Educational Challenges in Chile: A society protesting for change

Written by Ana María Ocampo C.

With research and collaboration from Joan Vilalta Flo.

Students protest in Chile. Photo by Simenon.

Students, teachers, and experts all agree that the education system in Chile needs some deep changes for it to maintain its relevance and traditional position at the top of the region. Some of the pressing challenges include existing segregation, differentiated quality, and high levels of indebtedness, all of which were heightened and highlighted by the pandemic and its effects. But the how and where should be addressed to remain at the center of the heated debates about the topic in the past years.

Some context and background

To understand some of the reasons behind the current challenges and demands, a look into the past proves to be helpful. Back in the 1980s, the Chilean education system underwent a major transformation. To change the regressive and unequal access to education, as well as to promote the creation of more schools and universities to assess the high demand and increase in the number of students, the government redistributed its investments in the area.

The project also included the involvement of the private sector, which would assure better coverage in the entire country, and would offer students and their families more options to choose from. With this approach, private education institutions increased across the country, allowing the wealthiest members of society to access higher-quality education. Despite the original idea of increasing coverage, this privatization of the system proved to deepen the social and economic divides in the country, as education was now “understood as a private investment by the family of the young person”, according to Ruben Covarrubias, former president of the Universidad Mayor in Chile.

Since the economic possibilities of the general population were still a big restriction for some capable students with low income, the estate created a credit system that aimed to assure every Chilean had access to education regardless of their economic situation. Ever since, the system has also increased the number of scholarships and payment agreements, allowing students and recently graduated professionals to pay back their loans in accordance with their income levels.

These profound changes in the system gave Chile a privileged position in the Latin American context. Two decades after the implementation Professor Jose Joaquin Brunner, UNESCO expert in comparative studies of education, acknowledged that “The Chilean population has 11.6 years of schooling, against 9.4 in the rest of Latin America; 28.6 % of people complete at least one year of tertiary education compared to 15.8% in the rest of the region. Among young adults between the ages of 25 and 34, Chile can boast that 41% are professionals, compared with 39% in OECD countries, to which we belong, and less than 20% in Latin America (UNESCO).” And, comparatively speaking, Chile was one of the countries with the highest spending on education relative to the GDP, going above the OECD average.

But the situation for students and families in the country was not as picture-perfect as the numbers showed. In 2011, a student movement emerged with the purpose of taking the demand for a free and high-quality education to the center of the national agenda. The movement’s demands focused on effectively addressing the unequal access and poor quality of education in the country, as well as the indebtedness that lower- and middle-class families were forced into to access higher education.

Protests were constant in the following years, a time when the students’ movement gained strength and organization. In 2014, for instance, a group of its leaders, all under the age of 30, secured spots in Congress, creating a coalition that pushed for some of the most relevant reforms in the area. And last year, in March, one of the leaders of the movement, Gabriel Boric, was elected president of the country. He has promised to keep discussions on reforms to the system among the priorities of his government’s agenda.

Colegio Municipal Marcela Paz, La Florida, Santiago de Chile. Photo by UNESCO/Carolina Jerez

Segregation: two realities that do not meet

When asked about the main challenges that Chilean education faces, experts like Álvaro González Torres, a researcher at the Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez, point out at the general social context in the country, where strong demands for “justice, liberties and rights” are still being discussed and demanded. One of those, education, is at the heart of the protests for equality in Chilean’s recent history, including the Constitutional reform that is underway.

“It is not because we have a critical situation, compared to other countries in the South American region; the problem in Chile is beyond educational attainment”. Instead, Mr. González explains, the problem is rooted in the design of a system following a neoliberal approach: “The privatization of public education has been a major obstacle, as well as the flourishing of a cultural environment that strengthens values that are dangerous for democracy: individualism and excessive competitiveness”.

As he describes, the stronger involvement of private capital and the business mindset behind educational institutions has resulted in a segregated system. So, while in the country the coverage of primary and secondary education reaches almost 90% of the corresponding population, once inside the system differences are stark. “Students coming from lower income groups are concentrated in institutions with lower quality, while those students from the wealthiest groups can access better quality education and, in the end, have almost direct access to power”, as Álvaro González describes.

The Research Center for the Socio-educational Transformation, which Mr. González directs, points out that this segregation leads to a reinforcement of “cycles of social and opportunities inequality”, which has also been sustained by a “systemic deficiency”, where resources are not equally distributed amongst the institutions across the country. “Overall, there is an education for the rich and another education for the poor”, Mr. González concludes.

The lingering ghosts of the pandemic

This differentiated reality was made more evident during the pandemic when a large section of the population faced issues with the lack of access to technological tools and internet connectivity, proper spaces, and/or parental accompaniment, not only in rural areas but even in urban centers. Chile was one of the countries in the world where schools were closed the longest, and the effects of these measures have also been seen in the mental and physical health of the students and teachers.

The immediate reaction from the government and the institutions has been focused on promoting a return to schools, reverting the dropout rates, and increasing evaluation processes to measure basic abilities in reading, writing, and math. “For a long time in Chile, we have implemented standardized tests to measure quality of the education, and schools focused their energy on preparing students for these tests. But the pandemic put a halt on these evaluations, and schools and institutions realized that there were other abilities and areas that needed more attention”. As Álvaro González explains, the emotional and psychosocial well-being of students is now a critical point for the design and development of education reforms for the future.

Students protest with a hunger strike. Photo by Hans Peters.

Education for the new century

Students took the streets with an additional demand: the curriculums need to be updated to address the challenges and requirements of the current times. Their claims, as described by the leaders of the students´ movement, criticize the disconnection between the education system and the workplaces of the 21st Century, where they are demanded new abilities that the traditional schooling system falls short of offering.

“A current approach is that of nuclearization of curriculums, where elements like a gender perspective, citizens competencies, critical thinking, or skills for the 21st Century are included ins a transversal way. However, we have seen that not all teachers and educators have the capacities or confidence to take this to their classrooms. We have inherited a system of evaluation of teachers that hinders their innovation since the students’ results reflect on their own evaluation”, Álvaro González explains.

Some reforms, yet not enough

The current government, which has been in power for just over a year, has tried to implement a series of reforms to address both the demands already described and the challenges that came with the pandemic. However, some of these reforms have been a source of controversy.

For instance, as Mr. González explains, a system for admissions, aided by an algorithm, has been introduced to randomly assign students to schools, increasing diversity in the institutions. However, criticism from both ends of the political spectrum has not been absent, and in practice, institutions are failing to provide enough tools to successfully integrate students with lacking or deficient academic backgrounds.

Nonetheless, “The Chilean situation is not as pronounced as in other countries”, says Mr. González, who acknowledges that in the past decade, access to higher education by students in rural areas has increased at the highest rate in the continent. And, in an effort to provide contextualized education for these communities, institutions have developed specialized programs overviewed by the National Ministry of Education to secure their quality.

There are also efforts from both the public and private sectors to improve the conditions of access and permanence of indigenous communities in the country. “These past years we have seen affirmative actions that acknowledge diversity in the students. For instance, there are adapted curricula, particularly a program of intercultural and bilingual education for these communities”, but what Mr. González describes has not proven to be enough. Intercultural approaches also demand the acknowledgment of traditional knowledge as valid. And this is currently an element of debate in the constitutional process in the country, where new ideas about the future of Chile are put on the table.



  • Interview with Álvaro González Torres, director of the “Centro de investigación para la transformación socieducativa” from the Universidad Católica Silva Henríquez in Chile. Conducted by Joan Vilalta Flo.
  • DeLevie-Orey, R. (2014). Chile’s education system is the best in Latin America – so why is it being overhauled? Atlantic Council.
  • Educación, C. (2020, March 2). Estos son 5 desafíos de la educación chilena en la era digital | Educación 2020. Educación 2020 | Educación 2020 Trabaja Para Asegurar Una Educación De Calidad, Equitativa E Inclusiva Para Los Niños, Niñas Y Jóvenes En Chile, a Través Del Impulso De Políticas Públicas Y La Transformación Desde La Sala De Clases.
  • Home. (n.d.).
  • Los desafíos de la educación en el siglo XXI. (n.d.).
  • Ministerio de Educación. (2015, November 6). Ministerio De Educación.
  • Montes, R., Montes, R., & Torres, J. (2022, January 22). La generación de la protesta chilena entra en La Moneda por la puerta grande. El País.
  • Salazar, P. (2022). Siete desafíos en materia educacional que deberá enfrentar el nuevo gobierno. Pontificia Universidad Católica De Chile.
  • Staff, R. (2014, May 8). Miles de estudiantes marchan en Chile para presionar a Bachelet por reformas. S.
  • Stuardo, G. M. (2021). Entre la emergencia y la transformación: ideas para recuperar la política educacional en Chile. CIPER Chile.
  • Suarez, P. S. (2023). El sistema escolar chileno. Educación En Chile.
  • There is a lot that is good about Chilean higher education. (n.d.). University World News.

Educational Challenges in Kazakhstan

Written by Björn Laurin Kühn

Kazakhstan is a rapidly developing country in Central Asia that has made significant progress in recent years in terms of its educational development. Nonetheless, the country still faces several challenges that need to be addressed in order to improve the quality of education and provide better opportunities for its citizens. This report will explore the educational challenges in Kazakhstan, their causes, and possible solutions.

Educational challenges and solutions in primary education:

To begin with, primary education in Kazakhstan covers the first four years of schooling. One of the significant challenges facing primary education in Kazakhstan is the low quality of teaching. According to a report by UNESCO, many teachers lack the required skills to provide quality education, leading to poor educational outcomes which has an influential burden on the country (UNESCO, 2019). Additionally, there is a lack of modern teaching materials, especially in rural areas, where many schools lack access to modern facilities and resources. Outdated curricula are also cited as a significant challenge to primary education in Kazakhstan (Karatayeva et al., 2019).

