The pressures of population growth on the resources of a developing society are felt through three main variables: quantitative increase in the number of people: rises in the levels of consumption and economic participation per inhabitant: and variations in per capita productivity through changes in the manpower’s age structure and in its economic yields.
The development of Peruvian education in recent decades provides a striking example of the interplay of these factors. While only one in every 40 Peruvians had access to public education in 1900, the proportion of those participating in the education system rose to one-in-four by the mid-1960s. While Peru s population has increased since 1900 at the geometric rate of 1.9 per cent annually, enrollments have risen at 5.4 per cent per year during the same period, or nearly three times as fast as population, reflecting one of the world’s highest rates of educational expansion in this century. At the same time, education’s share of Peru’s public budget rose from 2.9 per cent in 1900 to 30 per cent in 1966, one of the highest in Latin America, and this severely strained the financial resources of the state as continued high birthrates and dramatic declines in infant mortality radically expanded the school-age population. The rapid educational expansion, while showing spectacular growth rates in the remote and backward Departments of the Andes, also has been closely associated with urbanization and migration to the coastal cities. In Metropolitan Lima. roughly 47 per cent of the population between the ages of five and 39 was engaged in some kind of formal education in the 1970-1972 period.
These Reports attempt to illustrate the stake in education of the Peruvian people as their "Revolutionary Government" of generals and colonels attempts to carry out a major Education Reform. On one hand, the expansion of schooling is one of the principal means of increased consumption and opportunity for the common man in Peru: it provides the single clear and coherent expression of social democracy in Peru’s recent history, growing both in impact and momentum in the course of this century. On the other hand, the waste and chaos of educational expansion has severely limited Peru’s economic productivity, imposing heavy financial burdens on the state and society and aggravating the immediate consequences of its high (3.1 per cent) population growth rate. Educational expansion can pay for itself by increasing the productivity of the labor force, and, as elsewhere, by reducing family size. A major goal of Peru’s Education Reform is to build an educational system that will spur rather than retard economic development.
Despite the deficiencies that have been discussed at length in these Reports, Peru’s educational system has developed to where it can challenge the army’s traditional role as the only truly national institution and, at times, can serve as a counterpoise to the army’s political power. The expansion of public education has been the single clear and consistent expression of social democracy in Peru’s recent history, growing both in impact and momentum throughout the course of this century. It has served Peru well in incorporating into citizenship submerged and subject elements of the population; it has acted as a vehicle for the development of social skills and mobility and as a force for the integration of Peruvian society through the teaching of Spanish. Not everyone would agree with these goals, nor have they been fully achieved. Nevertheless, the Indian rebellions and the recent abolition of serfdom in the Peruvian sierra could not have happened without the expansion of schooling that preceded and accompanied these movements to reach at least some elements of the peasantry. In Jose Maria Arguedas’s classic novel, Todas las Sangres, the mestizo townspeople of San Pedro urgently hold a meeting to prevent the Indian community of Lahuaymarca from opening a school. "In this we are different from the Indians," the mayor of San Pedro told his fellow citizens. "If these animals learn to read and write, what will they not want to do and ask for next?"
