Many schools across Latin America and the Caribbean are still deserted even when fears of the COVID-19 pandemic have been practically difused for months.
Countries facing an education crisis include El Salvador, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and the Dominican Republic, according to the latest study released by the Economic Commission for the Region (ECLAC).
Inflation and the resulting surge in food products have further exacerbated the crisis, with poorer children still struggling to make up for the lost educational time.
#LAC experienced the longest educational blackout worldwide (w/ an average shutdown of educational establishments of 70 weeks, versus 41 weeks in the rest of the world), which exacerbated pre-existing inequalities related to access, inclusion & educational quality: @JoseMSalazarX pic.twitter.com/1IZgcztP23
— ECLAC (@eclac_un) November 24, 2022
The causes behind the crisis vary from country to country. In Uruguay, for example, a lack of interest in learning is the reason for empty classrooms. The Dominican Republic cites illness or accident as the cause. In Ecuador and Paraguay, economic hardship keeps students away from class.
“The region is going through a complex scenario of great uncertainty that is deepening the impact of an ongoing social crisis with silent and devastating implications for education,” the report states.
Students in the region were denied face-to-face classes for almost 70 weeks (between February 2020 and March 2022). In contrast, schools in Asian countries were completely closed for 20 weeks and partially closed for 21 weeks.
The number of young people in the region who are neither studying nor working rose from 22.3 percent in 2019 to 28.7 percent in 2020.
The pandemic is likely to “endanger the development and well-being of an entire generation of children, adolescents, and young people, leaving a scar that undermines development opportunities in the region,” the report said.