micro-dynamics, and brief student dilemmas where diverse forms
of discrimination are formed inside the school.

We part from a single, modest objective: to learn the perceptions of boys and girls in a
rural school in Urubamba regarding the daily practices and diverse forms of

The interviews were realized with students and teachers of the chosen educational
institution. In brief, eight students of fifth grade (five male, three female) were chosen
at random by their teachers to participate in the interviews. Furthermore, four
teachers and a psychologist were also interviewed.

Previous to realizing the interviews, Nexos Voluntarios submitted a letter of consent
to the parents, where they were informed about the nature of the study and which all
signed in consent. If any of the chosen students was unable to participate, we asked
them to recommend another person or we would choose another student.

Each interview with the students was realized at the school or at a public cafe nearby.
There were always two research team members: the first formulated the questions and
the second took notes.

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In order to have access to a wider sample of participants, the team distributed a
questionnaire to the three sections of twelfth grade. In total, there were 72 students,
between 14 and 19 years of age; 37 male and 35 female that answered the
questionnaire. These were distributed during class time and we asked the students to
answer independently without asking their peers.

The questionnaire showed a very well-known image that represents the death of
TúpacAmaru II in the year 1781, pulled by four Spanish soldiers. This image also
included the wife of TúpacAmaru II, Micaela Bastidas, and the public – in the
background–. The nine questions posed were designed to investigate about the
identity, sympathy or identification with the personages and to learn about students’
opinions surrounding this event. The questions also sought to propose a reflection in
terms of their present by asking: is this violence similar to the one you experience
today? Why?

Additionally, the team realized observations during class time for the period of three
weeks. There was always a minimum of two researchers present. The team observed
the interactions among the students during class, recess, physical education and career
training. The interactions between students and teachers were also observed.

All research techniques were developed in a respectful manner, actively coordinating
with the authorities at the school, without intervening in daily dynamics between
students and teachers, and with ethical criteria. In this report we will not reveal the
name of the participating institution nor students or teachers’ names and other
persons interviewed.

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What we aim to show in this study is simple, albeit simultaneously against the
prevalent common sense. Discrimination and racism work and are useful, which
explains their resistance and permanence despite public reprobation as well as legal
and moral condemnation.

The students with whom we have conversed recur to racism as a defense mechanism
in an environment full of potential and real aggressions. Racism works for them as a
weapon, a tool for the weak in preventing themselves from being a target and
transferring the aggressions to “the next person”. This is why there is no end to the
chain of racism, for there is always someone to whom the vulnerability can be
translated to, regardless of whether or not they meet the phenotypic requirements.
What matters is that in a specific relationship, temporally defined, someone has in a
determined instance less resources to defend themselves than the other, and the
presence of a tense context whereby both or all are wanting to fight or, at least
overcome in the best conditions.

Racism between boys and girls is thus a useful resource that allows them to interact
and solve permanent situations of competition and aggression. This racism fulfills
concrete and effective social functions, which any kid can see and tell. It is no
mystery. It is part of the arsenal available to them to attend school with relative and
always unstable success. Today’s aggressor can be tomorrow’s victim or both almost

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It is not necessary to imagine great acts of racism or segregation. This racism is made
up of little things, of details, of daily life. These daily interactions are not usually
observed because it is the world of children and youth, where adults have limited
access. And this racism changes because the relationships among children also change.
No one is racist all the time. People recur to racism because it works for them and
because the practice demonstrates that it is useful.

It is particularly useful when a boy or a girl have to defend themselves or think they
have to protect themselves or prevent harassment. As such, it ends up being a useful
and even positive resource. Unfortunately, it is not a creative solution but rather a
defensive one. This is because although it liberates a child from a moment of
attention and tension in a group, it translates the burden to another. In a specific
moment there is always someone more Indian or cholo to serve as target – whom in a
given time will turn to the same weapon.

From what we have observed, almost any kid at this school can use racism and be
victims of it, although some have more power, resources, and status than others. They
may be more frequently the targets of racial harassments. The difference needed to be
mocked or a target of ridicule can be as miniscule as having or not having a decent
notebook or similar to that of other the popular peers; or wearing dirty and old
clothing. These are the things that matter at school and that for us might be

If racism is a weapon of the weak to defend themselves, then are we promoting
racism? Nothing further from our intention. We would to invite to see and describe
the interactions as a first step, in order to recognize its social function, its relative
success and learn about its effects, observing that some are positive.
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This racism dissipates some group tensions, finding a get away from the stress of
competition and permanent conflictive relationships in scapegoats that change or
rotate their role. It can momentarily save a subject from being an object of aggression,
bringing them a basic, “democratic”, weapon at everyone’s reach. Many kids can
defend themselves or better position themselves at this school because they speak
better Spanish, others because they have urban experiences, use nice clothing or can
buy snacks during recess – but not all can recur to these tools. For those that have
nothing at hand, racism – offending one another – is something that they can have
and do. It is cheap, it comes to an almost invisible price because anyone can laugh or
insult the kid that messes up in his reading in front of the class, but it is an ‘almost’
invisible price because at mocking the other student, he/she might feel guilt at
realizing that very deeply they are mocking themselves. It is this negative effect that
appears to us as the most problematic for identity. This is a topic they will have to
deal with for a long time. Feeling proud of their language, traits, and families is not
something that will be automatic or simple, they will have to support this by recurring,
in some cases, to very complex elaborations.

What happens at this school is hard to generalize, not just to what happens at other
schools but what happens in the region of Cusco or the country. This is thus a
concrete and modest study but it has the value of focusing for a brief timeframe in a
single space and in small interactions that are often missed in major analyses.

Without a doubt, these results find commonalities with recent literature about
discrimination in Cusco and Peru in general. First of all, it is often recognized that
there are complex intersectionalities regarding racism: discrimination for social class,
ethno-cultural and by gender (Pachecho, 2012). The Cusqueño appears conscious of
these scenarios and is able to identify that racism is extended at educational facilities
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to the point where it is considered one of its primary spaces (along with the family
unit) where discrimination is ‘learned’.

Much has been written about racism in Peru and there are diverse questionnaires that
show how the Peruvian is conscious of racism, albeit does not tend to confess to
being a victim of such.
The same thing happens with our students at our first contact
and first discussions. Furthermore, racism does not have to be named in such a way.
Today boys and girls frame aggressions and tensions around bullying. There are many
recent investigations that show with clarity the way that daily, common, and almost
systematic forms of racism intervene in people’s daily life such as access to
employment (Kogan, 2013). In the case of our students and teachers, this is nothing
out of the ordinary.