With their modest and overcommitted resources of skilled manpower, Peru’s schools seem to be absorbed in the same process described by Richard Hofstadter for the educational expansion in the United States over the past century. "In its pursuit of an adequate supply of well-trained teachers, the nation is caught in a kind of academic treadmill," Hofstadter wrote. "The more adequate the rewards become in the upper echelons of education - in the colleges and junior colleges - and the higher the proportion of the young population that attends such institutions, the greater their capacity becomes to pull talent out of the lower levels of the system. It remains difficult to find enough trained talent to educate large masses in a society that does not make teaching attractive." In Peruvian education, the task at hand is to invest the bold and yet reasonable strategy of Education Reform with the assent and coherence needed to rationalize the explosive growth of schooling in recent decades. Concretely speaking, this means motivating teachers, realistically adapting curriculum to specific needs and developing the educational manpower needed for the new kind of secondary education. The ESEPs (Escuela Superior de Educación Profesional), that would train young people for specialized occupations in an expanding economy instead of sending them on to float without purpose or direction in an already clogged university system that seems capable only of producing ever-increasing quantities of ill-trained candidates for bureaucratic employment. One of the principal strategists of the Education Reform, Walter Peñaloza, wrote recently that discrimination against this kind of professional, middle-level education would not exist because "entry into the ESEPs would be required of all who complete basic (primary) education.... These middle-level programs (carreras cortas) will no longer be reputed to be for the least-qualified young people because all will be obliged to enroll in them." In this way, Peñaloza added, Peru would hope to harmonize its educational system with the needs of the economy and to reduce the blockage and frustration familiar to most Latin American systems:
These shortcomings and frustrations have led to a great deal of talk in recent years about the futility of schooling in Latin America, inspired largely by the work of Ivan Illich, the brilliant Roman Catholic dissenter whose influence as an advocate of "deschooling society" has spread throughout the world. Operating from bases in Puerto Rico and Cuernavaca, Mexico, Illich has greatly influenced the issues and language of the educational debate in Latin America. Like some of his "deschooling society" followers, Illich is the product of an elite education at leading universities. Some of his critics have called Illich a man with seven degrees kicking down the ladder up which he climbed. However, among those who have acknowledged his influence were Augusto Salazar Bondy, the late philosopher-architect of Peru’s Education Reform, and Mariano Baptista Gumucio, Bolivia’s former Education Minister. Baptista in 1970 invited Illich to La Paz to lecture President Alfredo Ovando and his assembled cabinet. After leaving office Baptista published a pair of books entitled Salvemos a Bolivia de Ia Escuela (1971) and La Educación cono Forma de Suicidio Nacional (1973). Bolivia has one of Latin America’s most impoverished and overburdened educational systems. Since the 1962 Revolution, which abolished serfdom, Bolivia nevertheless has managed to increase the enrollment rate of primary school-age children (six to 14) from about 15 to 58 per cent by 1970. With population growing by 2.8 per cent annually over the past two decades, this has meant a sevenfold increase in primary enrollments. It would be hard to persuade those Bolivians who have gained access to schools since the revolution that education is a form of national suicide.
Illich’s personal charisma and trendy rhetoric have made him one of the Beautiful People. A sampler of his arguments sounds something like this:
Illich is absolutely right in identifying the basic problem as one of rationalization of consumption. In Peru, schooling not only has been associated with rising levels of personal consumption, but also has proven in the past to be a prelude of more to come. Like many other "radical" proposals, however, Illich’s curious mixture of monkish and revolutionary rhetoric, while raising fundamental questions, invites reactionary and retrograde solutions. Is there no distinction to be made between income levels and educational need in the United States—where excessive personal consumption has generated an exaggerated individualism that both undermines the cohesion of society and places heavy pressure on the world’s resource base—and those in a country like Peru, where millions of people have sought education as a vehicle of striving to emerge from feudal bondage and a subsistence agricultural economy? Shall the "open-ended education ladder"—Jacob’s ladder, if you will—be accessible only, as before, to graduates (like lllich) of the University of Salzburg and Rome’s Gregorian University, and to the children of landlords and merchants and bankers and bishops? Or shall we, as Illich urges, abolish schooling entirely, and with it the organized transmission between generations of accumulated knowledge and experience, leaving us free to live by faith alone? One of the main questions posed by Illich really is whether we shall continue to live in complex societies as long as we can survive, a question that seems to have been decided long ago. The real question for Peru, and many other countries, is how much longer can its economy support growing educational consumption without a corresponding increase in productive skills?
