Controversy over education law intensifies

Controversy over a new law prohibiting public schools from hiring teachers who did not finish in the top third of their class during their studies has intensified, with Peru’s Education Minister threatening criminal charges against many of the country’s regional presidents who say the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory.

In an attempt to improve Peru’s ailing public school system, the Education Ministry established through Supreme Decree 004 that applicants for public teaching positions are required to have completed their education degree within the top third of their class

“Peru needs to make a quantum leap forward in education and with mediocre people who finished last we aren’t going to take that step,” daily Correo reported Cabinet Chief Jorge Del Castillo saying.

The president of La Libertad Department, José Murgia, said his department will implement the law. “Our children deserve the best teachers,” he said. “Don’t we want the best teachers for our children?”

However, 17 other regional presidents have argued the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory. Some say they will not implement it.

Chang has responded to defiant regional presidents saying they will face criminal charges for fraud or embezzlement if they do not implement the law. “Paying teachers that have not met the necessary requirements to teach would be using State money poorly,” daily La República reported Chang saying.

A vocal critic of the law and president of Lambayeque Department, Yehude Simon, told CPN radio the threat is foolishness. “Independent specialists think it is very bad, educational intellectuals from this country say it is very bad, so they are going to lock up everyone.”

Former Education Minister Carlos Malpica told CNR radio, the law is contradictory “because access to public functions, which includes teaching, is regulated by the principle of equal opportunities. This is declared specifically in article 21.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” He added that Education Minister José Antonio Chang “has expressed his intention to ensure the best conditions to quickly improve the quality of education… but there are different ways to do that.”

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