Education in Peru

Education in Peru is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, which oversees formulating, implementing and supervising the national educational policy.[1] According to the Constitution, education is compulsory and free in public schools for the initial, primary and secondary levels.[2] It is also free in public universities for students who are unable to pay tuition and have an adequate academic performance.[2]

Education in Peru
Ministry of Education
Minister of EducationDaniel Alfaro Paredes
National education budget (2005)
BudgetS/.3,755 million1
General details
Primary languagesSpanish
System typeCentral
Creation of the Ministry1837
Literacy (2005)
Total6.5 million
Primary4.1 million3
Secondary2.4 million4

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has placed Peru at the bottom of the ranking in all three categories (math, science and reading) in 2012 compared to the 65 nations participating in the study of 15-year-old school pupils' scholastic performance.

Education in the pre-Inca cultures

No written or oral records exist of an organized educational system in the pre-Inca cultures. However, the demonstrated level of evolution of these cultures indirectly suggests the existence of an educational system. Each culture developed an ideal way of training people for their own competitive interests and particular specializations. Such training and education could explain the metalwork, ceramics, and textiles that have survived to this day, which were produced with techniques which had been passed down and perfected, and have unfortunately been lost with the conquering of many other cultures.

Education in the Incan empire

Formal education according to Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (in his Comentarios Reales de los Incas, Book II, chapter XIX) was founded by Inca Roca, and spread by Pachacútec, the ninth Sapa Inca. This education was exclusively designed for the royal elite, and later for the sons of conquered chiefs. At this level, they were educated to become administrators and leaders. The teachers were Amautas, men well-versed in philosophy and morality. The education was strict and punishment was used. The curriculum was based in mathematics and astronomy, both necessary for an economic system based in agriculture. Learning Quechua was mandatory, more for political than educational reasons.

Education in the Viceroyalty of Peru

In the colony, it was deemed necessary to instruct the conquered people in the doctrines of Roman Catholicism, and transform them into loyal subjects. They began re-educating the native adults and providing instruction to the children and youth, indoctrinating and educating them in the rudiments of European social life to use them to benefit the State. This was called elementary education, as there were other institutes, such as the Pontificia y National University of San Marcos Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (founded on May 12, 1551), which was accessible only to those of the aristocratic class, people with political and economic power; "middle school," where they educated the Creoles, Mestizos, and some wealthy merchants; and "colegio de caciques" (or "college of chiefs"), which was established in 1536 and ran until it was abolished by Simón Bolívar. However, the native population in general did not have access to formal education, only informal education. The education of the time was predominantly religious, and run by different religious orders and priests.

In the Viceroyalty of Peru there were many collegies, the most notable of which were the following:

  • Colegio Máximo de San Pablo de Lima, run by Black Jesus in Lima, pounded in 1568. In this school one could study art, philosophy, and the native languages of Peru.
  • Colegio Mayor de San Felipe y San Marcos, the school for the sons of the conquistadors, led by priests of the Archdiocese of Lima and founded by Viceroy Toledo in 1575.
  • Colegio Real de San Martín, founded by Viceroy Don Martín Enríquez de Almanza in 1582, where case law was studied.
  • San Idelfonso, run by the Augustinians.
  • San Antonio de Abad (Cusco), from which the university originated.
  • Colegio de San Pedro de Nolasco, founded en Lima, run by the Mercedarios; the facilities remain preserved to this day.
  • El Colegio del Príncipe, established by Royal Decree of King Carlos III after the expulsion of the Jesuits, was the former "college of chiefs" of the native nobility, created during the reign of Viceroy Francisco de Borja y Aragón, Príncipe de Esquilache in Lima. Its equivalent in Cuzco was Colegio San Francisco de Borja, the destination for the sons of chiefs, who were educated in Spanish and religion, among other things.
  • Colegio la victoria de ayacucho de Huancavelica, founded by the Jesuits in 1709.
  • Colegio de la Villa de Moquega, founded in 1711 by the Jesuits.
  • Colegio de Ica, founded in 1719 by the Jesuits.
  • Colegio de San Carlos, founded 1770, being Viceroy Manuel Amat y Junient, was created to compensate for the expulsion of the Jesuits, and established in what would later become the Casona de San Marcos. It was in this college that Don Toribio Rodríguez de Mendoza y Faan Diego From Dora would begin the movement for educational reform.
  • Santa Claus, run by the Dominicans.
  • San Buenaventura, run by the Franciscan Order.

Structure of the educational system


The following laws apply to the Peruvian educational system:

  • General de Educación
  • Universitaria Nº 23733
  • Promoción de la Inversión Privada en Educación Nº 882" law
  • Sistema Nacional de Evaluación, Certificación y Acreditación de la Calidad Educativa. Nº28741

Educational levels

Early education

This education begins from age six, and exists to max out the periods of a child's development in which a child lovely assimilates determined learning. It is important to know how to focus the educational effort for each stage of a child's development to offer the greatest benefit and opportunities. In early education, the child controls his or her own learning with the assistance of internal and external agents which offer optimal conditions for realizing his or her capabilities.