This consumption has been rising rapidly. In a major study of income distribution in Peru, Richard Webb describes a "commercial revolution" in the sierra characterized by "a rapid increase in the movement of money, goods, and people. This has been accompanied by changes which precede or accompany income growth, such as the creation of physical infrastructure (particularly roads and urban facilities) and the spread of schooling." While Webb notes little income redistribution between the modern and traditional sectors of the Peruvian economy in the 1961-1970 period, education was the only area of income measurement to show a large general increase per worker, rising by two-thirds in the modern sector and by 250 per cent in traditional rural areas. "The growth of towns, the impressive increase in savings deposits, the expansion of the road system and of vehicle traffic, and the relative increase in the nonfarm labor force in the sierra all suggest growing urban incomes.... The urban population also has been the principal beneficiary of the growth in the government sector, most notably during the 1960s. The influx of educational, health, police, and rural development personnel has raised government payrolls chiefly in provincial and district capitals. Public sector employees enjoy relatively high incomes by provincial standards, and their salaries rose steadily in real terms throughout the period. Average town incomes have thus been raised by the compositional effect of the government component, and by local multiplier effects of the government payroll." Webb argues persuasively that the reforms carried out by the Belaunde and Velasco regimes have almost exclusively benefited workers in the modern sector (factories, mines, fisheries, industrialized farms, etc.), while the traditional peasantry has benefited much less in real terms, largely through land redistribution and the spread of schooling. Can any other result be reasonably expected, given the extreme scarcity both of land and trained manpower in the Peruvian sierra? Within these givens, should Peru’s small economic surplus be spent on income redistribution or on creating new factors of production? The desperate need for greater productivity is reflected in the design of the Education Reform.
Without rising productivity, Peruvian education will be engulfed by escalating economic and demographic pressures. Of 19 Latin American countries, Peru ranks sixth (behind Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Panama, and Costa Rica) in the coverage extended to the school-age population by the educational system. Peru’s achievement in this field in recent years is all the more dramatic when we consider that the five countries with greater coverage have per capita incomes averaging nearly twice Peru’s $438 in 1970, and in the 1960s had population growth rates nearly one-third less than Peru’s 3.2 per cent. In addition, all five countries have long-established school systems serving ethnically-integrated populations, unburdened by racial problems such as Peru’s historic prejudice against the Indian.
In recent years teachers’ salaries have absorbed 95 per cent of Peru’s education budget, compared with 71 per cent of total recurrent costs in African countries, 73 per cent in Asian countries, and 72 per cent in Latin America. Discussing the interaction between fertility trends and the "impressive" growth of schooling in developing countries, Gavin W. Jones has written:
Population growth is one of the three major variables that will shape Peru’s future educational development. The second is the degree to which Peru will continue to develop her mineral and agricultural resources to sustain physical growth and qualitative development; and the third is the degree of political stability, coherence, and assent that can be mustered by the military regime and its successors. Apart from the international renown won by Peru’s "Revolutionary Government of the Armed Forces" for its nationalist economic policies and its efforts at social reform, one of the military regime’s major achievements—often overlooked— has been its ability to keep Peru’s economy afloat and on course while both carrying out major reforms and reorganizing the economy along statist lines. By contrast, in neighboring Chile, the Marxist regime of President Salvador Allende, with a much larger pool of technicians, wrecked Chile’s economy while carrying out a much less ambitious reform program than Peru’s. If a major share of Peru’s mining, oil, and irrigation projects are realized by the end of this decade, she may find herself—world economic conditions permitting— riding a boom in commodity exports that would pay for continued educational expansion and much more. Nevertheless, as Abraham Lowenthal explained recently, the Velasco regime is in serious political trouble:
The generals and colonels are pained by their growing political isolation and by the failure of their speechwriters and publicity machine to win them enthusiastic popular support. This was intensely dramatized by the abortive police strike in February 1975 in which the Army stormed police headquarters where the strikers were barricaded, killing 100 persons in the attack and in clearing the downtown Lima streets of looters who had sacked the stores, according to official sources. On top of this, President Velasco, whose leg was amputated two years ago, reportedly suffered a stroke in late January and has been convalescing ever since. Apart from the recent tensions over confrontations and succession, part of the military’s frustration may be explained by traditional Peruvian attitudes of political caution and passivity, cultivated throughout 150 years of republican life by alternations between military regimes that permitted no suffrage and civilian regimes chosen by a tiny electorate limited in number by literacy requirements, and until recently readily deliverable by political bosses. But Peru has awakened sufficiently in recent decades to be deeply disturbed by the contradiction between the authoritarian methods of the "Revolutionary Government" and its rhetoric of "social democracy of full participation." Curiously, the rhetoric has increasingly become the main justification for the regime’s drift toward one-man rule, both in internal military politics and in Peru as a whole. Over the long run, however, the "Revolutionary Government" will have to choose between the authoritarian and democratic elements of this contradiction. Continued educational development could play a decisive role in this choice.
