TBY talks to Jaime Saavedra, Minister of Education, on education reform, increasing public expenditure in education, and teacher training.

Jaime Saavedra
Jaime Saaverdra holds a Doctorate in Economics from Columbia University in New York and has a degree in Economics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Peru. In the last ten years he has held various management positions at the World Bank. He has been Acting Vice President for the Economic and Poverty Reduction Department and Director of Global Poverty Reduction and Equity Management. He has also served as president of the Board of Poverty Reduction in the BM.

Peru committed itself to increase public expenditure in education, from 3% to 6% of GDP. How will this enable opportunities for future generations?

The Peruvian government took the decision to increase its budget by Soles 4 billion for the education sector by 2015. With this, the education budget now amounts to 3.5% of GDP. This increase is significant but still insufficient. By the year 2021, the year in which we will commemorate the bicentenary of the independence of Peru, spending per student must increase significantly. International evidence shows that there is a positive relationship between higher spending per pupil and performance in learning tests. This relationship occurs in an investment of up to $5,000 per student per year, after which there is no clear relationship. In our country we invest around $1,000 a year in each student.

What are the main guidelines of the education reform Peru currently implements?

The education reform is composed of four lines of action: 1) Evaluation of the teaching profession; 2) Improvement of the quality of learning for all; 3) Modernization of educational management; and 4) Closing the gap in educational infrastructure. We are building the teaching profession based on meritocracy, mechanisms of attraction, selection, and promotion and career development. The aim is to double teachers' salaries by 2021, linked to performance. In early childhood, we have expanded the coverage and we have developed new educational materials according to the needs of children. In primary education, we are working on a comprehensive intervention that (i) distributes sample lesson plans for teachers to guide and facilitate their work, (ii) accompany the teachers with more experienced teachers, (iii) provides tutoring for students with learning difficulties (iv) carries out close work with families. Also, in secondary education we are implementing a new pedagogical model with more hours of study and greater assistance from tutors, psychologists, social workers, better infrastructure, job training, English, and the use of information technology for learning. Weekly teaching hours will expand from 35 hours to 45 hours. These interventions are already underway in a large group of schools; but the challenge is to universalize them. The director is the leader who manages the school as a safe and inclusive space. Therefore, 15,000 principals and assistant principals have been selected based on their capabilities. They are receiving training in management and will be better able to decide on resources and staff. All students, teachers and principals should have ideal environments for learning. In the last three years we have invested nearly Soles 10 billion, an all time record, for the construction or strengthening of more than three thousand school buildings. The challenge is immense; the gap in educational infrastructure totals Soles 60 billion (more than 10% of GDP). As far as the higher education segment goes, recently, we created the National Superintendency of Higher Education (SUNEDU) that allows us to verify compliance with basic standards of quality in all universities. Also, we are encouraging advance accreditation of universities to adopt processes to constantly improve quality and academic excellence. We are about to launch the observatory "Put yourself in the Race" which will provide information to help young people to make better decisions about where and what to study. As part of these reforms, we are also making some preliminary changes in technical education.