Peru’s women have advanced, but society is still ‘machista’

Today millions of women will receive various tributes and honors. There is much to celebrate but is Peru on its way to fairness and mutual respect, something its women have longed for through ages?

Surveys conducted by two universities in relation to today’s International Women’s Day reveal that in general Peruvian women have advanced in reaching this goal, but its society is still perceived as “machista”. Peruvian men still wear the breeches.

According to the University of Lima, 82.7% in Lima’s and Callao’s women believe that discrimination against them is still an omnipresent problem. However, 77.3% also recognize that there is more equal opportunity than ever before.

Gina Yánez, spokeswoman for the Manuela Ramos Movement, confirms that indeed there are important improvements, but they are only of normative nature because Peruvian society still lacks a change of mentality.

The Manuela Ramos Movement is a not-for-profit civil association, founded in Peru in 1978, with the aim of promoting women’s rights. Its headquarters are located in Lima (Peru) and it has two offices in the districts of Villa El Salvador and San Juan de Miraflores.

The objectives of the Manuela Ramos Movement include promoting women’s rights, taking steps to prevent all forms of discrimination against women, and fostering democratic values and respect for diversity. It also contributes to capacity building for women, on both an individual and a collective basis, to enable them to exercise their rights.

The organization carries out public awareness campaigns on the rights of women, provides victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse with legal advice, trains women in designing economic projects suited to their lifestyles, organizes courses to encourage saving and the creation of microenterprise networks, fosters female political leadership within political parties, observes elections, supports quota laws for female participation in government agencies, publishes educational materials about the rights of women and gender-based violence, produces gender-awareness radio and television programs, and maintains a website to serve as a connection point for centers that collect gender-related statistics.

The issues of violence against women and reproductive health remain grave concerns in Peru, highlighting the link between violence against women and prevailing sexual stereotypes. The Peruvian government has recently ensured that violence against women is sanctioned with “due speed and severity”, and it introduced a “zero tolerance” to make violence socially and morally unacceptable in Peru. Inadequacy of reproductive health services and the alarmingly high level of maternal mortality remain a major problem.

Article by Wolfy Becker

In Peru I Found My Culture. Where Will You Find Yours?

Culture does not begin inside of us. Rather, culture stems from all that is around us, from all that we see, hear, learn, and reject throughout our lives. As children, our culture begins to take shape, sometimes from just a few influences. For others, as in my case, culture is obtained from a plethora of sources. As a result I find that I have become a person of acculturation, able to acclimate and succeed in a wide range of environments and amongst most every type of people I have encountered.

Culture is all too often confused for the generalized identity of a people, whether that people be a tribe, nationality, or part of a geographic encompassment. While these areas can represent groups with similar or specific cultural traits, alone they do not make up the whole that is culture. Culture, more than anything, is a set of characteristics or traits exhibited by individuals. Many cultural traits are shared and most individuals develop a culture unique to themselves. While I share many traits with others, I also exhibit many characteristics all my own. In my case, it is not the culture in which I was raised, but the manner in which I have applied that culture to my life that makes me unique.

Reactions/Surprises to My Own Diversity

I grew up in Dallas and considered myself a good ol’, if somewhat modern, southern boy. Not a racist, neither did I completely reject racial prejudice at its core. It was not that I held those of other races than my own in contempt, but in my earliest years I do not recall many experiences with those outside my own race. For some, overexposure leads to feelings of resentment. For me, lack of experience led to feelings of anxiety.

By the time I reached middle-school I had all but overcome this issue. In 7th grade I even invited a boy of a different race to join me on a spring-break trip. While this was not an issue for any of the attendees, I admit that I was a bit apprehensive, not of the boy, who was my friend, after all, but of the unknown that was his daily routine. Turns out his was not much, if any, different than mine.

