Peru Teachers Protest Competency Testing

Photo's courtesy of Michael Edison

July 7, 2007
By The Associated Press

Lima, Peru
Peruvian public school teachers walked off the job Thursday to protest an education reform proposal that would require them to pass periodic competency exams.

February test results showed almost half of public school teachers cannot solve basic math problems and one-third are deficient in reading comprehension.

Congress began debating a bill Thursday that would fire teachers who fail the test three times, a move the teachers' union, Sutep, says will lead to "arbitrary" firings.

Protesting teachers surrounded the regional education building in the central Junin department, and threw stones, burned tires and blocked roads, state news agency Andina reported.

Education Minister Jose Antonio Chang called the effort a failure, saying only 15 percent of Peru's approximately 350,000 teachers failed to show up for work.

The government has declared the strike illegal.

President Alan Garcia has promised to revamp the country's ailing public education system, widely looked down upon for its poor infrastructure and untrained staff.

The teachers' union has already launched large demonstrations and strikes to protest obligatory competency tests.

"I don't think there is anyone in Peru who does not want a good teacher for his children, a well-paid teacher with permanent training," Chang said in a statement on Thursday. - Associated Press


July 10, 2007
Lima, Peru - I saw on the news that indeed it is thousands of teachers throughout the country that are protesting (Not just 15%, as stated by the Education Minister). Our son attends a local school in the district of Los Olivos. The school has been closed since July 5. It is closed today, Monday, July 9. The teachers are in the street, throwing rocks at police while they are being tear-gassed. This is a major protest against competency testing.

- Eyewitness, on-the-ground in Lima, Michael Edison

July 11, 2007
Lima, Peru - Ron Jerabek and I went into Central Lima today to be first-hand witnesses concerning the country-wide teacher protests. We found a massive display of force surrounding the Presidential Palace made up of local police, national police and soldiers. Entire city blocks had been quarantined to maintain control. It appeared to us that no press was being allowed to enter within.

We successfully penetrated the first lines of defence and were able to secure ourselves in the heart of the protest.

Below I have submitted photos as evidence:

After the teachers had been chased into the plaza and beaten by police, the teachers retaliated and chased the police from the plaza. This photo shows the police on the retreat, and the teacher (with the stick) returning.

This brave teacher, man on far left, is confronting the assault group head-on and is met with a tear gas cannister launched by the man on the top of the vehicle.

A brigade of Riot Police enters the action.

Translated: State Terrorism

That's the way it looks from here.

- Eyewitness, on-the-ground in Lima, Peru, Michael Edison and Ron Jerabek Wallace