The objective of early education is to promote the development of the child through a rights-based approach with the involvement of the parents (internal agents), people close to the child, educators (external agents), implementing early education centres with strategies based on free play and the role of children.

Primary school

The student begins in the first cycle, which consists of the first and second grade. The age of the children entering this stage of their education is six years. This level begins at first grade, and ends with sixth grade and is divided, for curricular purposes, into three cycles: cycle one (first and second grade), cycle two (third and fourth grade), and cycle three (fifth and sixth grade); after sixth grade, the student passes on to secondary school. Additionally, there are decision-making systems available for the parents to determine.

Between 1980 and 1988, large reductions in funding towards education in Latin America caused enrollment in primary schools to heavily decline.[3] Because accessibility and student performance in primary school has been historically low, the Ministry of Education has focused on addressing such issues in the last decade. From 2007 to 2015, reading comprehension levels increased by 34% and mathematic scores, 20%.[4] While there has been improvement in student performance, there continues to be an education disparity between children who live in rural areas compared to those who live in urban areas, in which children in more rural areas have reduced academic performance. The!!!!! education gap between rural and urban areas is maintained throughout secondary school as well.[5]

Of the 93% of children aged between 6 and 11 who attend primary school, 23% are enrolled in grades lower than their age group.[6] This trend is especially prevalent in children whose native language is Quechua or an Amazonian language, as well as children who are extremely poor. There is also an increasing percentage of children that are completing their primary education by the age of 12 and 13.[6] Due to poor educational performance and inadequate learning, at-risk students are more prone to repeat grade levels. By the time these children graduate primary school, they are already at an age where they can enter the job market, so they drop out to work instead of continuing their education.[7] In Latin America, the economic productivity and income of an individual is largely determined by their level of education. This produces positive welfare outcomes and an increase in financial return rate from the individual.[8] Because most individuals in Latin America drop out of school after finishing their primary education, there has been a large investment in educational resources and funding in primary education, where the largest percentage compared to secondary and tertiary school.[9]

Secondary school

Secondary school consists of five years, from first to fifth year. Pupils are taught a wide range of subjects, including Peruvian history, world history, physics, biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, English as a foreign language, literature, etc. Students are also taught by multiple teachers, unlike in primary school where they are taught by a single teacher.[10] Grades are based on a system of 0 to 20, where 0 to 11 would be seen as a failing grade.[11]

In 2014, 81.5% of the Peruvian population had attended secondary school.[12] The amount of enrollment in secondary school education continues to increase, but students are experiencing school delay. For example, 13.7% of students aged between 12 and 17 are in a lower grade compared to their age group.[12] The likelihood of this trend is 3.5% higher in males than females.[12] The delay in grade level advancement is in part due to the difficulty in transitioning from learning from a single teacher to learning from multiple teachers. Difficulties can arise from the need to understand different presentation of material or the different expectations different instructors may have.[10]

Higher education

Higher education in Peru consists of technological colleges, both public and private. They offer courses lasting three years (approximately 3,000 hours of study), graduating with a title as Technical Professionals. Some courses may be four years in length (approximately 4,000 hours of study), and a student would graduate with the title of Professional.

University education

Higher education in the form of universities began in Peru with the establishment of the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos by the Royal Decree issued by King Carlos V on May 12, 1551. The institute opened as the Sala Capitular del Convento de Santo Domingo in 1553. In 1571, it obtained Papal approval and in 1574 it received the name of Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos. The precursor to the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, the "Estudio General o Universidad," was established in Cusco by the Dominicans on July 1, 1548. This institution was responsible for teaching evangelists for the new lands, and taught scripture, theology, grammar, and the Quechuan language.

Non-university education

In Peru, non-university education is provided by technological institutions, educational institutions, technical production education centers, and other facilities. These institutions are under the supervision of the Ministry of Education, which is responsible for providing their operating licenses.

Professional Technical Education Degrees

Technical vocational training is organized into three levels of training that are defined by the functions that can be performed by people during the development of a productive activity according to organizational and technological variables. In this sense, the degrees of training agree with the different qualifying levels of the productive sector.

Superior degree: The postgraduate level is higher and it is offered in the Institutes of Higher Technological Education (I.E.S.T. Institutos de Educación Superior Technológico) with a minimum duration of 3060 hours. The title of Technical Professional is awarded to the Nation. In this model, ways of planning develop along with organization, coordination and control of the productive processes; And responsibility for the quality of the final product. The training of this degree should guarantee a preparation oriented to the technological innovation and the execution of processes and procedures of formalized work, with autonomy and capacity of decision in the scope of its competence.

Middle degree: The average grade is post-secondary and is offered in Institutes of Higher Technological Education. It has a variable duration between 1500 and 2500 hours. The title of Technician is awarded to the Nation. In this model, abilities related to the application of knowledge are developed in a wide range of work activities specific to their professional area. As a responsibility, these student organizes the work and activities of their immediate team, solves situations in the production process while applying the most appropriate knowledge. It must follow the predetermined specifications in the overall execution of the process, being autonomous in technical aspects of its area.

