Latin America Closes 2022 With An Education Crisis: Challenges And Challenges

2023 is shaping up to be a very challenging year, as inflation, conflicts and the consequences of the pandemic have increased inequalities. We tell you what is the panorama with which Latin America closes 2022, with a generalized education crisis

Student in a classroom

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LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: América Latina cierra el 2022 con una crisis de educación: retos y desafíos

2022 has not been an easy year for any region of the world. The consequences of the pandemic continue to hit the population hard and no area is spared. Health, education, the economy, interpersonal relationships, work: practically all areas of human life were shaken and had to adapt to the global emergency. However, these kinds of changes and consequences are far-reaching.

Every year, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) released a report with the analysis of the year for the region in economic and social matters. The document entitled "Social Panorama of Latin America and the Caribbean 2022: the transformation of education as a basis for sustainable development", analyzes inequality and poverty, emphasizing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. However, this year particularly points to the crisis of the educational systems in the region, with a focus on gender inequality, the challenges for labor insertion, and investment in social spending on education.

"Despite the expected end of the pandemic, the region has not managed to move towards recovery after its social impacts and return to the levels of 2019 before the start of the pandemic. The region has remained exposed to a dangerous geopolitical scenario and world economy marked by a conjunction of successive crises, particularly by the war in Ukraine", the ECLAC report states. In addition to this, the projections for GDP growth are not encouraging: it is projected that in 2023 it will reach only 1.4%, while in 2022 it was estimated at 3.2%.

The Education Crisis Grows Silently

The interruption of classes due to the long confinements and the great inequalities that existed in accessing virtual education have left many children and adolescents behind in education. "The gaps in the development of skills, the loss of learning opportunities, and the risk of increased dropout" are some of the most serious consequences, according to ECLAC.

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Likewise, the pandemic came after years of advances in education and put a brake on them. However, it should also be noted that much of the progress was uneven. For example, the figures indicate access to higher education went from 23% in 2000 to 52% in 2020. However, the analyzes also indicate that it favored the middle and upper strata, increasing the gaps.

As the popular saying goes, every crisis is an opportunity and this issue is no exception. The problems that have become so evident are also an alarm about the need to prepare education systems for digitization and reduce the gaps in access and quality. In this regard, ECLAC states that there are various priorities. "The maintenance of safe conditions for the reopening of schools, investment in strategies to identify the costs of interrupting face-to-face education, both in terms of learning and socio-emotional well-being and the design and implementation of recovery strategies that aim to leave no one behind", are some of the priorities indicated by the commission.

Likewise, it points out that it is essential that educational models also have an approach that promotes the socio-emotional well-being of students and the educational community. Thus, it is urgent to focus on teachers and the need for a comprehensive education, which does not only focus on technical skills. In this regard, education for sustainability, environmental education, and education oriented toward job skills must be a priority.

"Educational transformation requires a new broad and long-term social, political and fiscal pact, strengthening the role of digital technologies in teaching and learning processes, as well as in management systems, addressing specific challenges for each educational level, promote intersectoral articulation and ensure financial sustainability hand in hand with strengthened educational institutions for greater equity and efficiency of spending", the report states. Likewise, the region has debts in terms of education with people with diverse abilities and an education that adapts to diversity.