Public schools in Peru have an extremely bad reputation; and deservedly so. Unfortunately, quite often school buildings are in bad shape, classes are big, teachers underpaid and unmotivated while the educational standard is on an extremely low level as the last PISA study once again showed (Peru ranked on one of the bottom positions).
So, parents, Peruvian and foreign, across the country that have available facilities nearby and the financial means send their children to private schools or even better to an international school. While you can find local private schools, both good and bad, following the Peruvian curriculum in all the major cities in Peru, most, not all, international schools however are located in Lima.
Curriculum of international schools in Peru
Most international schools in Peru offer an education based on the North American or British curriculum, but you find as well international schools that follow the education system of Germany, Italy or France; and there are some schools offering an alternative education approach such as the Waldorf philosophy. Nevertheless, by law all schools in Peru additionally have to incorporate the Peruvian curriculum which includes classes in Spanish and Peruvian history/ science / social studies. School-leaving qualifications of students from international schools in Peru include the official Peruvian diploma, and usually an International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma (or equivalent) or an IGCSE certificate.
Peruvian school year and vacations
The Peruvian school year starts after the big summer holidays at the beginning of March and ends just before Christmas. For students coming to Peru from the northern hemisphere, where the school year usually starts in August or September this often means they either have to advance half a year or go back half a year.
The Peruvian school year is divided into two terms: the first from March to July and the second from August to December.
School holidays vary yearly a bit and depend as well on the school, but are usually a week in May, 2 to 3 weeks winter vacation in July, a week in October and the summer holidays from mid-December to the end of February.
To cater for children of expatriates that might only stay a few years in Lima, two schools in the Peruvian capital (Colegio Roosevelt and the International Christian School) follow the northern hemisphere school calendar starting the school year in August and ending it in June.
How to enroll into Peruvian international schools?
While foreign students that just moved to Peru can of course apply to be enrolled into an international school at any time and in any grade, usually children in Peru have to be registered for inscription the year before they enter the international school´s kindergarten.
It is common practice that the kids, as small as they are, have to pass an “entrance exam” (usually a play afternoon where the age-appropriate development is checked) and the parents are invited to an interview. Foreign students that just arrived in Peru also have to pass a placement test; their parents however often have to go through an interview and a financial background check. No matter if a kid enters the school in kindergarten or any other grade, the school then decides if the child and the parents fit into the school community.
Be aware that in Peru schools are more than just education institution. They are a place for the children and parents to network and make the “right” contacts important for the future. So, if you can afford to pay thousands of Dollars to have your child in one particular school, you can be assured he or she will study with Peru’s high society. With a rigorous selection process the school on the other hand wants to make sure that your child and you belong there.
Documents needed for applying to be enrolled can include, but may not be restricted to the child’s birth certificate and ID, parent’s degrees, certificate of employment and / or income statement, certificate issued by the previous school that you paid the school fees on time and leave without debts, payment of inscription fee and sometimes a recommendation letter from someone with ties to the school. If the documents are from abroad and not in Spanish, some schools demand an Apostille (or legalization from a Peruvian consulate abroad) and a translation. For information on exact requirements please get in contact with international school of your choice.
Costs of international schools in Peru
In general, an international education in Peru is quite expensive. Monthly fees range from more or less 1,000 Soles to over US$ 1,500, while one-time admission fees start at about 10,000 Soles and reach over US$ 18,000.
According to Peruvian law schools are only allowed to charge a one-time admission fee, a yearly enrollment fee and a monthly tuition. The admission fee has to be paid when the child enters the school, the enrollment fee usually in February of each year when the child is registered for the new school year and the tuition depending on the school 9 or 10 months per year.
School books and materials are sometimes provided by the school, but usually have to be bought and paid for additionally. An accident insurance for schoolchildren is obligatory in Peru, but most private health insurance plans already include one, so you don’t have to take out another insurance offered by the school.
List of recommended international and alternative schools in Peru
Below you can find a listing of recommended international schools in Peru. Most are in Lima, but a handful as well in Arequipa, Cusco and Trujillo. Click on the name of each school in the list below to open a detailed description page with information about offered grades and education systems, languages of instruction, additional languages, school-leaving qualifications and costs in 2018 including admission fee, enrollment fee and tuition. This information should give you a general overview of each school and a general idea about expenses. For more details, check out the website of the school(s) of your choice and get in contact with them.