ECLAC warns of a crisis in education

SANTIAGO (HPD) — The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean warned Thursday of the education crisis in the region, which suffered the greatest paralysis in the world during the pandemic, with an average of 70 weeks of school closures compared to the 41 from the rest of the countries.

In its annual report Social Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2022, the agency warned that if action is not taken, this will affect the educational and employment trajectory of the younger generations.

José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, executive secretary of ECLAC, pointed out at a press conference that “we are facing a cascade of crises that has exacerbated inequalities and deficiencies in the region.”

ECLAC projected that regional poverty in 2022 will be 32.1%, which translates into 201 million people, and that extreme poverty will be 13.1%, some 82 million people. The figures reflect a slight decrease in poverty and a slight increase in extreme poverty compared to the previous year.

“The projected levels of extreme poverty in 2022 represent a setback of a quarter of a century for the region,” said the international organization.

The study indicated that 45% of the child and adolescent population lives in poverty, which affects women more than men and is considerably higher in the indigenous and Afro-descendant population.

In terms of unemployment, he estimated that this year it will stand at 11.6%, more than two points higher than in 2019, which represents a setback of 22 years.

Salazar-Xirinachs indicated that it has not been possible to reverse the effects of the pandemic in terms of poverty, which has an even greater impact on education, for which reason he called on countries to invest more in education and to turn the crisis into an opportunity to transform the Educational systems.

It stressed that the prolonged closure of schools “exacerbated pre-existing inequalities in access, inclusion and quality”.

The document specified that during 2021 in eight of 12 countries in the region, more than 60% of the population under 18 years of age did not have connectivity in their homes. He added that the percentage of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who neither study nor work for pay rose from 22.3% in 2019 to 28.7% in 2020.

If action is not taken now, there is a risk of “permanent scarring” on young people, ECLAC emphasized.

Salazar-Xirinachs concluded that intersectoral public policy efforts are needed to link the educational offer with health, work and social protection.

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