Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas
AQ crunches the data on pandemic-triggered closures, dropout rates and more.

Graphic: The Hard Truth About Latin America’s Education Crisis

by Emilie Sweigart

This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on the education crisis

The region’s schools were already struggling. Now, more than 7 million Latin American children may grow up unable to read proficiently because of the pandemic, the World Bank says. Without urgent action, an entire generation may be left behind.

Reading levels were already lagging …

In 2019, half the region’s 10-year-olds were unable
to read and understand a simple text.

% of 10-year-olds below proficient reading level
Developed world average
 
9
Costa Rica
 
33
Chile
 
37
Uruguay
 
42
Mexico
 
43
Brazil
 
48
Colombia
 
49
Regional average
 
51
Argentina
 
54
Peru
 
56
Ecuador
 
63
Guatemala
 
67
Panama
 
67
Nicaragua
 
70
Paraguay
 
74
Honduras
 
75
Dominican Republic
 
81
NOTE: FIGURES ROUNDED TO NEAREST PERCENTAGE. SOURCE: WORLD BANK, OCTOBER 2019

… and then Latin America had the world’s longest
COVID-related school shutdowns.

% of school weeks that were partially or
fully closed from March 2020 to November 2021
Oceania
 
14
Sub-Saharan Africa
 
43
Europe and North America
 
44
Eastern and Southeastern Asia
 
58
Central and Southern Asia
 
63
Northern Africa and Western Asia
 
69
Latin America and the Caribbean
 
71
NOTES: FIGURES ROUNDED TO NEAREST PERCENTAGE. FULL SCHOOL CLOSURES REFER TO SITUATIONS WHERE ALL SCHOOLS WERE CLOSED AT THE NATIONWIDE LEVEL DUE TO COVID-19. PARTIAL SCHOOL CLOSURES REFER TO SCHOOL CLOSURES IN SOME REGIONS OR FOR SOME GRADES, OR WITH REDUCED IN-PERSON INSTRUCTION. SOURCE: UNESCO GLOBAL DATASET ON THE DURATION OF SCHOOL CLOSURES, OCTOBER 31, 2021

Many kids simply dropped out school by late 2020 …

Experts warn actual dropout rates are likely much higher
than the numbers below for 6- to 17-year-olds.

Dropout rate
Chile
 
2.2%
Argentina
 
2.8%
Bolivia
 
3.4%
Brazil
 
3.9%
Uruguay
 
3.9%
Costa Rica
 
4.3%
Panama
 
4.5%
Ecuador
 
4.8%
Dominican Republic
 
5.4%
Colombia
 
5.8%
Paraguay
 
6.3%
Peru
 
7.5%
Mexico
 
8.8%
El Salvador
 
15.6%
Guatemala
 
17.6%
Honduras
 
22.0%
SOURCE: INTER-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK, NOVEMBER 2020

… which may push dropout rates back
to levels last seen in the 1960s.

Estimated likelihood of Latin American
students completing secondary school
SOURCE: GUIDO NEIDHÖFER, NORA LUSTIG & MARIANO TOMMASI. “INTERGENERATIONAL TRANSMISSION OF LOCKDOWN CONSEQUENCES: PROGNOSIS OF THE LONGER-RUN PERSISTENCE OF COVID-19 IN LATIN AMERICA”, THE JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC INEQUALITY, JULY 2021.

While in-person learning returned in many countries by November 2021, school closures were still affecting over 70 million children.

Percentage of students receiving face-to-face classes
Costa Rica
 
100
Dominican Republic
 
100
Nicaragua
 
100
Uruguay
 
100
Argentina
 
94
Bolivia
 
73
Colombia
 
71.1
Venezuela
 
60
Mexico
 
59
Chile
 
52
Paraguay
 
46
Panama
 
39
Guatemala
 
22
Ecuador
 
14
Peru
 
6.5
Cuba
 
5
NOTES: DATA NOT AVAILABLE FOR BRAZIL. PERCENTAGES CALCULATED BASED ON THE TOTAL ENROLLMENT OF STUDENTS FROM PRE-PRIMARY TO SECONDARY SCHOOL AND THE NUMBER OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS BENEFITING FROM FACE-TO-FACE CLASSES. SOURCE: COVID-19 EDUCATION RESPONSE: UPDATE 30, STATUS OF SCHOOLS’ REOPENING, UNICEF, NOVEMBER 2021

Tags: The COVID Generation
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