Partnering with MineduLAB and the pedagogical team of the Ministry of Education of Peru, FOS Affiliate Román Andrés Zárate explores paths to support students’ socio-emotional and academic development and to amplify their lifelong growth prospects.

Starting from a shared interest to uncover how social skills are formed at schools, and where social skills intersect with students’ academic performance, MineduLAB (an innovation laboratory for cost-effective education policy of the Ministry of Education of Peru), the pedagogical team of this Ministry, and then PhD candidate at MIT, Román Andrés Zárate, joined forces in 2016. This partnership traces students’ skill development within secondary schools in Peru, and the influence of these skills in expanded prospects and opportunities as students transition into higher education.

MineduLAB is an evidence-driven innovation lab embedded in the Peruvian Ministry of Education. Their mandate is to pilot, evaluate and scale up cost-effective educational interventions. If an innovation is successful, the evidence is used to create and expand policies to benefit students nationwide. The model is built on a foundation of collaboration and co-creation with the pedagogical team of the Ministry of Education, and research partners, like Zárate.

Zárate’s work with MineduLAB and the pedagogical team of the Ministry of Education has expanded to encompass early and completed research projects. One completed project, a large-scale randomized control trial spanning two years of implementation, marked the beginning of this partnership. The study measured whether and how high school girls and boys developed social and academic skills after interacting with highly sociable or high-achieving peers.

The insights from this collaborative investigation illuminated the role of social skills in Peruvian schools, and served as a foundation for discussions in roundtables at the Ministry of Education. This partnership advanced an agenda that prioritizes and cares for students’ socio-emotional skills. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, this agenda became even more salient and necessary, heightening the significance of the emotional state of the educational community.

“The work with Román represented a fruitful partnership. Working with Román’s team was a success because they were open and receptive to the comments of public officials. By flexibly engaging with public officials and MineduLAB, we could establish a co-creation process bringing truth to both research and school practice.”

Vanessa Trujillo Lastra, Evaluation Specialist for Cost-Effective Innovations, MineduLAB

Partnership Leads