ATEK Reading Comprehension

Country Profile: Peru


29,180,900 (2008 estimate)

Official Language

Spanish (recognised languages include Quechua, Aymara, Asháninka, Aguaruna, Pano-Tacanan, Kawapana and Arawa)

Poverty (Population living on less than US$1 per day):

12.5% (1990-2004)

Total Expenditure on Education as % of GNP

2.6 (2005)

Access to Primary Education – Total Net Intake Rate (NIR)

86.4% (2006)

Total Youth Literacy Rate (15-24 years)

97% (1995-2004)

Adult Literacy Rate (15 years and over, 1995-2004)
  • Total: 88%
  • Male: 94%
  • Female: 82%

Programme Overview

Programme TitleAsociación Tawantinsuyuman Evangelioq K’ancharinanpaq (ATEK) Reading Comprehension
Implementing OrganizationAsociación Tawantinsuyuman Evangelioq K’ancharinanpaq (ATEK, translation: «Association Bringing the Gospel to the Quechua-speaking World»)
Language of InstructionQuechua and Spanish
FundingWycliffe USA and Wycliffe Canada (Global Partners International), Peruvian Bible Society and local churches
Date of Inception2003


The Asociación Tawantinsuyuman Evangelioq K’ancharinanpaq (ATEK) Reading Comprehension programme endeavours to empower Cusco Quechua people by facilitating access to literacy skills training and education. Although the Quechua constitute a large group (about 1.5 million), they have largely been socially marginalised. High rates of illiteracy and a lack of socio-economic opportunities have limited their ability to participate in national developmental activities. ATEK’s literacy programme therefore endeavours to empower the Quechua with bilingual (Quechua and Spanish) literacy skills in order to enable them to improve their living standards, preserve their cultural identity and participate in national developmental activities.

Context and Background

Although Peru has made great strides in providing equal access to education for all through a national policy which guarantees free and compulsory pre-primary, primary and secondary education for all children up to the age of 16, the rural population’s access to education remains extremely limited. More specifically, the government has failed to provide effective educational opportunities to the indigenous people who constitute about 45% of Peru’s population. The Quechua, the majority of whom live in remote and ‹inaccessible› villages in the Andean highlands, is one of the indigenous groups that have benefited least from national educational policies and programmes.

Access to education for the Quechua is hindered by several factors, including:

The net effect of these disadvantages is that illiteracy rates among the Quechua are very high. It is estimated, for example, that Quechua women attend school for an average of 4.6 years and that 70% of them are illiterate. Furthermore, 54.4% of the total Quechua population fail to complete elementary school. High rates of illiteracy have also perpetuated the socio-economic and political marginalisation of the Quechua.

To address this situation, the Asociación Tawantinsuyuman Evangelioq K’ancharinanpaq (ATEK), a native Quechua organisation for community development, initiated the Reading Comprehension Literacy Programme, which endeavours to empower ordinary people through literacy skills training. It is also intended to serve as a model of bilingual literacy and education programmes for indigenous people throughout Peru.

ATEK Reading Comprehension Literacy Programme

ATEK’s Reading Comprehension Literacy Programme is a bilingual project that is based on the basic needs of the beneficiaries, as determined by assessment surveys. The programme therefore seeks to promote both personal and social development through a holistic approach which uses literacy as the foundation for other community-based development projects. To this end, the literacy skills training programme is rooted in a number of thematic areas including health, agriculture, animal husbandry, income generation and civic education.

The programme is currently being implemented in Cusco province, covering remote and poor communities in the districts of Paruro, Chumbivilcas, Paucartambo and Canas, among others. Many of these districts are marginalised and therefore lack adequate educational resources. The programme is operating in a total of 90 locations across the province and is funded primarily by Wycliffe USA and Wycliffe Canada (Global Partners International) and the Peruvian Bible Society (PBS). The PBS, for example, provides funding for the salaries of four regional supervisors and for the printing of all literacy materials used. In addition, local churches and private individuals also assist the programme with in-kind donations of goods, food and voluntary services.