Source: OECD (2016), PISA 2015 Results (Volume II): Policies and Practices for Successful Schools, PISA, OECD Publishing, Paris,

The lack in access to modern facilities and resources has essentially played a crucial role during the COVID-19 pandemic, when nationwide restrictions were introduced after a surge of infections. The following months were followed by a strict lockdown which was detrimental to the educational system in Kazakhstan (Marteau, 2020). This can be observed in the following graph:


Source: World Bank Blogs. Post-COVID education in Kazakhstan: Heavy losses and deepening inequality. Retrieved from:

Consequently, to address the challenges in primary education, the government has implemented several initiatives. The “New Humanitarian Education” and “New School” programs were launched in 2011 to improve the quality of primary education (Nurmukhametov, et. al, 2015). These programs aimed to introduce modern teaching methods, modern teaching materials, and new curricula that reflected modern trends and demands to prevent a stagnation within the country and its education system. The government also invested in teacher training programs to improve the skills of teachers to further improve the quality of the educational system in Kazakhstan.

However, despite these efforts, significant disparities in education quality exist between urban and rural areas which became augmented after COVID-19. In rural areas, schools experience lower quality education, with many schools lacking the necessary facilities, materials, and qualified teachers. Because of this persisting problem, the government has launched several initiatives to address these disparities, including the “New Village” program, which aims to improve the quality of education in rural areas (Yakavets & Dzhadrina, 2014). The program provides funding for the construction of new schools, rehabilitation of existing schools, and training of teachers. This is extremely crucial for the educational system of Kazakhstan, since the majority of citizens live in rural areas, located far away from developed infrastructure, thus being highly dependent on the educational proposals initiated by the government.

Educational challenges and solutions in secondary education:

Secondary education in Kazakhstan covers grades five to eleven. The quality of teaching in secondary schools is generally better than in primary schools. However, the curriculum is outdated and does not reflect modern trends and demands which develop at a fast pace due to the impact of globalization and development of technology. The implications of an outdated curriculum used in many Kazakhstani schools are that students are not adequately prepared for the modern workforce. Updating the curriculum and ensuring that it is aligned with the needs of the modern economy can be achieved by involving industry experts in its development and providing teachers with the necessary training to deliver it effectively (Rakhimova & Gabdulhakov, 2018).

Furthermore, there is a shortage of qualified teachers, especially in rural areas, essentially posing the same challenges as in the primary educational system (Karatayeva et al., 2019).

To address these challenges, the government has launched several initiatives. The “Digital Kazakhstan” program was launched in 2018 to modernize education and introduce digital technologies into the learning process. The program aims to provide students with access to digital resources, such as e-books and online learning platforms. The government has also invested in teacher training programs to improve the skills of teachers and to attract qualified teachers to rural areas to provide more accessible educational sources to those who live in the countryside of Kazakhstan.

Educational challenges and solutions in tertiary education:

Tertiary education in Kazakhstan faces challenges such as a shortage of qualified professors, outdated curricula, and a lack of academic freedom. Corruption and academic plagiarism are also prevalent issues in the country’s higher education system which places a detrimental burden on the academical as well as the professional job perspectives of Kazakhstan (Karatayeva et al., 2019).

To address these challenges, the government has launched several initiatives. The “Modernization of Higher Education” program was launched in 2010 to improve the quality of tertiary education in Kazakhstan (Yakavets & Dzhadrina, 2014). This program aimed to attract more qualified professors, improve the quality of research, and modernize curricula to overall improve the education in universities. The government has also invested in the development of digital technologies in higher education and the establishment of new universities to make education even more accessible.

Source: The Borgen Project. Education in Kazakhstan (2015). Retrieved from:

However, despite these efforts, challenges in tertiary education persist. The shortage of qualified professors is still a significant issue, especially in science and technology fields which are increasingly important in a globalized world. Moreover, the curricula in some universities are still outdated and do not reflect modern trends and demands in the 21st century. Besides, corruption and academic plagiarism are also prevalent in the country’s higher education system.

Funding is another issue, especially evident in the tertiary education, that needs to be addressed in the education sector in Kazakhstan. Although the government has increased its investment in education, funding for higher education is still limited compared to other countries. Increasing investment in education and exploring alternative sources of funding, such as private investment and international aid, can address this issue (Sultanbekova & Turgunova, 2018).

Educational challenges in Kazakhstan: Possible solutions

One may conclude that Kazakhstan has made significant progress in its educational development, but there are still several challenges that need to be addressed. Addressing these challenges will require a concerted effort from the government, educators, and other stakeholders in the education sector. By working together, Kazakhstan can improve the quality of education and provide better opportunities for its citizens. To address the challenges in the education system, several steps can be taken. The government should increase its monetary investment in education. The country’s education budget should be increased to provide adequate funding for the construction of new schools, rehabilitation of existing schools, and the provision of modern teaching materials.



Marteau, J. (2020). Post-COVID education in Kazakhstan: Heavy losses and deepening inequality. World Bank Blogs. Retrieved from: https://blogs. worldbank. org/europeandcentralasia/post-covid-education-kazakhstanheavy-losses-and-deepeninginequality#:~: text= Before% 20COVID% 2D19% 2C% 20six% 20out, more% 20students% 20i nto% 20functional% 20illiteracy.

Nurmukhametov, N., Temirova, A., & Bekzhanova, T. (2015). The problems of development of distance education in Kazakhstan. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences182, 15-19.

Rakhimova, A., & Gabdulhakov, R. (2018). The challenges of modernizing the educational system of Kazakhstan. Journal of Education and Practice, 9(6), 23-29.

Sultanbekova, S., & Turgunova, L. (2018). Education financing in Kazakhstan: Challenges and solutions. European Journal of Education Studies, 5(5), 28-38.

UNESCO. (2019). Education in Kazakhstan. Retrieved from:

World Bank. (2018). Kazakhstan Education Sector Assessment. Retrieved from:

Yakavets, N., & Dzhadrina, M. (2014). Educational reform in Kazakhstan: Entering the world arena. Educational reform and internationalisation: The case of school reform in Kazakhstan, 28-52.

Zhanar, B. (2020). Modernization of Education in Kazakhstan: An Analysis of Successes and Failures. Journal of International and Comparative Education, 9(1), 49-61.

Educational Challenges in Mozambique

Written by Néusia Cossa

Educational Challenges in Mozambique is one of the major struggles that the country faces and the core issue that the majority of educational organizations locally have to deal with. Most of the time, this is due to an array of factors within the country, especially with Mozambique being a southern underdeveloped nation.

In 2008, more than two thirds of the labor force had either no education at all, or had not completed primary school. Mozambique is still behind its neighbors (and competitors) in educational achievement at all levels, therefore more will need to be done to ensure the country establishes a qualified labor force that can promote sustainable economic growth. Studies in Mozambique and other African nations found that households and workers with primary education were able to transition into non-farm activities, achieving a higher income and transforming their livelihoods in both rural and urban areas, but those without at least lower primary education were not (Moz Policy Note, 2012:2).

In summary, Mozambique faces several educational challenges, some of these challenges may include: limited access to education, low quality of education, poverty and inequality, limited resources and lack of relevant curriculum[i].

School facilities in Mozambique – Photo by Sebastian Rich, UNICEF.

Limited access to education

Mozambique has shown its commitment to education. It has abolished school fees, provided direct support to schools and free textbooks at the primary level, as well as made investments in classroom construction. The sector receives the highest share of the state budget, over 15 per cent. As a result, there has been a significant rise in primary school enrollment over the past decade. Yet quality and improvement in learning has lagged. Additionally, enrollment stagnates in upper primary and secondary despite increased provision. About 1.2 million children are out of school, the majority being girls, particularly in the secondary age group. The 2013 national learning assessment found that only 6.3 per cent of Grade 3 students had basic reading competencies. A 2014 World Bank survey showed that only 1 per cent of primary school teachers have the minimum expected knowledge, and only one in four teachers achieves two-digit subtraction. Absenteeism among teachers is high at 45 per cent, and directors at 44 per cent. About half of enrolled students are absent on any given day.

Another huge challenge is the lack of an early childhood learning service. Only an estimated 5 per cent of children between 3 and 5 years benefit from them, and most services are still located in urban areas (UNICEF).

Low quality of education

Most of underdeveloped African nations use bribery in almost all the public services like hospital, school, police services and migration as a direct result of scarcity.

In terms of quality of education, Mozambique has a high percentage in lack of educated teachers, with good skills such as pedagogical trainings. Due to scarcity and low salaries (barely enough to survive), in most of the high school and primary schools  teachers, parents and educators use bribery in return for successful grades.

It costs US$116 (or US$58 per day) to provide a teacher with high-quality, two-day training on development of low-cost materials including transport, full boarding, tuition and all the materials[ii].

However, according to Sam Jones (2017)[iii] Mozambique, in common with many other developing countries, has achieved impressive increases in access to education. Since 2000, the number of children attending primary school has more than doubled, as have the number of schools. Enrollment into secondary school also has risen rapidly — in 2004, less than 8,000 young people graduated from secondary school (12a classe) in the whole country; by 2014, the number of graduates exceeded 50,000.

These trends are positive, but they only paint half the picture. The flip-side of access is whether children are learning once they are in school. The evidence here is patchy, but broadly suggests that Mozambique is lagging a long way behind many of its developing country peers in the quality, rather than the quantity, of education that it offers its children.

It is not difficult to grasp why the quality of schooling matters. Weak educational systems create burdens for both employers and workers. If educational certificates are not a good guide to the skills a person possesses, employers find it difficult to identify the suitable and qualified candidates. This can lead to higher turnover and costly recruitment processes. It can also lead employers to demand higher levels of education, even where the specific tasks of a job do not demand it. Today, technological change also is increasing the demand for skills — even labour-intensive manufacturing firms prefer better-educated workers who are able to operate equipment and follow production goals.

A major education challenge in Mozambique is to ensure that all children who start primary school go on to complete it. Data from the Ministry of Education and Human Resources suggests that in each grade of primary school, only around 80% of children go straight to the next grade. Although not all of these children drop out, the probability of a child who starts primary school completing the full seven years is less than 50%. So, many young Mozambicans are entering the labour market without having even completed a primary education.

But completing primary education does not mean young Mozambicans learn enough through schooling.  This is revealed by a recent face-to-face survey of children in Nampula implemented by TPC Moçambique, part of Facilidade-ICDS (Instituto para Cidadania e Desenvolvimento Sustentável). The survey follows a model originally developed by Pratham in India, now used in many countries. The data from these surveys are not strictly comparable, but they are informative about broad differences.

