Peru is a multicultural, multilingual country with near universal access to primary schooling. However, equity, inclusion and quality are still to be achieved. Among Peruvian children, those who speak an indigenous language show lower levels of enrolment, higher repetition and drop out, lower school achievement and are often overage for their grade. Bilingual education is not available for most of these children, although research shows that using the mother tongue has better learning outcomes, especially at a young age.
Schools often do not recognise the identity, language and rights of indigenous children, and indigenous girls become even more marginalised. This situation reproduces ethnic, gender and racial inequalities and stigma.
A representative case study can provide an example of this marginalisation from Quechua children in the Andean highlands. This comes from Young Lives, a long-term research project that gathers information through surveys, interviews, in-depth case studies and participatory methods over time:
When five-year-old Ana – a Quechua-speaking girl from the Andean highlands – attended pre-school in 2007, her mother was concerned: “Children are made to learn in Spanish, and children know, but only in Quechua”. The following year, in primary school, Ana was taught again in Spanish. Her teacher use to hit children with a whip when they made mistakes. Ana was not permitted to wear indigenous clothing and had to leave her shoes at the door of the classroom. The many valuable things Ana knows and does outside school are completely ignored by her teachers and the school as an institution.
Meaningful inclusive education in the context of Peru requires challenging the cultural orientation of schooling, school policies and ways of working, which can reinforce inequalities and discriminate against certain children. These, including gender dimensions that affect children’s experience, have to be recognised and changed. Learners and their communities need to be active participants in shaping and determining their own educational priorities.
Institute of Peruvian Studies, Horacio Urteaga
694, Jesús María, Lima 11, Perú
T +51 1 3326194 Extension 238
Young Lives is a long-term international research project investigating the changing nature of childhood poverty.
- Starting school: who is prepared? Young Lives’ research on children’s transition to first grade in Peru
- P. Ames; V. Rojas; T. Portugal / Young Lives, 2009
- Literature has pointed to the importance of children’s experiences of preschool and first grade as foundational for success during the subsequent school years. This paper attempts to examine the transition of early childhood in the be...