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Results Briefs May 13, 2019

Improving Basic Education in Peru


Basic Education school in Villa El Salvador, Peru. 

Photo: Luis Ruiz / Peru Ministry of Education

The Basic Education Project achieved, and in several cases exceeded, its objectives of improving the Ministry of Education’s (MINEDU) capacity, despite challenging and changing implementation conditions. This success reflects the government’s long-term institutional commitment to system wide reforms over time and benefited the 5.7 million students in the public-school system as well as current school principals and teachers aspiring to school management positions.


In 2012, the government of Peru was highly committed to tackling the challenge of achieving more inclusive growth and reducing social gaps. Improving the country’s human capital base was considered essential to its future success. Ensuring low-income and vulnerable children access to good-quality basic education was key to unleashing their continuing skills formation and future productivity. While Peru had near-universal primary education, had tripled access to preschool education in the preceding five years, and had raised the secondary school enrollment rate above the regional average, its schools graduated high numbers of students lacking basic mastery of mathematics and literacy skills. Of the nine Latin American countries participating in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam administered to a sample of 15-year-old students, Peru finished last. In response, the government launched a results-based budgeting program for student learning, Programa de Educación Logros de Aprendizaje (PELA, Education Program for Learning Achievements) to raise learning outcomes in public schools. 


The Basic Education Project focused on three critical aspects of PELA that together were expected to help achieve Peru’s high-level objective of improving student learning outcomes: (i) scaling up and benchmarking student learning assessments; (ii) designing and implementing teacher evaluations; and (iii) evaluating and training school leaders. The Ministerio de Educación (MINEDU, Ministry of Education) had introduced a results-based approach to prioritizing public resource allocation to a comprehensive set of sectorwide strategies and activities, including PELA. The government’s budgetary framework linked the financing of the project’s activities to expected results in terms of improvements in student learning. Following a sectorwide approach (SWAp), the project financed a subset of PELA activities, using PELA’s results-based approach of loan disbursements triggered by MINEDU’s achievement of agreed disbursement-linked indicators. The project was restructured several times, most importantly to support implementation of the 2012 Teacher Reform Law by financing the design of evaluation instruments and processes required to make recruitment and promotion merit-based and to initiate performance evaluation and feedback processes for teachers. 


school management positions have resulted using competitive evaluation of about 53,700 candidates


Over its five years of implementation from 2013to 2018, the Basic Education Project successfully achieved its objective of improving MINEDU’s capacity to evaluate the following elements of basic education: (i) student learning, (ii) instructional practice, and (iii) school leadership, as described below. 

  • Student Learning in Basic Education: MINEDU’s capacity to assess student learning outcomes has been strengthened through the administration of four additional cycles (grades) of sound national assessments in at least two subject areas at the preschool, primary, and secondary levels (grades 2, 4, 6, and 8). These assessments have been reported at the national, regional, and school levels, and all have been analyzed. MINEDU also participated in several international assessments of student learning outcomes and carried out several surveys to evaluate student development progress; MINEDU aims to use these findings to revise learning curricula and teacher training.

  • Instructional Practice in Basic Education: MINEDU’s increased capacity to evaluate instructional practices has resulted in the publication and dissemination of a comprehensive report analyzing pedagogical practices over the course of four national studies of classroom instructional practice. Other results include carrying out, analyzing, and disseminating a study to measure teachers’ use of instructional time in primary and secondary schools, and in 2017, a first round of performance evaluations for preschool teachers. MINEDU also designed, piloted, and implemented instruments for teacher recruitment and merit-based promotion, resulting in the hiring of 19,069 teachers and the promotion of 49,763.  

  • School Leadership in Basic Education:  MINEDU’s capacity to evaluate school leadership has resulted in staffing 18,477 school management positions using competitive evaluation of more than 53,699 candidates. Managerial incumbents were evaluated to maintain their positions, and high-ranking teachers seeking leadership positions were also evaluated. 

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank, through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), provided US$25 million to the Basic Education Project. This was a small but important contribution to PELA. Total project costs were US$186 million at closing. The Bank contributed more than financing, however; it also contributed lessons drawn from cross-sectoral experience in the design of results-based financing operations and just-in-time implementation support that made it feasible to adjust the project to address government priorities for further strengthening its objectives, such as support for implementation of the Teacher Reform Law.


The project benefited and will continue to benefit the 5.7 million students in Peru’s public schools. Teachers aspiring to school management positions will also benefit from the opportunity to participate in a transparent school principal selection process. Formal appointment through this system will benefit current principals as well, 75 percent of whom were not previously formally appointed. Education administrators, school personnel, and communities will benefit from an expanded student assessment system that generates annual information on student learning results across all schooling cycles. Parents receiving feedback on their children’s learning outcomes through tailored reports will benefit from having information with which to monitor their children’s progress over time. 

Moving Forward 

As a SWAp, the project helped establish and implement important tools used by MINEDU staff directly, and the ministry’s capacity to implement these in the future has been strengthened. Several programs and instruments have been cemented, either by legislation or as part of the ministry’s internal procedures. Further reforms in primary and secondary education are being supported under the ongoing program Boosting Human Capital and through Productivity Development Policy Financing (DPF), with a deferred draw down option, for efforts to improve the quality of human capital in areas covered by the project.