Using the survey, Table 1 compares attainment in literacy and numeracy across a range of countries. In all cases, the competencies tested refer to skills taken from each country’s curriculum that should be mastered by children after completing two years of education. We see that there are many children attending grade 5 who do not master grade 2-level skills. In Nampula, the majority of children finishing in the first phase of primary school are not mastering the basics: less than 1 in 3 children in grade 5 can read a simple story and do basic subtraction. Moreover, attainments in Mozambique appear substantially below those of children in the same grade in other low-income countries.

Table 1: Share of children enrolled in grade 3 and grade 5 able to achieve specific competencie

Notes: table is adapted from Jones et al. (2014), adding data from TPC Moçambique (2017).

The worrying situation in Mozambique is echoed by a World Bank investigation of service quality in the education sector. As set out in the study by Bold et al. (2017), which compares results across various countries, only 38% of Mozambican 4th grade students were able to recognize letters, compared to 89% in Kenya and 50% in Nigeria. A possible reason for this situation is suggested — not only are many teachers absent from school and/or class — which means Mozambican pupils are receiving less than half the recommended four hours of teaching per day —  but also, many teachers show a poor knowledge of the curriculum they are supposed to teach.

In addition, JICA (2015:25) makes a comparative analysis of access by group, where he points in both lower- and upper-primary education, that Maputo City, Nampula, Sofala, Niassa and Maputo Provinces have higher dropout rates than the national average. Repetition rates are higher in Tete, Sofala, Niassa, Nampula and Manica Provinces. Overall, northern and central provinces have higher dropout and repetition rates than the national average. In particular, repetition rates in Niassa Province are, in comparison to the national average, 4.4 point higher in lower-primary education and 5.1 point higher in upper-primary education.

Dropout rates by gender show that female dropout rates are 0.2 point higher than the male’s in both lower- and upper-primary education. Looking by province, female dropout rates in primary education are higher in Maputo City, Gaza, Inhambane and Maputo Provinces, suggesting that female students drop out more than their male counterparts in the southern parts of the country. On national average, female repetition rates are 0.3 point and 0.4 point higher than the male’s in lowerand upper-primary education, respectively. By province, all except Zambezia Province had higher female repetition rates.

The Mozambican government has paid special attention to gender in every sector’s planning stage in order to narrow the gender gap. In the education sector, girls’ education has been promoted from the first Education Strategic Plan, and PEEC 2006-2011 has also identified universal primary education—especially focusing on girls’ education—as a major target issue. Due to these governmental efforts, gender gap in primary education has almost been corrected (PEE 2012-2016, P.41-42[iv]).

Poverty and inequality

Poverty is a major barrier to education in Mozambique, as many families cannot afford to pay for school fees or related expenses such as uniforms and textbooks. In addition, girls and children from rural areas are often at a disadvantage due to social and cultural barriers, such as early marriage and traditional gender roles (Chatgpt, 2023).

The poverty limits education in Mozambique in many families. The normal salaries are most of the times for food, the basic need. People do a lot of times struggle to pay school and college expendidures reason why the small informal businesses are an outlet.

Schoolchildren in Mozambique – Photo by Sebastian Rich, UNICEF.

Limited resources

For education to be successful, it is not enough to ensure that children attend school but importantly, they also need to learn while they are in school. The expansion in primary education, because of limited resources, put pressure on quality of the education. Children and parents frequently complain about the low quality of infrastructure, lack of availability of books, and increasing class sizes (Moz policy note, 2012:3).

For Bonde and Matavel (2022:2) education funding is one of the problems that most underdeveloped countries face daily. Many of these countries are economically dependent due to their respective States’ fragility and postcolonial condition (Crossley, 2001; Williams, 2009). Vieira, Vidal, and Queiroz (2021) argue that “education financing is a key theme of the debate on educational policy. Far from being exhaustedly discussed by the literature in the field, it represents a challenge fruitful and permanent to reflection” (Vieira; Vidal; Queiroz, 2021, p. 1).

In the case of Mozambique, since the country’s independence in 1975, the Government has faced problems in financing its education. About this reality, Oliveira (1995) states that “enabling democratic and quality public education implies providing financing sources” (Oliveira, 1995, p. 76) see page 2.

The difficulty of financing the Mozambican education resulted in inquiring its international partners to assist within this sector. In a first phase, external funding came from several countries (bilateral and multilateral), from the period of socialist orientation (1975-1986) and in the later phase of multipartidarism (1990). These financings were directed to the General State Budget until 2001. In 2002, the Education Sector Support Fund (FASE) was created, which is the main instrument for channeling external funds to the sector. “The Common Fund (FASE) is the most aligned instrument for channeling external funds to finance the sector’s annual plan, using state procedures and instruments regarding planning, implementation, and monitoring”, says the Ministry of Education and Human Development (MINEDH, 2010, p. 56). page 2

The Common Fund (FASE), by which most of the external funding to the sector is channeled, contributes to the financing of key programs focusing on funding programs for basic education, such as the textbook, direct support to schools, teacher training, supervision, and accelerated construction of classrooms. Half of the FASE spending is continuous.

Among the many objectives of the FASE, the following stand out: [1] – achieve the Millennium Development Goal; [2] – achieve Universal Primary Education for all; and [3] – ensure the completion of primary education for all children in 2015. The FASE was created by the Education for All Fast Track Initiative (FTI). FTI follows the commitment of the international community established at the 4th World Education for All Forum in Dakar, stating that no country committed to providing basic education for all and with a credible plan would be limited to achieving this goal due to the lack of financial resources (MINEDH, 2010, p. 8). Therefore, it was by the FTI that the Direct Support to Schools (ADE) was introduced. Hanlon (1997) considers that “Mozambique has become the country most dependent on foreign aid and probably still is” (Hanlon, 1997, p. 15). Abrahamsson and Nilsson (1994) state that “Mozambique is now in a considerably worse situation than at the time of independence” (Abrahamsson; Nilsson, 1994, 73). We understand that the country should reduce foreign aid and create its own sources of investment for education and other social and economic areas, for local problems must have local solutions. As long as partners continue to fund education, they will continue to outline Mozambique’s educational policies and we will hardly leave this external dependence.

World Bank documents highlight this reality. The Education for All Global Monitoring Report tells that “external models of good educational practices, defended without much conviction by different groups of agencies, are generally not sufficiently attuned to local circumstances” (UNESCO, 2005, p. 23). Unable to manage and finance education, the Mozambican Government has opted for privatizing education since 1990 to get rid of the financial burden. Therefore, Mozambique has forgotten that there is not a single experience in the world that has developed high educational standards with discourses, but with resources. Silva and Oliveira (2020) claims that “[…] when governments rely on privatization to expand access to education, this approach may conflict with the promotion of universal access, especially for the most marginalized populations” (Silva; Oliveira, 2020, p. 14).

Lack of relevant curriculum

The curriculum in Mozambique is often seen as outdated and not relevant to the needs of students or the economy. This can lead to a mismatch between the skills students learn in school and the skills required by employers, limiting their opportunities for future employment (chatgpt, 2023).

Mozambique has made impressive advancement in improving access to lower and upper primary school since the education reforms of 2004, which abolished all national primary school fees, provided free textbooks and introduced a new curriculum, while maintaining the high pace of school construction and teacher training. Enrollment in primary schools surged as the combination of lower costs and supply of schools increased access particularly for poorer families. The study shows that in lower primary (EP1), access improved the most the response to the reforms was highest for poorer families, whereas in upper primary (EP2), the gains for poor families were limited. Overall, the primary system has become more inclusive (Moz policy note, 2012:2).

To conclude, Mozambique is an underdeveloped nation which educational challenges has to deal with poverty, quality, limited access and limited resources. However, there are some great results on education access in the rural communities such as in Nampula, where some organization like “Girl Move”, has been working with young girls. More could be done to reduce these challenges, such as the government investing more money in education, increasing teachers salaries and quality of skills, which consequently would improve children and young people education.


[i] 27th February, 2023  12:36

[ii]  27th February 27, 2023 13:22

[iii]  4th March, 2023 22:05

iv March, 2023 by 11:40




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Rui Amadeu Bonde and Princidónio Abrão Matavel: Education Financing in Mozambique and its Challenges. Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo/SP Brazil & Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCar), São Carlos/SP – Brazil. 2022.

Silva, Rui da; Oliveira, Joana. Privatização da educação em 24 países africanos:

tendências, pontos comuns e atípicos. Educação & Sociedade, Campinas, v. 41, 2020.

UNESCO. Organização das Nações Unidas para a Educação, a Ciência e a Cultura. Educação para todos: o imperativo da qualidade. Relatório de monitoramento global. Brasília, DF: Unesco; São Paulo: Moderna, 2005.

Vieira, Sofia Lerche; Vidal, Eloisa Maia; Queiroz, Paulo Alexandre Sousa. Financiamento e Expansão do Ensino Médio: o caso da diversificação da oferta no Ceará. EccoS – Rev. Cient., São Paulo, n. 58, p. 1-23, jul./set. 2021.

Educational Challenges in Cameroon

Written by Frida Martine E. Brekk

 Cameroon is known as “Africa in miniature”, a country located in central Africa, bordered by Nigeria to the west, Chad to the northeast, the Central African Republic to the east, Gabon and the Republic of the Congo to the south, and Equatorial Guinea to the southwest. With a population over 25 million, Cameroon is one of the most ethnically diverse countries within the African continent, with more than 250 ethnic groups and languages. The country is known for its unique cultural heritage, natural beauty, and abundant natural resources, including oil, gas and minerals. However, Cameroon also faces an array of challenges inclusive of educational barriers, high poverty, inequality, political instability, and environmental degradation. Despite these challenges, the country has made significant progress in recent years, and is working towards achieving sustainable development, and economic stability overall.

Cameroon, like many other nations in the African continent, faces a range of educational challenges that limit access to quality education and hinder the development of human capital. Despite progress in recent years, significant gaps in access, quality and relevance of education persist, particularly in rural areas and among marginalized populations. Inadequate infrastructure and resources, gender inequalities, poor quality of education, vocational training mismatches, and limited funding area some of the key challenges that Cameroon’s education system faces. Addressing these challenges is crucial for improving and promoting inclusive and sustainable development, reduction of poverty, and improving the overall well-being of the country’s citizens. Addressing the obstacles of Cameroons educational challenges will require a concerted effort from the government, civil society, and the international community to increase access to education, and ensure that students are receiving the skills and training required to further succeed in the job market.