The schools of Collique are a latter-day embodiment of the educational ideal of the Mexican Revolution, and may even bear some relevance to the military regime’s propaganda about creating "a social democracy of full participation." The Mixed Primary School No. 2060 of the Fourth Zone of Collique, informally known as the Escuela Guadelupe, stands where the gray desert hills begin to rise toward the mountains outside Lima, about 12 miles north on the Avenida Tupac Amaru. The shack-covered hills are shrouded in mist in the early morning and are barren of vegetation, save for the small potato patches cultivated on the upper reaches of the hillsides alongside the first dwellings on newly occupied land. The huts are made of yellow straw matting called estera and crowned by red and white Peruvian flags that are both a symbol of nationhood and of the land invasions that have been taking place at the outskirts of Peru’s major cities in recent decades. Whereas this slice of Peru’s coastal desert was almost completely uninhabited before this first invasion of Collique took place in 1964, the 1972 census found Collique occupied by 26,478 persons and 5,884 houses, and it is still growing fast. The chill and drabness of the setting tend to muffle the intensity of human activity. The barriada squatter settlement of Collique is divided into five zones escalating up the hillside beyond the coastal ridge and into the first inland valley. Despite their provisional construction, the dwellings are laid out in rectangular blocks along broad streets; the houses are gradually remodeled from their original estera construction into permanent homes of one or two stories with adobe brick walls covered by a pastel-colored concrete façade. On Sundays Collique is a beehive of this kind of construction activity, the pace of which usually varies with the number of wage-earners and with the saving capacity of each household to generate the man-hours and money needed to invest in home improvement. The bulk of the vehicular traffic along the main street of Collique is the seemingly endless stream of orange-colored "Collique-San Borjas" buses, usually driver-owned, which wait their turn in long lines at the top of the hill to take the residents of Collique into the center of Lima, picking up passengers on the way downhill toward the Avenida Tupac Amaru, past pharmacies, radio repair shops, and construction materials stores, a private maternity clinic and a movie house called Cine Revolución, past schools and Pentecostal churches and a crowded parada, or marketplace, where vegetables, meat, school supplies, and household goods are sold in outdoor stalls. In all of Collique there is not one faucet fed by piped water. Consequently the second most important form of vehicular traffic along the dusty streets are the water tank trucks that labor their way up and down the hills all day selling water at six sols (US$.15) per barrel in the winter and at about 12 sols during the summer, when the supply is shortest and the demand is at its height.
There are eight primary and three secondary schools in Collique, virtually all of them built by the pobladores themselves, as well as two kindergartens established under the auspices of a program headed by President Velasco’s wife. The Escuela Guadelupe was founded in 1967 as a "communal school" by the neighbors of the Fourth Zone of Collique in a provisional building of straw matting which they erected shortly after putting up their own huts. José Lengua, a white-collar employee who was one of the few "invaders" of Collique to have finished his secondary education, served as the first president of the Asociación de Padres de Familia. "In the beginning the parents contributed benches for the school and some pedagogy students worked free as volunteer teachers," he said. "The school had six or seven classrooms made of estera, but the children suffered from the wind and the dust that blew in through the straw. Then we had raffles, a cake sale, and carnivals to raise money to change the materials from straw to wood.
