UNICEF warns of a “lost generation” among young people in Latin America
The current economic crisis, the rise in inequalities, and the long closure of schools that have taken place in Latin America during the pandemic are a worrying cocktail for children and adolescents in a region that, according to the UNICEF representative in Panama, Sandie Blanchet, exposes them to having “a lost generation” of young people. The head of UNICEF fears for the future that awaits children and adolescents who do not finish their studies, and warns of the effects that this can have on the development of an entire society: “It is not only a lost generation, it is a lost country! For us, it is an alarming situation, and we are very concerned.”
On average, Latin America and the Caribbean was the region of the world that, according to the United Nations, kept schools closed for the longest time due to covid-19, with 70 school weeks interrupted between February 2020 and March 2022 (that is, between 17 and 18 months), a period that is almost double the global average of 41 weeks (about 10 months). In addition, an educational report from the World Bank also estimates that in 2022, at the end of the pandemic, 79% of Latin American children over the age of 10 cannot read or write a simple text correctly, a figure that in 2019, before school closures due to covid-19, was 52%, according to Bank estimates.
Blanchet notes a deterioration in learning, and for this reason, she considers that the economic recovery of the region “must focus on the most vulnerable children to offer them opportunities.” According to her, governments should bet on innovative solutions that in schools promote, for example, the use of the Internet in learning, while, for the little ones, she stresses the importance of achieving quality services during the first childhood stages.