Access is largely to blame in regards to the country’s challenges on the topic of education. Despite the nations progress in recent years, many children, particularly in rural areas, still lack access to quality education. This is due to a severe lack of infrastructure and resources including schools, textbooks, and qualified teachers. Many educational institutions in Cameroon are poor in condition, with inadequate facilities and a shortage of lecturers, professors and teachers.

Additionally, there is a significant gender disparity in access to education, with girls facing particular challenges in accessing education due to cultural beliefs and attitudes, poverty, early marriage, and pregnancy. These are particularly acute in rural areas, where the majority of families struggle to afford the costs of education, and there are fewer schools and teachers. As a result, many children find themselves forced to drop out of school prematurely or are never able to attend to begin with, which results in a limitation of opportunities for economic and social advancement. Lack of access to education not only limits individuals ability to secure employment and earn a sustainable income and life, but also limits the potential of individuals to improve their living standards and overcome and reduce poverty on a national scale. In order to address these challenges, the government of Cameroon must work towards the investment of educational infrastructure, increase the number of educators, and directly address the underlying social and economic barriers that enable limitation of access to education for marginalized communities.

 Cameroon’s education system faces notable challenges with regard to gender disparities and gender inequalities. Girls continue to face significant barriers to accessing education. Cultural attitudes, poverty, early marriage, and pregnancy all contribute to lower enrollment rates and higher drop out rates among girls. This not only limits their opportunities for independent, personal growth and development but also hinders the overall development of the nation as a whole. In addition to lower enrollment rates, girls also face discrimination in the classroom. They are often subjected to lower expectations, receiving less attention from teachers, and are therefore given fewer opportunities for advanced study. This hinders social mobility and perpetuates a cycle of gender inequality that limits the potential of girls and women alike, both in terms of personal achievement and contributions to the country’s economy and society.

According to UNESCO data, in 2019, the net enrollment rate for girls in primary school in Cameroon was 83.5%, compared to 92.4% for boys. For secondary school, the net enrollment rate for girls was 33.5%, compared to 42.1% for boys. Drop out rates for girls are also significantly higher than for boys at both the primary and secondary levels. According to the Ministry of Basic Education, the primary school dropout rates for girls was at 10.6% in 2018, compared to 7.6% for boys. At the secondary level, the dropout rate for girls was 36.5% , compared to 26.2% for boys.

Cameroon has implemented a range of policies and programs aimed at promoting gender equality within the education system. These efforts include elimination of gender stereotypes in the classroom promotion of girls’ education in rural areas, and provide financial support to families in hopes to offset the costs of schooling. Non-governmental organizations and civil society groups have played a critical role in advancing gender equality in education, working to raise awareness of the importance of girls’ education by supporting programs that promote access to these marginalized groups. Despite these efforts, progress has been slow, and significant challenges very much remain. Further action and effort is required to address social norms that perpetuated gender inequality, and promote equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their gender or socio-economic background and status. By actively addressing these challenges, Cameroon can assist in ensuring that all of its citizens have the opportunity to reach their full potential and contribute to the overall growth and development of their nation.

The lack of quality in Cameroon’s education system is another vital concern. The quality of education and the system remains low, with limited resources and inadequate teacher training and certification. According to the World Bank, only 47% of students can read a simple sentence in French or English by the end of primary school, and only 32% can do basic mathematics. This lack of quality in education results in significant implications for the country’s overall development and advancement, as it limits the potential of its citizens and therefore inhibits economic growth. The access to quality education is ever more linked to socio-economic status, with children from poorer families less likely to have access to quality education. This contributes to a never ending cycle of poverty and inequality, with limited opportunities for those who are unable to access said education. Cameroon’s policies and efforts to provide advanced training to teachers, increase access to newer textbooks and alike learning materials, and promote the use of technology within classrooms has fallen short – much more needs to be done to ensure access to quality education.

Non-governmental organizations and civil society groups have played a critical role in promoting access to education, working to improve trainings and through support programs in hopes of better learning outcomes. These efforts have been imperative in advancing access for marginalized communities. Moreover, the majority of educational materials and textbooks used are outdated, with little effort made to update the content or incorporate new teaching methods. This has led to a mismatch between the skills taught in schools and the demands of the ever evolving job market, hindering the ability of students to develop the skills required to succeed in todays modern economy.

Alongside the lack of material, Cameroon’s significant challenge lays in overcrowded educational institutions, which are more prevalent in rural areas. According to a report by the World Bank, the student-teacher ratio in primary schools is approximately 49:1, which is substantially higher than the recommended ratio of 30:1. This places a strain on the education infrastructure and disables teachers from providing individualized attentions students. Educational institutions lack basic facilities such as classrooms, desks and chairs, resulting in students sitting on the floor or sharing desks, which can lead to further distractions in an already deficient environment – hindering their ability to learn and develop new skills. As many schools are underfunded and struggle to meet basic needs, let alone invest in newer resources – resulting in outdated textbooks, resources and equipment and further results in failure to engage and motivate students. Additionally, the procurement process for textbooks and learning materials can be slow and bureaucratic, making it difficult to obtain the latest materials in a timely manner, or in any way at all. Lack of internet access and digital infrastructure is another major challenge faced by the education institutions in Cameroon.

Unemployment is a staggering challenge, particularity among the youth of Cameroon. According to the World Bank, the youth unemployment rate was estimated to be over 13% in 2019, and this figure is ever likely to already be higher in reality due to underemployment and informal work. One major factor contributing to this issue is the lack of vocational training programs. Vocational training programs have successfully proven to provide skills and experience required to enter the workforce and further build sustainable livelihoods. However, these programs are often limited in scope and accessibility, or completely nonexistent due to the high cost of tuition as well as limited availability of said programs. Additionally, there is often a mismatch between the skills taught in vocational training programs alongside the needs of employers within the current, yet ever changing job market. Lack of vocational training programs contributes to a cycle of poverty and unemployment, particularly in rural areas where access to formal education and thereafter job opportunities, if existent, is limited. This results in youth taking on low-paying jobs, as well as work in the informal economy, where wages are inadequate and working conditions are uncontrolled, and can be hazardous. In order to take action towards this concern, the government of Cameroon has launched a “National Vocational Training Strategy” aimed at expanding the reach and scope of vocational training programs across the country, as well as partnering alongside already established international organizations in providing funding and further support. Said NGOs, and international organizations alike have providing further independent funding and resources in advocating for policy reforms aimed at expanding access to quality vocational training. By ensuring these programs are tailored to the needs of the labor market, Cameroon can assist in the reduction of unemployment and provide its citizens with the skills and required experience to build sustainable livelihoods, as this would be in the interest to the economic advancement of the country as a whole.

In recent years, education funding in Cameroon has been a high topic of concern as the government continues to fall short in meeting the needs. Despite the governments commitment to education, the allocation of resources to the sector has been inadequate, leading to an array of setbacks and shortcomings. According to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program, Cameroon’s education sector is facing a funding shortfall of over $300 million. This funding gap has had a severe impact on the quality of education in the country, where schools often lack basic amenities as aforementioned. A critical issue being the lack of investment in the training and recruitment of educators. The majority of educational institutions in the nation struggle to attract and retain qualified teachers due to poor working conditions and even lower salaries, resulting in students left with inadequate instruction. Infrastructure is also underfunded, resulting in a lack of running water, electricity and proper sanitation facilities, making it difficult for students to study and pursue their studies in a conducive environment. This lack of infrastructure has led to a high drop out rate. Despite these challenges, the government has implemented the “Education Sector Plan” (ESP) in 2018. The ESP aims to improve access to quality education, particularly for girls, and increase investment in teacher training as well as recruitment. However, critics argue that the governments efforts fall short and much more needs to be done in addressing the shortcomings within the country’s education sector. They point to the fact that Cameroon’s education spending is well below the recommendation of 20% of the national budget, with only 13% allocated to the sector in 2020. Education funding in Cameroon remains a staggering challenge that requires immediate, urgent and transparent attention. The government must prioritize investment in the sectors to ensure that all students have access to quality education in order to achieve their full potential. Failure to do so will mean long-term implications for the country’s social and economical development.

Lack of education exacerbates health problems in Cameroon. Education plays a vital and imperative role in promoting health, particularly in areas such as maternal and child health, infectious diseases, and nutrition. Lack of education hinders the populations ability to access health education and information, leading to preventable health issues and lack of knowledge and skills to take care of their health in preventing diseases, seek appropriate medical care, or understanding in the importance of vaccinations and other preventative measures. Secondly, many Cameroonians may not be aware of the risks of certain behaviors, such as unprotected sex, that can lead to the transmission of diseases. Lack of education limits their understanding of health-related issues and reduces the individuals ability to make informed decisions accordingly. Thirdly, lack of education statistically contributes directly to poor nutrition, which is a significant health problem in this western African nation. Malnutrition affects a significant portion of the population, specifically children under the age of 5. It is studied that without education, individuals may not known how to grow, prepare, and consume a balanced diet.

Additionally, the lack of education directly hinders the country’s ability to address public health issues such as epidemics and pandemics. During Covid-19, the lack of education was directly connected to the difficulties endured by the population to understand and comply with health guidelines, leading to increased transmission rates. Lastly, women who lack education are less likely to seek medical care when necessary, as lack of education limits their ability to access health care altogether which directly results in higher rates of maternal and child mortality. In addition to strengthening the education sector, the health education should also be integrated into the curriculum in a safe, conclusive and secure manner for both genders alike.

Additionally, the lack of education contributes to social unrest as well as political instability. When individuals are unable to secure employment or participate fully in the economy, they are more likely to become involved in criminal activities or even join extremist groups. In Cameroon, the lack of education has been identified as a contributing factor to the rise of Boko Haram and other extremist groups. Boko Haram are recognized as a group seeking to establish the Islamic state, whilst opposing western education, which they view as a threat to their ideology, this extremist group is a concern within Cameroon in regards to the education sector. Boko Haram has specifically targeted schools, particularly those in the northern regions of the country, where poverty and lack of education are prevalent. The group has abducted school children and attacked institutions, resulting in the closure of schools and hindering children’s access to education. Boko Haram has been recognized in using education as a recruitment tool, targeting vulnerable youth who lack access to education by promising them ‘a better life’ if they join the group. Poverty has fueled hopelessness among youth in Cameroon, making them vulnerable to extremist ideologies. Additionally, this has perpetuated social inequality, particularly gender disparities, which have resulted in the exploitation of girls and women by the extremist groups. To counter the rise of existing and creation of further extremist groups, the focus on education is imperative.

