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Education in Peru_ Error Message _ the Economist

Education in Peru_ Error Message _ the Economist

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Published by: Juanjo Guzmán Calderón on Apr 13, 2012
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12/04/12Education in Peru: Error message | The Economist1/2www.economist.com/node/21552202
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Friday April 13th 2012
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Inter-AmericanDevelopment Bank (IADB)Peru
Apr 7th 2012 | LIMA | from the print editionfrom the print edition | The Americas
Education in Peru
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A disappointing return from an investment in computing
GIVING a child a computer does not seem to turn him or her into a future Bill Gates—indeed it does not accomplish anything in particular. That is the conclusion from Peru,site of the largest single programme involving One Laptop per Child, an American charitywith backers from the computer industry and which is active in more than 30 developingcountries around the world.Peru is enjoying an economic boom, but has one of Latin America’s worst educationsystems. Flush with mining revenues, the previous government embraced the laptopinitiative. It spent $225m to supply and support 850,000 basic laptops to schoolsthroughout the country. But Peruvians’ test scores remain dismal. Only 13% of seven-year-olds were at the required level in maths and only 30% in reading, the educationministry reported last month.Anevaluationof the laptop programme by the Inter-AmericanDevelopment Bank (IDB) found that the children receiving thecomputers did not show any improvement in maths orreading. Nor did it find evidence that access to a laptopincreased motivation, or time devoted to homework orreading. The report applauded the government for providingmuch-needed hardware: less than a quarter of Peruvianhouseholds had a computer in 2010. But it now needs toimprove teacher-training and the curriculum, said JulianCristia of the IDB. Above all, the classroom environmentneeds to change.Part of the problem is that students learn faster than manyof their teachers, according to Lily Miranda, who runs acomputer lab at a state school in San Borja, a middle-class area of Lima. SandroMarcone, who is in charge of educational technologies at the ministry, agrees. “If teachers are telling kids to turn on computers and copy what is being written on theblackboard, then we have invested in expensive notebooks,” he said. It certainly lookslike that.
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