Only half of the 15-year-olds in Latin America and the Caribbean achieve a minimum proficiency in reading skills.
This worrying data is just one of those that appears in the report All and all without exception, produced by the team of the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report), the Regional Office of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean from UNESCO (Oreal) and the Laboratory for Research and Innovation in Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (Summa)
The report argues that only 63 percent of youth in the region complete high school. In addition, it shows that learning outcomes in the region were already low even before the arrival of the covid-19 pandemic, and behind this would be the fact that Latin America continues to be the part of the world with the greatest inequality.
A clear example of this is that the 20 percent of students in the wealthiest part of the population are on average five times more likely to complete secondary education than the poorest 20 percent.
But this would not be an exclusively economic problem. Racial issues, physical disabilities, and even gender identity can significantly influence access to education.
An example of this is the illiteracy of indigenous people, which in countries like Paraguay and Honduras reaches 32 percent; textbooks that represent Afro-descendant and indigenous populations with stereotyped images, or the fact that people with disabilities are 10 percent less likely to access education.
Given this, Javier González, director of Summa assured that “the educational systems of the region are not only characterized by their low quality, but also by their high levels of inequality and social exclusion. This problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
For this reason, we must urgently invest and reform our educational systems to develop their capacity to adapt to the particular needs of their students and territories, recognizing, valuing and building on diversity, as an essential and constitutive element of educational quality. ”
The report, which contains more than one hundred pages of analysis, assesses the conditions of education in the region on issues such as investment, laws and policies, curricula, teachers, family environments, schools and the impact of the pandemic.
Regarding the latter, it should be noted that in Latin America and the Caribbean it was possible to provide education in the midst of the crisis to 91 percent of the students through television, radio, technological platforms and physical guides. This places the region well above the world average of 69 percent coverage.
At this point, initiatives such as Digital Learning and Content for All developed by the Ministry of Education of Colombia stand out as an example, as they are platforms with online activities and resources in accordance with the curricular plan that have been used by teachers and students of all the country.
One of the main obstacles encountered in terms of the provision of educational services in Colombia was with regard to inclusion, a problem that comes from the training of teachers.
55 percent of teachers in the country say they need to develop skills to teach students with special needs.
There is also the fact that, in indigenous populations, teachers are not required to have knowledge of the language of the community in which they teach, which leads to having teachers who teach classes in Spanish to children whose mother tongue is another.
Faced with this problem, Claudia Uribe, director of Oreal affirmed: “There is an expectation that teachers will have strategies to compensate for these disadvantages, but it will be difficult to do so if they do not have the tools and training to do so.
Two-thirds of the countries say they will train teachers on inclusion in the region, but the data indicates that this is not yet the case in practice ”.
There is also evidence of a lack of equity in the distribution of resources. This led to the populations with the highest percentages of Afro-descendant population being also those with the lowest per capita investment in education, health and infrastructure