Primary school years
Education is a fundamental right of all children, and it is vital for ensuring them a higher quality of life. However, in Peru education quality is disturbing, since many children that finish second grade in the rural areas do not know how to read or write.
To understand the reasons for this poor performance of rural children, several characteristics of their schools must be considered:
The distance to the schools
Most of the children have to walk long hours to reach the school, and when they do so, the physical exhaustion, together with the scant breakfasts they have received at home, do not support adequate concentration during class.
The number of classroom hours
The farther the school is from the home, the fewer hours of instruction received by the students, since classes start late and finish early, and because a great number of the teachers, who live in urban areas, abandon the school on Fridays to visit their families, and often do not return until Monday night. This means that the children only receive classes Tuesday through Thursday.
A single teacher is one who has students in different grades in a single classroom and who must implement an educative process for all of them at the same time. In 2003, 27% of the country’s primary schools were single-teacher institutions. For the rural area, this figure is 37% (Source: Estadística Básica 2003. Ministerio de Educación).
Quality of teaching
This is directly related to the teachers’ capacity to transmit knowledge to the children. While many schools are single-teacher and multi-grade, that is not the problem, but rather that most of the teachers are not prepared for this kind of teaching, and do not have appropriated methodology for teaching in these circumstances.
Although different languages are spoken in Peru – including Quechua, Aymara, Ashaninka, and Aguaruna – there is no current record of the number of children for whom Spanish is not the native language. The last reference we have is the one provided in the 1993 Census, which indicates that 19% of the five-year-old population had Quechua, Aymara or some other native language as their mother tongue. While it is true that efforts have been made to make the Intercultural Bilingual Schools the alternative for all of these children, efforts still are not adequate to fully satisfy the demand for education in native languages.
In addition to the great challenge of improving education quality, Peru must end the high rates of grade repetition and primary school dropout.