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Unsettled and Discontinuous: The Politics of Education Reform in Peru

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posted on 2023-07-18, 16:13 authored by RISE AdminRISE Admin, Communications Development Incorporated
Current reform agendas in Peru are markedly similar to what they were at the beginning of the 1990s, suggesting that many reform goals have not been reached. Small incremental gains may have been achieved by one administration only to be dismantled by another and to then be re- established, often partially, at a later stage. In this protracted process, the education sector has managed to take steps for improving the teaching profession, reforming the national curriculum, and developing a strong and valued learning assessment system. The long and discontinuous path in the development of these reforms has often meant that their implementation has only been partial, and that many key elements have been lost on the way. At the same time, many reforms—such as decentralization, the improvement of secondary schooling, and teaching quality—remain partial. And second- order reforms to bring about more fundamental changes in teaching and learning are yet to be developed. The discontinuities and other factors hindering the definition and consolidation of quality and learning reforms in Peru can be clearly linked to the political economy of education policymaking. However, the weakness of Peru’s state and institutions mean that mean that political economy cannot just be understood as the interplay of actors, negotiations, interests, compromises and settlements. In Peru, as in most of Latin America, “the vast differences in the enforcement and stability of rules (…) suggests that institutional strength should be treated as a variable, rather than a taken-for-granted assumption.”1 The characteristics of the policy process make it difficult to identify specific policies or reforms behind the improvements in the quality indicators in the past three decades—especially given that the trajectory of improvements began before some of the most important reforms of the period. At the same time, it is important to consider other contextual factors that may partly account for such improvements, as Peruvian society has experienced fundamental changes in its economic and social structure, and their impacts on educational improvement cannot be underestimated.


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