The Ana Akua’ipa, an ethno-educational project of the Wayuu indigenous people of Colombia

Dates of implementation
01/01/2007 - 31/12/2021
Yanama, La Guajira's indigenous organisation


  • Build an ethno-educational project that responds to the particular educational needs of Wayuu people taking its territory, autonomy, uses and customs for the integral education of the Self into to consideration.



The Province of La Guajira on the north-Caribbean coast of Colombia, is home to the ancestral sacred territory of the Wayuu indigenous people. The Wayuu are spread between La Guajira province in Colombia and the state of Zulia in Venezuela, they are the largest indigenous community in both countries.

Their community is based on an organic matrilineal system composed of clans where the maternal uncle is the authority who has to maintain the cohesion of his group. This decentralized governance organization operates through a normative system based on the Word. For the Wayuu people it is vital that children are educated within the framework of these ancestral systems strongly linked with their sacred territory, as it’s related to all aspects of Wayuu’s life. Yet, they are often threatened by forced displacement, and children are compelled to attend an alijuna (foreign) formal education system.

Identifying the need to make state-run schools relevant for Wayuu children, and in order to strengthen the transmission of their living heritage as a response to the threats that jeopardize their livelihoods, the Wayuu people decided to undertake a social process to build an ethno-educational project for a comprehensive Wayuu education.

The process of building the Wayuu ethno-education project

In 2007, a Departmental Technical Wayuu Committee on Ethno-education was created, composed of teachers and traditional authorities’ representatives from each of the 10 municipalities with indigenous populations in the department of La Guajira.
With the support of the Ministry of Education, La Guajira Education Secretariat, Technical Committees of the Municipalities and other relevant local government authorities, the Wayuu people led the process by way of indigenous workshops, assemblies, word circles and other endogenous methodologies.

As a result, the Departmental Technical Wayuu Committee developed an ethno-educational project that defines the criteria and core concepts that guide the Wayuu Nation in establishing and implementing actions that contribute to achieving well-being within their territories, while maintaining balanced relationships with nature and other cultures with which they interact. The project is embodied in the Anaa akua’ipa document (“well-being” in their indigenous language, Wayuunaiki), published under the auspices of the Colombian Ministry of National Education.

Anaa Akua’ipa being the optimal state of material and spiritual elements that allow the Wayuu Self to satisfactorily fulfil the cultural and sociolinguistic roles and precepts for achieving individual and collective well-being.

Anaa Akua’ipa, an ethno-educational project

The Anaa Akua’ipa is the theoretical basis for the development of the ethno-educational Wayuu model. Based on Wayuu’s identity, sense of belonging, cultural and territorial roots, the document is a guide for teachers to transform their practice and educational work, taking into account the culture and language as teaching content in each of the schools where Wayuu children are educated.

The ethno-educational Wayuu project has five basic components:

  • The Conceptual component refers to the philosophical conception of the Wayuu nation’s way of life, way of thinking, seeing and understanding the world and relationship with nature.
  • The Pedagogical component is based on the Wayuu’s own pedagogy that significantly guides the educational processes, taking into account what the Wayuu children need to learn in each of the stages of development and learning.
  • As for the methodology, the Anna Akua’ipa states that the model will be applied through classroom-community projects, in addition to their own transmission practices, aiming to integrate the cultural content in each of the thematic subjects.
  • The community states that the indigenous system of social and cultural organization and training should prevail at the time of developing any educational action, bearing in mind that the collective and community character is the basis of this system.
  • Finally, the administrative component determines that the ethno-educational centres are the institutional base of Anaa Akua’ipa with the support and strong participation of the community.

The implementation of the ethno-educational project

The Anaa Akua’ipa has become a foundational instrument for the development of Wayuu self-education and is considered as a contribution to the improvement of the quality of education in the Wayuu nation.

The application of the model has required permanent training of the ethno-educators, to transform the conventional pedagogical practices and has promoted exchanges of experiences among ethno-educators, fostering mutual enrichment of knowledge. The application of the model has also been accompanied by La Guajira’s indigenous organisation, Yanama.


  • The Ana Akua’ipa book, a community-based ethno-educational project for the comprehensive education of Wayuu Self.

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