This experimental joint management program was developed to meet the needs of youth in Umasi and Raccaya, many of whom are not able to continue their education beyond elementary school. Lack of access to higher education is due mainly to three obstacles: first, residents in faced pervasive poverty; second, the towns are relatively distant from the district capital where the municipality’s secondary schools are located; and, third, persistent gender marginalization within local families ensures boys rather than girls attend high school. In order to rectify the relative lack of educational opportunity in these two communities, local leaders and civil society organizations in both towns banded together to raise funds and lobby the larger municipal government for resources to build new educational centers for their children.
In order to increase the availability of secondary school education to a wider group of citizens, reformers in the region of Ayacucho established two new education centers under the shared management of Umasi, Raccaya, and the larger municipality of Canaria. These education centers depend on a varying staff of either three or four instructors per year, who are paid in part by these communities and in part by the municipality, with an additional contribution from the Local Education Management Unit of the federal government. In addition, Umasi and Raccaya supply lodging for the instructors, staffing assistance for the education centers, and labor for construction of permanent facilities for each new school. These schools serve not only to give the local population easier access to secondary education, but also to encourage local farmers to enroll their children in higher-level education.
In coordinating participation among communities in improving education for local residents, reformers have successfully educated over 80 youth in Umasi and 60 youth in Raccaya, 50 percent of whom have been women. The initiative has already employed eight instructors in both schools. By relying on a networked, intercommunity approach to education development, innovators were able to involve civil agents and to campaign for larger municipal economic and logistical support for the program.
The benefits of this program have been clear: by marshalling the municipal government’s resources to build two new schools, reformers have been able to provide young people in Umasi and Raccaya with educational opportunities in their own towns. They have also been able to include a high percentage of young women in the new education initiative, combating their previous educational disenfranchisement.
Given that the initiative was initially community-driven and that building projects remained the responsibility of civil organizations, activists have been able to maintain a feeling of pride and ownership over the construction of each new school. The maintenance of each facility can become the responsibility of local leadership rather than the municipality. These cooperative, strategic allocations of responsibility and resources have generated a sense of trust between the communities and the municipality.