"The Ford Motor Company donated three truckloads of wood, and Goodyear gave some other materials. We built our first brick classroom in 1970. All the neighbors had to contribute five Sundays of work. Those who didn’t work had to donate a bag of cement or 50 sols for each Sunday they missed." After the October 1968 military coup, the new Interior Minister. General Armando Artola, visited Collique as part of the efforts of the "Revolutionary Government" to win the support of the pobladores of the squatter settlements. A gruff and flamboyant army politician, he tried to build a personal following for himself by giving speeches, holding court, and granting pobladores’ requests in the barriadas — rebaptized Pueblos Jóvenes ("Young Towns") by the new regime. Artola was summarily fired from his job when he jailed the auxiliary bishop of Lima, Msgr. Luis Bambarén, known as the Bishop of the Pueblos Jóvenes, for having supported a land invasion in 1971 to establish the El Salvador squatter settlement despite a government prohibition. Before his fall, however, Artola granted the request of the residents of the Fourth Zone of Collique that the Escuela Guadelupe become a public school, with teachers provided and paid by the Ministry of Education, and himself laid the first stone for the new building. Before the permanent building of the Escuela Guadelupe was completed, the neighbors of the Fourth Zone had founded a secondary school, Colegio José Galvis, a wood structure that was nearly destroyed by fire in 1970. Today the Escuela Guadelupe has 16 brick classrooms, all but four of them built by the parents themselves. The classrooms are used in two shifts, with 17 teachers working in the morning and 15 in the afternoon. In the summer of 1975 (January-March) both the primary and secondary schools were expanded by four classrooms each to meet rising enrollment pressures. "This year there were 400 new pupils entering the first grade," said Marcial Moran, the present head of the Parents’ Association. "If we didn’t add those four classrooms to the primary school, where would those kids study? For us the great event of the Education Reform is the nuclearization, which obliges everyone to study in his own zone. For this reason we are expanding the Colegio Galvis to accommodate the secondary students who are now commuting to the center of Lima."
Casimiro Izquierdo, 45, is a short and wiry native of the northern Department of Cajamarca who came to Lima in 1965 and works in Collique’s marketplace. A member of the local Pentecostal church, he lives in the Fourth Zone with his wife and five children in a blue-painted wood shack with an earthen floor. "We are lucky this year because all my four children in school have been assigned government teachers," he said. "This is a great help because two years ago I had to pay 50 sols per month for each of them as my contribution for the salary of the teacher we hired. That’s a lot of money when you earn only 70 sols ($1.60) a day. We in Collique must do everything for ourselves, not like in Lima where the government does it all. I was an orphan and never finished the first grade. We send our kids to school with such sacrifice because we are poor and schooling is the only heritage we can leave our children. These days you can’t find a job if you haven’t finished primary. If a child doesn’t study he is ignorant for the rest of his life."
I met lzquierdo at a parents’ meeting at the Escuela Guadelupe on May Day 1974. Although it was a national holiday in Peru it was used by the parents to seek a solution to an urgent and unexpected problem. The community had worked all summer to construct four new classrooms, but then learned that the Ministry of Education would not be fulfilling its prior commitment to provide chairs, desks, and blackboards. The teacher who conducted the meeting urged the 32 parents who attended to seek an appointment with the Minister of Education to pressure the government into keeping its promise. "It’s a matter of coima [political influence]." she told me later. "The Ministry never has enough desks to meet the demand, and it’s generally the better connected teachers, parents, and administrators from the middle-class neighborhoods who get them." Once it was clear to everyone that they would have to solve the problem themselves, the discussion focused on two questions. The first was whether each parent should make an individual desk for each child, or whether all should join in making desks that would be used in the morning and afternoon shifts and belong to the school as a whole. While the latter alternative was approved overwhelmingly, the prolonged discussion of this point reflected a quest for simple justice that was not always easy to achieve. If the desks were built communally, how would those parents who failed to participate in the project be prevented from benefiting from it? On the other hand, it was a matter of great concern among all parents that the children of those who didn’t participate not be punished or humiliated for their parents’ failure. In the course of the discussion, the teacher stressed that six- and seven-year-old children could not stand all day for an entire school year because their classroom lacked furniture. The second question was whether the parents should buy the materials and build the desks themselves, or to contract a carpenter. The costs had to be measured carefully, for this was a major expense for families with incomes of less than two dollars daily. It was argued that, while a carpenter might do a better job that might be cheaper in the end, carpenters often get drunk or take on too many jobs, so that the delivery of the desks might be delayed even though the parents would have given the carpenter an advance for materials. A committee was named to investigate the costs and prospects and report back in a few days. "Last year we had to pay 98 sols each for ready-made desks," Casimiro Izquierdo said in the discussion. "It costs 55 sols just for wood alone."
