THE REALITIES OF EDUCATION IN LATIN AMERICA
Without a high-level education, Latin American children will continue to
lack the skills necessary for entering the workforce and participating in
the increasingly competitive global economy.
a.. 50 million people in Latin America cannot read or write.
b.. Latin Americans receive an average of six years of schooling, compared
to nine-and-a-half years in the OECD (Organization of Economic Cooperation
and Development) countries.
c.. Nearly one-third of children in primary school in Latin America repeat
a grade. The additional cost to the region's education systems has been
estimated at $4 billion per year.
d.. Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru rank behind Uganda, Zambia, Botswana
and Burundi in the quality of their math and science education.
e.. In Mexico, only 13% of adults receive a high school diploma versus 87%
of American adults.
f.. Over 50% of Mexican and Brazilian 15-year old youth are functionally
illiterate and thus unable to compete in today's economy.
CONTRIBUTORS TO LATIN AMERICA'S EDUCATION CRISIS
1. HIGH DROP-OUT RATE THROUGHOUT LATIN AMERICA
The heart of the problem is the drop-out rate -- children living in poverty
are not staying in school.
a.. 92% of Latin American children begin primary school, but only 32%
continue on to secondary school (the U.S. equivalant of middle/high school).
Even fewer ultimately graduate.
b.. Approximately 40 million children and adolescents in Latin America
drop out of school to live or work on the streets each year.
c.. It is estimated that 95% of children have access to school in Brazil,
but only 59% of them finish the eighth grade.
d.. It is well established that school dropouts have worse outcomes,
including in terms of mental health status, than do those youth who stay in
2. INEQUALITY IN LATIN AMERICA
Unequal societies are less efficient at converting growth into poverty
reduction. In Latin America, the education gap mirrors the income gap
between rich and poor.
a.. Levels of inequality in Latin America are the highest in the world --
at least one in three households and two in five people live below the
a.. 220 million Latin Americans (about 44% of the region's population)
live on less than $2 per day. Over half of them are children.
a.. In Brazil, children in the bottom income quartile complete an average
of four years of school versus over ten years completed by children in the
top income quartile.
3. LATIN AMERICA'S EDUCATION SPENDING
Despite increases in past years, spending on elementary education is still
relatively low throughout the region.
a.. Per capita spending on primary education in Latin America still
averages only 15% of U.S. levels.
a.. Latin American universities, which serve less than 10% of the
population, receive a disproportionate share of education dollars compared
to primary education.(In Brazil, public universities have only 2% of all
pupils, but receive 25% of all federal education funds.