My high school years found me again surrounded by those of my own ethnicity, perhaps because the activities in which I participated were predominantly one color, or perhaps because those different than myself had simply gone in another direction. Whatever the case, this trend ended shortly after my sophomore year as I enrolled in college at the age of 16 (and yet, for some reason, I’m just now finishing!!). The world of community college introduced me to diversity in a rather abrupt fashion. No longer were the classifications of jock, rocker, geek, and cheerleader quite so evident or defining.

The years that followed found my comfort level around those different than me ever-increasing. One of my best friends for several years of my early adulthood was a different race than I, and one of the first couples my wife and I began to pal around with was also. Still, the idea of a mixed-race family, in whatever combination, always carried with it an added concern to those the idea of family always brings. Though sometimes rational, I never completely understood why.

Though I had not thought much on this in the past several years, it seems I have overcome all feelings of anxiety or concern regarding the color, background, race, or ethnicity of those I hold close to me. I moved my family to Arequipa two years ago and, aside from my wife’s family and the occasional visitors, we are surrounded by people different than us in color, race, mentality, and, well, the list goes on.

My wife and I teach in a Peruvian school where my children are also students, and recently we have been given the incredible opportunity to add another facet of culture to our lives. We are in the process of adopting a little Peruvian boy, 7 months old, who is of indigenous Quechuan descent. Holding him in my arms, I see no color, no race, only the clarity that pure love brings. It is through these eyes I wish we all saw the world.

Aspects of My Culture that Conflict and/or Benefit Each Other

I had the pleasure, as a child, of wealthy grandparents. Though not generous, they gave for their own benefit. Blessed with money instead of personality, my grandparents would coerce my family into spending time with them by taking us on vacations to Mexico, Hawaii, and, my favorite, on cruises. Yet, for all their feigned generosity, my grandparents were the last people my parents would turn to in times of need, as the answer to their request was already known. My parents struggled financially, and I never wanted to relive those experiences. Yet neither did I want to gain material wealth if doing so meant acting like my grandparents. Today I find myself pitting generosity against frugality, as both are attractive in their own right, and I am sure a balance between the two exists. Living in Peru I now find myself a member of the upper-class, though not intentionally. In an odd fashion I have been given the opportunity to show true generosity to others while not always realizing the wealth I possess. Yet, in my surroundings, it is difficult to ignore what I have that most around me never will. All the while, back home, what I have wouldn’t seem like much to most.

Sources that Contributed to My Cultural Background

Already, I’ve mentioned the influence my parents and grandparents had on me, the way in which they shaped my thoughts on financial success. Another great influence in my life has always been God and the Bible, though I have not always been so willing to accept them. Never having been a fan of religion, I chose rather to believe in God and His Word. I don’t have tremendous faith in pastors, as they are ordinary people, as am I. I do appreciate the church of today while I also recognize the many fallacies and inconsistencies man has added. God and the Bible, though, have never changed, and they never will. Nothing in my life has ever been constant, save God and His Word.

My many travels as a child also brought with them a great amount of culture. Traveling during my younger years allowed my to better understand the oh-so small world in which I lived. In the case of my interracial experiences, not knowing allowed fear to be harbored. In the case of world knowledge, I knew more than most at a young age, and thus was granted a greater understanding.

I had the pleasure of visiting Pakistan and India at a young age while my Uncle Brad was living in Pakistan, and to this day my memories of both are strong, as is my desire to some day return. Brad has now made Afghanistan his home, and I hope to visit him soon. For several years of my childhood, around the time my parents were divorcing, Brad paid for and accompanied me to his annual church family camp in Minnesota, which provided me with many more fond memories. These times also provided me with a great deal of structure and security by way of self-assurance, and I am forever greatful to him.

Most recently Brad has worked for the Afghanistan Ministry of Health, and is currently employed by a medical mission. While I’m not sure what all that means, his dedication to selfless living while always providing himself with a decent life is a constant reminder of just what we are all capable of. Much of his free time is dedicated to charitable affairs, and his professional life is admirable, to say the least.

