Moving toward Professional Development. The Teacher Reform in Peru (2012-2016)
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The history of Peru’s teacher reform dates back to 2001. With the return to democracy, interest in educational issues increased significantly. The agenda developed by civil society in previous years took centre stage in new education policies, a situation that the educational community recognized as an opportunity (Cuenca 2013; Oliart 2011). The first reports assessing the education reforms and policies of the 1990s were published during that period (Gajardo 1999; Krawczyk 2002; Navarro, Carnoy and de Moura 2000; Orealc-Unesco 2007; Schwartzman and Cox 2009). Among the most important aspects were outcomes related to the teaching profession. In both Latin America and Peru, reforms related to the teaching profession considered teachers to be inputs into the educational system, at the same level as the curriculum, textbooks, equipment and infrastructure. The fact that they were individuals with different teaching styles, cultural traditions, political approaches to the curriculum and expectations about their work remained “hidden” behind massive training programs that sought to create technicians rather than professionals. In response, emphasis began to shift from training to concern about professional development (Cox, Beca and Cerri 2017; Orealc-Unesco 2013; Robalino 2005). Discussion and early development of proposals for teaching policies grew out of a Ministry of Education initiative toward the end of the Transition Government (2000-2001), and the initial phase ended 11 July 2007 with the approval of the Public Education Career Law. This law was the first step in the establishment of a merit-based career in the Peruvian educational system (Cuenca and Stojnic 2007; Paiba 2007). During that period, until 2012, discussion of the teacher reform and implementation of the policies was complicated. Collaboration among the government, the teachers’ union, academia, civil society and the teachers dwindled as the reform advanced. The teachers’ union stopped participating in discussions and launched a long strike when the law was approved in 2007. Academia and civil society did not see their contributions reflected in the new law, the government did not manage to convince teachers to enter the new merit-based system, and teacher training continued to follow the old models. The efforts of two government administrations failed to bring about a true teacher reform. At that time, just one out of each four teacher were involved in the Merit-based teaching system. Until 2012, the process was marked by political and technical tensions, and although the initial approach to the reform was technical, the end of this phase was marked by disagreements among various political interests. This paper discusses the current teacher reform and analyses its main outcomes, difficulties and challenges. It is a descriptive analysis based on official documents. The essay is organized in four sections. The first presents a general overview of the Peruvian educational system. The second and third sections discuss the situation of teachers, both their characteristics and a description of the reform. The last section contains some conclusions and comments about the reform process.