By: Virginia Lopez, Yajaira Huerta and Franco Arteaga
Education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals defined on the 2030 Agenda by the United Nations. Due to the pandemic, the efforts to offer an equitable and quality education to students has been lagged, as has the progress made to improve the school dropout globally. Therefore, it highlights the importance of analyzing the current situation of this problem in our country with the aim of reuniting the efforts between the government and private entities to face this challenge.
The term “school dropout” refers to the interruption of the educational trajectory of the student, who, after being enrolled in a given year, does not present enrollment the following year. This situation is attributed to a progressive process in which the characteristics of the student, socioeconomic factors of his family and the environment, and factors of the school and the educational system, have influence (Ministerio de Educación Chile, 2020).
Among the main causes of school dropout, the presence of family financial problems stands out; the need to work to contribute at home, the affordance of tuition or educational materials; and the lack of motivation to study or work (Alcázar, 2008). In this way, a motivational component is added to the economic component.
On the other hand, other causes are deeper as long as they are related to social inequalities, such as gender and cultural inequality, poor nutrition of students, and extreme poverty and poverty (Shock , 2009). Special attention must be paid to this problem, since it prevents equitable and quality access to education.
Pandemic Effects on School Continuity
According to data from UNESCO (2020), the Covid-19 pandemic has directly impacted education systems affecting students, homes, ministries, secretariats, educational centers, teachers and managers.
On one hand, the measures taken to mitigate the effects of the health crisis increased school dropouts due to the fact that physical absence from classes affected the degree of connection of the establishment with its students and families, harming at the same time their mental health, from both students and parents.
In addition to this, another factor to consider is the internet connection. Before the pandemic, very few countries had connectivity or digital tools to support the teaching process in the school context, which is far away from a distance education model capable of taking advantage of the new Information and Communication Technologies (TIC) (Marinelli et al., 2020). Even within the same country, some regions have better connectivity than others, such as Peru, whose situation was portrayed in videos of students who had to walk long hours to be able to have a signal that would allow them to connect to the Internet.
This situation portrays unequal access to the Internet, which, in turn, translates into an unequal distribution of resources and strategies, which mainly affects sectors with lower income or greater vulnerability (Rieble-Aubourg and Viteri, 2020).
School dropout indicators in Peru and the world
An important indicator when measuring school dropout is the "Cumulative dropout rate", this value is measured dividing the population in the incomplete school stage (Early childhood, Primary, Secondary) who are not enrolled within the year of analysis and in the corresponding age ranges, by the total population in the school stage (Early childhood, Primary, Secondary) incomplete in the same year of analysis and age ranges. (Ministry of Education of Peru, 2021).
According to the INEI (2020), the cumulative secondary dropout rate (% of ages 13 to 19) varied from 5.6% in 2018, to 6.4% by the end of 2020; This indicates an increase of 0.8% in the school dropout rate at the national level. Based on the statistics , according to the level of poverty, the dropout rate is 7.6% for a level of extreme poverty. However, at the regional level, higher cumulative secondary dropout rates (2020) are observed as in Ucayali (14.3%), Tumbes (14%) and La Libertad (10.2%).
This increase in the high school dropout rate in Peru can be reflected in the noticeable rise in workers in rural areas (between 14 and 18 years old) in 2020. Thus, the average number of adolescent workers in rural areas increased from 388 thousand in the first quarter of 2020 to 485 thousand in the first quarter of 2021. Where most of them are inserted in low-productivity jobs, reducing their possibilities of increasing their income in the near future (Instituto Peruano de Economía, 2021).
This situation is not unrelated to other countries affected by the increase of school dropouts in the world. Thus, the World Education Monitoring Report (UNESCO, 2020) shows that inequalities have been exacerbated during the pandemic: 40% of the world's countries have not supported students at risk during the crisis. Around 5.2 million boys and 5.7 million girls will drop out of primary and secondary school.
Projects in education
Numerous efforts are being made by many organizations with the aim of mitigating the causes of School Dropout in Peru. Those projects, where more and more continue to take up this challenge, share the same approach: To ensure that young Peruvians can access a decent quality of education and thus to improve their well-being and personal development.
One of the current initiatives that has been generating impact in our country is the Proyecto CREER (Growing with the Multigrade Rural schools in Peru), which is promoted by the organization GRADE (Group of Analysis for Development) along with the Old Dart Foundation (National Fund for the Development of Peruvian Education [FONDEP], 2020).
This project promotes multigrate pedagogical practices through effective and efficient utilization of educational materials used in the teaching process alongside the implementation of a formative evaluation system. Likewise, it seeks to have a clearer view of classroom interactions from a gender perspective, where both students and teachers can develop an integral level of education. (Group for the Analysis of Development [GRADE], 2020).
In the same way, driven by the motivation of transforming society through the application of an educational methodology focused on the values and development of the competencies of children in our country, the Crea+ project was built. (Multidisciplinary Organization of Professional Services [EY Peru], 2020). To date, this social entrepreneurship has achieved to teach 32 thousand classes by means of the commitment and effort of a huge disciplinary team that together have managed to complete more than 870 thousand man-hours, benefiting more than 26 thousand children (boys and girls) nationwide (Creamas, 2021).
To conclude, it can be said that the data obtained from research on school dropout in Peru shows us a clear panorama of the problem in question, mainly highlighting the consequences generated by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in our already fragile educational system. And where this must be understood as a challenge with a scope that involves all sectors of our country. Therefore, it is justified to argue that all Peruvian civil society is called to contribute directly or indirectly to solutions and to participate in the various mechanisms that are generated for their management, based on the establishment of a commitment to our young compatriots and our nation.
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