Assimilation, Acculturation, and Pluralism

Early on in life I feared that which was different, that which I did not understand. Today, as an adult, I embrace the unknown and attempt to grasp as much of it as possible. While proud to be an American, I find the ignorance of most of my countrymen to the outside world pitiful. Though no world scholar, no master of the universe, I am proud of my desire to discover and understand as much about those different than me as I can, and to be able to feel comfortable around them as often as I can.

From race relations to financial security, culture defines us as individuals as much as it does a family, society, or nation. Our familial culture is defined in the same manner as our social or national culture, through the absorption or rejection of the various elements that surround us. My culture is the result of the economic and social indicators passed on by those around me. My experiences were diverse and rarely in agreement with each other. It is this dichotomy that has made me who I am.

by Micah Cantley

Private companies ‘adopt’ schools in rural Peru

Various private companies and organizations have “adopted” 1,494 schools in Peru’s poorest areas with the purpose of improving infrastructure, learning tools and supply, announced Peru’s minister of education, Jose Antonio Chang.

The initiative is part of the “Adopt a school” campaign organized and developed by the ministry and the support of different institutions whose common interest is to improve school infrastructure, to provide better learning equipment and to execute new projects for a better education.

“Thanks to this campaign, 306,819 school kids in Peru’s rural regions have been benefited,” Chang said during a ceremony yesterday at the Club of the Confederation of Private Enterprises and Institutions (CONFIEP).

“In the name of the children, I am very grateful to all companies and institutions of civil society who, in an unselfish way, decided to offer their aid,” the minister added.

Among those are the mining company Southern Peru, the Inca-Kola Foundation, Cementos Lima, Edelnor, Indecopi, Pro Cobre, and many others.

a niña Melissa Mendoza, los Colegios Hans Cristhian Andersen, La Recoleta, Newton College, así como la editorial Santillana S.A., la Gran Logia del Perú, Rotary Club del Perú y la Compañía Minera Poderosa S.A.

Last year, the girl Melissa Mendoza, the Hans-Christian-Andersen school, the Recoleta, the Newtons College, as well as the publishing house Santillana S.A., the Great Lodge of Peru, the Rotary Club of Peru, and the miner Poderosa S.A., adopted shools as well.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Peru: The saga of a car deal gone bad

Most of us have bought a new or used car at least once in our lives. If you haven’t, maybe you have at least tried and experienced the nature of a negotiation with a car dealership. Many have adopted the common stereotypical perception that a car salesman can be unscrupulous and dishonest at times in their pursuit to collect the highest possible profit margin. And it doesn’t really matter if you try to buy a VW bug or a government tries to buy 469 Hyundai police cars with the exception that there is probably more wiggle room and you are spending taxpayers money instead of your own.

Since this saga has filled the daily headlines in Peru on a daily basis for almost a month now, and several heads have rolled on both sides of the deal, including the one of the Interior minister, I refrain from bothering you about the details again which in all possibility are known even Peru’s remotest areas. Instead I will give you a brief summary of the events:

1. News transpires about an overpriced purchase of 469 Hyundai police patrol cars by Peru’s government from the Gildemeister car dealership. First reassurances were that everything was correct and went its normal way.

2. All smoke and mirrors. The contract was signed for over market price value for each car instead of negotiating a huge discount considering the huge number of cars.

3. Interior Minister Pilar Mazzetti assures she has no intention of stepping down. There were some bad apples in her ministry who negotiated the deal and they would be fired. Prime Minister announces that a special commission (now referred to as the Webb commission) would renegotiate the deal.

4. Current health minister Vallejos reveals that there was also a strange looking deal for 96 Hyundai ambulances during the previous Toledo administration in which Mazzetti was the health minister. The pressure mounts.

5. Mazzetti relents to the pressure and resigns. Luis Alva Castro is appointed Interior Minister, a party friend of president Garcia.

6. Gildemeister admits there were irregularities with a third party. Two executives are fired.

7. The government announces that the renegotiation has been completed and the State would save 10 million soles (US$ 3.2 mln.). President Garcia praises the work of the commission and says that state has not paid one centimos as of yet.