Elementary degree: No academic requirements. The elementary level is offered in Colleges with Technical Variant and in the Technical Productive Centers (CETPRO Centros Técnicos Productivo). It has a variable duration between 300 and 2000 hours. Certification is granted with mention in the vocational option studied. This model helps develop occupational abilities in the scope of the execution of operative activities proper of the productive process and with predetermined instructions. The level of technical responsibility focuses on carrying out the corresponding corrective actions and informing the technical problems that are presented. There are two cycles available in the CETPROs either Basic or Medium. They are not consecutive. One can receive a Title (Titulo) after 1000 hours in the basic cycle or after 2000 hours in the medium cycle. However, students receive a certificate after each module (each module varies between 50–200 hours). The vast majority of students do not receive their Title because they receive a Certificate after each module. Due to their economic situation, the students of CETPROs often wish to enter the labour force as rapidly as possible. Common occupational courses include things like Hairdressing, Cooking and Baking (so-called "Hosteleria y Turismo), Textile Fabrication, Carpentry, Computers, Basic Electricity, Repair of Electronics, Welding, Furniture Assembly etc.

School grades

School years

The table below describes the most common patterns for schooling in the state sector:

Minimum age (common) Year Months Schools
2-3N/AN/A Nursery Estimulación Temprana
3-43 añosN/A Pre-School Kinder / Educación inicial
4-54 añosN/A
5-65 añosN/A
6-71° de PrimariaMarch - December Primary school / Elementary school Primaria / Educación básica
7-82° de PrimariaMarch - December
8-93° de PrimariaMarch - December
9-104° de PrimariaMarch - December
10-115° de PrimariaMarch - December
11-126° de PrimariaMarch - December
12-131° de SecundariaMarch - December Secondary school / High school Secundaria / Educación secundaria
13-142° de SecundariaMarch - December
14-153° de SecundariaMarch - December
15-164° de SecundariaMarch - December
16-175° de SecundariaMarch - December
17-181st year1st and 2nd semesters Bachelor's degree / Licentiate Licenciatura / Educación superior
18-192nd year3rd and 4th semesters
19-203rd year5th and 6th semesters
20-214th year7th and 8th semesters
21-225th year9th and 10th semesters
N/AN/A... Master's degree Maestría
N/AN/A... Doctorate Doctorado


By law Nº 28740, the National System of Quality, Evaluation, and Certification (del Sistema Nacional de Calidad, Evaluación y Certificación (SINEACE)) is a system that promotes the quality of the education in the country through the establishment of operating organizations which accredit the educational quality of the educations, from basic education to technical schools and universities.

Schools in rural areas are associated with less average knowledge of pupils.[13] There is a correlation of malnutrition and low achievement at school.[13] Income shows a positive correlation with education.[13]


OLPC stands for One Laptop Per Child. Together with Uruguay, Peru was one of the two countries to have near to a full roll-out.[14][15] A test deployment started in 2007 and was followed by a massive 800,000 deployment in 2010. Now, over 1 million OLPC XO's have been distributed to kids in Peru. The XO can also be transformed in a robot. The XO-laptop robot is named "Butiá".[16] The impact of the project on the quality of education is debated in the educational and development aid landscape.[17]


  1. Ministerio de Educación, Información General. Retrieved on June 15, 2007.
  2. Constitución Política del Perú, Article Nº 17.
  3. Reimers, Fernando (April 1994). "Education and structural adjustment in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa". International Journal of Educational Development. 14 (2): 119–129. doi:10.1016/0738-0593(94)90017-5. ISSN 0738-0593.
  4. "Peru - Education |". Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  5. López, Néstor; Opertti, Renato; Tamez, Carlos Vargas (2017). Youth and changing realities Rethinking secondary education in Latin America [Pamphlet]. Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
  6. "UNICEF Perú - Situación del país - Contexto". Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  7. Wolff, Laurence; Schiefelbein, Ernesto; Schiefelbein, Paulina (May 2002). "Primary Education in Latin America: The Unfinished Agenda" (PDF). Sustainable Development Department Technical Papers Series.
  8. Psacharopoulos, George (September 1994). "Returns to investment in education: A global update" (PDF). World Development. 22 (9): 1325–1343. doi:10.1016/0305-750x(94)90007-8. ISSN 0305-750X.
  9. Brown, David S.; Hunter, Wendy (September 2004). "Democracy and Human Capital Formation". Comparative Political Studies. 37 (7): 842–864. doi:10.1177/0010414004266870.
  10. "Peru Education System". Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  11. "Educational and Grading System in Peru". ICPNA (in Spanish). Archived from the original on June 13, 2017. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  12. "UNICEF Perú - Situación del país - Adolescencia (12 a 17 años)". Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  13. "CRISE Network — ODID" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 6, 2012. Retrieved September 21, 2012.
  14. "One Laptop per Child (OLPC): Children > Countries > Peru".
  16. "Robotics".
  17. "The vision of OLPC about "Home Computers and Child Outcomes: Short-Term Impacts from a Randomized Experiment in Peru"".
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