The schools of Collique dramatize the enormous demographic pressures on Lima’s school system. Collique is located in the District of Comas which, when it was established as an administrative unit in 1961. consisted of a few haciendas and irrigated truck farms and dry hills with spreading but still incipient squatter settlements, a combined total of 8,015 houses and 34,728 people. By 1972 the population of Comas had quadrupled—l73,l0l inhabitants in 32.001 houses, increasing the density from 4.0 to 5.4 persons per dwelling. The proliferation of these squatter settlements is one of the main reasons why Lima’s population has quintupled, from 645,000 to 3.3 million, between the census years of 1940 and 1972.
While Lima grew at 5.25 per cent annually over this entire period, its share of the population in cities of more than 20,000 declined from three-fourths to three-fifths because of the even faster growth of secondary cities like Arequipa, Trujillo, Chimbote, Huancayo, and Chiclavo, most of which also experienced dramatic expansion of barriada communities. In an extremely revealing national census of the Pueblos Jóvenes carried out by the military regime in 1970, 73 per cent of the Lima-born population of the barriadas of northern Lima—where Collique lies—was under 15 years old, while 57 per cent of the migrant population was in the 15-39 age group. Correspondingly, four-fifths of the labor force in the Lima barriadas were migrants. The crude birthrate was nearly 40 per 1,000, with seven children under five years old for every 10 women of childbearing age (15-49), although fertility among the 20 per cent of women who worked was one-third less than those who didn’t. Among single men who migrated to Lima in the 1956-1965 period, education was given as the second most important reason (after finding work) for their decision to move. Educational and economic incentives have combined to draw many of the most capable provincials into Lima, rewarding them with dramatic increases in consumption levels. According to a careful study of barriada income levels by Robert A. Lewis:
One of the most striking indicators of the increase both of incomes and personal consumption in Metropolitan Lima in recent decades has been the expansion of schooling. While the population of Lima grew at 5.25 per cent annually in the 1940-1972 period, school and university enrollments grew at 7.9 per cent, or half again as fast. (For a closer look at the relationship of future enrollment and population growth, see Part I, Appendices II and III.) The bulk of the difference in the two growth rates was absorbed by secondary and university enrollments. Whereas there were only 17,344 secondary students in the Department of Lima in 1942—nearly two-thirds of them in private schools catering to the middle and upper classes—there were 338,856 secondary students in 1973, a twenty-fold increase, with more than three-fourths in public schools. The increase in university enrollments is even more dramatic. Whereas there were only 3,109 students at Lima’s only two universities in 1942, there were 80,702 in the city’s 14 universities in 1973. The Education Ministry reported that in 1970-1972 roughly some 47 per cent of Lima’s population between the ages of five and 39 was engaged in some kind of formal education. According to the 1970 census of Pueblo Jóvenes, migrant men in the barriadas of north Lima showed higher educational achievement than either Lima-born men or women living in the barriadas. Fully one-third of the barriada residents of north Lima had at least some secondary education. In the Pueblos Jóvenes of Lima as a whole, 76.1 per cent of all primary-age children attended classes in 1970, compared with only 61.1 per cent for the city as a whole (including middle and upper class areas) in 1960. This special 1970 census reported that in the barriadas of north Lima 63.4 per cent of boys and 55.6 per cent of girls in the 15-19 age group had some secondary education, while 9.1 per cent of the men in the 25-29 age group had attended a university. Illiteracy was concentrated largely among migrant women above age 30, at between 10 and 15 per cent, while men below age 40 showed illiteracy rates well below two per cent.