8. In a surprising announcement, Garcia advances there are still contractual problems and the car delivery has been put on hold. He offers 3 alternatives: annulment of the deal, a new public bidding process, or he could renegotiate the contract himself. He also announced that all state purchases of the last 10 years would be reviewed and that from now on am external, independent expert group would oversee all state acquisitions.

9. The whole deal was canceled. The Peruvian Government and the car dealership Gildemeister decided to annul the contract.

10. Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo declares that Gildemeister will return an S/.11 million advanced payment made by the State.

In Peru you cannot openly accuse someone directly of corruption unless you have hard evidence or you are the president. Otherwise you can get in deep legal trouble. I don’t have them, I am not the president, and I don’t want to get into trouble, so I am not accusing anyone in particular. But I sure can smell the coffee and I can voice my opinion.

If the government of the third largest country in South America cannot even purchase a couple of cars without looking for the best deal available, how embarrassing is that. Ok, it could have been a one time mistake but that’s most definitely not the case. Even the president knows that or why else would he have the deals of the last 10 years reviewed. And I don’t care if the bad apples are high officials, nominal members or just a part of the apparatus.

Would you want to be involved with someone or trust someone who cannot even look for the best deal when buying a bag of beans in a supermarket? With your own money that is? It probably wouldn’t matter much if you have enough to spend but that is not the case in a poor country like Peru.

No wonder Peruvians are fed up with (any) government, the state apparatus, the justice system, the police force, any state form, and politics in general. Too many of them have been betrayed numerous times and left alone when they needed help or support.

And that is why they give their vote to the “lesser evil” come election time. It will take years, maybe decades, to restore their trust in public institutions.

Editorial by Wolfy Becker

Student evaluation in Peru reveals discouraging results

Peru’s Ministry of Education presented the results of an evaluation that was conducted among 305,135 second-grade school kids in December 2006. The test covered Peru’s poorest areas only partially otherwise the results could be even worse.For example, the reading examination presented some very discouraging results: only 26% completed the test at an “optimal level” (level 3). The test called Evaluación Censal de Comprensión de Lectura lasted 50 minutes and was divided in two parts: one for reading and oration and the other one for text understanding.

“According to Peru’s curricular design, all evaluated children should have reached this level”, explained Carlos Pizano, national secretary of the ministry’s strategic planning department. However, the evaluation represents only 44% of the students who attend this grade because the teacher’s union SUTEP, who opposed the evaluation, had summoned a strike for the test dates. In addition, Peru’s poorest regions like Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Cajamarca were only partially covered and many children refused to take the test.

29.2% of the evaluated scholars reached level 2, which means they could deduce ideas from the text, but neither the actual contextual meaning of the words they read, nor the main idea. Another 29.1% reached level 1, the groups of minors who couldn’t find any information in the text. 15.8% of the students understood absolutely nothing.

Previously, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) conducted its own research in Peru, but only among first graders. The results weren’t positive either: only 12% of the children could comprehend what they were reading.

The results present other interesting data. When comparing the results by state and particular schools, the differences are striking. Only 20.9% of the kids attending public schools reached the highest level compared to 41.6% at private schools.

“When we compare private and public education we must consider that the majority of the kids come from different social and cultural backgrounds. Many families do not have the means to support their children. Sure, there are private schools that make an effort to provide a good education, but others see only their profits. To think that the school’s origin is the decisive factor here is not the correct thing to do”, said the ex-president of the National Council of Education, Father Ricardo Morales.

A survey among 1,500 people made by an educative forum indicates that half the population believes that the education in private schools is better because teachers are more persistent. However, four out of ten choose to register their children in state schools because education is gratuitous. 47% of the interviewed people believe that the low quality of teachers is one of the problems that affects the scholars learning curve.

According to these test results, the difference between private and public schools is certainly obvious but not that significant as it was commonly expected.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Peru’s women have advanced, but society is still ‘machista’

Today millions of women will receive various tributes and honors. There is much to celebrate but is Peru on its way to fairness and mutual respect, something its women have longed for through ages?

