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Secondary Education

Secondary education covers the 5 years from the ages of 12 through 16 and is divided into two phases. The first phase comprises two years of general studies followed by the second phase, which includes three years of specialization. In this second phase, each pupil may choose between academic and vocational options. The academic students are allowed to sub-specialize in either liberal arts or science, while the vocational students choose between commercial, industrial, and agricultural courses of study. Upon successful completion of the second cycle, pupils are awarded with a certificado for the specialization they have studied. After receiving their certificado, students before the 1997 reforms were eligible to sit for the university entrance examination immediately, although most have opted to engage in a one-year preparatory course of study before taking the examination. The 1997 reforms, reacting to this need, established a new level of education, two years in duration, to be placed post certificado and post-compulsory education. This study leads to the achievement of the bachillerato, and is considered indispensable for success in higher education and for the accomplishment of the three stated goals of secondary education: To prepare the student to exercise the rights and responsibilities of a citizen in a democratic nation, to prepare the student to effectively enter the working world, and to equip the student with a skills sufficient for successful entrance and pursuit of higher education. Secondary enrollment was reported at 2.3 million students in 1999.

The 1997 reforms organized the secondary education curriculum into five areas of emphasis: science (including mathematics) and technology, communications, economics and management, human development (including philosophy and history), and professional development. This curriculum is designed to be interconnected with the subject matter in each discipline reinforcing the lessons learned in the others. The grading system is generally on a 20-point scale with 11 as the passing point. The average age at which students leave the public secondary schools was 16.8 years in 1996, with an average of 16.7 in private schools. With the imposition of the 1997 reforms, this number has risen and become much closer to the average age of university entrance. At the completion of the bachillerato course of study, students may sit for the nation-wide Bachillerato examination, which provides a standardized entrance examination for all institutions of higher education that opt in the system.

Like the primary schools, Peru's secondary schools test students several times each year in order to ensure adequate progress. Annually, students take a cumulative examination focused on the year's studies. The examination is graded on a scale from 0 to 20 with an 11 required for passage. A failing score in either mathematics or language is a secondary grounds for failure on the examination and for repetition of the grade level. More than 500,000 students of primary schools, or nearly 15 percent of the total student population, failed to achieve the necessary credentials for advancement and were required to repeat a grade level in 1998. Approximately 17 percent of students in urban areas have repeated at least one grade level, and this figure rises to 26 percent among students in rural areas; this high rate of failure is attributed to a low number of hours effectively dedicated to core subjects in many schools. Studies have suggested that on average, urban students spend 450 hours annually in such studies compared with only 226 hours per year among rural students. These numbers compare most unfavorably with the average of 1,000 hours of studies for Chilean students. Besides the problem of grade-level repetition, Peru is experiencing an increased level of school drop outs. An April 2000 report, although presenting promising numbers regarding overall matriculation, noted a growing rate of premature school leaving on the part of, especially, secondary students. The exact number of drop outs is not obtainable from government statistics as these statistics reflect many students who have been officially enrolled but who have stopped attending classes. One study suggested that as many as 200,000 students, both from primary and secondary schools, abandon their education mid-year but are still counted in the government statistics.

Given Peru's hierarchical heritage, which has emphasized the education of the privileged class and others who could fare well in a competitive academic setting, vocational training became a national educational priority rather late. Since the early 1970s, increased attention has been placed on this area of education, especially in the area of technology. In the intervening decades, local governments have joined the national government in opening a series of vocational training institutions, although the quality of these new schools has been uneven. Along with the efforts to provide sites for vocational education have come attempts to make this training accessible for citizens from the poorer and traditionally less well-educated segments of the society. Along with the secondary-level vocational educational facilities, the nation has created several higher-level training sites, including the Higher Technological Institute and the Peruvian Institute of Business Administration. These institutions not only provide more advanced instruction to their population but provide training and resources for lower-level vocational schools.

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Education - Free Encyclopedia Search EngineGlobal Education ReferencePeru - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education