These statistics come dramatically alive in Collique. One has the impression that the schools in these barriadas have become a central focus of hope and communal activity, as envisioned a half-century ago in the educational thesis of the Mexican Revolution. Indeed, without them, life in the barriadas, despite some economic progress, would assume the barrenness suggested by the physical aspect of the gray hills and the shacks.
The night school of Fé y Alegria functions at the entrance to Collique, alongside the Avenida Tupac Amaru. Enclosing a sprawling school yard where pupils play soccer, volleyball, and basketball during the day, it is housed in a large cinderblock building of classrooms, which are used almost continuously from eight in the morning until ten o’clock at night. Since the building has no electric current, classes are conducted by the light of kerosene lamps. The students are mainly migrant workers and housewives, many of them cholo women who nurse infants at the breast while sitting in the chilled, crowded, and dimly lit classrooms. "We have to turn away students because there’s not enough space and not enough teachers," said Leoncio Antonio Pineda Cespedes, the night school’s young director. "We have more dropouts than in day school, about half of the 300 who enroll, but the initial demand is very great. We’ve been talking about organizing five new night schools in Collique. People especially want to study secondary here." Pineda was conducting a second-grade class himself because the regular teacher was fired two months before for excessive absences, and a replacement could not be obtained. For my benefit, he led a lively discussion—which I taped—of why workers and housewives like themselves made such an effort to study at night. Luisa Calzado de Sanabria, a 31-year-old mother of six children from the mountains of the Department of Lima, explained very quietly: "We study to know a little more, to be able to express oneself and not to always be lowering our heads, so we won’t always appear ridiculous before the authorities when we have to deal with them. The Education Reform says we can study now without documents. Before you needed a birth certificate or a certificate of studies. I couldn’t study before because I was an orphan and had been working since I was six or seven years old, pasturing sheep and hauling wood and working the fields. When I got to Lima years ago they robbed my papers and I couldn’t get others because they had disappeared from the public registry. I now have four children in school. My studying at night helps me to help my children study. It is important that a mother not be more ignorant than her children, so they won’t have to go to a neighbor to ask questions about their lessons. When a teacher sends a note home to me with one of my children, I want to be able to read it and answer it correctly."
Rufina Yolanda Ruiz Guillén, whose husband works as a street vendor, at 37 is the mother of 10 children. "While I have three children in school here and want to help them study," she said, "I also want to help my husband economically. After I finish the fourth grade of primary I want to study sewing and clothes-making. But to do this I must be able to write to put down people’s names, and to be able to add and subtract to calculate costs in the sewing business."
On the main street of Collique is a new school of straw matting called La Humanitaria, which is attended by some 100 pupils whose parents pay from 50 to 80 sols (between one and two dollars) monthly to pay the teachers and maintain the school. None of the teachers in this "communal school" have normal school or university degrees, except for the titular director, who just lends his name to the school so it can be accredited with the Ministry of Education. The person who really runs the school is Yolanda Choy, a small, demure woman of 41 who has been living in Collique since 1965 and who only learned to read herself in 1973 under the government literacy program. A recent convert to the Adventist Church, which itself has made a major contribution to rural education in Peru, Sra. Choy observed that reading the Bible had expanded her vocabulary and, in the manner of other Collique residents, gave simple and practical reasons for trying to learn more. "Many wives don’t know how to read their husbands’ pay envelopes, and the men want them to stay that way. Because I couldn’t read his pay envelope, my husband gave me only 300 sols (seven dollars) per week and drank the rest. That is very little money when you’re trying to raise five children, so you have to learn more to survive."