Peru: New High School for the Country's Top Students

In early 2009, Peruvian President Alan García announced the creation of the President of Peru High School [es] located in Huampaní, about 25 km east of Lima. The idea consists of an ambitious educational project, targeting the 500 best high school students from 47 of the best public schools from across the country. Those admitted will complete their last two years of high school and will have access to some of the best teachers and facilities in the country.

Admission is based on a competitive tests, and the results have been in the process of being announced. However, some are concerned about the access to the information about the application process. For example, Saravia, from the blog Autoeducación Digital [es] raises some concerns about the process:

Un capricho presidencial como lo llamamos desde el inicio a la creación del Colegio Mayor se ve envuelto en algo que de haber sido transparente su concepción y proceso, se hubiera evitado. Desde el inicio, el Prospecto costó mucho “bajarlo” de internet por la forma cómo había sido diseñado. El Lima, tal vez quienes tienen internet en su casa, fue fácil, pero quienes recurren a cabinas, tuvieron que gastar varios soles para bajar el Prospecto como para imprimirlo. ¿Se imagina cómo sería en provincias?

A presidential whim, as we called from the start the creation of the High School, ends up as something that should have been transparent from its conception and process, might have been avoided. In the first place, the informative prospectus was very hard to “download” from the Internet, due to the way that it was designed. In Lima, maybe for those having Internet at home, it was easy, but those using public Internet access, one had to spend a few soles (Peruvian currency) to download the prospectus in order to print it. Can you imagine how would it be in the provinces?

In addition, Pedro Martínez of the blog El Arte de Enseñar [es] raises some other concerns about the legality of the process, since the High School will be a public school:

Según la Ley no está permitido que los colegios seleccionen o discriminen con evaluaciones el ingreso de los estudiantes y si se va a escoger a los mejores alumnos de segundo año de secundaria de las instituciones educativas a nivel nacional a través de exámenes sicológicos y académicos, entonces se requerirá un régimen legal excepcional.

According to the law, schools can not select nor discriminate a student's admittance based upon evaluations, and if they are going to choose the best students from the second level of high schools nationwide with psychological and academic tests, then an exceptional legal system will be required.

Some Peruvians welcome this new educational process, and one commenter at Peru 21 [es], Arturo writes:

Estupenda idea. En un mundo cada vez más competitivo necesitamos inculcar en nuestros escolares brillantes el deseo de superación (tal olvidado hoy en nuestro país) y de competitividad. El derecho a la educación gratuita está garantizado para todos, pero es de justicia que los mejores alumnos de todo el país también tengan las mismas oportunidades para desarrollarse y desarrollar el Perú. Ojalá que la currícula no sólo esté dirigida a “informar” sino a una completa “formación”: intelectual, física y espiritual.

Wonderful idea. In a world, more and more competitive, we need to instill in our brilliant students the desire to overcome (something forgotten in our country) and competitiveness. The right to free education is guaranteed for everyone, but it is fair that the best students from across the country also have the same opportunities to develop themselves and to develop Peru. Hopefully the curriculum will not be based on “informing,” but rather on a complete intellectual, physical, and spiritual “development.”

With the new school year beginning on Monday, March 1, tmedia announced [es] the name of the student who got the highest score in the admission test. Her name is Yazmín Lazo Cahui [es], she is 14 years old and lives in Arequipa.

In the Peruvian educational system, 20 is the highest grade a student can obtain, and Yazmin received a grade of 17.5. She scored third place on her written test, but her essay about global warming and its implications on our daily lives was judged to be so well written, that she earned the highest overall score.

The announcement that Yazmin, the daughter of a mechanic and a housewife, received the highest score, was well received in the country because of the disparities between education in males and females in Peru. Illiteracy affects 17.5% of women, while only 6.1% of men are illiterate, as stated at the website of the feminist movement Flora Tristán [es].

In addition, the 2nd and 3rd highest scores also went to girls: Wendy León Espinoza and Pamela Rojas Huamanlazo, and both got a grade of 17. The three of them, as well as the other students who earn their admittance to President of Peru High School will report to their new school on February 26.

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