Cameroon’s English speaking minority has been marginalized by the dominant francophone nation since 2017. The unresolved and ongoing civil war conflict has resulted in at least 15 attacks at in schools, resulting in the shut down and depriving 700,000 students from education. The education system has been held hostage by this military-separatist war. “Armed separatists bear full responsibility for these targeted attacks on education, but the response of the Cameroonian government and security forces has been inadequate and is hampered by the numerous abusive counterinsurgency operations in the Anglophone regions, which have spread deep mistrust among the civilian population victimized by these operations,” according to HRW. This has resulted in “uneducated generation of Anglophone youth joining criminal fighters because they lack other economic survival skills” writes journalist Aurore Bonny for the Anadolu Agency.

Cameroon faces various educational challenges that consistently hinder the country’s progress towards sustainable development. While significant progress has been made, much still needs to be accomplished in order to ensure that every Cameroonian has access to equal and quality education. Addressing these challenges will demand a collective, unified and transparent effort from the government, civil society organizations, and international partners. Only then can Cameroon provide its citizens with the tools required in order to build a prosperous future and contribute to the development of their nation.

Educational challenges in Namibia

Written by Kim Lothaller

Namibia, known to be the driest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, is a geographically large nation. This country, which borders South Africa, Angola, Botswana, and Zambia, also has a 1,500-kilometre south Atlantic coastline. Although, Namibia is quite vast, only approximately 2.53 million people live here. Sound economic management and political stability have reduced poverty levels and, in turn, has allowed Namibia to be recognised as an upper-middle-income country. Nonetheless, socioeconomic inequalities, heightened by the past apartheid government systems, remain quite high (1).

Currently, the education system in Namibia is structured into four different levels, including pre-primary (kindergarten), primary (grades 1 to 7), secondary (grades 8 to 12), and tertiary education. Education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 16 years old respectively. With roughly two million citizens, approximately 1500 schools exist in this country, with around 100 of these being privately owned (2). Since 2016, primary and secondary education in government-owned schools have been free. As school is only mandatory till the age of 16 (or Grade 10), once students successfully complete this grade they receive a Junior Secondary School Certificate.

Figure 1 Student taking examination in Namibia.

As stated and seen in the Constitution:

Children shall not be allowed to leave school until they have completed their primary education cycle or have attained the age of sixteen (16) years, whichever is the sooner, save in so far as this may be authorised by Act of Parliament on grounds of health or other considerations pertaining to the public interest (Constitution of the Republic of Namibia Article 20). (7)

Additionally, should students choose to continue their education, students will receive a Namibia Senior Secondary Education Certificate once Grade 12 has been successfully completed (4).

Despite primary school being compulsory and free, enrolment rates in Namibian school is only around 80%, with gender and regional differences existing. Additionally, the drop-out rate ranges between 1% and 10%, with these being particularly high in Grades 1, 5, and 10 (5). In a country bigger than Belgium and France put together, with great areas of desert, the proper authorities are struggling to provide quality education to hard-to-reach communities and, furthermore, ensure that children remain in the system. It has been found that there is a repetition rate of over 20% in Grade 5 and close to 50% of students in Grade 10 fail their exams (6).

Main Educational Problems in Namibia

Access to Education: 

Although primary school attendance rates have increased over the past years, getting an education in rural and outlying locations continues to be difficult. Many schools in these regions lack basic amenities like electricity and water, and students frequently have to travel great distances to get to school (6). Learners from these vulnerable communities often see high repetition rates (especially in Grades 1,5, and 8) and soaring drop-out rates (particularly after Grade 10, after school is compulsory anymore). Additionally, on average, only 1 out 100 learners living in rural Namibia graduate from Grade 12 (7).

Education Quality: 

Although the government has made investments to raise education standards in Namibia, this issue still exists. Several schools lack sufficient skilled instructors, instructional supplies, and fundamental infrastructure, which, as a result, has a severe effect on the standard of education that students receive (6). As a result, in all 13 defined educational regions, the majority of the learners are not able to reach the minimum standards in the English reading level. For example, at the overall national level, only 16.6% of the learners were able to reach the minimum level (learners who will barely survive the next year of schooling) in reading literacy, while only a 6.7% managed to reach the desirable level (learners who will definitely succeed the following academic year) (3).

Additionally, data continues to show that a lack of sufficient and adequate teaching and learning materials, sanitation, physical facilities, and other necessary conditions exist to allow a good teaching and learning environment. This disparity is even more obvious in former disadvantaged areas and regions. This data, however, seems to severely contradict the Namibian constitution and policy documents, specifically the ‘Towards Education for All’ document, which requires that:

To provide education for all, we must expand access to our education system. For that, we need not just have more schools but schools and other education programmes where learning is truly accessible to all Namibians (MEC, 1993:34,103) (3).

Inequality and High drop-out rates:

In Namibia, education disparity is a serious problem. Challenges remain in the access for pastoralists and nomadic groups, HIV/AIDS pandemic, and natural disasters. As a result, many kids, who often face financial difficulties, a lack of access to basic amenities as well as subpar academic results, often decide to leave school prematurely (8). When compared to their peers from more fortunate circumstances, students from underprivileged backgrounds frequently have less access to high-quality education (7). Additionally, ‘school under the tree’ is still very common in this country. This image truly symbolises the unequal distribution of facilities and resources amongst the urban and rural schools. For example, more than 47 000 primary school children are still taught under trees or in ‘traditional’ classrooms, with a large portion of these not having any basic services such as clean water, toilets, and electricity (3).

Quality and equity are important components and are well embodied in education policy documents and official reports. These documents and reports highlight the access expansions, access to high quality of education, and facilitation of economic growth and competitiveness.  The ‘Towards Education for All’ policy document in Namibia emphasises that a major hurdle for quality and equity in this country’s education system is the obvious inequitable distribution of resources amongst the different regions, which is linked to the history of Namibia (3). Additionally, this policy emphasises that:

Education for all does not simply mean more schools or more children in school. Nor does it mean that they simply start literacy classes or increase the number of places in programmes for out of school youth. Education for all requires that the government develop its system of education and training and how it organises it (MEC, 1993) (3).


Following the effects COVID-19 had on face-to-face teaching and learning time, nearly 90% of high school students in Namibia could not graduate at the end of 2022.  Out of the 38,000 students that wrote their final 2022 high school examinations, only around 5,000 of these managed to pass. Even though schools were not closed altogether during the of COVID, the significant loss of face-to-face teaching have led to the poor results seen in 2022. Out of the 198 school days planned learners were unable to master all the academic competencies needed to successfully progress to following grades. Additionally, during this time, the poor education infrastructure has become more obvious, with a shortage of classrooms, learning and teaching resources, as well as the absence of systematic support for teachers and learners at school levels. Furthermore, discipline amongst learners and teachers has slowly been declining and, as a result, weak monitoring and evaluation occurs at all levels of education (8).

Figure 2 Student sanitized her hand at a school in Windhoek, capital of Namibia (Photo by Ndalimpinga Iita/Xinhua)



  1. The World Bank. “Overview.” World Bank, 2016, Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.
  2. Shusko, Lisa. “The Successes and Challenges of the Namibian Education System.” Our Peace Corps Namibia Blog, 23 June 2015, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.
  3. Hailombe, O. (2011). Education Equity and Quality in Namibia: A case study of Mobile Schools in the Kunene Region. Retrieved April 12, 2023, from
  4. World Bank. Namibia Education Overview. 2020, Accessed 31 Mar. 2023.
  5. ‌Wikan, G. (2008). Challenges in the primary education in Namibia. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from
  6. Bellamy, C., & Sousa, G. (n.d.). Equitable access to Quality Education: Challenges in Namibia. Equitable Access to Quality Education: Challenges in Namibia | Capacity4dev. Retrieved April 4, 2023, from
  7. UNICEF. (2018, April 9). Improving school participation in Namibia. UNICEF Office of Innovation . Retrieved April 12, 2023, from

Educational challenges in Perú: Battling against intersectional discrimination

Written by Joan Vilalta Flo

Education is a fundamental human right. As dictated by the ICESCR and CESCR, everyone is entitled to non-discriminatory, quality, culturally sensitive, affordable, and accessible education. According to the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, in 2019 Perú showed fairly good results when it came to using its income to ensure the fulfillment of people’s right to education. From a low-and-middle-income assessment standard, it achieved 89.3% of the benchmark set for the global ranking, and 90.5% of its income-adjusted benchmark[i]. Indeed, there have been considerable improvements in the Peruvian education system throughout the years, such as an increase in the education budget (a 50% between 2012 and 2017) and overall greater accessibility and provision of education to the bulk of society[ii].

Nevertheless, numerous recent sources indicate, through a more nuanced view, that several obstacles still hamper accessible and quality education in Perú, especially for certain vulnerable populations, which in some cases are discriminated simultaneously at multiple levels. The following paragraphs will outline some of the current challenges that Perú faces when ensuring human rights in education.


According to a recent in-depth study that uses data from the Peruvian Ministry of Education, the uneven distribution of students in Peruvian schools depending on socioeconomic level, but also residence location or performance is a great challenge that is barely attended. Having extremely homogenous populations in educational centers, with certain centers accumulating those with similar socioeconomic advantages, negatively affects social cohesion, the quality of education, the exchange of social capital and the access to equal opportunities.

An example of this can be found in the expansion of private education centers. Originating in the widespread prestige of private education among Peruvians since the 90’s, the popularity and demand for private centers has increased steeply. Registration to basic education centers went from 14% in 1997 to 28.4% in 2020[iii]. While the Peruvian state pushed for universal education by providing public centers, it allowed the expansion of privatization, placing little regulation upon the sector. This has coincided with an increase of segregation in education, there currently is an uneven distribution of the student population among educational centers.

Peruvian private school youths. Photo by Sepres.