Surveys conducted by two universities in relation to today’s International Women’s Day reveal that in general Peruvian women have advanced in reaching this goal, but its society is still perceived as “machista”. Peruvian men still wear the breeches.

According to the University of Lima, 82.7% in Lima’s and Callao’s women believe that discrimination against them is still an omnipresent problem. However, 77.3% also recognize that there is more equal opportunity than ever before.

Gina Yánez, spokeswoman for the Manuela Ramos Movement, confirms that indeed there are important improvements, but they are only of normative nature because Peruvian society still lacks a change of mentality.

The Manuela Ramos Movement is a not-for-profit civil association, founded in Peru in 1978, with the aim of promoting women’s rights. Its headquarters are located in Lima (Peru) and it has two offices in the districts of Villa El Salvador and San Juan de Miraflores.

The objectives of the Manuela Ramos Movement include promoting women’s rights, taking steps to prevent all forms of discrimination against women, and fostering democratic values and respect for diversity. It also contributes to capacity building for women, on both an individual and a collective basis, to enable them to exercise their rights.

The organization carries out public awareness campaigns on the rights of women, provides victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse with legal advice, trains women in designing economic projects suited to their lifestyles, organizes courses to encourage saving and the creation of microenterprise networks, fosters female political leadership within political parties, observes elections, supports quota laws for female participation in government agencies, publishes educational materials about the rights of women and gender-based violence, produces gender-awareness radio and television programs, and maintains a website to serve as a connection point for centers that collect gender-related statistics.

The issues of violence against women and reproductive health remain grave concerns in Peru, highlighting the link between violence against women and prevailing sexual stereotypes. The Peruvian government has recently ensured that violence against women is sanctioned with “due speed and severity”, and it introduced a “zero tolerance” to make violence socially and morally unacceptable in Peru. Inadequacy of reproductive health services and the alarmingly high level of maternal mortality remain a major problem.

Article by Wolfy Becker

In Peru I Found My Culture. Where Will You Find Yours?

Culture does not begin inside of us. Rather, culture stems from all that is around us, from all that we see, hear, learn, and reject throughout our lives. As children, our culture begins to take shape, sometimes from just a few influences. For others, as in my case, culture is obtained from a plethora of sources. As a result I find that I have become a person of acculturation, able to acclimate and succeed in a wide range of environments and amongst most every type of people I have encountered.

Culture is all too often confused for the generalized identity of a people, whether that people be a tribe, nationality, or part of a geographic encompassment. While these areas can represent groups with similar or specific cultural traits, alone they do not make up the whole that is culture. Culture, more than anything, is a set of characteristics or traits exhibited by individuals. Many cultural traits are shared and most individuals develop a culture unique to themselves. While I share many traits with others, I also exhibit many characteristics all my own. In my case, it is not the culture in which I was raised, but the manner in which I have applied that culture to my life that makes me unique.

Reactions/Surprises to My Own Diversity

I grew up in Dallas and considered myself a good ol’, if somewhat modern, southern boy. Not a racist, neither did I completely reject racial prejudice at its core. It was not that I held those of other races than my own in contempt, but in my earliest years I do not recall many experiences with those outside my own race. For some, overexposure leads to feelings of resentment. For me, lack of experience led to feelings of anxiety.

By the time I reached middle-school I had all but overcome this issue. In 7th grade I even invited a boy of a different race to join me on a spring-break trip. While this was not an issue for any of the attendees, I admit that I was a bit apprehensive, not of the boy, who was my friend, after all, but of the unknown that was his daily routine. Turns out his was not much, if any, different than mine.

My high school years found me again surrounded by those of my own ethnicity, perhaps because the activities in which I participated were predominantly one color, or perhaps because those different than myself had simply gone in another direction. Whatever the case, this trend ended shortly after my sophomore year as I enrolled in college at the age of 16 (and yet, for some reason, I’m just now finishing!!). The world of community college introduced me to diversity in a rather abrupt fashion. No longer were the classifications of jock, rocker, geek, and cheerleader quite so evident or defining.

