Open Access
Reyes, Carolyn
Graduate Program:
Rural Sociology
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
May 26, 2016
Committee Members:
  • Anouk Patel, Thesis Advisor
  • Peru
  • education
  • neoliberal
  • teacher perceptions
  • sociology of education policy
For over 20 years, Peruvian education policy has been aimed at providing equitable and universal access to education by emphasizing accessibility and infrastructure. To entice potential teachers other than through pay, the national government has traditionally provided high levels of job security for teachers. Financial bonuses for teachers to work in rural, remote, and often isolated regions of the country are often used as incentives. Such strategies for enticing teachers to the profession have been highly effective at filling teaching positions in schools around the country. Coupled with investment in schoolhouse construction, these efforts have allowed even the most rural and remote students to attend public school. Indeed, Peru had achieved nearly universal school enrollment, regardless of a students´ gender, socio-economic status, or place of residence by the early 2000s. However, providing access to schooling for Peru’s children has not translated into improved student learning outcomes. Despite high enrollment, student examinations reveal stark inequalities in student achievement, particularly between rural and urban areas. To improve education quality, the Peruvian government passed the Teacher Career Law in 2012, aiming to improve student learning outcomes by targeting teacher performance. However, this law effectively curtails teachers’ employment stability by substituting job security with a compensation scheme based on performance evaluations that foster competition among teachers. While academic studies have focused on the shortcomings of teacher training, teachers’ motivations for entering the career, and teachers’ school placement policies, little is known about teacher perceptions associated with the changes introduced by this law. It is important to understand teacher perceptions because their compliance and understanding of the law will determine its ability to affect student learning outcomes. This study fills this gap by shedding light on how teachers in urban and rural areas perceive this law, how it might shape their roles as teachers, whether there are differences between urban and rural teacher perceptions, and the factors that motivate teachers. Identifying the factors that motivate teachers is important for understanding whether the 2012 Career Law offers incentives that teachers themselves identify as effectively increasing educational quality and student learning outcomes. Based on qualitative fieldwork conducted with 70 teachers in Cajamarca, the findings of this study show that few teachers perceive that the 2012 Teacher Career Law will increase educational quality or improve learning outcomes for students. Furthermore, the study identifies how teachers perceive their roles as teachers, their motivations for entering the profession, and finds variation in rural and urban teachers’ perceptions of the law. From a policy perspective, this study provides insights into how to better evaluate and incentivize teachers to improve their performance in the classroom.