Today the School Leadership Preparation group headed over to the Universidad del Pacífico for our morning session. We had the good fortune of meeting with Mr. Ricardo Manuel Muñoz, who works with the Peruvian Ministry of Education. He spoke with us about the arduous task of decentralizing education here in Peru, a process that began in 2003. The main goal of decentralization is to ensure quality resources are efficiently distributed to schools. Unfortunately, with the restructuring of the government, new roles and functions were not clearly defined, and thus, there has been a great deal of ambiguity as to what the unique roles and responsibilities of the national and regional governments are.
Mr. Muñoz further explained how local units of educational administration, called UGELs, were created to aid in overseeing schools and distributing materials. In recent years data has been collected regarding these institutions to aid in creating a standardized process for implementing UGEL design. The UGELs are quite diverse with some serving more rural communities, while others are in major metropolitan areas; some are located several hours away from the schools they serve, while others are within walking distance; some are in districts where there is no running water, while others are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. Given the educational diversity and economic disparities throughout the country, it is no surprise that it is challenging to regulate UGELs. Despite these impediments to progress, there is hope. The national government is continuously working to overcome obstacles to decentralization, and Mr. Muñoz estimates that it will about another ten years to remedy the current problems.
After our presentation by Mr. Muñoz, we enjoyed lunch at La Baguette, a café a block away from the school. We ordered burgers and other sandwiches, including chicharrones (a sandwich with pork, sweet potato, and onion). The café also had a large assortment of pastries and other desserts. I ended my meal with an alfajor, which is a confection consisting of two round cookies with a filling between them. My personal favorites are alfajores de manjar blanco (manjar blanco is a caramel filling very similar to dulce de leche). It was so delicious that I ordered a second one to go! After lunch we joined the rest of our group at Colegio Nuestra Señora del Carmen.
~ Kimberly Sanders