The years that followed found my comfort level around those different than me ever-increasing. One of my best friends for several years of my early adulthood was a different race than I, and one of the first couples my wife and I began to pal around with was also. Still, the idea of a mixed-race family, in whatever combination, always carried with it an added concern to those the idea of family always brings. Though sometimes rational, I never completely understood why.

Though I had not thought much on this in the past several years, it seems I have overcome all feelings of anxiety or concern regarding the color, background, race, or ethnicity of those I hold close to me. I moved my family to Arequipa two years ago and, aside from my wife’s family and the occasional visitors, we are surrounded by people different than us in color, race, mentality, and, well, the list goes on.

My wife and I teach in a Peruvian school where my children are also students, and recently we have been given the incredible opportunity to add another facet of culture to our lives. We are in the process of adopting a little Peruvian boy, 7 months old, who is of indigenous Quechuan descent. Holding him in my arms, I see no color, no race, only the clarity that pure love brings. It is through these eyes I wish we all saw the world.

Aspects of My Culture that Conflict and/or Benefit Each Other

I had the pleasure, as a child, of wealthy grandparents. Though not generous, they gave for their own benefit. Blessed with money instead of personality, my grandparents would coerce my family into spending time with them by taking us on vacations to Mexico, Hawaii, and, my favorite, on cruises. Yet, for all their feigned generosity, my grandparents were the last people my parents would turn to in times of need, as the answer to their request was already known. My parents struggled financially, and I never wanted to relive those experiences. Yet neither did I want to gain material wealth if doing so meant acting like my grandparents. Today I find myself pitting generosity against frugality, as both are attractive in their own right, and I am sure a balance between the two exists. Living in Peru I now find myself a member of the upper-class, though not intentionally. In an odd fashion I have been given the opportunity to show true generosity to others while not always realizing the wealth I possess. Yet, in my surroundings, it is difficult to ignore what I have that most around me never will. All the while, back home, what I have wouldn’t seem like much to most.

Sources that Contributed to My Cultural Background

Already, I’ve mentioned the influence my parents and grandparents had on me, the way in which they shaped my thoughts on financial success. Another great influence in my life has always been God and the Bible, though I have not always been so willing to accept them. Never having been a fan of religion, I chose rather to believe in God and His Word. I don’t have tremendous faith in pastors, as they are ordinary people, as am I. I do appreciate the church of today while I also recognize the many fallacies and inconsistencies man has added. God and the Bible, though, have never changed, and they never will. Nothing in my life has ever been constant, save God and His Word.

My many travels as a child also brought with them a great amount of culture. Traveling during my younger years allowed my to better understand the oh-so small world in which I lived. In the case of my interracial experiences, not knowing allowed fear to be harbored. In the case of world knowledge, I knew more than most at a young age, and thus was granted a greater understanding.

I had the pleasure of visiting Pakistan and India at a young age while my Uncle Brad was living in Pakistan, and to this day my memories of both are strong, as is my desire to some day return. Brad has now made Afghanistan his home, and I hope to visit him soon. For several years of my childhood, around the time my parents were divorcing, Brad paid for and accompanied me to his annual church family camp in Minnesota, which provided me with many more fond memories. These times also provided me with a great deal of structure and security by way of self-assurance, and I am forever greatful to him.

Most recently Brad has worked for the Afghanistan Ministry of Health, and is currently employed by a medical mission. While I’m not sure what all that means, his dedication to selfless living while always providing himself with a decent life is a constant reminder of just what we are all capable of. Much of his free time is dedicated to charitable affairs, and his professional life is admirable, to say the least.

