Coronavirus created ‘catastrophe’ in Latin American education

Most children in Latin America and the Caribbean under the age of 11 are unable to understand simple written texts due to an “educational catastrophe” caused by the pandemic, international organizations revealed Thursday.

According to a report by the World Bank, UNICEF and UNESCO, 80 percent of children in the region have been left with deficient education.

Only Sub-Saharan Africa has worse results.

Children in Latin America and the Caribbean lost an average of one and a half years of education during the pandemic, as schools in the region remained shut longer than anywhere else in the world.

This could set children’s education back 10 years, the “Two years later: saving a generation” report says.

The region “is facing an unprecedented educational crisis that could compromise future development in our countries,” said Carlos Felipe Jaramillo, the World Bank vice-president for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The fact that the vast majority of the sixth grade (aged 10-11) might not be able to understand what they are reading puts a question mark on the future wellbeing of millions of children.”

“Too many children have not been able to return to full-time schooling, and many of those that have are lost,” added Jean Gough, the regional UNICEF director.

“In both cases they’re not learning,” she said, adding that it was “an educational catastrophe.”

The report said countries in the region must give greater priority to education to reverse the harmful effects of the pandemic.