Peru Seeks National Bilingualism

peruPeru seeks national bilingualism in English and Spanish by 2021 and President Ollanta Humala has announced some big promises to make that happen. His plan expands to public schools a bilingual education initiative originally designed for the military and allocates resources to train more than 280,000 teachers with dual-language skills. His government is focused on 2,010 communities with insufficient schooling, and intends to turn Arequipa, Peru’s second most populous city, inits flagship bilingual municipality.

To support these initiatives, Humala’s government has signed agreements with educational bodies in the UK in an effort to leverage their expertise to set up and expand Peru’s language programs. As part of the program, Peruvian teachers will be trained in the UK, and UK institutions will run ELT training schools in Peru. Moreover, the Higher Education Unit will create postgraduate scholarships to study in the UK for limited-mean students, funded by Peru’s national scholarship and student loan program. These loans will be supplemented by a wide range of grants which will promote their overseas studies and cement Peru’s status as an emerging language student sending market.

But changes like this won’t come easy or cheaply. The new University Act targets low-quality private universities ‑ referred to as ‘degree factories’ by critics ‑ to raise their certifications’ quality, but has found strong opposition and criticism. It also risks reversal if Humala’s fierce political rival and trail frontrunner, Keiko Fujimori (daughter of incarcerated former-president Alberto), wins June’s presidential runoffs and follows-through on her promise to challenge it in court.

No matter who wins, however, Peruvians are pressing for a more inclusive education system which enables greater economic equity. As a result, it would appear that things are only getting starting – both politically and educationally – in the South American nation.

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