Assimilation, Acculturation, and Pluralism

Early on in life I feared that which was different, that which I did not understand. Today, as an adult, I embrace the unknown and attempt to grasp as much of it as possible. While proud to be an American, I find the ignorance of most of my countrymen to the outside world pitiful. Though no world scholar, no master of the universe, I am proud of my desire to discover and understand as much about those different than me as I can, and to be able to feel comfortable around them as often as I can.

From race relations to financial security, culture defines us as individuals as much as it does a family, society, or nation. Our familial culture is defined in the same manner as our social or national culture, through the absorption or rejection of the various elements that surround us. My culture is the result of the economic and social indicators passed on by those around me. My experiences were diverse and rarely in agreement with each other. It is this dichotomy that has made me who I am.

by Micah Cantley

Private companies ‘adopt’ schools in rural Peru

Various private companies and organizations have “adopted” 1,494 schools in Peru’s poorest areas with the purpose of improving infrastructure, learning tools and supply, announced Peru’s minister of education, Jose Antonio Chang.

The initiative is part of the “Adopt a school” campaign organized and developed by the ministry and the support of different institutions whose common interest is to improve school infrastructure, to provide better learning equipment and to execute new projects for a better education.

“Thanks to this campaign, 306,819 school kids in Peru’s rural regions have been benefited,” Chang said during a ceremony yesterday at the Club of the Confederation of Private Enterprises and Institutions (CONFIEP).

“In the name of the children, I am very grateful to all companies and institutions of civil society who, in an unselfish way, decided to offer their aid,” the minister added.

Among those are the mining company Southern Peru, the Inca-Kola Foundation, Cementos Lima, Edelnor, Indecopi, Pro Cobre, and many others.

a niña Melissa Mendoza, los Colegios Hans Cristhian Andersen, La Recoleta, Newton College, así como la editorial Santillana S.A., la Gran Logia del Perú, Rotary Club del Perú y la Compañía Minera Poderosa S.A.

Last year, the girl Melissa Mendoza, the Hans-Christian-Andersen school, the Recoleta, the Newtons College, as well as the publishing house Santillana S.A., the Great Lodge of Peru, the Rotary Club of Peru, and the miner Poderosa S.A., adopted shools as well.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Peru: The saga of a car deal gone bad

Most of us have bought a new or used car at least once in our lives. If you haven’t, maybe you have at least tried and experienced the nature of a negotiation with a car dealership. Many have adopted the common stereotypical perception that a car salesman can be unscrupulous and dishonest at times in their pursuit to collect the highest possible profit margin. And it doesn’t really matter if you try to buy a VW bug or a government tries to buy 469 Hyundai police cars with the exception that there is probably more wiggle room and you are spending taxpayers money instead of your own.

Since this saga has filled the daily headlines in Peru on a daily basis for almost a month now, and several heads have rolled on both sides of the deal, including the one of the Interior minister, I refrain from bothering you about the details again which in all possibility are known even Peru’s remotest areas. Instead I will give you a brief summary of the events:

1. News transpires about an overpriced purchase of 469 Hyundai police patrol cars by Peru’s government from the Gildemeister car dealership. First reassurances were that everything was correct and went its normal way.

2. All smoke and mirrors. The contract was signed for over market price value for each car instead of negotiating a huge discount considering the huge number of cars.

3. Interior Minister Pilar Mazzetti assures she has no intention of stepping down. There were some bad apples in her ministry who negotiated the deal and they would be fired. Prime Minister announces that a special commission (now referred to as the Webb commission) would renegotiate the deal.

4. Current health minister Vallejos reveals that there was also a strange looking deal for 96 Hyundai ambulances during the previous Toledo administration in which Mazzetti was the health minister. The pressure mounts.

5. Mazzetti relents to the pressure and resigns. Luis Alva Castro is appointed Interior Minister, a party friend of president Garcia.

6. Gildemeister admits there were irregularities with a third party. Two executives are fired.

7. The government announces that the renegotiation has been completed and the State would save 10 million soles (US$ 3.2 mln.). President Garcia praises the work of the commission and says that state has not paid one centimos as of yet.