Rural public schools hold a disproportionately great number of low-income students, followed by urban public centers, then low-cost private centers and finally high-cost private centers, which are mainly composed by high-income students and barely contain socioeconomically disadvantaged students. Within the private circuit, the performance of students also increases with the cost of the school, pointing to the idea that individuals get only the education they can pay for.[iv] It should be noted that student performance in the increasingly popular low-cost private centers is sometimes similar or even lower than in standardized public schools, while they sometimes lack appropriate material and teacher capacitation. This indicates that the prestige of private education is sometimes uncalled for.[v]

Another example of segregation in education is displayed by the COAR or High-Performance Centers, secondary education centers that “reward talent”. Such public institutions accumulate students with outstanding results and are sometimes framed as inclusive, since they provide the opportunity to obtain “better quality” education those who cannot afford private schools. But it is precisely in the fact that the state guarantees a better quality of education in those centers that they become problematic, since the state fails its own responsibility to ensure the same educational quality to all its citizens. The 25 existing COAR only contain around 6.700 students in total and their student investment is 12.5 times higher compared to the rest of public schools, undermining the principles of equity and equal access to opportunities.[vi] Separating high-performance students from their original schools also curtails the possibility of peer-to-peer learning and improvement for the rest of students.

Moreover, while the access to a COAR seems to be solely determined by an individual’s “merit”, it must be considered that minority and vulnerable populations (such as individuals from rural and indigenous areas, whose mother tongue is not Spanish and whose parents have a low educational level) are significantly less likely to be enrolled or accepted in a COAR. It can be argued that “talent” is, in the end, only easily recognized and displayed in contexts of advantage; it is necessary to promote inclusive educational systems that provide equal opportunities for all.

COAR students in a meeting. Photo by ANDINA.

Legal Matters

Since May 2022 there has been a controversial law in place that can deeply affect education in human and civil rights, curtailing the quality of education: the Law No. 31498. This law essentially allocates greater power to parent’s associations to overwatch the curriculum of primary and secondary school levels, including veto power. The law contemplates that a moral criterion can be applied when overwatching (or vetoing) the curriculum’s content.

Parent’s association meeting. Photo by ANDINA.

While supporters of this law claim that it can enhance the quality of the educational material, organizations such as Human Rights Watch claim that this law puts quality and independent education to risk by subjugating the expertise of teachers and the Ministry of Education to parent’s views and opinions. They acknowledge that it is important to involve the parents in the educational process, but they note that this law has, in practice, translated into the reduction or veto of education in gender and sexuality matters.[vii] Such education is crucial to promote equality, social justice, and human rights, especially considering the high teen pregnancy rates and increased sexual violence rates in Perú.[viii] In fact, one of the recommendations by the 2018 UPR highlighted the need of an integral sexual education to inform women and girls about sexual health and reproductive rights.[ix] In short, this law potentially challenges the quality of education in human rights, justice and freedom of expression while hampering the development of critical thinking skills.

Also, as regards legal improvements, it should be noted that, as noted in the 2018 UPR recommendations, fully equipping disabled people with full juridical capacity and recognition in the Civil Code could guarantee their access to adapted, inclusive, quality education, which is something that hasn’t been fully achieved yet.[x]

The Digital Gap

The Covid-19 pandemic hit the Peruvian educational system hard: in 2021, a total of 124.533 students stopped attending the classes. Although the government of Perú acted fast and implemented various policies to continue providing education for all students (including the provision of technological material to families with little resources and connectivity, and equipping teachers with capacities to adapt to virtual education)[xi], the crisis underscored a salient problem in Peruvian education: the so-called Digital Gap.

Children from a rural area using technological devices. Photo by Servindi.

Numerous studies conducted during and after the pandemic highlighted that rural, usually indigenous families (which are also often the ones with lowest income) have got less access to technological material, sometimes lack internet connection and, by extension, attain less digital literacy than those located in urban areas under better socioeconomical conditions.[xii] The lack of technological accessibility and knowledge is a widespread problem in South America and the Caribbean, where as much as 55% of the population is affected.[xiii] This gap represents a situation of inequality in education access and quality between urban, wealthier populations and poorer rural communities, and it has implications far beyond the Covid-19 pandemic in a future where digital access is increasingly essential for professional development[xiv]. Less than 10% of the Peruvian population that did not finish primary education has access to internet[xv], highlighting that the inequality also affects those with a lower educational level, making the inequality somewhat cyclical. It should also be considered that ensuring the obtention of technology is not enough: the technological item itself needs to be accessible to students with special needs, which reportedly was the most overlooked collective during the pandemic.

Illiteracy, School Dropout and Absenteeism

According to the National Statistics Institute, around 5.6% of the population over 15 years old in Perú do not know how to read and write.[xvi] Literacy is key to reduce poverty and build democratic and fair societies with respect for social equality and human rights. While steady improvements have been made in this area in Perú, the illiteracy rate remains high, especially among, again, vulnerable collectives and minorities. Most illiterate individuals live in contexts of extreme poverty located in rural areas (in which illiteracy is 4 times greater than in urban areas), are indigenous, and their mother tongue is Quichua, Aimara or another regional language.[xvii] The gender component, which will be elaborated on further on this article, also plays into illiteracy: 8.3% of Peruvian women are illiterate, compared to 2.9% of men.[xviii]

Women from a rural area attending a literacy class. Photo by Diario Correo.

The number of workers between 14 and 18 years old has reportedly increased by 485.000 in 2021.[xix] Many young individuals who live in non-urban areas in poor economic conditions, often must assume work duties to survive, which makes their school attendance irregular and negatively impacts their performance.[xx] This is especially true for girls, who are often assigned to do the bulk of domestic work by their families, or who are affected by teenage pregnancy and sometimes forced into marriage.[xxi] This represents an obstacle to alphabetization and obtention of quality education, as well as a school dropout problem: the dropout rate in Perú is of 6.3%. For the reasons mentioned above, the rate for women is of 10.2% while for men it is of 8.4%.[xxii]

The challenge here is obvious: there needs to be greater efforts to increase literacy, particularly in poverty and rural contexts, including tending to the cultural and language needs of indigenous communities by enacting more flexible and inclusive education systems.[xxiii] Gender sensitive policies to ensure the education of girls and women must also be developed, while fighting patriarchal gender roles that undermine their rights.

A child working in agriculture. Photo available in RCR.

Sexual Violence in Education

In 2018, 34.6% of the Peruvian teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17 had reportedly been victims of sexual abuse either at home or at school.[xxiv] Needless to say, these experiences deeply harm children at various levels and profoundly violate their human rights, including their right to quality education. This figure is alarming enough to highlight the importance of preventing such violence in education through implementing strong reporting and detection mechanisms, applying multisectoral prevention plans against child victimization, providing education in sexual and gender matters, raising awareness as well as building a stronger and more accessible justice system.[xxv]


As it can be picked up from the sections above, there is a level of discrimination towards certain (vulnerable) populations in Peruvian education, expressed through situations of inequity, inequality of opportunities and access to education, and differential provision of quality education.

Discrimination by gender is one of the most pressing matters. As explained earlier, Peruvian women and girls experience inequality in access and permanence in primary, secondary, and tertiary education due to socially enforced sexist gender roles that disregard their right to quality education.[xxvi] The inequality worsens in the case of women who live in rural areas; a limited education limits their professional possibilities, driving them towards jobs that do not require professionalization, provide low incomes and poor working conditions.[xxvii] Moreover, although the legislation includes a gender lens in education since 2003, implementation of a curriculum on gender issues has been very slow, mainly due to the opposition of religious groups.[xxviii] Hence, education in Perú still enforces sexist stereotypes that perpetuate gender inequalities.

Children from rural areas attending class. Photo by Educacción Perú.

Inequality is experienced by rural populations as well, visible through the previously mentioned education access difficulties, lower quality education due to lower resource allocation in rural educational centers, lack of technological facilities, and socioeconomical constrains. Indeed, the discrimination of these individuals intersects with the discrimination of lower socioeconomic status individuals, whose conditions makes it hard to attain educational continuity and good performance. Only 1 in 10 poor youths access university, while 5 in 10 rich youths do.[xxix]

Also intersecting with the discrimination towards rural populations, there is a longstanding discrimination against indigenous peoples. Evidence of this is displayed, for example, by the fact that they are vastly underrepresented in tertiary education. Students whose mother tongue is Spanish are more than twice as likely to register in tertiary education (34.4%) than those whose mother tongue is an indigenous one (14.1%).[xxx]

Disabled students also suffer a longstanding situation of inequality that, although formally condemned by the state and legally acknowledged, in practice results in the continued segregation of disabled students and a deficient Basic Education assistance rate of 52%.[xxxi]

Disabled children attending school. Photo by Perú 21.

Yet another level of discrimination in education can be seen against Venezuelan migrant children. Venezuelan migration to Perú for sociopolitical and economic reasons has been a rising phenomenon over the last years. Unfortunately, prejudices against them and structural disadvantages has placed them in a position of vulnerability; and Venezuelan children have not been exempted from it: 42% of Venezuelan children in Perú still have not accessed formal education.[xxxii] More palpable forms of discrimination towards Venezuelan children such as xenophobic bullying have also been reported.  Physical or psychological violence in the context of education has been the result of xenophobia against Venezuelans, sometimes intersecting with other forms of discrimination, such as gender-based prejudices, which have contributed to the hyper-sexualization of Venezuelan girls.[xxxiii]

All in all, it seems necessary to promote inclusive educational schemes in which centers, educators, students, and families take conscience of the existing inequalities and work together to overcome them. The state needs to properly equip institutions and professionals in order to implement policies that shape a system that truly grants universal access to the same opportunities and quality contents while ensuring a positive and safe environment for all individuals.[xxxiv]


[i] Human Rights Tracker (n.d.)

[ii] UN, Human Rights Council (2018)

[iii] Ames (2021)

[iv] Ames (2021)

[v] Aquino (2018)

[vi] Ames (2021)

[vii] Cabrera (2023)

[viii] UN Perú (2022)

[ix] UN, Human Rights Council (2018)

[x] UN, Human Rights Council (2018)

[xi] Tarazona (2021), Fundacion Weise (2021)

[xii] Ortega Murga et al. (2021), Acho Ramirez et al. (2021)

[xiii] Tarazona (2021)

[xiv] Ortega Murga et al. (2021), Fundacion Weise (2021), Acho Ramirez et al. (2021)

[xv] Tarazona (2021)

[xvi] INEI (2018)

[xvii] Plan International Perú (2022), CARE (2023), INEI (2018)

[xviii] INEI (2018)

[xix] CARE (2023)

[xx] Plan International Perú (2022), CARE (2023), Becerra Paico (2022)

[xxi] Plan International Perú (2022), Becerra Paico (2022)

[xxii] CARE (2023)

[xxiii] Castillo-Acobo et al. (2022)

[xxiv] UNICEF (2018)

[xxv] UN Perú (2022)

[xxvi] Rojas (2022), Becerra Paico (2022)

[xxvii] Santa María et al. (2020), Cuenca and Urrutia (2019)

[xxviii] Rojas (2022)

[xxix] Cuenca and Urrutia (2019)

[xxx] Ames (2021)

[xxxi] Ames (2021)

[xxxii] Navas Zaraza and Morin Cabrera (2021)

[xxxiii] Navas Zaraza and Morin Cabrera (2021)

[xxxiv] Castillo-Acobo et al. (2022)



Acho Ramírez, S., Diaz Espinoza, M., Criollo Hidalgo, V., & García Camacho, O. E. (2021). La realidad de la educación inclusiva en el Perú y los retos desde la virtualidad. In EduSol21(77), 153-168.

