Peru is nuts about education

Friday afternoon I picked up Brianna’s 9 page report card at her jardin (kindergarden). She’s 3 now. During the meeting at her jardin there were a number of congratulations from the school to the parents of those children who have recently been accepted to start next year at some of the highly regarded schools in the city. We are coming up on the end of the school year here and the idea is that most of the highly regarded schools offer 2 years of kindergarden (5 and 6 years old) which will help your child get into those schools at the start of their primary education.

There are many small, private jardins for kids ages 2 and up, like the one where Brianna currently is. It’s considered important for those jardins to place children into the highly regarded schools at the 4-5 year levels. The director of Brianna’s jardins called out a number of proud parents including one “whose baby has been accepted IN FIRST PLACE to La Salle!!!!”

Big round of applause.

I personally don’t like the La Salle school. To me it’s very pituco.

Then the director continued about how many more kids are still in the process of “taking exams” for other schools.

I started to write this post on Saturday but couldn’t finish because the power went out several times in our neighborhood. This is considered normal, the water and electricity go out about once a month (and we live in a well established residential area) but 4 YEAR OLDS TAKE ENTRANCE EXAMS???

I first realized that Peru is totally nuts about education back when I was teaching ESL. I understand that everybody wants to give their kids a better life than they had. For Peruvians who remember the bad old days of terrorism, the collapse of the rural economies and hyper-inflation it’s easy to understand that they see a good university education as the ticket to a better life for their children. A good pre-school is just one of the many steps to that ultimate goal of a good university education.

The problem in my opinion is this: Peru has blind faith in education.

I think this blind faith in education has created a generation with quite a few “professional students”, young Peruvians who should have every opportunity in life but fail to take advantage of them out of fear or reluctance to make that next step, get out on their own. The strong Peruvian mothers shelter their kids so much that they often lack incentive, self confidence, at least in a professional sense.

It’s not what you know, it’s what you do with that knowledge that matters.

Studying is a great way to get out of having to look for a job. 25-years old, living at home and never worked a day in your life? Just sign up for another “institute” and mom will be proud. Want a new laptop or internet at home? Just tell mom you need it for “homework”.

Also, savvy business people make a ton of money in Peru with education. Sadly, in my opinion many of the for profit private institutes aren’t very good. It’s just business.

* * *

My father didn’t go to college. He worked on the farm until he was 16, then he went to work in the coal mines. My grandfather didn’t go to college, he got sent to war, to go kill young men he didn’t even know – because people with degrees from the finest universities in the world told him to.


Brianna Nayaraq 🙂


Think you know Cuzco: where was this picture taken?


Papi Inka or my new casa de campo?

8 thoughts on “Peru is nuts about education

  1. Hay Ward, enjoyed the post. One more problem with such a hard push on education is that you can end up with a fair number of people who have been educated beyond their intelligence. I have known a few in my life, lots of book smarts but not a bit of common sense.

    • I would really like to meet a student in Peru with “book smarts” as I tutor BA and MA students from the Pontifical and even its level of learning is weak in comparison to the First World Nations.

  2. Lyle: Education used to be a factor of how academically adept a person is. Nowadays that’s no longer true, if a person is willing to pay the tuition they’ll get the degree. When I was with GE I met people with MBAs who in years past would have graduated with average scores from secretary school.

    • Absolutely true, and at the university I quit, the head of foreign languages has a token MBA–nothing to do with languages. I have ten earned doctorates (major universities) and have published more than 500 books and 1000 articles–but I was put in tallers (workshops) for fear of scaring the students–and none read even the syllabus. I quit in frustration and am now in self-enforced retirement.

  3. Education is slowly going that way here in the us too. Alot of college students get a degree that will not get them a good job when they graduate. i have.a question, have you made a poston cost of living of peru and crime. I would like to read how it is there in peru. Im.glad i.found your blog.

    • Degrees are pieces of paper–they do not reflect knowledge. When, I was offered my first teaching job at a university there was no request for transcripts only a 1 minute presentation on the past tense of the verb “to be”.

  4. I have taught in Peru for eight years at both the secondary level and in the universities. Few teachers have a Masters, most barely have a Bachelors, and I was the only USA born teacher with the doctorate. My colleagues are more interested in methodology, pedagogy, strategies, etc. than in subject matter and none were experts. Even young Americans on holiday accepted the teaching jobs (not positions) and visiting with them few knew how to keep a class orderly or what to teach so I had to fill in at the primary level until I quit. At the final university I failed an entire graduating class of would-be teachers as not a one scored above 8 out of 20 points in grammar, psychology of learning, or interpretation (I have doctorates earned in each subject); their bachelor theses were cut-and-paste (plagiarised), and the longest bibliography was two entries. The problem is most private schools are for profit, and the public schools are underfunded and woefully staffed with uneducated SUTEP “teachers”. The only good came in 2007, when Minister of Education Antonio Cheng mandated that all teachers pass a basic examination, and out of the 187,000 teachers only 151 passed, but these statistics and links to why Peru schools are the worst in the world are in my articles on the in the internet. Education is dying, and not until parents realize that their children are not being educated and demand better, education in Peru will remain a joke.

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