Programme Components

The programme has three major components which are taught over a minimum period of two years:


Aims and Objectives

The programme endeavours to:

Programme Implementation: Approaches and Methodologies

Recruitment and Training of Facilitators

In order to ensure the effective and sustainable implementation of the programme, ATEK works in close partnership with local communities and institutions such as churches. As well as assisting ATEK with in-kind donations, these partners play a critical role in mobilising learners and facilitators. As a result, many ATEK literacy facilitators are recruited from within their communities after being recommended to ATEK by their church and community leaders because of their dedication to serving their community.

ATEK does not have a minimum educational requirement for those who aspire to be literacy facilitators. However, facilitators should have the necessary literacy skills to enable them to facilitate literacy training workshops. Successful graduates from ATEK’s post-literacy programme are also eligible to volunteer and train as facilitators.

ATEK trains facilitators through a series of regular workshops (one for each primer) and refresher seminars which field supervisors provide during their regular visits and regional meetings with facilitators. All of the training workshops emphasise practical teaching activities such as lesson moderation and class management. Each facilitator teaches an average of 7 to 8 learners. However, facilitators do not receive any remuneration; they are volunteers nominated by churches that invite ATEK to provide literacy training in their communities. The facilitators therefore teach as a means of serving their communities and churches.

Enrolment of Learners

ATEK employs a community-based approach to recruit learners into the literacy programme. When the programme was first established, ATEK undertook a community-based outreach and sensitisation programme which involved the participation of community members in public workshops where the benefits of literacy skills training were explained. Additional training workshops were held for selected but key community members, leaders and volunteers for similar purposes; however the participants were subsequently enlisted by ATEK as community mobilisers. These trained community facilitators and volunteers play a critical role in encouraging others to enrol in the programme. Equally importantly, ATEK has established strong partnerships with a number of local churches and these are now instrumental in motivating people to enrol in the literacy programme.

Teaching-Learning Approaches and Methods

ATEK believes that adults learn best through dialogue and by integrating new information into their prior knowledge and experiences. Furthermore, ATEK believes that every learner must be intrinsically motivated in order to learn a new skill and that every challenging encounter stimulates critical thinking. Hence, in order to build on the learners’ existing resources, facilitators are encouraged to employ learner-centred teaching methods that include the use of teaching aids or the creation of learning situations which stimulates debate, dialogue, interpersonal interaction (group work), problem-solving and critical thinking. With regards to learning motivation, ATEK has observed that most learners are motivated to participate in the literacy programme because of their desire to read the Quechua Bible. As a result, ATEK has used Biblical texts as a key teaching aid that enables learners to acquire broader reading and writing skills through a medium with which they identify closely. This furthermore enables class discussions to centre on and address the various social challenges which affect learners on a daily basis and has also attracted the active support of the church.

Following the principle of empowering learners while nurturing their decision-making powers, each literacy group decides where, when and how often to meet. As a rule, groups meet once a week for a minimum of two hours. ATEK has developed and provides facilitators and learners with teaching and learning materials (such as teaching manuals and aids, and learners’ readers). Facilitators and groups are supported by ATEK personnel who visit classes regularly and provide regional refresher courses for facilitators every two months.

Programme Impact and Challenges

Monitoring and Evaluation

ATEK field supervisors are responsible for continually monitoring and evaluating the teaching and learning process. In addition, a professional, external evaluation of the programme is undertaken every 3 years by Wycliffe Canada or Wycliffe USA. The last evaluation took place in January 2007. This evaluation praised ATEK for establishing an effective literacy programme for socially marginalised people and made the following key suggestions:

Impact and Achievements

The Reading Comprehension Literacy Programme has transformed the lives of the Quechua communities in terms of:

Challenges and Solutions

Lessons Learned



The sustainability of the literacy programme depends on two key elements: demand from the participants and secure funding. Given the high rates of illiteracy among the Quechua and other indigenous groups, the long-term demand for literacy skills training is guaranteed. In addition, the programme could be expanded to include a variety of vocational skills training activities. Furthermore, because ATEK works with local institutions which are a permanent part of the communities, such as the church, more could be done to link its activities with those of these institutions. However, the expansion of the programme, whether through ATEK or local institutions, depends on the availability of secure and sustainable funding.



Fredi Quintanilla Palomino
Apartado 318, Cusco
Tel: +11-51 84 25 3457 / +11-51 849 846 797 03
E-mail:director (at)

Last update: 12 April 2011