Salir Adelante (“Getting Ahead”)
Educational Sponsorships in Alto Cayma, Peru
Earning a living is a real challenge in Peru. With unemployment and underemployment ranging up to 50%, there is so much competition for employment that few people with just a high school education are able to land a decent job. Therefore many young people in Alto Cayma want to continue their education, but the problem is that their families are very poor, and student aid as we know it, in the form of scholarships, loans and student jobs, does not exist. Family incomes of only $200-300 are very common, and with 2, 3 or 4 children to raise, the family budget can’t stretch to cover higher education.
There is a public university in Arequipa (the National University of San Agustin) that doesn’t charge tuition. However, there are still expenses for books, suppies and materials, transportation, etc., which can amount to $75 a month. It is very competitive to get into the National University, and students have to prepare in an academy, which can cost $80 a month or more, for 3-12 months in order to pass the entrance exam. There are also several private universities in Arequipa providing good quality education, but at a higher cost. And finally, as an alternative to a professional degree, a certificate earned in a 3-year technical course is a good option for many, but the cost per year is comparable to that of studying in a university.
Since 2005, the Salir Adelante program has been providing economic support and guidance to students. Sponsors commit to provide between $75 and $125 a month (tax deductible), depending on what the student is studying and where. This aid is administered by Lidia Pizarro, who also provides guidance counseling through monthly meetings involving all the students, and 1-on-1 meetings with individual students. Keeping these students in school often requires that we help them solve problems that go beyond their studies and finances, such as problems with their families. We currently have 45 students receiving support through Salir Adelante. We have students studying Medicine, Nursing, Engineering and Education, to name a few. In technical institutes we have people studying in areas such as Heavy Equipment Operation and Maintenance, Information Technology, and Practical Nursing. Almost all these students are being sponsored by individuals, but in some cases the sponsor is a group, such as a Rotary Club.