Entry by Carolina Méndez, Jorge Mori (DIGESU-MINEDU), María Fernanda Prada and María Fe Sanchez (DIGESU-MINEDU)
Killa is an 8-year-old girl who attends third grade in a public school in Ayacucho, Peru. Her mother tongue is Quechua, the language of the Incas. Even though her parents did not finish high school, they dream of Killa finishing school and pursuing higher education. In 2030, if everything goes well and Killa does not drop out of school, she could start her career by studying in one of the higher education alternatives that Peru offers (university, technological, pedagogical, artistic) or a technical-productive degree.
In Peru, on average, only 3 out of 10 students who complete secondary education enroll in a higher education program, according to data from the National Household Survey (2018). However, this statistic worsens for students from lower socioeconomic groups. For example, if today Killa would like to pursue higher education, her chances of doing so are very low. According to the data, only 2 out of 10 young people from the 20% poorest households manage to access higher education in the country. In contrast, 5 out of 10 young people from the 20% richest households continue their studies immediately after finishing high school.
In response to these differences, last August Peru published the National Policy for Higher and Technical-Productive Education until 2030, which proposes to decrease the access gap in a decade and to ensure access to higher education for at least 50% of the country’s youth, emphasizing the access of youth from the population that have been historically excluded.
In the next 10 years, Peru will have three different governments with the opportunity to contribute to the country’s development by ensuring compliance with very specific education policy objectives and goals (see figure). These policy objectives were discussed by 150 experts in education, authorities, teachers, students, and artists. These indicators are indeed ambitious and will require the coordinated effort of public and private actors to fulfill them.
National Policy for Higher and Technical-Productive Education: 2020 status and 2030 goals
In this context, the three main areas of action for the next decade are:
- Reduce access barriers to higher and technical-productive education. There are three type of barriers that students may face to access higher and technical-productive education: academic, informational and financial. Academic barriers stem from quality gaps in basic education. According to the results of the 2019 Student’s Census Assessment, about 65% of second year high school students obtain results in the lowest level of learning in mathematics. Information barriers refer to a lack of information on costs, admission processes, financing opportunities, and/or benefits of higher education which may affect students’ decisions. Evidence indicates that these barriers primarily affect students of low socioeconomic status, like Killa. Finally, financial barriers refer to the lack of financial resources to cover the direct and indirect costs of higher education. These barriers are key to explain the gaps in access in Latin America and in Peru, due to the low coverage of free public higher education and the scarcity in scholarship, credit, and aid programs for students.
- Improve the quality of institutions. The Peruvian university system has certified that 92 universities and two graduate schools meet the basic quality conditions in a first stage of the higher education licensing process. However, only 73 institutes of technological education in the country have been licensed. It is essential to continue improving the quality of the institutions through strengthening quality assurance mechanisms and the support provided to institutions for the continuous improvement of processes, strengthening efforts to link supply with local economic needs, and improving student support to ensure their permanence in the system.
- Promote technological and technical-productive education. Although only 6.5% of jobs require university training, 64% of students in higher and technical-productive education study at a university. The country needs to bet on higher technological education and technical-productive education by ensuring that, besides training on relevant skills aligned with the needs of the labor market, this type of education also leads to successful employment trajectories for young women and men throughout their lives.
These areas of action will allow Peru to meet the goals established in the policy, and in 10 years, offer young people like Killa and their families an opportunity to make their dreams come true.
Do you know what higher and technical-productive education policies are implemented in your country to reduce gaps in access? Share your opinion in the comments section, or by mentioning us on Twitter at @BIDEducacion # EnfoqueEducacion.
 The statistic corresponds to immediate enrollment upon high school graduation.
 Arias, Elacqua y González-Velosa, 2018.
 Oficina de Medición de la Calidad de Aprendizajes-Minedu,2019
 Page y Scott-Clayton, 2016; Busso et. al. 2018.
 Alfonso, 2009; Arias, Elacqua y González-Velosa, 2018.
 Censo Escolar, MINEDU 2019
 Encuesta de Demanda Ocupacional, 2018