The Wounaan Higher Education Fund

The Wounaan Higher Education Fund provides between ten and twenty annual scholarships to secondary students in rural Darien and East Panama communities, and to Wounaan students attending University.  High school education is often cost prohibitive to many Wounaan students because they must live outside their villages to attend, and transportation and housing are expensive. The $300 received by the average student does not cover all expenses, but is considered an important motivation to continuing their education.

Higher Education scholarships are instrumental to preparing Wounaan to fill critical leadership roles.  In 2011, Wounaan Higher Education scholar, Leonides Quiroz, successfully completed his university studies and defended his thesis becoming the first Wounaan lawyer.  Leonides’s commitment to his people’s cause compelled him to pursue law school  and lead the legal fight to protect Wounaan rights.  Today, Leonides serves as legal counsel for the Wounaan Congreso, is the President of the  Fundación para el Desarrollo del Pueblo Wounaan (FUNDEPW) and  on a daily basis is on the frontlines defending the rights of his people.

Leonides Quiroz speaking at a hearing of the Inter-American Comission on Human Rights, 2010


Wounaan Higher Education scholarships are managed by the Wounaan-led and managed, Fundación para el Desarrollo del Pueblo Wounaan (FUNDEPW). Students must demonstrate enrollment in a school in order to qualify, and the FUNDEPW requires students to maintain passing grades.