8. In a surprising announcement, Garcia advances there are still contractual problems and the car delivery has been put on hold. He offers 3 alternatives: annulment of the deal, a new public bidding process, or he could renegotiate the contract himself. He also announced that all state purchases of the last 10 years would be reviewed and that from now on am external, independent expert group would oversee all state acquisitions.

9. The whole deal was canceled. The Peruvian Government and the car dealership Gildemeister decided to annul the contract.

10. Prime Minister Jorge del Castillo declares that Gildemeister will return an S/.11 million advanced payment made by the State.

In Peru you cannot openly accuse someone directly of corruption unless you have hard evidence or you are the president. Otherwise you can get in deep legal trouble. I don’t have them, I am not the president, and I don’t want to get into trouble, so I am not accusing anyone in particular. But I sure can smell the coffee and I can voice my opinion.

If the government of the third largest country in South America cannot even purchase a couple of cars without looking for the best deal available, how embarrassing is that. Ok, it could have been a one time mistake but that’s most definitely not the case. Even the president knows that or why else would he have the deals of the last 10 years reviewed. And I don’t care if the bad apples are high officials, nominal members or just a part of the apparatus.

Would you want to be involved with someone or trust someone who cannot even look for the best deal when buying a bag of beans in a supermarket? With your own money that is? It probably wouldn’t matter much if you have enough to spend but that is not the case in a poor country like Peru.

No wonder Peruvians are fed up with (any) government, the state apparatus, the justice system, the police force, any state form, and politics in general. Too many of them have been betrayed numerous times and left alone when they needed help or support.

And that is why they give their vote to the “lesser evil” come election time. It will take years, maybe decades, to restore their trust in public institutions.

Editorial by Wolfy Becker

Student evaluation in Peru reveals discouraging results

Peru’s Ministry of Education presented the results of an evaluation that was conducted among 305,135 second-grade school kids in December 2006. The test covered Peru’s poorest areas only partially otherwise the results could be even worse.For example, the reading examination presented some very discouraging results: only 26% completed the test at an “optimal level” (level 3). The test called Evaluación Censal de Comprensión de Lectura lasted 50 minutes and was divided in two parts: one for reading and oration and the other one for text understanding.

“According to Peru’s curricular design, all evaluated children should have reached this level”, explained Carlos Pizano, national secretary of the ministry’s strategic planning department. However, the evaluation represents only 44% of the students who attend this grade because the teacher’s union SUTEP, who opposed the evaluation, had summoned a strike for the test dates. In addition, Peru’s poorest regions like Huancavelica, Ayacucho and Cajamarca were only partially covered and many children refused to take the test.

29.2% of the evaluated scholars reached level 2, which means they could deduce ideas from the text, but neither the actual contextual meaning of the words they read, nor the main idea. Another 29.1% reached level 1, the groups of minors who couldn’t find any information in the text. 15.8% of the students understood absolutely nothing.

Previously, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) conducted its own research in Peru, but only among first graders. The results weren’t positive either: only 12% of the children could comprehend what they were reading.

The results present other interesting data. When comparing the results by state and particular schools, the differences are striking. Only 20.9% of the kids attending public schools reached the highest level compared to 41.6% at private schools.

“When we compare private and public education we must consider that the majority of the kids come from different social and cultural backgrounds. Many families do not have the means to support their children. Sure, there are private schools that make an effort to provide a good education, but others see only their profits. To think that the school’s origin is the decisive factor here is not the correct thing to do”, said the ex-president of the National Council of Education, Father Ricardo Morales.

A survey among 1,500 people made by an educative forum indicates that half the population believes that the education in private schools is better because teachers are more persistent. However, four out of ten choose to register their children in state schools because education is gratuitous. 47% of the interviewed people believe that the low quality of teachers is one of the problems that affects the scholars learning curve.

According to these test results, the difference between private and public schools is certainly obvious but not that significant as it was commonly expected.

Article by Wolfy Becker

Page 31 of 35« First...1020...2930313233...Last »
?>