Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We Need Material for ‘Sector De Hogar’

Last April 28 when we met in the village of Cruze Sandoval with all of the pronoei teachers of the Mochumi District, we asked each of them what they needed for their classrooms. Most of their wants were for the items we usually donate…chairs, tables, etc., but every one of them also asked for “material para sector de hogar” which translates to material for the home sector. We had never heard that request or term before and explained that we needed to understand what it was they were asking for and why. Their responses were both informative and fascinating.
Much of Peru is still considered to be what is described as a macho society. By ‘macho’ I don’t mean guys sitting around the house in wife-beater shirts swilling beer and occasionally getting up to beat their wives. Some of that does exist but not in the vast majority of households. What does exist is a clear division of labor that is not in favor of females. In the small villages what this means is men work in the fields while women clean the house, sweep the grounds, feed the kids and get them ready for school, feed the livestock, get water from the community well, cut or gather fire wood for cooking, go to town to purchase needed items, wash clothes and hang them to dry, shuck peas, beans and corn, kill and clean a chicken and cook everything in preparation for the man and children returning home for lunch. She performs similar tasks for the remainder of the day, finishing with laying out clean clothing for the man and kids to wear next day before turning of the lights.

The men’s routine is much simpler. When they’re not working in the fields, they usually can be found sitting in groups under a shade tree discussing whatever while drinking their favorite beverage…probably brought to them by their wives. Helping with household chores is not something men normally do, those chores being regarded as women’s duties. Remember, we’re talking about small villages here, but that mindset exists even in larger cities. 

Over the last few years there has been a growing movement of protests and programs aimed at eliminating physical and mental abuse toward women, and promoting respect for women in general. Late last year the Minister of Education in Lima added a course called home sector to all government schools curriculum. The purpose of the course is to promote respect for women and the work they do, and to teach young kids that men sharing household work is a good thing.

In the upper level grades the teaching is done by lecture. In the lower grades like kinder and pronoei, teaching is supposed to be accomplished by play-acting with the use of props simulating a home setting. We don’t know what if anything the government is supplying to national schools to assist with the program, but as always pronoeis are left to their own resources to get the job done.

In this photo of the pronoei in Carrizo Bajo there is a miniature table and chairs located lower right. That’s all they have so far to implement the program.

The pronoei in the village of San Miguel incorporates some of the classroom furniture with other items they’ve managed to find to more closely resemble an actual home setting.

The following are internet photos found while researching the subject of Sector de Hogar, probably taken in larger cities where the parents association has the resources to donate the items pictured.

We’re certainly in favor of eliminating spousal abuse. Less well defined is the issue of attempting to change the men-women relationship and division of labor culture that has been in place for centuries. I remember several of my older female relatives, including my mother and her sister, and a few celebrities like Dale Evans, the wife of Roy Rogers saying that women were perfectly satisfied with their role in the home and that equality of sexes was “nonsense”. It would not be surprising if it were learned that many Peruvian village women, especially the older ones have that same attitude.

The question we at Promesa Peru are asking ourselves is, would donating items for the Sector De Hogar program be in line with our definition of supporting education, or is it a social program better left to the villagers and local government to sort out? We’d welcome reader comments on this subject.


  1. Difficult question, I see the value in what they are trying to accomplish with the Sector De hogar program, but it is a social issue. It's always tricky to draw the line as to what should be taught in a school. The school environment in itself is a lesson of gender equality as every student has the opportunity to learn. You can also teach about Peruvian law that grantees equality or teach about the movement in Peru for equality.

    Of course I am looking at this from an outside perspective. If I knew more of the challenges that prevent parents from improving the lives of their children I may have a different opinion.

    In the end I believe supporting the Sector De Hogar program would be in line with Promesa Peru's sponsoring of modest projects where you are helping people help themselves.


  2. I would ask myself the question - what is it that the children in the schools at a very early age most need to learn? I think it is to get along with each other, to share and to dive in and contribute. What you donate gives the little ones a sense of common ownership, self-respect and dignity (classroom furniture, uniforms, etc.) that is a foundation for all the above, not to mention making school a bright and special place.

    Parental influence swamps anything that can be learned at school, in any society. If a father treats a mother unfairly, the best that a school can do to counter it is show how boys and girls are equals in whatever the class does, making props superfluous. Males as teachers would help greatly but I think in rural Peru it's more than can be expected.

    My vote would be to continue the contributions as in the past rather than stretching to include something of very limited value educationally.

    1. Our thanks to Marc and Clif for the well articulated responses. At Promesa Peru we take the position that redefining cultural roles in the family is best left to the family. Based on what we´ve seen, there is no continuity, uniformity or cohesiveness to the government`s Sector De Hogar program. The pronoei teachers seem to have no idea what they need or how to implement the program, which usually leads to failure. For those reasons we´ve decided not to get involved with the program.