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The fourth block the presidential debate between Pedro Castillo (Free Peru) Y Keiko Fujimori (Popular Force), organized by the National Elections Jury (JNE), was dedicated to education, science and innovation. Everything focused on improving infrastructure and conditions for teachers. Science was relegated to the background.

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This was one of the blocks of the debate in which many coincidences were found in the proposals of both candidates. Trade He consulted some specialists, who highlighted some offers, but missed more detail on how to fulfill them.

“Both candidates have raised some ideas, but very disjointed. In particular, I believe that the issue of science, technology and innovation is not a priority for applicants “says Pavel Corilloclla, Doctor of Science and Technology Policy from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex.

“Due to the brief proposals that were made, it seems that in the next five years it will be difficult to reverse our historical delay due to the development of knowledge and its putting at the service of our social and productive progress, however, it should be recognized that the fact that the subject of science and technology was dealt with in conjunction with basic education did not help the candidates to deal with the subject in greater depth “, said Dr. Fabiola León-Velarde, former president of Concytec.

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In education

In this aspect, Keiko Fujimori (Popular Force) He offered to give priority to the vaccination of teachers, as well as the appointment of 50,000 new teachers and compliance with the Constitutional Court’s resolution to comply with the payment of the social debt to teachers. In addition, he promised the purchase of 6 million computers with free Internet access (subsidized by his eventual government).

Likewise, it offered the modernization of abandoned schools and the construction of 3,000 new schools in the country; and also an additional S / 300 million to strengthen the Beca 18 program.

For its part, Pedro Castillo (Free Peru) promised a structural change in the educational curriculum. It reaffirmed the offer of free admission to public universities and the need for each region to have a pedagogical university for the training of better teachers.

In addition, he proposed the decentralization of national universities, such as San Marcos or UNI, with a presence in the northern, central and southern macro-regions.

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“Both of them, on the subject of basic education, have mentioned the same thing, with the implementation of computers, of improving access to the network. In the case of Pedro Castillo, he better defined the problem [de la educación] for the same reason that he is a teacher. And it is definitely a structural problem, which has other aspects that are not only having more computers, teacher training or having more internet, but also the issue of malnourished children and other similar problems “, explains to this newspaper Francisco Rumiche, dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Engineering of the PUCP.

Fujimori offered the strengthening of Sunedu. “Precisely, if we want to be a competitive country we have to ensure the quality of education. The candidate Castillo did not mention anything about it ”, Rumiche added.

In this regard, León-Velarde stressed that it is an important measure for the development of science and technology and innovation, “Since the promulgation of the University Law in 2014, which led to the creation of Sunedu, Peruvian scientific publications increased 2.5 times, due to a rigorous follow-up of basic quality standards, including the promotion of the investigation”.

Regarding Castillo’s offer to allow free access to public universities, Rumiche considers that it is a serious contradiction: “Part of college life is being competitive. And if you do not have the way to measure admission to a higher education center, you could not ensure competitiveness. In addition, that would open the door for the vast majority of young people to decide on a higher education, leaving aside another important part that is the technical professions. All of this must be thought out and structured in such a way as to feed the development of our country ”.

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Science and innovation

On these issues, the Fuerza Popular candidate emphasized the promotion of public policies for the return of Peruvian researchers abroad, as well as an incentive to increase the registration of national patents.

For his part, the Peru Libre applicant reconfirmed his proposal to create a ministry of science, technology and research. It will also allocate a budget for research and announced that Internet access would be a priority and free.

“Due to the brief proposals that were made, it seems that in the next five years it will be difficult to reverse our historical delay due to the development of knowledge and its putting at the service of our social and productive progress. However, it should be recognized that the fact that the subject of science and technology was discussed together with basic education did not help the candidates to treat the subject in greater depth “, reflected the former president of Concytec.

“The possibility of generating capacities for the future through a ministry is interesting, but there are still many obstacles […] Perhaps, from a general proposal that Mr. Castillo launches to create the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research, one might think that he has at least one idea of ​​public policy in mind. On the other hand, there is no more clarity about it. This issue is not a priority “, says Corilloclla.

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Regarding the creation of a science ministry, Rumiche believes that perhaps what is needed first is to strengthen institutions like Concytec. “It would be necessary to feed them with a better budget so that they continue with that line of work. Within the little that has been assigned to them, they have been doing well. In a pandemic, many researchers have generated products that are helping us overcome it, such as ventilators, molecular tests, etc. In those cases, perhaps one of the alternatives is to strengthen what already exists and not generate a new bureaucracy “.

In this regard, Dr. León-Velarde indicates that, just as there are advantages, there are disadvantages in this regard. “A ministry would give science and technology a formal status in the executive branch structure, greater budget bargaining power, and a more horizontal deal with the other ministries. Among the disadvantages is the high instability typical of every head of the sector, which would complicate the continuity of the public policy essential for its success. The cross-cutting nature of science and technology activities and policies is also sacrificed; and the scarce resources available today would be invested in adapting the institutional structure to the requirements of the executive power law, to the detriment of scientific research ”.

León-Velarde stressed that both candidates committed to substantially increase investment in science, technology and innovation, “which is essential to consider to promote it.” However, it considers that such investment must be appropriately distributed with meritocratic criteria and based on well-defined national priorities, both socially and productively.

Finally, Pavel Corilloclla considers that in this part of the debate a great opportunity was missed to answer about the possibilities of industrialization based on technology. “That was one of the questions from the public in the economy bloc, but none could give an answer and they went to any other topic. That makes us think that they do not conceive of science, technology and innovation as the engine of economic development ”.

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