Wednesday, January 29, 2014

UNESCO Report Highlight LatAm Education Woes

A new report from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found that millions of children in Latin America and the Caribbean are not receiving an adequate education.

According to the UNESCO’s 2013/4 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, more than 2.5 million children do not go to school even though the primary school matriculation rate in the region is about 95%.  One of the reasons for this is that many students at an early age drop out such as in Guatemala where 98% of kids are enrolled in elementary school yet 79% complete that level.

Additionally, the report found that roughly one out of every ten children of elementary school age have not been learning basic reading skills.  The scale of this problem varies from country to country; for instance, at least 95% of primary school age children in Argentina, Cuba and Mexico have basic reading skills compared to less than 80% in Nicaragua, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic.

According to the UNESCO study, youth from poorer households are more likely to be illiterate than those from wealthier backgrounds.  In Haiti, for example, 58% of the poorest young people are illiterate against a scant 8% among those from rich families. Meanwhile 10% of the poorest Colombian fifteen-year-old students obtained the minimum standards in math versus 55% of their wealthiest peers.

Other barriers affecting learning include residing in rural areas that often suffer due to a lack of teachers and resources as well as belonging to an indigenous or ethnic minority where the language used in the classroom may not be one that they speak.

Despite the income gap, the UNESCO study noted that children in several countries throughout the region also lack basic skills in mathematics.  In the case of Chile, 20% of elementary school age children did not reach the minimum standard in math even though nearly all kids have acquired basic reading skills.

“What’s the point in an education if children emerge after years in school without the skills they need?” declared Pauline Rose, the director of the UNESCO report.  “The huge numbers of illiterate children and young people mean it is crucial that equality in access and learning be placed at the heart of future education goals”.

Among the recommendations made in the study is the need for Latin American countries to create new education goals that make sure that all children attend school and receive a good education.  The UNESCO also urged governments to work diligently to retain good teachers by providing them with adequate pay and also to provide needed training so they may best help “disadvantaged learners.”
The education problems in Latin America and the Caribbean are a part of a “global education crisis” that has a high cost worldwide:
A crisis in global education is costing governments $129bn a year, while 10 percent of spending on primary learning is lost on poor quality education that is failing children, a new report by UNESCO has said.

The report...released on Wednesday, says that one in four young children in poor countries are unable to read and that 5.2 million teachers need to be recruited by 2015.

It warns that a lack of trained teachers could see this learning crisis last for several generations.
About 175 million young people in poor countries – equivalent to around one quarter of the youth population – cannot read all or part of a sentence.
In 2011 the UNESCO noted that over half of sixth graders in sixteen Latin American states claimed they were the victims of bullying and harassment.  In response to this growing danger of school violence, youth in countries like Ecuador have initiated campaigns to call attention to this problem and urge government and school officials to take greater action. 
Video Source– teleSUR via YouTube

Online Sources – UNESCO; Al Jazeera English; El Tiempo; El Tel├ęgrafo

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