Daniel Alfaro, former minister and president of CADE Education 2022, comments on the urgency of addressing the socio-emotional and the recovery of learning, as well as on the decisions of the Executive and Congress, an event that will begin this Tuesday the 13th. At the end of this interview, the Minister Rosendo Serna did not confirm their participation.
—In the last CADE they demanded the urgent return to schools. This year, finally, it was done, but was it expected?
—No, definitely, CADE will always respond to an educational situation. In 2021, the agenda was around the prompt restart of classes because Peru was one of the countries with the most months of closed schools. As of December, only 30% of the regions returned to face-to-face with force. There is a wake-up call for how we have reacted to the pandemic. Now we speak of an educational revolution, because we believe that the educational agenda is too distracted by political issues that do not necessarily prioritize the welfare of the student. The headlines have been filled with setbacks in university reform, conflicts in teaching processes, questioning of educational materials. Rather, they would need to give us their next steps for other topics such as socio-emotional care and learning recovery.
—Regarding politics, the last thing that was heard from Minedu was the problems of Fenate and Sutep. On National Holidays, the president did not mention Sunedu. Is urgent care handled?
—The teaching issue, university reform, is always important, but it is not the highest priority for the recovery of learning after 76 months of closed schools. And not only the priority on the public agenda, but also in the attention to the budget. It is urgent to attend to the socio-emotional, the learning, but we also consider that if we do not take advantage of this entire pandemic crisis for great changes and rather return to the same normality, it makes no sense to have gone through this crisis. We have to take an opportunity out of this (…) An important axis is the autonomy of schools. Not the autonomy that is misunderstood as the university bill. It is not debauchery. It is responsible autonomy, in which you also distribute resources. Our proposals are around advancing with the leadership of teachers through the integration of schools (…) We are very focused on what concerns the adult world such as union processes, the concerns of some owners of universities with a license denied and not we think that those interests put aside those of the student. (…) We have opened restaurants, shopping centers and schools at the end. And after doing so, when we need to make the protocols more flexible to quickly recover learning, it has taken us months to release the mask, for example.
-The Government has reacted late in some points…
—In the case, for example, of returning to classes, it is very clear that it has reacted late and then in the relaxation of protocols in order to help students return to their classes and recover learning.
—Do you consider that there are strong setbacks in the university and teacher reforms?
—Of course there is a setback in the university reform with the law that was approved (in Congress). Although the Minedu released a report that seemed technically good to me, in which the law was observed, it would have been more prudent to release it since it was being discussed in the Education Commission (…) Then, when the educational materials came out and no he observed them, there I do believe that there was a very strong fault. So, yes, I think there could be a greater proactivity there.
—A moment ago, you spoke of an educational agenda distracted by political issues. Whose agenda? The government?
—When we talk about an educational agenda, we always think of the Minedu agenda. He raises it and everyone follows. And although it is the governing body and constitutionally it is the one that should give us that clear vision of the future, it does not only depend on the Minedu. When we talk about the educational agenda, it is an agreed agenda of society, in which we all bet on better education and we are responsible for it. That is why we speak of an educational revolution from the bottom up.
—But there is also Congress. We see laws such as the counter-reform or that of school textbooks. Do you also carry out your work in the educational field?
—Unfortunately, the actions of the Executive —which has not been at the speed that the emergency determined or needed— has opened a space for Congress to have more participation in the educational agenda and that has happened through laws that were not around of student interest.
—As a result of this, former ministers even speak of the end of the cycle of reforms. You believe it?
—What we want with CADE is to rethink the reforms and improve what has to be done. We do not want to get caught up in backward discussions, but rather in an agenda aligned with the interest of the student. That is why we summon all the actors to share the concerns, and with that consensus make a decalogue of 10 commitments that everyone assumes (…) I give a specific action; for example, there is talk of increasing the basic salary of teachers. Very important. I think there is still room for improvement, but also to combine it not only with raising the salary, but also hiring them for more hours. (…) You benefit the teacher, but you also think about the students.
—We have setbacks in learning, an unequal return to school, the effects on the little ones in this pandemic. Is this still reversible?
“The first answer I have is that we can never give up. It is the beginning of resilience. We have to find a way out of this. We have specific routes to improve; for example, the initial training of teachers, the training of principals, early childhood… At the closure of CADE, where only figures of maximum authority appeared, now there will be a student, a school director, a teacher and a mother ( …) We want to inspire ourselves to say that it is possible to have a revolution from the bottom up (…) that they listen to us above, that the minister, the Congress, listen to us.
—Precisely, Minister Rosendo Serna would be in the last session, so they will be able to present their solutions to him and what would remain is for those who make the decision to apply them.
—Well, I make a call for the minister to participate. He has not confirmed us. He has a complicated agenda. In fact, he has told us that he cannot.
“Isn’t the Minister of Education going to participate?”
—Until now (Thursday) no, but I do make the call. We are all, he is missing.