Editorial Dept. Voz de la Diaspora
The NGO Educo presents its new report “COVID 19: Impact of the pandemic and its consequences on education”, where he denounces that the pandemic has accelerated inequalities in education and has increased the lack of protection for children who live on the poverty line and those who suffer discrimination based on their identity, social origin, migrant status, disability, among other situations that determine educational opportunities.
Educo considers that COVID-19 has damaged the social elevator that allows the reduction of inequalities. The measures implemented by the states have been insufficient to reach large sectors of the vulnerable population that, in the absence of connectivity and adequate tools, have not benefited from distance learning.
“Thousands of boys and girls will not go back to school, and it is something that we have been seeing for months in our field work. They have not been able to follow the classes because in the places where they live there is no adequate infrastructure for the Internet to reach, they don't have the technological materials, their teachers are not prepared to teach at a distance and their families cannot support them because the priority is to work and get money to survive. Because, from Educo we ask that, insofar as sanitary conditions allow, schools remain open to guarantee access to education for students who cannot study remotely ", explains Pilar Orenes, CEO of Educo.
The digital divide has been a determining factor in the exclusion of students with fewer resources. In the region, children, girls and adolescents have limited access to electronic devices and, although network connectivity has increased, they depend a lot on mobile telephony, with very limited data. Half of the schoolchildren in 3 a 17 years you have not had Internet access at home and there are great differences in access by social class. For example, in Bolivia only 4 % of families living in poverty have Internet at home, while among the richest the rate is 34 and the 38 %.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the combination of school dropouts and few employment opportunities translates into a high number of young people who do not even study, nor does he work, nor is he in training, situation in which they are 23 millions of people, appearing more pronounced among women.
The report also shows how not being able to go to school is affecting other children's rights, like the right to food. Late 2020, the number of food insecure people had increased by 121 millions. In America The closure of schools affected the School Feeding Programs (PAE) of those who benefit 85 million students. School meals are the main source of food and nutrition security for 10 millions of children from vulnerable families, a number that can increase. “Food is basic to guarantee development and learning. For many children in our projects, the school is also a space in which they are assured at least one complete and healthy meal a day that they would not have at home ", explains the general director of Educo.
Other rights violated during these months has been the right to protection and well-being of children. Educo remembers that school is a safe space for children, and adolescents, since there they run less risk of suffering all kinds of violence, while, by dropping out of school they are at risk of being victims of child labor, treats her, child marriage or early pregnancy.
"We have found in the 14 countries in which we work that the devastating effect that the closure of schools has had in countries of the Americas. With the health emergency due to COVID-19, reproductive health and family planning services have reduced the number of visits. At the same time, the closure of schools left many girls and adolescents without a key space for protection against violence and other violations of their rights, like forced marriage and early pregnancy ". Complaint Pilar Orenes. In other countries, like El Salvador, the fact of having the schools closed led to an increased risk of being victims of the so-called “gangs” and of suffering all kinds of abuses, such as rapes or robberies and, even, be killed.
An achievement in the region had been the reduction of child labor. Nonetheless, there are still 10,5 million children, and adolescents (the 7,3 % population of 7 a 17 years) who work without having reached the minimum age for employment and the figure may increase by up to 300 thousand for the devastating impact of the pandemic.
One year after the start of the pandemic, more of 800 million students are still subjected to measures that have radically altered their education, good for the total closure of the centers (31 countries) or because they opted for a reduced school calendar, part time (in 48 countries). It is estimated that in 2020 schools were closed on average 3,5 months, but in some cases the students have been away from the classrooms for a year.
Educo is a global cooperation NGO for development, focused on education, the protection and participation of children, which acts on 14 countries through projects involving more than 800.000 children, girls, teenagers and young people.