Childhood (Ages 6 to 11)
In Peru, 94% of primary school age children (ages 6 to 11) attend an institution of this type. This percentage matches the average for South America, but is slightly surpassed by Argentina, Ecuador, and Uruguay. Despite the steady progress in the country, there are still approximately 66,000 children between the ages of 6 and 11 (2%) who are outside the formal educational system (The State of Children in Peru).
With regard to education, there is concern over improving low levels of reading comprehension and mathematical reasoning, two basic skills of the learning process without which children’s comprehensive development and opportunities to reach adulthood as productive adults and full citizens are limited.
According to the Student Census Evaluation (ECE), in 2007, only 15.9% of children in second grade of primary school achieved a sufficient performance level in the comprehension of texts, while in mathematics, this rate was 7.2%. For 2011, these figures were 29.8% in reading comprehension and 13.2% in mathematics.
With regard to school attendance, it is known that although over 90% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are enrolled in primary school, 1 out of every 5 (20%) attends a grade lower than that corresponding to their age. The level of poor academic performance in rural areas (30%) is more than double than that registered in urban areas (13%), and the rate among children living in extreme poverty (35%) is triple than that of non-poor children (13%).
Another aspect which characterises this stage of childhood is insertion into the labour field. According to the Child Labour Survey (ETI), 37% of children between the ages of 5 and 13, work. The proportion of those who work in an economic activity at least one hour a week in rural areas (66%) is more than triple than that of urban areas (21%).
According to the National Household Survey (ENAHO), 18% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 wear a clothing size below that expected for their age (chronic malnutrition). Inequality with regard to nutrition is substantial: the chronic malnutrition rate among children living in rural areas (34%) is five times higher than in urban areas (6%). Among children who do not live in conditions of poverty (7%), it is less than one-fifth of those living in extreme poverty (39%). This situation also affects 43% of children whose first language is indigenous, triple the rate of those whose mother tongue is Spanish (14%).
In recent years, access to health insurance has improved notably, especially among rural children and those living in extreme poverty. Of children between the ages of 6 and 11, 77% had some sort of health insurance as of 2009, and the majority (58%) was registered with the Comprehensive Health Insurance (SIS) program. However, there are still over 800,000 children between the ages of 6 and 11 (26%) who do not have health insurance. The departments with the highest poverty levels among children between ages 6 and 11 are the ones with the highest levels of registration with a health insurance program, especially the SIS.
Statistics on access to water and sanitation services show that among Peruvian children between the ages of 6 and 11, 1.2 million (37%) live in households without improved sources of water; 1.6 million (47%) in households that have no improved sources of sanitation; and 1 million (31%) in housing which lacks improved sources of both water and indoor plumbing. The most notable cases are those of Huancavelica (64%), Loreto (60%), and Huánuco (58%), where approximately 6 out of every 10 children live in this situation. While nationwide 63% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 have access to improved sources of water in their household, only 21% have a “safe” source of water, with adequate chlorine levels.