Education in Peru

by Richard Purnell

There are many topics that I would like to cover but it is important that I start with our mission, education. Education can be (basically) broken down into 3 areas: policy, coverage and quality. Policy ensures the right to education, coverage provides the access and quality makes it meaningful. All three of these need to be in alignment to truly have a great education system.


The highest law of the land, the Peruvian Constitution, provides that education is compulsory and free in public schools for initial (3 years), primary (6 years) and secondary (5 years).


Overall Peru is providing better coverage of its education system when compared to Latin American as a whole. It has 100% enrollment (2002) of primary school aged children, this is greater than Latin America at 93%.  According to the data Peru falls a little short when it comes to secondary at 67$ compared to 69%. However the trend has been increasing from 61% in 1998 to 67% in 2007.


This is where Peru falls down. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), performed in both high and low income countries, focuses on reading, mathematics and science of students aged 15 revealed that Peru was the worst performing country that participated. Although there are many circumstances that have distorted this result, overall it is safe to say that the education a Peruvian student receives is not that great.

This is a very superficial analysis of the education system in Peru however it is a great starting point and begs the question. With a finite amount of resources is it better to have a little coverage with a greater impact or larger coverage with a more dilute effect? In my opinion Peru has it right. Education is a human right at birth everyone has an inherit right to be able to improve themselves regardless of circumstance. Having good coverage provides access for someone to reach their potential.

Information for this post was pulled from A World Bank County Study: Towards High-quality Education in Peru. Available at:

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Richard Purnell

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