President Kuczynski swore in his new Education minister, Marilu Martens, on Sunday afternoon at the government palace and vowed that his government’s education reform will continue.
“We have to run, there’s no time to lose here,” the President said.
Martens, the sixth woman in the Cabinet, has worked for many years in both private and public education. Since 2013 she has worked closely with her predecessor, Jaime Saavedra, and most recently in specialized education. She was the first academic and general director of the Colegio Mayor, the first state boarding school for high achievers. The high achiever program, COAR, was begun during Alan Garcia’s administration and is now being implemented in several regions of the country.
Former Education minister Jaime Saavedra, an experienced educator who headed the portfolio since 2013 in Ollanta Humala’s administration, was censured by Congress last week in a vicious weeks-long attack by the majority opposition of Keiko Fujimori’s Fuerza Popular party.
The stated reason for the censure was a questioned purchase of computers by the Education Ministry and the slow implementation of works for the 2019 Pan American Games, both issues fully explained during his question time in Congress. However, according to almost all political analysts, the real reason was to undermine the so-called University Law, enacted last year, that seriously curtails discretionary budget decisions by the administrators of public and private universities that receive government funding or subsidies. The universities hit most harshly are the private institutions that heavily fund political parties and politicians, and particularly the Fuerza Popular and Apra parties. At least 26 members of Congress have close ties to these universities, which include Alas Peruanas, San Martin de Porres and Garcilaso de la Vega.
President Kuczynski called the attacks on “my” minister of Education “insulting,” adding that he had been “deeply hurt.”
Martens stated in her press conference that the education reform initiated by Saavedra will “definitely continue” while she is minister.