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Sara Encinas (2004)

Sara Encinas

Sara Encinas

Taking a look at Peru’s development over the last three decades allows me to analyze the real development achieved in terms of the population. I am not sure that investment has brought about long term results. We are still talking about sustainability when it is very likely that after a millionaire intervention things will not be sustained. This is not a pessimistic approach. I am only depicting reality as I perceive it from my own point of view. Peru now has an annual economic growth of 5.4% and is no longer the ugly duckling for Europe and the rest of the world. Actually, we are now allowed to enter the Shenghen States without a visa. However, Peru is the most unequal country in Latin America and the Caribbean. Economic growth has brought wealth to a very few. It has reduced extreme poverty, but the gap between those who have and those who have not has widened. Social problems have become more serious, and violence has not entirely vanished as a way of settling our differences. Peru has problems due to poor management of the extraction of mineral resources owing to pollution of the most treasured resource of the 21st century: water; i.e., lakes, lagoons, rivers, ravines, and the ocean. Poor management of natural resources has also contributed to the disappearance of flora and fauna. Fauna needs forests and forests in turn need fauna to live. Amazon forests are being destroyed. According to IBC (2013), around 500 km2 of forests are lost every year due to illegal logging, informal mining, trafficking of drugs among other reasons. Sixty-four species are in danger of extinction and over five hundred endangered, affected by deforestation, mining and climate change (Ministry of Agriculture).

It is true that we have grown economically, but our achievements in education leave much to be desired. In 2013 we ranked last according to the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test. The worst part of all is that 67% of our students from second grade in primary school, according to national tests (ECE – 2013) do not understand what they read and 83.2% cannot handle the basic math operations for that grade. We still have wide gaps between the education provided in rural areas and the education provided in urban areas, aside from the fact that being a Quechua speaking person or speaking a language other than Spanish is synonymous with backwardness and limited opportunities. This is why native parents often refuse to have their children study in their own language. We are losing our languages, the legacy of our ancestors, and with this a way of looking at life and understanding the world. A language is more than a few phonetic sounds. It is a bridge of communication between people, cultures and knowledge.

The 21st century demands us to address other issues and subjects that were not necessary or were not part of our agenda before. Much of what we have done in terms of development is not consistent with what we need today as humankind. Other problems have emerged and others that we had before have become more acute.

At this time in history perhaps it is necessary to change the way we focus our own development. Perhaps the greatest challenge will be to work closer to children, young people and adults in schools and elsewhere, where the key question to ask ourselves should be: what is our legacy for those to come after us? What are we leaving for the children of our children? What efforts will be required to distribute wealth in a more equitable way? How can we renew our commitment to Mother Earth? We have to recall that we live in an ecosystem, everything is interconnected and everything in turn is related to man. If we are out of balance with the ecosystem, this will affect us in the way we relate with one another and with all the resources that are necessary for our survival. To honor who we really are we need to honor our cultural legacy generously left to us by our ancestors. If we lose this knowledge, it will be like losing ourselves without a compass in a big desert or in a big forest without knowing where to go or where to start. We need to open up new conversations between ourselves and give ourselves the opportunity to propose a new vision of future as a country, where we will be the protagonists of our own history.
Sara Encinas
MA in Development Studies 2003-2004
Presently works for private companies and the Government. She has integrated ontological coaching and life coaching in her development work.

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