I ran into this demonstration in the streets of Huaraz, Peru. This group of protestors, mainly women, was standing outside of the city hall. I didn’t find out what exactly they were protesting for or against, as I didn’t want to interrupt too much. What became clear though was that their demonstration was aimed at education, and with that it touches upon a delicate matter. Education in Peru through primary and secondary school is theoretically free for children from ages 7 to 16, although in practice inaccessible to many rural children. The system relies on an organization through paid private and free public schools, of which the latter tend to have a bad reputation and the former are too expensive for most Peruvians. The same goes for higher education at universities or technical institutions. As a result, only 3 out of 10 youngsters make it on to higher education. The least likely are children from underprivileged families, living in rural areas and studying in public schools. Meanwhile, newspapers reported last April that poverty rates were rising for the first time since 16 years. Some 6.9 million Peruvians now live in poverty, 44 percent of whom are in rural Peru.
I think that the things that I came across while travelling through Peru, have made me become more aware of the importance of education as a means of education of the people. It’s like a teacher from Cusco said it in a news article: education is “probably the only sustainable way to overcome the vicious tentacles of generation-long poverty.” Maybe that is where my heart started beating for education, and the desire to teach settled in.