Attention has been given, with much reason, to the link between ethnicity, race and
equity in order to characterize discrimination in Peru and the entire region. Poverty
and the marginalization of Afro-American and Indigenous peoples cannot be
understood by any other means than the conjunction of socio-cultural and economic
factors strongly tied to the history and forms that these people and individuals have
been incorporated in the rest of the country (CIDH, 2001). Undoubtedly, this is a
fundamental component for understanding the way in which children treat one
another. Despite having chosen a socially and economically homogenous school -
where almost all students come from peasant, Quechua-speaking families - the ethnic
and cultural markers remain their primary motive for establishing racist relationships.

The school is a place of aggression ruled by an apparent authority but that in the
background you can find one frequently imposed as something closer to anomie.

The national questionnaire about discrimination shows that at least half of the national population considers our
society to be racist (Sulmont, 2005).
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Teachers and authority figures often inhibit themselves from their function as
guarantors of rights. In some cases, they not only inhibit themselves but act as active
elements for the reproduction of racism or violence. Teachers are mostly able to pick
on the most vulnerable students due to their lateness caused by living far away,
hygiene, inappropriate clothing, and their ‘incompetent’ ability to read Spanish.

This leads us to think of the weakness of the school as a space for citizenship. It is an
institution that is too precarious, where there is barely some instruction in class and
where the concept of citizenship is misunderstood or treated as civic military. The
nationalist is seen as a problem or a burden: students now know their rights and limit
the teacher from controlling the institution, where frequent complaints are that “they
now have too many rights” (See Agüero and others, 2013).

At a macro-level, we must remember that this relationship with the State is essential
and that the school is important because there is no other accessible representation of
the State for Cusqueño students. It is worth noting that recent studies highlight the
active role of the State in the construction of racialized relationships, not just for
omission, but for the construction of a more or less conscious national model where
progress implied leaving those who were not westerners, or at least in cultural terms,
outside of the community (Drinot, 2012).

There is much academic discussion in terms of the racist character of Peruvians, as
underhanded and simultaneously hurtful; as invisible and painful to those who suffer
of the ‘no oneness’.
There are some who emphasize its permanence throughout
centuries, and as such, its colonial heritage (Flores Galindo, 1988; Manrique, 1999).
Others highlight the modern traits of racism, its bonding with the scientific and

Term coined by Carlos Iván Degregori, - Understood as disdain from the top to the bottom.
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biological imported from Europe, when the colonial state order gave in and that, as a
result, is strongly republican (Portocarrero, 1993; Callirgos, 1993). For the purpose of
our study, Cecilia Méndez’ (1996) study is very important because it shows the
regional dynamics, changes in discourse among the elite of the time, and accentuates
the objectification of the Inca past. She discusses a past that was stripped away from
its heirs – symbolically belittled – and resumed in the phrase from her well-known
essay: “Incas, yes. Indians, no.” So, why are we interested in these types of studies?
Because they help us to frame our case study, by comparing life in the school in
Urubamba in relation to what is being observed at a national level. It also allows us to
examine the limits of our worries given that acting in a racist manner is not something
that can be reduced to a mere rational or instrumental action such as “I use racism
because it is convenient or a good choice.” Likewise, we cannot ignore this individual
and relative relation, which is often lost in general approximations where history
appears to explain for itself everything and saying that “it’s a process” suffices as a

Cecilia Méndez’ essay is of particular importance to us since part of our interviews
and questionnaires dealt with the dealt with the relationship that students established
– or not – with the Inca past, and whether this brought consequences to how they
identified themselves today or with their relationship with other peers. Overall we saw
that things are very mixed. There is a pride for the Incan, cultural and patrimonial as
students recognize themselves to some degree to be Incan heirs, albeit their linage
appears to be fragmented. There are great leaps between decades or even centuries
between the Incan to them and to Machu Picchu. At the same time, it is interesting to
note that their attempt to rescue their Incan heritage does not allow them to easily
resolve the topic of their identity in terms of pride and prestige. The paths are not as
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easy as they seem and their self-recognition as indigenous is problematic or denied.
is much more common to identify as a mestizo, even though, as we will see, is also a
complex path.

The Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (2003) demonstrated the devastating
impact of racism and discrimination in our society, as seen with the effect it had
during the period of internal armed conflict (1980s and 1990s). The CTR showed that,
at least, 80 percent of the casualties were people who had Quechua as their mother
This, paired with the insanity in which many of these deaths were performed,
show a social order that does not recognize citizen equity and a State that reproduces

Research in Cusco (Pacheco, 2012) shows the differences between discrimination in
urban and rural areas. In Cusco, and in difference from Lima, there are some notable
absences such as no discrimination for being ‘serrano’ (highlander) as is common in the
capital, where there is a disregard towards provinces identified as non-modern. In
Cusco – a province notoriously serrana – this cannot obviously occur, yet some
crossroads still arise. For example, the majority of its inhabitants are of Andean origin,
yet derogatory treatment among them occur; more than half of the population knows
Quechua, yet its use or the ‘deficient’ use of Spanish generates rejection. The motives
for regional pride are Incan or Pre-Colombian yet the population with these Andean

The difficulty for understanding the magnitude of the primary ethnic national group (of Andean origin) is currently
recognized. In this sense, there is no consensus over the size of the indigenous population in Peru, for which if it is
dependent on self-identification could be equivalent to one third of the country’s population. Much of these results
depend on the methodology, questions and sources used. A good overview can be found in Lomné 2014.

A recent study shows what has already been highlighted by other means, which is that an immense majority of
Peruvians considers themselves mestizos (Carrión y Zárate, 2010).

In this regard, Ludwig Huber, highlighted that even though the CTR showed that the majority of the victims were
Quechua-speakers, we must not disregard that many of the perpetrators must have also been so themselves.
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traits is the one despised; the majority of the last names are Quechuas, but family’s
past does not add prestige, etc.

In an initial investigation realized in 2012, Nexos Voluntarios detailed the obstacles
that discrimination can generate in the access of public services in Urubamba, an
important and nearby city to the regional capital.

As such, there is strong presence on the topic, not only of racism, but in the
intersectionalities of discrimination, which can be oriented in various forms and which
invades both private and public spheres (Bruce, 2011). As we have seen in these
works and in others realized in the country, discrimination in Peru does not occur
towards a minority but instead involves practically all social subjects. It always finds a
form of expression based on hierarchical differences (appealing to race, culture, status,
purchasing power, education, where you live, what job you have, and a very long

We begin by asking ourselves about the need to resort to this ‘weapon’ for
discrimination. We suggest, as a form of reflection, that the need to defend oneself in
unequal, aggressive social exchanges is what motivates the recourse to one or various
forms of discrimination. In other words, it is a tool to reduce one’s own vulnerability.
In this regard, it has a ‘positive’ aspect because it allows the subject to survive and
defend themselves in an aggressive environment. However, this is done at the cost of
reproducing or enhancing elements that in turn make the surroundings more
conflictive, and of locating oneself inside a circle where they are devalued.

