Students spark drive for a punctual Peru

March 16, 2007

Students at a university in Peru have inspired an entire nation into making a solemn commitment to being punctual.

In December, students marched through the streets of Lima chanting the benefits of punctuality. With help from the local fire department, they sounded bells and sirens to announce new Peruvian time.

It seems that many were listening. This month, the Government of Peru launched a national campaign in which government officials, from the president to every public administrator, publicly committed to being on time. "Peruvian time," read a slogan, will be " la hora exacta ," the precise time. To the surprise of many Peruvians, who are accustomed to waiting "forever" for the President to arrive, the public ceremony began on time.

In the wake of the student action, a website has been launched to combat society's chronic tardiness by denouncing official meetings and ceremonies that begin late.

The idea began as an assignment in industrial engineering given by Fernán Muñoz during a course on industrial sales at the University of Ricardo Palma in Lima. Students were asked to promote a product most needed by Peru's industrial sector to improve productivity. The choice was unanimous: punctuality.

Professor Mu$oz impressed upon the students that without punctuality Peru would be "out of the race". President Alan Garc!a echoed that statement by announcing that in one year, Peru's workforce loses up to 3 billion working hours. Peru's national productivity could increase by one index point if Peruvians were punctual.

Mr Garc!a promised to dispel the image of tardiness that has plagued the presidency, and stated: "Ending tardiness also means bringing greatness to the nation."

The parade that followed the public ceremony to launch the campaign included a coffin that symbolised the death of the "Peruvian hour". At the stroke of 12, Mr Garc!a instructed every citizen of Peru to adjust their timepieces to the official hour in accordance with the presidential decree.

Details: El Perú Es Puntual (Peru Is Punctual) is at www.perupuntual.tk

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