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College of Education > News and Publications > 2020: 04-06 news > Alumnus named Peruvian minister of education

Alumnus named Peruvian minister of education

Penn State alumnus Martín Benavides is the newest Peruvian Minister of Education. He took the oath of office in February.

Martin Benavides
Peruvian President Martín Vizcarra, left, swore-in Penn State alumnus Martin Benavides as the country’s minister of education in February.
Penn State alumnus Martín Benavides is the newest Peruvian Minister of Education. He took the oath of office in February.

“Being asked to serve as the Minister of Education for Peru is a high honor and a major responsibility. Education for the nation still has a way to go to reach its full potential,” Benavides said. “My training at Penn State in the College of Education and then in sociology in the College of the Liberal Arts has proved invaluable to my career in education policy research and now policy formation. I’m very grateful for the time I spent at Penn State.”

Benavides is an expert in educational policies, sociology of education, social stratification and inequality, and youth.

He earned his master’s degree in education theory and policy and doctorate in sociology from Penn State. He also has a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and has been a visiting student on issues of social mobility and inequality at Nuffield College at the University of Oxford in England.

“While completing the masters in the College of Education, Martin brought a much-needed international perspective to education that greatly enriched our seminars and research,” said David Baker, professor of sociology, education, and demography.

Initiated around ideas emerging during his time at Penn State, some years later Benavides and Baker undertook unique research in Peru establishing how access to basic education enhances fundamental cognitive skills responsible for the development of IQ as part of a larger project on education’s role in rising population IQ over the 20th century.  

“Martin provided essential scientific leadership of an international team of researchers who went to isolated villages in the Peruvian Andeans to examine the impact of schooling on cognitive development, and then how enhanced cognitive development influenced various health and life decisions and behaviors among these subsistence-level farmers,” said Baker.

Benavides is a former director and senior researcher (on leave) at the Group for the Analysis of Development (GRADE), a private, nonprofit research center based in Lima, Peru. Before accepting his current role, Benavides was deeply involved in integrating best social science with formation of education policy, most recently developing an accreditation system for Peru’s growing universities.

Benavides also is a professor in the Department of Social Science at the Pontifical Catholic University, where he is a member of the Faculty Council and the Advisory Committee of Graduate Programs in Sociology.

By Annemarie Mountz (May 2020)