Schools are spaces where these relationships are reproduced despite efforts to develop
a more inclusive education. Furthermore, schools are also institutions where there are
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still persisting vertical and authoritative teaching practices and relations (Ames, 2000).
Discrimination occurs in urban and rural schools; in private and public; private with
more or less money; and inside the schools themselves. It is not only a chain of
discrimination but rather a recreation in each space where relationships are
differentiated hierarchically.

We think that this is an experience that is prematurely lived by boys and girls. They
learn to discriminate at the same time that they learn to compete and cohabitate. This
type of informal learning is present in personal relationships, interactions with peers
and teachers, and in school routines: jokes, insults, nicknames, hygiene and even the
way they use the bathroom.

How do boys and girls experience these relationships, practices and teachings of
differences in a rural school in Cusco? It is regarding this matter that we would like to
expand in this case study.

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Our goal was to inquire about the perceptions and values for teachers and students in
terms of discrimination. We were interested in learning their experiences and
opinions, as we approached their daily school routines, and learned more about
themes such as: classes, hygiene, dress, classroom and playground interactions; and
interactions between teachers and students. We realized eight interviews to students
and five to teachers (including the school’s psychologist). In the following section we
well describe each of our conversations and we will conclude with some general

2.1 Interviews with students

As was previously mentioned, the subjects of our interviews were from Urubamba
and a few high Andean communities, with a balance between men and women.
Students, teachers and parents were asked about discrimination in the school system,
Quechua – the indigenous language, and their experiences and opinions about

For reasons of confidentiality, students interviewed were assigned a letter from A to

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Student A

Male – lives three kilometers away from school.

He interprets discriminations as the economic differences between people and
identified with all Peruvians, not as part of a specific ethnicity.

Some of his opinions reflected stereotypes. For example, in terms of his preference of
female appearance, he affirmed that women with lighter skin were most attractive. He
also affirmed that he spoke Quechua and that he would teach the language to his
children, despite the risk that they may be discriminated against.

Finally, when we asked him what words or terms bothered him the most, he affirmed
that although ‘cholo’ is acceptable in some cases, he would be offended if his parents or
someone in a position of authority used it to describe him.

In general, the student appeared to recognize the presence of economic
discrimination but not the social or structural causes that lead to discrimination. For
example, he could not identify the relationship between economic status and ethnicity
or place of origin.

Nevertheless, we noticed that he, like all the rest, had a recurrent conscience that there
are objective elements at school that generate discrimination: the whiter, the more
urban, and the ones that speak the language better or worse. At the same time there is
a valorization for Quechua. This student is aware that he can be an object of
discrimination but claims to be willing to confront it.

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Student B

Female – from Pachar, a community found approximately 30 minutes by car from
downtown Urubamba.

She is conscious of economic discrimination, indicating that she would be offended if
this occurred to any of her family members. She thinks that those who travel to other
cities, like Lima, have to confront discrimination.

She expressed great discomfort with the idea of the interview being recorded or that
notes were being taken, but eventually accepted.

Student B recognized the strong connection between discrimination caused by
economic and social factors. When asked about the origins of abuse at school, she
explained that the difference between economic status us one of the main causes and
that those that discriminate come from a superior economic status. She expressed that
the majority of students joke about colour of skin and that the way students joke
related to a hierarchy of skin colour, where being called ‘black’ is a form of insult.

Finally, when asked about what things she would change in herself and how she
would reach against racism, it was evident that she would not defend herself because
she would prefer to hide her family background than having to tell the rest of the

Again, this student recognizes the daily elements of school life that generate frequent
discrimination and recognizes having suffered them. She was indignant against
economic differences (which to our eyes appear insignificant considering that this is a
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school with great poverty) but she is unable to position herself strongly and
independently in relation to her ancestral identity and traits.

Student C

Female – from Machu Picchu, a community that belongs to the Inca Trail.

Many of her answers contrasted those of previous interviews. For example, she
focused discrimination mostly based on place of origin than on economic status.

This student highlighted that those that come from rural communities are those that
receive abuses more frequently. In fact, she believes that if she were to travel to Lima
she would be discriminated against since she comes from a rural community.

An interesting aspect of her interview was a comment she made about domestic
violence without having even been asked about it. She mentioned the impact that
domestic violence can have on some children.

Her emphasis on the importance of preserving Quechua was another thing that she
stressed, recognizing that it is a fundamental part of her culture. She also
acknowledged that there is stigma and embarrassment when spoken due to
discriminatory practices, and that these are the reasons for its disappearance.
Furthermore, she noted that its lack of utility in professions is another potential cause
for the disappearance of the language.

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She mentioned that the situation is improving with time and technology, even thou
this is not an indicator of improvement in regards to discrimination, solely on
economic status and the diffusion of technology and disappearance of culture.

Lastly, she described a conflicting situation she is having with a teacher at school who
talks behind her back and does not give her needed academic support. Nevertheless,
student C could not make any type of complaint due to lack of reporting mechanism
and for fear of not passing school.

Student D

Male – from the community of Chicón.

This student was more familiarized with other discriminatory structures. He
highlighted that economic discrimination is a result of differences in origin, race,
ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or skin colour.

He values his culture greatly. He feels proud of the word ‘cholo’ while other students
find that this term is only acceptable in specific contexts.

In this interview, we observed that student D would not change anything about
himself to be accepted in society. He feels very comfortable with his appearance and
does not feel ashamed about certain aspects of his life. Nevertheless, he expressed
sympathy when acknowledging that others do feel ashamed of themselves.

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He showed great interest in disseminating Quechua and wants to take a more active
role in preserving his culture. This could be as a result of his future goals of becoming
a priest and taking more responsibilities in the community.

Student E

Female – from Qhotohuincho.

She recognized that discrimination is based on race. She denied the idea that
discrimination could originate from economic status. This leads us to believe that
boys tend to focus more on economic conditions than girls. It was also interesting to
see how she linked discrimination with intelligence or character.

She understood the importance of generational connections of culture as she
mentioned the importance of how Quechua was passed on through generations.

Student E was the only one that mentioned how if someone insulted someone else
with the word ‘cholo’ that they would be insulting themselves, since all of them were
cholos at some point in Peruvian society. Unlike student D, this student wanted to
change herself to be accepted socially.

She recognized that she could use the term cholo even if she did not like it because in
some scenarios it is ‘necessary’.

It was evident during the interview that she did not believe discrimination to be a
major problem in society. In general, she showed certain degree of understanding and
hopes that the environment at school improves so that students may feel safer.
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Student F

Male – from the Chacway area, where he lives and works at a farm, mostly on

He thinks that there are people that feel ashamed of speaking Quechua because they
come from the Andes and prefer to speak a ‘modern’ language and pretend to be
from the city. However, despite knowing that there is a degrading opinion towards
Quechua, he states that he would teach his kids to speak it because it is nice and sweet
like poetry and because it forms part of his culture, one of which he affirms to be
proud of.

