This profile was prepared when Juana Loayza was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1997.
The New Idea
Juana Loayza is training public high school teachers to overcome their own limited preparation in order to effectively teach the challenging subjects of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Through her method, Yachay Wasi, which in the indigenous Quechua language means "House of Knowledge," teachers are showing the levels of commitment and voluntary effort they can reach, despite working in resource-poor conditions, when they are inspired and made conscious of their potential. Yachay Wasi is designed to be practical and easy for the teachers to learn; it links the subjects to the students' environment and promotes thinking skills and increased self-esteem among them as they master the subject matter. She has created hands-on science and math lessons focused on group learning, student participation, and interaction, using low-cost materials. Ultimately, she aims to produce a population of students with the necessary skills for promoting sustainable development and real democracy in Peru.