The School of Silence: Break the silence, bring forth that which is hidden

Spanish: La escuela del silencio

French: L’ecole du silence

María, Ana and Rosa are three Peruvians who do not know each other, yet they share the same situation: being girls in a school and in a society that limits and evades them, for which they are invisible. This is why in different urban and rural areas of the Coast, Andean and Amazon regions we strive to listen to their voices, retrace their spaces and communities, and get close to their daily lives. This video undertaking resulted in a rich learning process, where reality far surpasses what is extracted from statistics, educational research, and the voices of experts. María, Ana and Rosa are a living testimony to this.

Inequality and poverty in Peru has a female face – more precisely, that of a child. The situation worsens for a girl living in a rural area, and is even direr if she is rural and indigenous. This is why through our approach to these real life testimonials we aim to raise awareness and engage society at large, especially those responsible for education policies, ensuring that boys and girls enjoy quality education, free of violence and discrimination, enabling them to enter and finish school at a timely age.

In order to achieve this, it is important to also remove beliefs, stereotypes and situations of inequality that create barriers and less opportunities, which keep girls and female adolescents away from school. Among them are the amount of domestic chores, the dangers they face walking the long roads to school, and the low expectations that the educational community has towards them simply because they are women and face poverty.

Some data best illustrate the situation. In Peru, 12% of adolescent girls ages 15 to 19 are pregnant. In rural areas the percentage increases to 19%, and in the Amazon this figure rises to 25% (ENDES_INEI, 2012). For women between 17 and 18 years old, the rate of timely completion of secondary school is 77% in urban areas, and only 43% in rural areas (Unit of Educational Statistics, Ministry of Education, 2012).

So far, the video “School of Silence” has been used in training procedures for public officials from government institutions, such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Women, in academic activities at universities and institutes, teacher training processes, as well as spaces for dialogue and reflection amongst adolescents. It has received over 57,000 views on YouTube.

Continued interest in the educational situation of girls will ensure that this situation is taken into account by Peruvian society at large and the Peruvian Government.

Learn more about UNICEF Peru’s work on education.

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