He asserts that kids ‘pretend too much’ and that his friends ‘fake’ not speaking
Quechua even though 80 or 70 percent of them do. He thinks that those that
motivate people to feel ashamed of speaking Quechua are those that come from other
places and that speak Spanish well.

Even though he thinks that leaving the city where he lives to be difficult, he would
like to attend a school in Lima (even if they insult him) because he thinks that he
would learn new things and would have better trained teachers.

He thinks that a scenario in which aggression could be more prevalent among
students would be when they mock each other, mostly towards students from high
Andean communities. Some of the objects of mockery include: the use of ojotas (a type
of sandal used by indigenous people in Peru and other countries), personal hygiene
and soccer. Regarding this last item, kids make fun because they believe other kids to
be clumsy because they play differently and fall when kicking the ball. In this regard,
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he chooses not to pay attention but he points out that almost all kids do it, including
those who in other occasions are also the subjects of mockery.

Student F thinks that teachers are unfair, that they make up grade and that they are
outdated in their knowledge. He also thinks that they discriminate. When someone
does not do their homework, they say: “you shouldn’t come anymore, stay [at home]
walking sheep and pigs.” He mentioned that teachers focus too much on physical
appearance and that they discriminate kids for their cleanliness, in many cases telling
them “you probably come from puna (the mountains).”

Student F pointed out that the psychologist checks their haircut and the way they are
dressed but that either way they can enter through the back door, where other
students wearing ojotas come in (this is something that our observation did not ratify).

Since there are so many mockeries in the environment, he recommends walking in
groups. He has not observed teasing at the kiosk, just that the majority buy something
or invite those that do not.

To him, the biggest embarrassment is not to attend inappropriately dressed, but rather
to be nicknamed. Similarly, he stated that he prefers to work to buy his clothes and
avoid that situation. He considers that having “a good presence” is having an
educated language, good clothing and coming from the city.

This student helped us to have a very detailed catalogue of the various scenarios of
discrimination among students, from teachers to students, as well as some defense
strategies. He also highlighted that almost all of them can say Indian or cholo, or to
nickname each other because it is a way to defend themselves.
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Student G

Male – from Maras, a 25 minute drive to school on public transit. Like the majority of
those interviewed, he works at the farm every day, but more frequently on the

He believes that the majority of his peers speak Quechua and even though he speaks
it, he does not write it very well. He thinks that one of the causes for feeling ashamed
of speaking Quechua is because they get told “you are an Indian.” Parents teach their
children Quechua but prefer that their kids speak Spanish because they can find better

Despite this, he states that he would teach his children to speak both languages
(Quechua and Spanish). Spanish to defend themselves outside and Quechua to speak
with their family.

He would also like to attend a school in Lima because he feels that education there is
more advanced. He believes that if this were to happen, that at the beginning he
would be made fun of or be put aside and told “you don’t know anything,” for which
he would feel self-conscious.

He thinks that there is discrimination among students and that this is because groups
separate. Those that go to academia make their own little group and exclude the rest.
Therefore, this specifically coincides with the relation to discrimination based on
economic status.

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Other motives for discrimination are based on the way they speak, express themselves
and in presentations. “If we make a mistake in some of the words then the teasing
begins, because some don’t speak Spanish properly.”

He also recognizes mockery based on skin colour. Those that are of darker skin are
told “you are black.” Another motive of ridicule is the use of the school uniform
because either they do not have it on time or because they do not wear it properly.

He believes that there are more peasants than whites at the school. He does not like
the use of the word ‘cholo’ because it is a form of discrimination where they try to
lower one’s self-esteem. Conversely, ‘Indian’ does not bother him because “our
ancestors were Indians.” He understands that the use of the word depends on the
context and that many times it is used in fights and that even though it does not
bother him, he can also use it as an insult because he knows that it does offend others.

Nevertheless, he has a very interesting interpretation of identity. He says that perhaps
his parents are cholos but that he can overcome that. “My parents can’t stop being
cholos because they are always at the farm but I can stop being ‘cholo’ by studying in
university or in something technical, so you improve and you become mestizo from the
city.” He adds that his aspiration is to be like “everyone from the city.”

To him, we must be very attentive so that no one mocks him in the classroom. He
feels ashamed because he is skinny and because he cannot express himself easily in
Spanish. Another topic of ridicule is smell, given that many of them do not use
deodorant when they practice sports and their classmates take advantage of this to
make fun of them.

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This student would not change anything about his appearance, he feels satisfied with
who he is. He considers that companies should not ask for someone with “good
presence” because this makes people feel bad.

When he leaves school he wants to study mechanics and maintenance at the SENATI
institute in Cusco. He thinks that he will be able to find good employment because
companies are always looking for good professionals. If he were to study in Cusco he
would have the support of his brothers. He thinks that Cusqueños have an advantage
over those from Lima in these types of careers because they have more practical
knowledge while the Limeños know theory better. On the other hand, Limeños have
the advantage of having more modern technology.

We want to highlight that this student reinforces two ideas that we have been
describing: faced with an aggressive environment it is convenient to either become
invisible (be like everyone else) or to transform (become mestizo) or defend themselves
(treat others as ‘cholos’).

Student H

Male – from Chicón, approximately 3 kilometers from school. He helps his parents by
working daily at the farm. He gives himself time to help around and do his
homework, although he acknowledges being tired after working in the field, such as
when he peels corn.

He thinks that there are many kids that do not speak Quechua and that this is a result
of a generation that went to Cusco and that when they came back they did not speak
it properly. He speaks Quechua but not as fluently.
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This student believes that there is strong discrimination in Lima – although he does
not mention an experience where he was a victim from Limeños – and considers that
economic factors are the root to discrimination as well as the desire to impose
themselves over highlanders. Student H indicated that everyone should be treated

Despite being conscious that if he speaks Quechua he might be looked down upon,
he says that either way he would teach his children the language in order to preserve
the culture of his ancestors: the Incas.

He considers that there is no difference between Indian and Inca. Initially, he self-
identifies as indigenous because he follows millennial traditions, such as the payment
to the Pachamama, but then changes his mind and ensures that he is not an Indian.
He says that to him it was a mistake that the Spaniards called the Incas that way given
that they believed they had arrived somewhere else. He also does not like the word
Indian and expresses that people should not be named in reference to differences in

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2.2 Interviews with teachers

Four high school teachers were interviewed in areas related to Civics, Citizenship,
History and Geography. The school psychologist was also interviewed.

Teacher A

Teacher A does not consider that there is discrimination. She expresses that these
types of cases are not notorious, that students nickname each other but nothing more
severe than that. In her opinion, teachers refrain themselves from using derogatory
terms in Quechua.

