History of Peruvian Education and Government from 1500

Education System

Colonial Education

1550 - 1810

Authority: Colonial schools were largely run by the Catholic church

Language: Spanish

Students: Schooling available to children of ruling elites. Universities in particular for the highly elite.

Subjects: reading, writing, catechism, and basic math.
Universities focused on philosophy, with a focus on Classic and Renaissance Western thought.

Founded: Universidad Mayor de San Marcos


La Universidad Mayor de San Marcos was the first university founded in the Americas, and is still functioning today.

Beginning of Public Education

1828 - 1931

Authority: Schools publicly provided by the new Republican government.
Governing bodies for education were created.

Language: Spanish

Students: Government began to implement free public education for all Peruvian citizens.
Women's education was implemented, but initially focused on patriotism and domestic skills to be a model wife.

Structure: The public education system was divided between primary, secondary, superior (university).
Additionally, the division between private and public systems was acknowledged.

Subjects Taught: Universities expanded to teach science and medicine.

Constitution establishes free primary school for all citizens


Reglamiento de Instrucción de 1850


The Reglamiento de Instrucción de 1850 was the first recorded public education law, clarifying the administrative and pedagogical aspects of the young and poorly functioning system.
It also divided public and private education

Modernization of Education

1931 - 1985

Authority: Ministry of Education (Federal government)

Language: Spanish, very limited bilingual education.

Students: Rural students still lacking access, but many Peruvians of different social classes go to school.
Not many provisions for special education or non-formal education.

Structure: Upper secondary school is divided into technical and normal tracks.

Subjects: First provisions for professional or technical education.
Technical tracks intended for aspiring professionals and workers, while normal tracks intended for aspiring teachers.
Education viewed in an economic sense as important for national development.

This marks a move away from the classical canons of Western thought to a more nationalistic and economically-based education system.

Quinquenio de Educación

1980 - 1985

This 5-year period marked a governmental focus on education reform, based in a new General Education Law.
Reforms incorporated and provided for non-formal means of education in addition to formal ones.
Educational levels were increased from three to four by including initial (pre-primary) education.
Education was also classified into modalities, which include childhood, adult, special, occupational, and distance education.

Decentralization and Reform

1993 - 2013

Authority: Ministry of Education (federal government) in addition to local and municipal governments.
Overall government decentralization started in 2001 and has been partially applied to education, with time allotted for regional curriculum. Some aspects of administration are decentralized but there is mostly still a national curriculum.

Language: 2003 law requires government to provide education to indigenous peoples.
Quechua and Aymara included as official languages alongside Spanish in districts where they are predominant.
School materials provided in 14 indigenous languages.

Students: A 1993 law increased obligatory education to include initial and secondary schooling as well as primary schooling.
Numerous reforms have increased access to non-formal education, special education, and adult education. Initiatives to promote girls' education have been largely effective.
Peru has achieved 96% attendance at primary school.

A new General Education Law in 2003 established ethics, inclusion, democracy, and intercultural sensitivity as goals for all education levels.
Reforms in 2006 instituted a system of teacher evaluation that influences their jobs and pay, against vehement resistance from powerful teachers' unions.

Secondary & initial education made obligatory


Under a 1993 law, both initial and secondary education are made obligatory.
Previously, only primary education was obligatory.


Incan Empire

1432 - 1532

Spanish Conquest

1528 - 1542

Viceroyalty of Peru

1542 - 1810

War of Independence

1810 - 1836

Republic of Peru

1823 - 1930

An aristocratic republic dedicated to nation-building

Spain Withdraws from Peru


Spain Recognizes Peru's Independence


Alternation between Democracy and Militarism

1930 - 1979

Democracy Restored

1980 - 2001

Though this time period was plagued by the violent activities of insurgent group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) it marked a restoration of a democratic government.
Alberto Fujimori's constitutionally questionable decision to pursue a third presidential term threatened the democratic government, but his administration collapsed in 2000 and was followed by new elections and a revision of the Constitution.


2001 - 2013

With a new Constitution in 2001 and the Ley de Bases de Descentralización in 2002, the Peruvian government has recently been dedicated to decentralization of most functions.
Peru was divided into regions and local governments to more evenly distribute responsibilities and decision-making power, but the process has proceeded haltingly and many local governments still lack the resources or expertise for true autonomy.
The school system has been decentralized in terms of curriculum, with an increased emphasis on bilingual education and local content. However, the curriculum and the training of teachers, as well as educational goals and policy, are still centralized decisions under the Ministry of Education.