Posted on | March 21, 2012 | 6 Comments
Where to send their kids to school is a constant source of conversation for expatriates around the world, and here in Peru it’s no different. Because of the sheer volume of choices, it’s probably an even bigger topic here in Lima than elsewhere in the country.
The lowest rung on the ladder are the public schools. About three years ago, because of our financial situation, we sent the boys to public school. The school we put them in, Scipion Llona, was supposed to be the “best state run school in Lima” and was one short bus ride from our home. After two years in the school, I can honestly say that if that’s the best the state schools can do, I feel sorry for the education of the children in Peru. Maybe there’s more we could have done to help our children in the school, but I doubt it. Talking to the teachers was like talking to a three year old that didn’t want to eat her veggies. We had problems with the boys doing their homework so we tried to work out some sort of system with the teachers. The teachers would tell us “You need to put more pressure on them to do their homework at home”. We were already paying for a math tutor to help with that homework, and reviewed their assignments every day – the problem was with them not bringing assignments home. We ask the teachers to help us know what assignments the boys had – we wanted the boys to write down their homework in a notebook each day, and then the tutor would initial it. They refused to do it and kept going back to this being our responsibility to make sure they do the work they bring home. I’d love to make them do it - if I knew what it was!
My Recommendation: Avoid Peruvian public schools like the plague – they’re just as lethal to your children.
Next, are the lower tier private schools. Price isn’t always the deciding factor, but generally if a school costs under 300 soles a month, assume it’s a lower tier school Now, lower tier isn’t necessarily bad. These schools focus on the same education syllabus as the state schools, so don’t expect anything in the way of international literature, government, history, etc. Expect your child to have the basics in communication, arithmetic, and Peruvian focused social studies. You may have classes in computer and English. They will have talleres – sort of like electives in American high school, except there is no choice in the subject – that focus on embroidery, perhaps cooking, and Peruvian folk song and dance.
My Recommendation: If the school is well run, and it’s the best you can afford, it’s a barely adequate education for today’s world. Our kids were in a lower tier school before I knew all this about schools, and they did well there, I just wish I’d known there were better choices. It was frustrating for me to see my kid spend a couple hours a week doing embroidery (what the hell???) when they could have been teaching geometry or world history.
Next are middle tier private schools. There are some excellent schools in this range, and I’m sure some real crappers, too. We used a list of schools from this site to find schools in our area and price range, then went to visit them all. Some were excellent, some were not. Some schools, like Trilce, were very good but just not what we were looking for – I know my boys do much better in smaller classes sizes. Others were too religiously inclined, or more “trade school” oriented. We finally chose a school that actually wasn’t even on the list (and doesn’t have a website), Circulo de Ingenieria. Affordably priced at S/330 month, approximately 15 students per class in the secondary grades, large with spacious classrooms, good teachers, and most importantly a college prep curriculum with classes in international literature and history and a heavy focus on maths and science. While our older son Chino is having some trouble adjusting (he’s living with his mother again), the younger one, Chato is thrilled with the school. For the first time, he comes home every day excited about what he’s learned and talking about how “chevere” (cool) his teachers are. He loves history and trigonometry – who ever thought that would be possible!
My Recommendation: If you can’t afford the price of the top tier schools, don’t feel bad! Unless it’s vital that your child go to an International school, there are plenty of schools where they can receive an excellent education for under $300/monthly. However, you will most likely be restricted to classes that are taught exclusively in Spanish.
Top tier schools can be extremely expensive. The best (well, most expensive) schools in Lima cost over $1000/monthly, with entrance fees of as much as $8500. The biggest perk for this kind of money is that there are a lot of “extras” included in the education; extracurricular activities such as sports, drama, music and more. Plus, they offer international bacchalaureate programs which make it easy for your child to transfer to a university in any other country. Many of the top IB schools in the country were founded by foreigners and as such have a strong foreign language focus, like English, German or French. Some teach classes in English, some don’t.
My Recommendation: If you can afford it, and assuming that your child will want to go to a top notch university in your home country, absolutely go for it.
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