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August 10, 2015 - 11:20 ( Brasília )

Peru’s Armed Forces Provides Higher Education to Young Soldiers

Versão português

Paola García

Soldiers younger than 30 years old who have completed Peru's Voluntary Military Service can study at no cost at the Armed Forces’ Public Institute of Higher Technological Studies (IESTPFFAA), which President Ollanta Humala and Minister of Defense Jakke Valakivi opened on June 26 in Lima.

The institute began operations on July 1 with 720 students and 60 professors, and courses available in five majors: Computer Science and Information Technology; Industrial Electronics; Production Mechanics; Automobile Mechanics; and Civil Construction. And in 2016, the IESTPFFAA will expand its academic offerings to include an additional seven professional technical majors: Machinery Maintenance; Forest Resource Management; Hotel Management; Systems Analysis; Mining; Food Services Industries; and Topography.

“The goal is that at the end of the first three years, which is how long each of the majors takes, we will have 7,000 students in 12 courses of study that will make up the educational project,” Rear Admiral Luis Peralta Guzmán, director of he institute, said.

To accommodate those students, the campus itself -- located at Major General Rafael Hoyos Rubio Fort, an Army base in the Lima district of Rímac -- will grow as well. “In a maximum of three years, the total projected capacity of the institute will include a 19-hectare campus.”

Responding to the country’s need for technicians

The Military created the institute to meet the country’s demands for professional technicians in the production sector.

“We conducted a study and held workshops with business unions, and we determined which majors were in the greatest demand in the production sector. These are majors that are going to contribute to closing the gap for professional technicians that are in demand in the labor market, which will contribute to economic growth and will increase that sector’s competitiveness.”

To get these benefits tuition-free at IESTPFFA, Troops must satisfy three requirements. First, they they must have completed two years of Voluntary Military Service in any of Peru's Armed Forces’ branches; second, they must be younger than 30 years old; and third, they must have completed secondary school. Those who meet these requirements will also receive a stipend to cover personal expenses, such as housing and food, thanks to an agreement between IESTPFFAA and the Beca 18 government program.

“We want these educational opportunities not to be limited to discharged service members who happen to reside in Lima, but for this program also to be affordable for those who live in the provinces,” Rear Adm. Peralta said.

A presidential initiative

This educational initiative rewards young people who have rendered Military service, Minister Valakivi said during the IESTPFFAA opening ceremonies.

“This is one of the most important academic achievements for the defense sector and for the government. The institute offers a quality higher-education experience in technology to young adults who have served in the Military. It also projects to the community one of the principle roles of the defense sector in the current environment, which is to contribute to national development.”

To that end, IESTPFFAA fulfills a pledge made by President Humala during a speech at his presidential inauguration in 2011, according to Rear Adm. Peralta.

“After the president’s announcement, the minister of Defense began working on this educational project as a public investment project, which has come to life today and boasts a campus outfitted with the latest equipment and technology.”

Specifically, the institute has laboratories, workshops, equipment, and furniture for each of the five majors being offered, and new facilities will be added gradually to accommodate future majors. There, students will work through a three-year course of study, divided into six academic semesters and including English classes. Upon completion, graduates will be granted a nationally-certified associate’s degree as professional technicians in their chosen specialties.

“Under our educational model for associate’s degrees, we grant certificates for progressive modules, that is, as students advance in their major, they obtain certificates that will enable them to join the labor force without needing to complete the entire course of studies.”

To assist graduates in finding employment, IESTPFFAA plans to sign agreements to create partnerships with business unions. Authorities expect this educational opportunity will be an incentive for youth to join the Peruvian Military, which has been voluntary since 1999, Rear Adm. Peralta added.

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