State reform and resilient powers : teachers, school culture and the neoliberal education reform in Peru
This thesis critically examines the Peruvian education system in the context of the neo-liberal State reform, mainly during the regime of Alberto Fujimori (1990-2000). The recent history of the education system is studied in close relationship with the particularities of the geography and politics of Peru. As an interpretive framework the thesis draws on contemporary critical theory on education and the school, and recent theoretical approaches to the study of the state in post colonial societies. The preferred methodological approach is the multi-sited ethnography. The ethnographic work was organised around three important and controversial aspects of the reformers' discourse: Decentralization, intercultural relations, and gender equity in education. The relationship between the state and teachers has been another dimension consistently considered. Observations concentrated on the exercise of power (and conditions for autonomous decision making processes), gender relations and racial relations in teacher training institutions. A final chapter provides ethnographic accounts of the ways in which those three discourses were "translated" at in-service teacher training programs during the reform to make evident the dissonance between them and local cultures of power. The reformers did not succeed in solving the problems of Peruvian Education by applying a series of technical improvements -also prescribed to other countries. They failed to consider the post-colonial characteristics of the state in Peru, and did not take into account the ambivalent role of the state funded school system: Large enough to offer school access to the majority of the population, but with results so poor and ineffective, that in some areas it is almost as if it did not exist. The diverse impulses to expand the state funded education system, have mixed with the traditional forms of domination in the country, characterized by the racialised distribution of power and wealth, that has privileged the more westernized Coast over the highlands and the rainforest, where Indigenous peoples are a large segment of the population.