Take physic, pomp

21st century Peru

So how are textbooks for schools devised and written in Peru? It’s a pretty simple process, really. Firstly the Ministry of Education along with the government office in charge runs a licitation process, setting out the guidelines of what it wants to be included and then tendering for experts and professionals who are then contracted to write the textbook. The book gets written, the publishers print it and before you know it the words are carried around in backpacks and satchels of schoolchildren up and down the country who then learn, in the way set out by their government and written by the chosen experts, what their country wants them to learn.

In other words, a fairly standard process. But when the outline of what the government wants taught to schoolchildren is influenced by the über-orthodox Catholics of Opus Dei, a group that wields much power in the country, then strange things start happening. Take for example the very recent licitation to write the “Methodological Guide for Teachers and Autodidactic Modules for the Elaboration of Sexual Education and Sexual and Reproductive Health for Students in Alternative Basic Education”. For this textbook, the government tendered for one psychologist, a doctor specialized in sexual matters and an educational sociologist. So far so normal, but amongst the subjects, according to the government at least, the textbook needed to clearly explain to Peru’s youth that;

“…homosexuality, transvestitism, voyeurism, masturbation and prostitution are deviations of sexual expresivity and behaviour”.

When this hit the media and the guy in charge of the whole licitation process was interrogated, we were told that “there seems to have been a mistake made” and that “he had no idea who had written this outline“.

How these people must hate the press and their so-called ‘human rights’, eh?

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