Ames, P (2021). Educación,¿la mejor herencia o el mejor negocio?: La segregación educativa en el Perú y los desafíos para la formación ciudadana. In Revista Peruana de Investigación Educativa13(15).

Aquino, B. (2018, March 16). Costos y segmentación de la educación privada – Educación al Futuro. Educación Al Futuro. Retrieved from:,pensiones%20superiores%20a%20S%2F%201000.

Becerra Paico, B. D. (2022). Políticas públicas en educación: Discriminación por género en el sistema educativo, caso Centro Poblado Saltur del distrito de Zaña, provincia de Chiclayo en la región Lambayeque, 2018-2019. Universidad Nacional Pedro Ruiz Gallo, Facultad de Ciencias Histórico Sociales y Educación.

Cabrera, C. G. (2023, January 24). Perú amenaza la educación sobre derechos humanos. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from:

CARE (2023, February 7). 5 Cifras Alarmantes de la Educación en el Perú. CARE Perú. Retrieved from:,a%C3%B1os%20no%20la%20ha%20culminado.

Castillo-Acobo, R., Quispe, H., Arias-Gonzáles, J., & Amaro, C. (2022). Consideraciones de los docentes sobre las barreras de la educación inclusiva. Revista De Filosofía, 39.

Cuenca, R., & Urrutia, C. E. (2019). Explorando las brechas de desigualdad educativa en el Perú. In Revista mexicana de investigación educativa24(81), 431-461.

Fundación Weise (2021, June 17). ¿Cómo superar los retos de la desigualdad educativa en Perú? Fundación Wiese. Retrieved from:

Human Rights Tracker (n. d.) Right to education – Human Rights Tracker. Retrieved from:®ion=americas

INEI (2018). Capítulo 6: Tasa de analfabetismo. In Perú: Indicadores de Educación por Departamentos, 2008-2018 (pp. 131–140).

Navas Zaraza, A., & Morin Cabrera, N. (2021). Documento de orientaciones para la prevención de la discriminación y el acoso escolar xenofóbico en las instituciones educativas. In

Ortega Murga, O. J., Quispe Ávalos, A. M., Consuelo Navarro, B., & Tello Sifuentes, Y. (2021). La educación virtual en época de pandemia: Los más desfavorecidos en el Perú. In Horizontes Revista de Investigación en Ciencias de la Educación5(21), 109-122.

Plan International Perú (2022, June 22). Brecha de educación en el Perú: esta es la población más afectada. Plan International. Retrieved from:

Rojas, E. S. A. (2022). La equidad de género en la educación peruana. In Sapienza: International Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies3(1), 608-619.

Santa María, B. C., Nizama, J. L. R., Santa María, I. C., & Ramírez, G. S. (2020). Educación y recursos económicos en mujeres del campo en Perú. In Revista de ciencias sociales26(2), 81-93.

Tarazona, C. N. (2021). Tensiones respecto a la brecha digital en la educación peruana. In Revista peruana de investigación e innovación educativa1(2), e21039-e21039.

UN, Human Rights Council (2018, March 28). Informe del Grupo de Trabajo sobre el Examen Periódico Universal. Examen Periódico Universal. United Nations, A/HRC/37/8.

UN Perú (2022, April 21). Ante los casos de abuso sexual contra niñas, niños y adolescentes. UN Perú. Retrieved from:

UNICEF (2018, July 18). UNICEF pide tolerancia cero y acciones urgentes frente al abuso sexual de niños, niñas y adolescentes en las escuelas. Retrieved from:

Educational challenges in Georgia

Written by Alexandra Drugescu-Radulescu


Education in Georgia is repatriated in three levels: primary (classes I-IV), basic (classes  VII-IX), and secondary (classes X-XII),  the first two levels being mandatory.[1] Children start receiving grades in basic school, being assessed on a 1 to 10 points scale. Every school needs to follow the national curriculum, which can be modified in exceptional cases, such as for students with special needs. The curriculum is modified based on the subjects with which the children struggle.[2] Furthermore, home education is allowed in such cases, the child being enrolled in school but following a study plan from home. However, there is factual evidence that reveals systematic hardships faced by children with special needs in the Georgian education system.[3] While there have been significant improvements, struggles still occur. According to UNICEF, one of the biggest problems Georgia faces is the quality of education, with the country`s expenditure being lower than that of other countries with the same GDP.[4]  It is important to keep in mind the tumultuous history of Georgia before analyzing the various challenges of its education system. Georgia still has to confront systematic hiccups, as a result of the long time spent under the USSR. As a relatively new democracy, gaining its independence in 1991, the state still has the potential to further improve its educational system in the next decades.

Children with special needs

Special-needs teacher Lia Tabatadze assists a boy in a seventh-grade math class in Tbilisi’s School #124 on Oct. 20. Since 2013, Georgia’s education ministry has provided training for 4,700 school professionals and psychologists in special-needs education. (Photo: Monica Ellena)

As mentioned above, Georgia has strong legislation that is meant to ensure that every child is able to achieve academic success. Taking into account the website of the Ministry of Education, one would expect that youngsters have equal access to quality education. This idea is further reinforced by Georgia`s ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of people with disabilities. Article 24 of the convention underlines states should ensure non-discriminatory education on the basis of the right to equal opportunity[5]. While this Convention does not have a legally binding character, it illustrates the acknowledgment of signatories, including Georgia, of the relevance of inclusive education. This approval of international norms has been consolidated by national legislation. In 2005, Georgia approves the Law of General Education, which stresses the importance of inclusive education, that can provide children with the essential basis for successful development. However, this ideal is not fulfilled in practice, given the struggles faced by children with special needs.

While Georgia prides itself in its almost 100% literacy rate for 14- to 24-year-olds, a population census reveals that it drops to 86.2 percent respectively 87.0 percent for men and women with disabilities.[6] Furthermore, an even more troublesome finding is that out of the 11,765 children with disabilities registered in Social Service Agency only 1,244 children are registered in schools.[7] While inclusive education in Georgia has been implemented 10 years ago, only 65% of public schools report having students with special educational needs.[8]  Because the state does not collect statistics about children outside of formal education, no reliable analysis can be done on their rates of success. This implies that no clear strategy can be created in order to ensure the fruitful development of every child, based on factual evidence.

While the government permits certain changes to the curriculum, The NGO  Georgian Young Lawyers Association states the national curriculum does not offer the possibility of alternative learning that cater to the specific academic needs of a child.[9] The Situation Analysis On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Georgia, created by UNDP, mentions the fact that a central cause for this imbalance in the educational system is the lack of resources offered to children with disabilities. Better infrastructure, learning material, and training of professionals working in the field could improve the chances of a successful academic experience for children with disabilities.[10]

Legal steps to remodel the system have been made. One example is the 2018 amendment to the above-mentioned Law of General Education, which proposes a clear plan for financing educational institutions to cater to the needs of students with disabilities.[11] Another vital improvement is the increase from 2018 to 2019 four times in staff specifically trained to supervise children with disabilities.[12] Regardless of this new legal framework, it is undeniable that at the moment the prime benefactors of such resources are children in privileged areas. However, it is a first step towards improving the quality of life of children, which could receive better opportunities throughout their lives if they are encouraged in having solid education.


Administrative Map of Georgia Map based on a UN map. Source: UN Cartographic Section

Georgia prides itself on high graduation rates for primary and lower secondary schools. At a first glance, it could be assumed that the rate of completion of upper secondary school is relatively high, with 76% of students graduating in Tbilisi.[13] However, when other regions are taken into account, it can be observed that poorer areas are not as lucky.  For example, in Kakheti, the drop-out rate is 58%.[14] Why such strong regional disparities can be observed, with discrepancies of over 30 % in completion rates? In a UNICEF Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, responses from Georgians are analyzed in order to find reliable data on access and compilation of education.[15] One of the main findings is that the lowest completion rates in the country can be identified in the poorest regions. This could open a discussion regarding the connection between financial resources and the quality of education. Not only children in rural areas, that come from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to have the personal means to finish their education, but public funding is as well not as often offered to smaller educational institutions. Even when looking at primary school completion rates, while discrepancies are not as evident, children raised in an urban rich area are more likely to finish school.[16]

Furthermore, it can be observed that factors such as ethnicity play a role as well in access to education. For example, three times more Azeri children, part of Georgia`s biggest ethnic minority, are likely to be out of school than Georgian children.[17]

The differences become even more stagnant when analyzing the results of Georgian children at the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, which assess children in four areas (reading, mathematics, science, and skills to meet real-life challenges). Students in rural areas score 44 points less in 2015  than those from urban areas, which would be the equivalent of one year and a half of studying[18]. This gap has actually increased over time, with the difference between rural and urban assessment takers being only 33 points in 2009.

The data presented above highlights an underlying problem in the Georgian education system. While it could be argued that regional disparities are present all over the states of the world in terms of educational funding and opportunities, it is a problem that needs to be addressed. A conversation could be opened regarding the need for a more comparative way of analyzing the success rates of an educational system, without overlooking underprivileged areas.


Children from Tbilisi’s kindergartens; Source:

In order to assess the quality of an education system, a number of factors need to be analyzed. Firstly, modernizing teaching is paramount in achieving quality, up-to-date education. In order to modernize a system, it is necessary to have well-trained professionals, willing to implement new technologies in their method of teaching and assessing. According to OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education, Georgia ranks low on modernization, primarily because of the age of teachers.[19] A quarter of them are over 60, which could lead to a preference for more traditional forms of teaching.[20] While the debate on modernization is more nuanced, the combination of age with the low pay of educational staff and observable phenomena, it could be assumed that Georgia still has to improve its tactics in incentivizing teachers to implement modern methods in the class.

