Spatial educational inequalities in Peru

Often, we think of the difference in the provision of education and educational resources between countries, but what about within them?

In developing countries, gaps in the access to education and academic achievement can differ greatly between urban, peri-urban and rural areas. The population and provision for education tend to be higher in more urban areas, with people often moving to these locations to access schooling (if this is within their means). However, this movement also leads to the growth of peri-urban areas, with potentially varying provision. Depending on resource prioritisation, access to educational opportunities and achievement can differ significantly by the type of location.

Education policy will play a role in bridging geographic gaps in education. It can be supported by a better understanding of the variation in resource prioritisation and pupil achievement between different areas and the factors that contribute to the variation.


A new research project, led by Dr Sonja Fagernas with contributions from Dr Panu Pelkonen (U. of Sussex) and Dr Edwin Cohaila and Ms Adriana Urrutia of Universidad Antonio Ruiz de Montoya of Peru, will study the evolution of spatial inequalities in primary education in the middle-income country of Peru between 2006-2019. The project aims to separate the roles of population and area characteristics from the distribution of public resources and politics. Peru was chosen partly because, unlike many other low and middle-income countries, it has high-quality census data on schools and pupil performance which will be used as a resource for this research.

Research Approach 

This project will investigate the following two research questions:

  • Spatial inequalities in learning – using available data to observe two factors: the heterogeneity of pupils or families (in terms of variables such as socioeconomic status, language, gender and ethnicity) and the differences in the quality of the school system and learning.
  • Political underpinnings of educational resources and learning – the processes involved in educational policy and decision making, as well as political under-representation, may lead to some areas being neglected, with education policy being implemented in over 200 school districts.

These questions will be explored by using statistical and econometric data analysis, as well as more descriptive analysis of education policies and decisions in politics. School census data over the span of 12 years, and data on school performance in standardized tests, will be used to study geographic patterns, teaching materials, characteristics of schools and performance of children. Socio-economic factors will also be analysed using the national household survey data (ENAHO).

Impact and outreach 

The findings of this research will be directly relevant for education policy and political processes in Peru, as well as for a number of developing countries in similar conditions. Longitudinal and spatial analysis of educational resources and outcomes is still limited for developing countries, and therefore this project offers a contribution to the literature and policy debate. The findings will be communicated to academics and policymakers in Peru via a workshop and briefings.

Project Partners 

  • Antonio Ruiz De Montoya University, Lima