She thinks that students are docile because they come from the countryside. She also
indicates that in comparison to other schools, the environment is calm: “Kids are not
rebels. Here I feel like they can be controlled, they are docile; you yell them and they
remain silent.”

She does not recall having heard racist insults but rather insults directed towards
appearance such as ‘fatty’ and that this happens everywhere.

This teacher knows that there is some social selection among the school due to socio-
economic conditions of people. As such, only the poorest arrive at this school. She
mentions that people try to lower the self-esteem of kids at this school because they
are from the countryside. She also says that there is a vision at schools where those
schools deemed outstanding are for those people that are better-off. She affirms that
there is a “previous selection of students and what’s ‘left’ arrives here. This is why
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when we complain that they can’t read or add, the UGEL tells us that we already
knew the type of students we were receiving (proceeding from the countryside).”

She indicates that regarding the economic, there are students that can go buy things at
the kiosk while others stay behind in their classes because they cannot buy something
and feel ashamed of bringing toast or mote.

Regarding hygiene, this teacher claims that personal cleanliness should be the first
topic of discussion. She highlights that there are teachers in charge of checking shirts
beside the psychologist and assistant who give haircuts to students.

She thinks that physical punishment worked before by applying the “San Martin” (a
type of whip) and that students were more respectful and responsible. She notes that
there were three complaints posed by students that had been abused by teachers but
that the principal stopped the situation. The methods have changed since then in
order to ensure that no complaints arrive at the UGEL.

She thinks that schools teach to discriminate and perceives that this situation is
stronger in those schools that have more money.

She mentions that young girls aspire to marry with a white person or a foreigner, but
that this tendency is not as prevalent at her school.

This teacher appears worried about the living situation for kids from far away areas
that live together, close to the city by themselves. “Their parents live far away, in
Machu Picchu for example; they rent rooms and nobody helps them in their
homework, which is why many of them fail.
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“In the case of those that are from Maras, they spend the whole day traveling and
don’t have time to study. Students worry about their education because their parents
have more children and can no longer help them. Therefore, kids work Saturdays and
Sundays in the kilns, agriculture or are farm labourers in order to pay for their

She recommends applying some rigor and punishment for maintaining order.

Teacher B

Like teacher A, this teacher does not give much importance to discrimination, for he
believes that it is not produced at school. He also does not observe division among
students as a result, but that they typically form groups based on gender. He has not
perceived an abusive treatment but facetious instead. He claims that he cannot talk
about what happens outside of school or at the end of the school day because he lives
in Cusco and has to leave immediately after his class is finished.

He does not agree with the results from the Bartolomé de las Casas Centre that talks
about the tendency of schools to teach how to discriminate. He thinks that maybe this
happens in private schools, but affirms that at his school there is not even bullying.

He recommends working on values. For example, students that do not finish their
homework also arrive late. Likewise, they are more prone to disrespect each other
through aggressions or by colouring on other students’ notebooks, not raising their
hand to speak, shutting other students when they speak and sometimes even
disrespecting teachers.
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Teacher B expresses a common worry among all teachers. Governments are recently
giving rights to children, for example, there are school prosecutors and DEMUNA
which have lead to the decreased authority of teachers since more is said about rights
than duties. It is for these reasons that teachers cannot raise their voices towards
students for fear that they may be denounced.

This teacher affirms that to discipline students, teachers must balance rigor with love.
He recommends beginning with love and if the student does not listen, then that is
when you raise your voice. Moreover, he warns that if the student persist their
misconduct, then he calls them for a chat and reflection in order for them to change
their behaviour.

Teacher C

In contrast to her colleagues, she thinks that discrimination does occur among
students. Since most of them are Quechua-speakers, teachers say things like: “the
most they will be is mototaxi drivers.”

In her opinion, discrimination occurs among students primarily due to speech. There
is strong mockery in this regard. Peers do not value the opinions of those that do not
speak Spanish well, and Quechua-speaking students do not participate much in class
because they are in fear of being mocked. This happens with more frequency in the
older grades, since in her opinion this is not something that concerns the younger kids
because they are more innocent.

DEMUNA – Municipal Ombudsman for Children and Adolescents. It is a service of the National System of Integral
Attention to the Child and Adolescent that brings free care through conciliation of: visits, tenure and food contributions.
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She thinks that a difficult topic for students is having or not having money. There are
daily episodes where they feel bad such as when: buying clothes, having money for
presentations, which sometimes mean buying or renting costumes and all that about
“pretending to well-off.”She highlights that when students cannot pretend then feel

The teacher mentions that despite the fact that they all come from the same
background (countryside) differences are still present. Economically, in the things that
some can buy while others cannot. She ensures that there is also racism because they
are from the countryside but might be whiter, darker, or chaspa uyas (marked faces).

She states that allowance is another aspect of discrimination. There are some kids that
bring five soles and others only 0.50 cents, while others stay in the classroom because
they do not have any spending money.

Either way, she mentions that although there is discrimination, it is much more subtle
than at other schools. For example, in X school discrimination is deeper because of
financial differences.

She also warns about the gravity of youth living on their own and renting rooms. She
highlights that for example, there are students from Ollantaytambo and –among
siblings- rent a room and make their meals because their parents are not there to help
them. Parents do not attend meetings. She thinks that these students might have
major problems such as alcohol, gangs, and teen pregnancy. She comments that there
was a case of a girl in grade 6 that got pregnant.

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This teacher recommends that teachers must be more tolerant toward the situation
students are living in. She reflects saying: “we should know if they have had breakfast
because those that have only had tea will not do as well. We should put ourselves in
their situation and ask ourselves whether they will have pulped or hauled water.
Teachers should know their surroundings, but today no one is worried about that.”

She notes that students feel self-conscious of speaking Quechua and only do it if they
are in small groups but not in front of everyone. She thinks that this is a loss of
cultural identity, that they know how to speak it fluently but that peer pressure
inhibits them.

Teacher D

This teacher believes that there is discrimination among students but only a little. He
manifest that there are some teachers that abuse their students and that there even
was a complaint but that 99 percent do not practice discrimination. There is bullying
among students, particularly among those that live alone. Their peers make fun of
them pointing out that they drink alcohol and live by themselves.

He indicates that there is neglect of students that live in far away areas. Their parents
live in Quillabamba or Machu Picchu and kids have to rent rooms, no one puts any
order and they live a free life. The number of students that live like this continues to
increase. In other cases, their parents are alcoholics and not many are dedicated to
their children’s education.

He does not notice any difference between those that live in the countryside and
those that live closer. Regarding the school uniform, he mentions that many parents
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cannot buy them and kids are relegated, generating low self-esteem and are ashamed.
He indicates that this is the school that gathers students from low-income rural areas.
They are given an extension to buy their uniform but if they cannot buy it they feel
bad either way.


