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Education and Schools

Peru - Education and Schools


Peru is a developing nation which recognizes the importance of education, and the extent to which it affects the economic well-being of a country. As such, the ministry of education oversees the running of thousands of schools in Peru, aimed at universal free education for all the nation’s children. Over the past few decades, adult literacy has risen from 40 percent to more than 90 percent of the nation’s entire population.

It is compulsory for children in Peru to be educated between the ages of 6 and 16. Children here attend elementary school from the age of 6 until 11, before moving on to secondary school until they are 16.

Unfortunately, at least 6 percent of children in Peru either never attend school or drop out of education early, even though a good education is generally valued within the society. There are particular problems for children in rural areas, and for those whose household income is below the poverty line. In some remote areas, there are simply not secondary schools built for local children to attend, reflecting the limited funds available for a country whose terrain includes the Andes and the rainforest.

School starting times will vary, but is around 8am. Many children will walk significant distances or ride on overcrowded buses to get to the school site. Children leaving home at 6am to walk to school is normal in remote areas. Other children will board with relatives during the week to be nearer to school. Wealthier parents, normally in or near a city, will drive the children to school or arrange lift shares.

State schools have uniforms. The resources available in the classrooms depends significantly on where the school is. City schools are fairly modern and have basic equipment, whilst in the rainforest, some schools will not even have an exercise book for each child. In areas where parents can’t afford to buy books and stationery, schools too struggle to provide children with the resources taken for granted in the West.

Class sizes in Peru are usually large, and teacher training does not meet the standards expected in many Western countries. Combined with the lack of resources available at school and the disadvantages many children experience at home, Peru performs badly against the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) tables for achievements in communication, maths and science.

Classes are taught in Spanish. However, about 400,000 children in Peru speak an indigenous language at home, so in rural areas, lessons will be conducted in that dialect. In many areas, English will be taught as a foreign language, as it will equip children to work in the tourist industry when they grow up.

The major subjects taught at school in Peru are:

• Language and writing
• Mathematics
• Science
• Religion (Catholicism)
• Social studies

School usually ends around 2pm. After-school clubs are extremely rare, even in the private school system. Sports activities tend to be organized by local sports clubs. Many children will go to work after school, to bring in some desperately needed cash, to help a family businesses, or to help maintain the family household. For families above the poverty threshold, children will either play sports or engage in social activities.

The school year runs from March until December. A long holiday is enjoyed throughout January, February and some of March, when the weather is at its warmest. Semester one lasts from March until July. Following a short winter break, semester two starts in August and ends just before Christmas. There is also a further week’s break in October.

Many private schools are available in Peru, especially located in the major cities, but these are expensive and only available to wealthy families.

After successfully completing secondary school, students may go on to study at a technical college or university. Some of these institutions are run publicly, whilst others are run in the private sector.

Depending on the level of institution and the learning program completed, any student successfully completing their course will be awarded the title technician or technical professional. The quality of the technical colleges is supervised by the ministry of education.

Students who earn a place at a public university but are unable to pay tuition fees are able to attend for free.

Peru took part in a massive national program called one laptop per child, which gives each child in the country access to a laptop. The trial in 2007 was followed up by the full program in 2010. The laptops are basic and cheap, but an important opportunity for impoverished children in remote areas.

Peruvian billionaire Carlos Rodriguez-Pastor set up the chain of Innova Schools in 2011. His aim was to offer aspirational families a choice beyond the impoverished state schools and the expensive private schools. The purpose-built school buildings have been carefully planned, and the curriculum is designed to go beyond conventional classroom teaching of core subjects.

There are a number of international schools in Peru. Most of them are located in Lima. Rather than teaching the Peruvian curriculum offered in all public schools and most private schools, international schools deliver a curriculum from the North American, British, German, Italian or French educational systems.

However, by law the international schools also have to deliver lessons in Spanish and teach the history, science and social studies relating to Peru.

International schools offer a variety of exam opportunities, so this should be taken in consideration when choosing the right school for your child. The Peruvian diploma, IGCSE or International Baccalaureate (IB) are typical options. IB schools have been present in Peru since 1987. Today, there are 53 IB schools offering a range of programs.

Children are normally assessed before being offered a place in an international school. It is also common for parents to be interviewed and to provide evidence that they can meet charges for the school, since admission fees, monthly fees and yearly enrollment fees will often cost as much as a private school in the UK or US. In addition, you will be expected to pay for books, stationery, uniform, food, school trips and other additional resources or activities.

You will need to provide your child’s birth certificate, identification, proof of employment and income, and possibly a reference.

If the school offers an accident insurance scheme for you to purchase, check whether your own private health insurance will already provide adequate cover.

The International Schools offered in Peru include:

• Markham College; British School, Lima
• Newton College; British Peruvian School, Lima
• San Silvestre School; British School, Lima - for girls
• Colegio Peruano Britanco; British Peruvian School, Lima
• Hiram Bingham; British School, Lima
• Colegio Franklin D. Roosevelt; American School, Lima
• Abraham Lincoln; Peruvian North American School, Lima
• Colegio Franco Peruano; French School, Lima
• Colegio Peruano Aleman Alexander von Humboldt; German School, Lima
• Colegio Pestalozzi; Swiss School, Lima
• Colegio Italiano Antonio Raimondi; Italian School, Lima
• Casuarinas International College; Lima
• Colegio Alpamayo/Salcantay; Lima - Christian boys and girls
• Villa Per Se; Alternative School, Lima
• Colegio Waldorf; Waldorf School, Lima
• Ausangate Andino; International School, Cusco
• Colegio Anglo Americano Prescott; Anglo American School, Arequipa
• Colegio Peruano Aleman Max Uhle; German School, Arequipa
• Sir Alexander Fleming College; British International School, Trujillo


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