Peru has seen an improvement in its education system over the past few years, and Peru’s Education Minister, Jaime Saavedra, credited this in part to the teacher training undertaken by previously untrained educators. Even today there was a press release to that effect. So it seems utterly bizarre that those very same teachers – the ones who have gone back to university and undertaken the training, have been hit with a mass sacking.
Teacher Solidarity reported that over 10,000 teachers have been sacked in Peru – some with over 30 years service. It reports that:
“[t]he teachers were hired on temporary contracts, mostly to work in low-income areas, pending their completion of a teacher training qualification – they had all come straight from university. But with their salaries on average $350 a month, they were usually not in a position to fund the new qualification.“
These teachers were hired in the 1990s when teachers did not need to be qualified. In order to become qualified, they would have to find the university courses themselves, but with wages a low USD$350 a month, many have found this an impossibility.
‘The Dean of the Teachers Association, Julio Mendoza, believes that the sudden change in government policy has economic and political motives. He argues that, “Basically, the goal is to reduce salaries and save money, but on the other hand it is also trying to encourage private, for profit education. With all these difficulties that are presented for public schools, the other sector keeps growing.”‘
Many, including Mendoza, fear that Peru is gearing up to privatise the school system:
“While the state requires an education degree for someone who works in public schools, it doesn’t for private ones. Any person can teach there. While public schools require exhaustive and strict exams for directors, in private schools the only requirement is to have a university title. It doesn’t matter if you are not a teacher. Therefore, they make it easy for public schools to create a business.”
This would be a bizarre move, given the Education Minister identifying teacher training as key to Peru’s improved educational success, as teachers in Peru’s private schools do not have to be qualified.
Yet the facts speak loudly – around half of Peru’s schools are already private schools, and banks and businesses are investing in them. It seems Peru is yet another country falling foul of neoliberal ideology, which hits teachers hard and at the same time fails to benefit students.
Worldwide, in all manner of ways, education is under attack from the money-makers.
Thanks, Milton Friedman, you must be so proud.