This psychologist has been hired with school resources. He thinks that there is
discrimination, primarily underhanded, but that it is not as much as in other schools.
He indicates that discrimination at this school is difficult because 70 percent are from
the countryside and speak Quechua.

He believes in discrimination primarily for economic reasons. Those that can buy
things like: cell phones, supplies, clothes, etc. Another aspect that interests him is
hygiene. He mentions that he just learned about the case of a girl in first grade that
comes from the countryside and smells bad, as a consequence no one wants to sit
beside her. This surprises him because to him they all smell bad. These insults

He also tells us of another case in grade 6, in which a kid was constantly made fun of
for not speaking Spanish well.

He affirms that students have to pretend to be something they are not. For example,
those that have been taught well at home – even if they come from the countryside-,
are not ashamed of how they are dressed or how they speak. Conversely, those that
come from dysfunctional homes or those that live alone with very little money, seek
to pretend and be like the other students, leading them to steal cell phones and other
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objects. Similarly, they take on attitudes of the groups they want to resemble, and if
those groups discriminate against others then they will also do it to fit in. He mentions
that this is attributed to the fact that there is a group of students at the school that
comes from the city, have been kicked out of other schools and have now found this
school as last resort.

One aspect he believes convenient to stress is the division between schools. Some
public schools are already known as school for those with more money, urban or
professional parents. This is why if these types of schools allow a peasants’ child to
enter it will be under heavy teasing.

He recognizes that even in this poor school, there is also discrimination and that even
a teacher experienced discrimination. She was told: “this teacher doesn’t know how to
teach because she comes from the mote.” In other words, even students have
internalized this disparagement towards anyone that speaks with a Quechua accent.
Finally, he states that one of his goals is to push towards cleanliness and discipline at
this school, so that albeit modest might be en par with other schools of the area. This
is why he identifies and reprimands those that come poorly dressed or poorly
groomed. He even cuts the hair of those who have it too long or neglected.

2.3 Some findings: discrimination in small things.

First of all, the difference between student and teacher perceptions is greatly
distinguished. The latter does not recognize discrimination. This might be in relation
to the feeling that Peruvian teachers have of always been watched, and as result, tend
to be more defensive. Recognizing that there are discriminatory practices at their
school implies a failure in their role. On their part, students are unanimous in
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recognizing the existence of discrimination in society and in their own school even
though they may not always agree on its roots.

The interviews with teachers show that, in general, they believe discrimination is
something minor among their students and that it is also possible between students
and teachers. In general, they begin by denying this and other forms of violence
plainly, but as the interview proceeds they give details that indicate that there is more
than what they are initially willing to accept.

“These cases are not visible, they don’t come forth. They may nickname each
other but other than that something like bullying is stopped. Even teachers
stop themselves from using derogatory terms in Quechua.”

“There is no discrimination, that doesn’t happen, I don’t see it. Neither do we
see it when they do group work; they mostly make groups based on gender. I
haven’t perceived mistreatment or abusive, it’s mostly just joking.”

Teachers appear incapable of understanding the student as a subject with full rights.
Some long for the time when they could recur to punishments and want this to be
made possible again “if not what should I do?” They also recurrently complain about
state initiatives that empower students with rights, something that teachers consider a
threat to their authority. “Many rights” to them is something negative since it can end
up with denunciations due to poor treatment or abuse.

An anecdote told by a teacher shows the school’s difficulty in dealing with the
changing realities. She highlights that there was a boy who was very conscious that the
school authorities were not going to listen to him – regarding abuse he had
experienced – and so he went directly to the UGEL. However, he was stopped – by
force, we imagine – by the sub-director who gave him a serious reprimand. Deeply,
the teacher was content with the sub-director’s attitude.
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How to control these new kids with rights? Teachers have not found the means yet.
One of them gave us his insight to this challenge. First with love and then with rigour.
Love means talking to them before yelling at them, but who are the subjects that
receive this mixture of love and rigour most frequently?

It is the students that are most vulnerable. The poorest or those that have difficulties
meeting teacher’s expectations (arriving on time, clean, well-dressed, homework
done). Teachers do not recognize that there could be a relation between this failure to
comply and the students’ disadvantageous conditions. They do not realize that a great
majority of these students work in farms are tired when they finish and have problems
meeting chores at home. Teachers themselves worry about the ever increasing
problem that as a result of living far away, many rent rooms near the school and live
by themselves. These students do not have family support, work to help pay their rent
and devote many hours to leisure. It is these students that receive the recipe of love
and rigour most frequently.

The teachers whom we spoke with appear to be positively motivated but have
practices and prejudices that result in contradictory messages to their students. For
example, they teach them democratic values, talk about equality and no
discrimination. However, at the same time make derogatory comments towards kids
from the countryside, they make their hygiene problems more evident, do not protect
them from mockery because of their poor use of Spanish, and pressure them to use
their school uniform properly, etc.

Promoting personal hygiene and the careful use of clothing is not a problem on its
own. The problem is that the teacher does not perceive, or if they do then do not
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value the importance, that those who are objects of their chastisement are almost
always the poorest, most peasant students and possibly those that live the farthest.

The school psychologist, someone with lots of personal motivation to support the
development of the educational centre, himself being from the area, does not escape
this framework either. He has an idea of what is needed to become a decent person
and succeed in the future. This is why the psychologist contributes to the persecution
in terms of cleanliness, controlling smells, unwashed hair, dirty or worn clothing.

Prejudices towards the peasant population also emerge among the teachers. They
know that it is politically incorrect to be open about it but express their prejudices in
diverse forms. They consider that kids from the countryside are docile, unclean, with
poor social skills, and have little hope that they will get to become professionals. In
general, teachers are not only unarmed to counter new social situations in their
surroundings, with children more and more empowered and living alone, but also
maintain prejudices about them and do not end up acting as warrantors of their rights.

On their part, students do not trust their teachers, which could be a result of the
inconsistencies that we have mentioned. They know discrimination and all its details
but most of all feel the disassociation in terms of economic status – although some
manage to recognize the links between this, place of origin, and culture.

Discrimination in this school, from the student’s point of view’ is not one with major
racist incidents. It is given in little mechanisms of differentiation and segregation.
They feel the value of the little things (those that teachers only see as disciplinary)
such as the power to buy or not buy their school uniforms, the type of school supplies
they use, old shoes, spending at the school kiosk, arriving clean, using deodorant,
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finishing their homework. They know the power of mockery in assigning roles. In a
school where everyone speaks Quechua, one could think that language would not be
an issue but it is. This is because the problem is not the use of Quechua, which all
know very well; the problem is demonstrating the proper use of Spanish. They know
that the language has its own logic and that Quechua is only useful in the domestic
sphere and not for important matters. This is why, for example, it is not useful to
show off in class presentations since these are instances of natural tension. The use of
language in this case is key and failure to use it properly becomes a reason of fear.
“Ridicules are made mostly towards students from the high Andean
communities, they laugh at their ojotas. They notice that the play soccer
differently, a bit clumsy, slipping when they kick. They also notice that they
don’t shower. This makes students feel bad. What do I do? I go unnoticed.”

