On Monday, I went to have my second meeting with the Defensoria del Pueblo, an organization created by the constitution in 1993 to protect fundamental and constitutional rights and ensure that the government was providing the necessary services to the population. I was very excited, since they had invited me to come along with them to see how they resolve complaints in their new campaign Educación sin Corrupción (Education without Corruption). In the pamphlet and electronic material I was given by their office, it clearly states that charging any fees from the students is illegal (whether it’s for the APAFA, for copies, or for classroom supplies, all of which our students currently pay). I was very curious and excited to see what they were doing to combat this problem.
After visiting three schools and hearing infinite excuses from the directors, teachers, and other administrators and staff on cases of physical abuse, grade withholding, and diplomas which had never been given to students, I still was curious about the fundamental flaw in the government’s execution of their educational charge—that the education was not free as stated in the constitution. I asked the lawyer we were with if she saw many cases dealing with money, and she said that she has never had one. We talked about the fundamental right that these students had and that ultimately it was up to the government to pay for the children’s education, but since they don’t provide enough money to the schools it’s no wonder that the teachers have to charge in order to provide materials to their students. When I asked the lawyer what she thought would happen if parents were to submit complaints about money, she said that there probably wasn’t much their office could do to recoup the money from the government.
SKIP wants to move towards the direction of advocating for quality education for the students, instead of just providing the money and supplies for a limited number of children to attend school. In brainstorming the best way to do this, it’s necessary (but difficult) to understand the politics and the established way of doing things in the Peruvian system, and how to use this information to best to affect change from the government.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about the government’s failures in Peru, especially in the provision of water and education. They talked about private schools as sometimes being the best option, even for the poorest families. In our area of Trujillo, the private schools cost about the same price as the public schools after you factor in all the money the parents pay out of pocket to the teachers and APAFA over the year. Some of SKIP is under the impression that we could make a bigger difference on these kids if we did open our own school. For the same cost per child, we could provide higher quality facilities and education. However, if we exit the public school system is it like giving up on public education and the rest of the children that we can’t accommodate in SKIP?
Posted By Sara Zampierin
Posted Aug 22nd, 2007