Education aspirations among young people in Peru and their perceptions of barriers to higher education

Education aspirations among young people in Peru and their perceptions of barriers to higher education

Results from the Young Lives survey show the existence of a gap between young people’s aspirations for higher education and their actual chances of accessing this level of education. This paper uses qualitative information from Young Lives in order to gain a deeper understanding of young people’s aspirations as well as their perceptions of the main barriers preventing them from achieving these aspirations. More specifically we analyse how aspirations are formed, to what extent they are related to parents’ educational aspirations for their children, and if they are stable or tend to change over time.

The authors find high educational aspirations among low-income young people and their caregivers and establish that education is highly valued by Peruvian families. The aspirations of young people and their caregivers are influenced by caregivers’ educational history and experiences. The longitudinal nature of the data, both quantitative and qualitative, allowed us to identify that young people’s, and particularly caregivers’, educational aspirations were not static and changed over time, mainly in response to changes in the socio-economic status of the family.

The study also identified several barriers preventing low-income youth in urban and rural areas from realising their educational aspirations. Besides economic and psychological barriers (mainly experienced as lack of family support), the results of this paper point out to the existence of additional barriers such as a lack of information available to secondary school seniors (and their parents) about higher education (what and where to study and how to apply) and the fact that schools are not playing an active role in preparing students for a transition to higher education. Based on these results, the study discusses policy recommendations aimed at overcoming those barriers.