Everyone from our advisory board, through Ian our program director, to our partners and teachers in the communities seem to agree that single greatest obstacle to better education in Peru is the quality of teachers. Teachers are underpaid, lacking motivation and are badly trained. The “old style” methods they are taught in teacher’s school do not work in the indigenous communities. They rely too much on rote learning and are not trained to teach creatively or engage their students. In almost every school we are familiar with the teachers simply ask their students to copy material and do not challenge them to interpret what they are writing. Often it is in a context (and language) that the children don’t understand!
Ian told me a funny story that highlights the problem of rote learning in Spanish to Quechua speaking children that he heard in the jungle. In a class for teachers being lead by an education expert, the facilitator wrote a text in latin and french on the blackboard and asked the “students” (teachers) to copy it and memorize it. The teachers through up their arms in frustration and said that this made no sense! He then explained to them that this was exactly what they were asking their students to do in their classrooms.
We have had a couple of teacher training projects in the past but in 2015 we have plans to create a large teacher training program for all teachers that we hire. Ian will be writing much more about this topic next year.