This is how mockery is seemingly another key element in the life of students. Even
though the school may be homogeneous to a great degree, differences are built very
subtly. Students know that there are some that have more money, more urban
experience and speak better Spanish, those that bring different clothes, accessories
and that can also be less dark and a little whiter. Resembling them, pretending to be
like that is something that pushes students to enter in to little battles that although
may be won momentarily, result burdensome because they imply pretending,
doubting oneself, and being embarrassed of who they are. This also demands that
they work to be able to afford buying the things that others have or to steal.

In a context like this, of mockery and subtle differences that may hurt, students find
an escape from being targets by shedding the light onto someone else. There will
always be a reason and someone at hand. This is when jokes, appearances and groups
become useful. And as a last resort: indifference.

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Students are also aware that discrimination plays a significant role outside of school,
in the ‘real word’. They have very negative images of authorities, of Lima and
Limeños, as racists and chauvinistic. They are certain that if they travel to the city that
they will have a bad time. They know that Quechua generates disdain, that being cholos
is wrong and used as an insult and know that it would be easily applied to them.
Nevertheless, in the midst of all this, students have very interesting answers. They are
ready to not be humiliated so easily. Faced with these challenges, their weapon is

Almost all of them indicate that although they know that the use of Quechua is
disadvantageous, they will teach their kids either way because it is part of the culture.
They appear to be in transition from a more defensive position, where the strategy to
protect themselves is to become invisible, resembling the hegemonic image and
transferring unto another where this combines into a stronger demand of their
identity, families, and culture. However, their discourse in this regard is still
developing and remains unclear. They acknowledge that they are cholos but do not like
the use of the word because they know it is used as an insult. They can also identify
themselves as Indians or indigenous because they know that there is an Incan heritage
to honour but at the same time, this sounds to them as offensive, take it back and
doubt. One comes up with a more formal claim: “nor Indian, nor cholos, simply
people, without different races,” but others elaborate more complex theories about
how to improve, which in brief – despite the stereotyped explanation – shows the
background idea: identities are mobile and constructed.

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Besides interviews, very simple questionnaires were given to all the students of three
sections of grade 11 at the school (refer to the annex). These were administered with
the collaboration of teachers in the social sciences, who allowed us to use 20 minutes
of their class time for students to answer them right then. They were asked to express
their opinions freely, stressing that this was not a knowledge test that would be
marked, and as such they did not need to copy their peers but that instead it was
individual work. Everything carried on as planned; students were focused and paid
attention, fixing their gaze on the image presented before answering the questions.

The questionnaire was simple. It had an iconic picture of an event of Peruvian history
- the tragic death of the indigenous cacique Túpac Amaru II in Cusco. The purpose
of this image was to first of all investigate if they recognized the historic moment
shown, what value they gave to this account, and if they felt a relationship between
the image, themselves, and their present.

The motivation behind these questions was to find out if students had lost the use of
history as a point of reference – as claimed in a recent study (Uccelli et al., 2013). It
also intrigued us to know if they had forgotten about the image of Túpac Amaru due
to over exposure during the Gral. Velasco Alvarado (1960-1970) government – as
claimed in comments by Cecilia Méndez during a 2012 course at the IEP. Túpac
Amaru is a significant character because he was a mestizo hero from Cusco, maybe
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even the only hero of the province recognized at a national level (or was). Would he
still be remembered at this peasant Cusqueño school? Would it still generate empathy?

In first place, all students knew the image and history of Túpac Amaru; and although
they did not remember the exact date, many approximated in a range of more or less
10 years. Their description of the event is - for the most part – neutral at first (they
overlook the question) and describe what they see: the elements and actions that make
up the image. Many vocalize their values regarding the scene through their initial
description, relating it to justice (9) or nationalism (4). All identified the cacique as the
main character and the Spaniards as secondary characters. With the exception of one
girl, they all identified with him.

The reasons for their identification had to do with the importance given to his act of
resistance. They ensure that they mostly identify with him for his courage, for fighting
and rebelling against injustice, for defending the nation and sacrificing himself. Only
one of the students noted that he identified with him because he was Cusqueño, and
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other two for seeing him vulnerable, which showed solidarity from their behalf. None
of them indicated ethnic or cultural reasons for this identification.

In summary, there is a high degree of identification with Túpac Amaru, which parts
from knowledge of his action, a collective meaning, and their own personal values,
which lead students to feel empathy with him and to express feelings of sadness or
anger against what the Spaniards did to him.

Nevertheless, when they were asked about the causes of this event and things they
saw as recurrent, they mentioned themes such as discrimination. Many students
highlighted inequality, racism, poverty and exploitation as causes of this event. A third
part of the students believed that similar causes exist today but the majority of them
pointed to discrimination.

When asking if things like the ones shown to them happen today, they affirmed that
they do. Even though the context differed (public tortures, horses, anachronism),
there were some analogous situations particularly abuse of authority towards natives,
Andeans, and the poor.

“Mayors believe that they can dominate everyone, take land away. It shouldn’t
be that way.”

“Yes, because this doesn’t change: corruption, racism, delinquency, wars…”

“…The causes of mistreatment of men by men are not good. And it continues
today because there is no social equality or good governors (…) Proper
treatment of the few economic resources does not exist because rich come

“Yes, discrimination of ethnic groups or Andeans that cannot read or write and
live in poverty.”
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Carried forth from the image of the XIX century regardless of their present and even
with their children, students found a continuation. They indicated that similar
situations occurred at the school, such as physical aggression among children,
discrimination based on race or clothing. The end of Túpac Amaru makes them think
about their situation of disempowerment in front of abuse.

“…yes, it makes me think because we can’t rebel against our teachers and we
can only just endure.”

“Nothing can happen similar to that. There will simply be discrimination and
other things…”

“Yes, this happens at the school because there are peers that discriminate
because they have more money or others because they feel superior and
discriminate, in such a way you feel with low self-esteem. It’s almost as if a
person tortured you on the inside.”

“Yes, this happens at schools because there are conflicts among students.
There is discrimination based on race, religion, traditions and clothing.”

We received a great variety of responses from the students, which were interesting to
us in proving that, at least, in the province of Cusco – in a very poor school of
peasant origins – the figure of Túpac Amaru II, the significance of his acts and the
context in which they were given are still present. This is important because they
show us the great social diversity in our country. If in Ayacucho and Lima we observe
a history emptied of personages, events and points of reference, here we can find
them, at least for this event. This is how, if the image of the massacred last Inca has
lost its relevance in the country, in Cusco this is far from the truth, even for
adolescents from a peasant school.

