Young students in Peru face challenges with education system

World Today

Part of the CGTN series Education in Peru: Making the grade.

Students in Peru looking to better their lives through education must battle the challenges of a substandard system. Peru has one of biggest skill gaps in Latin America.
But as CGTN’s Dan Collyns reports, there are success stories – young people from humble backgrounds who succeed through hard work.

The day starts early for 17-year-old Karen Corilloclla. In the chill of the morning, Karen helps her six-year-old sister Silvana get ready for the day ahead. That means getting her dressed, brushing teeth and hair, making breakfast and preparing lunch for the day. By the time the sun is up, her mother has already begun her two-and-half hour commute to work as a cleaner in a mining camp.

“My mother has a stable job with a cleaning company,” said Karen. “Thanks to her optimism she has a safe position in the company. My father is in the main city Huancayo. My parents are separated.”

Karen is a gifted student but she will need more than good grades to get ahead in Yauli, the small mining town where she lives. Being top of her class is not enough. Success is all about attitude, she says.

“My name is Karen Corilloclla. I am 17-years-old and I am student at the Jose Santos Chocano. The school has several advantages. The professors don’t just dictate the classes; they also teach us things based on their experience.”

One of the people who inspire Karen is Ana Paola Cohaila. She’s come to this remote town to teach as part of Enseña Peru, a program designed to form young leaders by getting them involved in education.

“Coming here was a culture clash. I always wanted to get to know the deeper Peru, far away from the cities and I realized that there’s a lot of pending work to be done in overall education,” said Cohaila. “The cognitive and learning aspect should go hand in hand with developing soft skills; so that the children learn self-confidence and about empathy and teamwork.”

Karen has more than one university offer but she needs to win a state or private scholarship to be able to afford the fees. Most universities in Peru are private and there are also living expenses to be considered as it would be impossible to commute from home.

“I can say that the opportunities are scarce and only a few can win a scholarship,” said Karen.

A state scholarship scheme called Beca 18, however, has had positive impact on young people from Peru’s poorest backgrounds. More than 45,000 students benefited from the scheme between 2012 and 2015, according to the Institute of Peruvian Studies.

Karen wants to study accounting or business administration and she’s optimistic she has a shot at getting a Beca 18 scholarship.

“I believe that opportunities appear for people who really try to reach their goals,” said Karen. “I believe that if someone really wants something they will get it through willpower.”

Karen’s self-discipline and positive thinking are the best indication that her dreams will, one day, become reality.

Part of the CGTN series Education in Peru: Making the grade.