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Another aspect that we rescued is that – motivated by the image – students found
continuations that helped them to characterize their own reality, where they point to
discrimination: it’s relation to ethnicity, poverty and abuse of power as relevant

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As a complimentary tool to the interviews and the questionnaire, we realized
observations at the school – during three weeks – with the intention of identifying
some patters in the inter-relations of students, as well as between teachers and
students. Our observation had limitations that we will later indicate in the annex of
this report, but which were a useful element to complement the frame of our mini

4.1 Classroom Interactions

We were able to observe a division among the students according to the way they
dressed. Students that dressed in a similar fashion appear to interact amongst each
other. This was evident both in the students from grade 6 to 9. For example, in grade
6 students without uniform would tend to sit together.

Regarding this point, we observed an interesting incident during agriculture class:
once the class started, girls without a uniform began to pull out grass and weeds to
prepare the earth and begin to plant, while those with uniform remained inactive and
appeared to talk about the girls that were working.

It was hard to determine why there were those divisions among students. A possible
answer could be that girls with similar uniforms were friends because they had some
affinity among them or that students with similar clothing have the same economic
and ethnic level. Correspondingly, it could be possible that there could be a lack of
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willingness on students’ part to interact with others of a lower socio-economic level,
due to their preconceived ideas of discrimination.

4.2 Playground Interactions

About this topic, we could not find a strong relationship between the groups that
formed to play. For example, there was a group of kids that frequently practiced
sports. All the kids in the group had similar uniform and good shoes; appeared clean;
and wore gel in their hair.

The difference between the interaction of students in the classroom and playground
could be due to the flexibility given in the interactions outside of the class. Although
more interaction among distinct groups of students is noted, subtle forms of
separation can be found. As proof of this, we observed that during a volleyball match
and a dance practice, the girls that played or danced were well dressed and had lighter
skin. Conversely, the girls that looked at them – without participating – were of darker
skin and look more disheveled.

4.3 Interactions among Teachers and Students
In general, it was observed that teachers seemed more worried about students’
appearance. In numerous occasions, teachers argued with students about their
cleanliness and hygiene. This sustains what the interviews indicated to us.

For example, an incident was highlighted where two students arrived at the school
with a dirty face. When a teacher saw them, he asked them to go to the bathroom and
clean their face. When students came back, the teacher mentioned that many parents
do not know how to look after their children and send them dirty to school. Despite
the fact that the teacher might have good reasons to worry about students’ hygiene,
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we consider that these types of comments could contribute to the general perception
of distrust towards teachers, as evidenced in the interviews.

Even though these attitudes could seem as common, there are circumstances in which
teachers make efforts to encourage students to interact among them in class and share
class material, despite their differences.

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In this little case study, we have been able to appreciate the diverse and subtle forms
of how discrimination can be reproduced, even in a space that we had considered
economic and culturally homogeneous.

Correspondingly, we have observed that discrimination can be perceived by students
as varied and complex, manifesting itself on various aspects of their lives: use of
clothing or shoes, cleanliness, homework and classroom participation, which gives
them key points for differentiation.

The group of young researchers from universities in Canada, England and the United
States wanted to share their main conclusions with the purpose of setting a solution to
this problematic in the near future.

5.1 Main Problems

a) Students were lacking a safe space in terms of teacher-student, where they could
learn and develop.
o We have witnessed situations where teachers speak negatively about students
and their parents, in the presence of other teachers and students.
o Students have expressed feelings of vulnerability in the classroom when they
learn at a different speed than their classmates.
o Students have expressed a negative attitude from teachers in terms of offering
additional help.
o The researches have been witnesses of good teaching practices, such as
promoting cooperation and help among students.

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b) Students lack access to complaint procedures where they can denounce problems
they have at school, particularly with their teachers, and do not trust that their
accusations will be considered legitimate.
o Students have expressed worry about the repercussions – particularly academic
ones – that they may suffer as a result of telling teachers about their problems.

c) There is abuse and discriminatory violence between students, primarily based on
economic status, place of origin and ethnicity.
o Students have identified problems of discrimination based on economic status
and ethnic identity, where references are made to the distinct ways of dressing
and mockery through verbal attacks.
o Students believe that these abuses have to do with discrimination and that this
is similar to the one experiences in previous historical periods.
o We were witnesses of abuse that generated marginalization towards students
during class time.

d) The existence of costs and uniform create a channel for discrimination inside
various schools in the community.
o Students recognized that distinctions between various schools were a source of

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Despite the fact that the research team firmly believes in the validity of the results
discussed in this report, there have been various factors that have limited the research
and are worth being mentioned.

The first and foremost limitation was the language barrier faced by the majority of the
team. Although each member had, at least, basic knowledge of Spanish, the inability
to be able to speak fluently limited the necessary resources to realize the interviews
and fully understand classroom interactions. Nevertheless, various team members had
a high degree of Spanish and were able to facilitate the interviews. Furthermore, these
team members were the ones responsible for realizing the verbal parts of the
interviews (while the others observed and noted body language communication) and
the transcriptions. As a result of the limited Spanish abilities of the team, it is possible
that the researches might not have been able to identify meanings or more in-depth
details during the interviews and observations. However, the team was able to gather
important and legitimate data.

A second notable limitation was the cultural barrier. The research team was composed
by students from Canadian and British universities. Some members had a limited
experience working, living and travelling in other Spanish-speaking cultures, but the
majority had not. Before beginning the investigation, only three members of the team
had experienced living in Peru. Given this lack of experience, it was sometimes hard
to determine which practices were discriminatory or simply cultural traditions. This
barrier was particularly noticeable when the team realized their observations. With the
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purpose of working with this limitation, the team was extremely cautious to analyze
students’ behavior.

A third limitation – during the realization of this report – was the time given to gather
all the data. The observations were realized during three weeks at the school.
Nevertheless, these were not consistent. The research team was not present at the
school at all hours. Likewise, the team was only able to observe specific hours of class.
In total, the time available to gather data was limited, which reduced the quantity of
data that could be registered. It is possible that this inconsistent method of gathering
data could have lead to erroneous information.

For example, it was concluded that a student could wear uniform one day and not the
other, which does not allow us to identify their socioeconomic status.

With the goal of addressing this limitation, the researchers trusted the data collected
during the interviews and used the observations to complement the previous data.

A final limitation was the presence of researchers at school. The research team did not
integrate into the school – due to ethnicity, age and behavior -, which could have led
to students feeling observed. It is possible that this could have had some impacts on
students’ behavior. With the aim of reducing this limitation, the team decreased the
number of people in charge of realizing the observations.

In general, despite the different challenges encountered by the team, necessary
measures were taken to compensate and alleviate these barriers. In conclusion, as a
result of the measures taken to counter the negative implications, the team trusts that
the limitations described did not have an important effect on the project’s results.
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