Second, educational performance can be analyzed in order to assess if an education system is qualitative or not. The performance of its students at international assessments, such as PISA, mentioned in the previous section, is extremely relevant in the case of Georgia.[21] A clear improvement between Gorgia`s performance in 2009 and the one in 2015, in reading, science, and mathematics.[22] However, while this increase is note-worthy, Georgian students still score lower than other children assessed. For example, only 1% of children would be considered top-performing, lower than the average of 8% of OECD countries.[23] Furthermore, one of the highest shares of low achievers in science comes from Georgia.

The lack of modernization and the performance of students at international assessments could be linked and showcase a structural problem in the Georgian education system. A better comprehension of ways pedagogy can be done, combined with a better incentivization system for teachers could potentially increase student performance.


Georgia has gone through a vast number of reforms throughout the last decade. An increase in the quality of education can be observed, as well as the attempt to create new legislative projects that can sustain factual change. Nevertheless, Georgia still faces a number of educational challenges that affect the lives of children throughout the country. While some may be more susceptible to feeling the implications of such challenges, as presented above, the improvement of the education system could benefit everyone.



Reference List

Digitaldesign.Ge. (n.d.). Chapter VI.  Basic Methodological Orientations – The Portal of National Curriculum. The Portal of National Curriculum.

General Education. (n.d.). UNICEF Georgia.

Li, R., et al. (2019), OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education: Georgia,

OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Mizunoya, Suguru & Amaro, Diogo & Mishra, Sakshi. (2020). Georgia: Education Fact Sheets | 2020 Analyses for learning and equity using MICS data.

Situation Analysis of the Rights of People with Disabilities in Georgia. 2021 | United Nations Development Programme. (n.d.). UNDP.

UN Enable – Text of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. (n.d.).















[13] file:///C:/Users/druge/Downloads/FinalGeorgia-Education-Fact-Sheet-2020.pdf

[14] file:///C:/Users/druge/Downloads/FinalGeorgia-Education-Fact-Sheet-2020.pdf

[15] file:///C:/Users/druge/Downloads/FinalGeorgia-Education-Fact-Sheet-2020.pdf

[16] file:///C:/Users/druge/Downloads/FinalGeorgia-Education-Fact-Sheet-2020.pdf

[17] file:///C:/Users/druge/Downloads/FinalGeorgia-Education-Fact-Sheet-2020.pdf







Educational challenges in Mexico: Access to education where inequality and discrimination deepens, and violence floods the social space

Written by Ivel Sestopal


Mexico is facing an educational crisis; it is well known in Mexican society that many things are lacking inside the educational system. Besides the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) demanding better institutions to attend to the educational reality of the country, there has been a lot of pressure from other Institutions to attend to the issue. It is a country in development that depends economically on other countries and has a difficult social reality where corruption and drug dealing are a reality and it has been normalized in society.

The main issues in Mexican education have to do with poor quality, insufficient coverage at some levels, and high dropout rates in levels beyond primary[i]. For instance, Mexico is a country that has a lot of cultural diversity as well as socio-economic issues that have created a huge gap between social classes. This reality has forced children to drop out of school and help their family, in some cases, forced to work with cartels creating dropouts and breaking the educational dynamic for children and youth which is problematic due to the fact that upper secondary attainment is a minimum qualification for most of the labor market. 44% of young adults left school without an upper secondary qualification in comparison with the 14% of the OECD partner countries.[ii]

This article highlights four major challenges to education that are seen in Mexico.

Education coverage and diversity


One of the main challenges is that Mexico doesn’t guarantee education to most of the citizens. With 43.9% of the population living in poverty,[iii] it has become a challenge for people living in marginalized zones to access education due to a lack of transport, materials, and health problems.

Most indigenous communities often have to travel for hours to reach the nearest school further highlighting the issue that there haven’t been enough schools built in these rural areas, putting rural and indigenous students at a disadvantage since they have to leave their communities and encounter many difficulties to further their education[iv].

Since public education is funded by the federal state, the budget given to states is not always coherent with the necessities of each one. For example, a state with less infrastructure and bigger demand if books might have less budget than one that is located at the center of a city which deepens the inequality of education between states with respective needs or considerations[v]. For example, the state of Baja California and Mexico State contributes 40% of the total education budget through state funds[vi], being a clear example of budget inequality.

Gender and Indigeneity Inequality


Mexican culture especially in the most marginalized places is attached to the belief of women confining themselves to their homes taking care of the children and other home related tasks because of which Mexican girls are more likely than boys to drop out of school denying them not only access to basic levels of education but also to access higher levels of education.

Child marriage is still a custom in most Mexican communities and 83% of married Mexican girls leave school[vii].

There is also an existing inequality in the access to education for indigenous communities in which the system and programs are not designed for their customs or even language. Some of the courses are not even suitable for the way of life of these children as it does not take into consideration the different backgrounds that these children come from.

Management inside the educational system


School in Mexico is organized by public and private education, the public is based on state authority and school administrators but there are no decisions that involve the important stakeholders such as parents and students. There is an institution called SEP (Secretary of Public Education) that sets all major guidelines about public schools and is characterized by a lack of transparency and accountability for the correct application of financial resources[viii], limiting the access to information and analysis of the development of public schools.

Parents and teachers have been protesting against the institution and demanding an investigation due to the sale of plazas and acts of corruption. The sale of plazas is the action of one teacher selling his position to another person in exchange for money, due to the lack of efficiency in registration for being a teacher in public schools and due to the corrupted system people can buy their place into the school.

In some cases, these people are not even qualified to teach. Teachers who aspire to be assistant principals, directors, pedagogical technical advisors, and general supervisors understand that they have three ways to achieve these. Buying the place. By influences. Or through the political favor of the current ruler.[ix]

Lack of resources or investment in educational infrastructure


Schools located in marginalized places and even public schools located in the city present unfavorable conditions and infrastructure which diminishes the well-being and the opportunities for knowledge denying the right to quality education for the students. There is also a lack of surveys conducted for schools, teachers, and alumni on basic education indicators to improve infrastructure based on the deficits identified[x]. This causes a backlash for the students to grow with their educational level and creates a more distinguished barrier between public and private schools.

Another example is the lack of classrooms for students, especially in schools located in rural areas which are mainly indigenous students with present a higher number of students than classrooms[xi].

In terms of learning materials, only 43.3% of schools count libraries or spaces with scholarly books whereas only 22% of indigenous schools have these materials. And this is not only seen in public schools, but it can also surprise us that almost one-third of all private schools in Mexico lack a library[xii].

It poses a challenge for children and young people to learn with an absence of basic materials for education and becomes difficult for them to keep evolving in their education when there is no access to technologies in such a globalized world where 1.7% of them have access to the Internet and only 7% have a computer.[xiii]


The Mexican education system cannot develop and strengthen itself if it keeps having corrupted individuals working within the educational system. In addition, the difference of education between private and public, rural and urban creates more bridges between access and quality of education. It is going to deepen and cause more inequality between individuals in Mexican society.

We can see clear evidence between the budget that is being expended in some states for education in comparison with the ones that are more centralized to the city. However, access to technologies and materials for everyone regardless of their environment is essential. Mexico will have to assess these issues in order to show better results with the international community as well as with the obligation it has to its citizens for access to free and quality education for all.



[i] Santibanez, L., Vernez, G., Razquin, P. (2005). Education in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from:

[ii] OECD (2022), “Mexico”, in Education at a Glance 2022: OECD Indicators, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI:

[iii] CONEVAL (2020). Medición de la Pobreza. Retrieved from:

[iv] Santibanez, L., Vernez, G., Razquin, P. (2005). Education in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from:

[v] Santibanez, L., Vernez, G., Razquin, P. (2005). Education in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from:

[vi] Santibanez, L., Vernez, G., Razquin, P. (2005). Education in Mexico: Challenges and Opportunities. RAND Corporation. Retrieved from:

[vii] International Community Foundation. (2022). 4 Barriers to quality educatoin in the Mexico School System. Retrieved from:

[viii] Mejia Guevara, I., Giorguli Saucedo, S. (2014). Public Educatoin in Mexico: Is all the spending for the benefit of children?. Retrieved from:

[ix] Noticias Reportero. (2021) Corrupción en la SEP, ascensos al mejos postor. Retrieved from:

[x] Miranda Lopez, F. (2018). Infraestructura escolar en México: brechas traslapadas, esfuerzos y límites de la política pública. Perfiles educativos40(161), 32-52. Retrieved from:

[xi] Miranda Lopez, F. (2018). Infraestructura escolar en México: brechas traslapadas, esfuerzos y límites de la política pública. Perfiles educativos40(161), 32-52. Retrieved from:

[xii] Miranda Lopez, F. (2018). Infraestructura escolar en México: brechas traslapadas, esfuerzos y límites de la política pública. Perfiles educativos40(161), 32-52. Retrieved from:

[xiii] Miranda Lopez, F. (2018). Infraestructura escolar en México: brechas traslapadas, esfuerzos y límites de la política pública. Perfiles educativos40(161), 32-52. Retrieved from:

Educational challenges in Paraguay: socioeconomic inequality as key to educational progress

Written by Agnes Amaral


Paraguay is a South American country that contains a diverse amount of ethnical and racial population. In number, more than half of the country is mestizo, 30% of white people, and almost 3% indigenous. These numbers are important in a way to create policies that embrace all people[1]. Another important factor about Paraguay is the role religion plays in this society. According to Latinobarometro data[2], almost 90% of the Paraguayan population is Catholic. This means religion plays a very strong role in people’s decisions and ethical behavior. Cultural decisions based on religion tend to define distinct roles between genders and races. The population is also divided between urban and rural, with almost 40% of the rural and farm population. This generates a diversity of actions that accentuate gender inequality and prejudice linked to the fate of certain groups in that society.

Marked by a sequence of authoritarian governments and complex development processes, Paraguay has immense social inequalities that mirror education. These factors are relevant for analyzing the educational situation and the challenges faced in the country. When asked about fairness in access to education, 47.5% state an “unfair” access while 32% mention a “very unfair” access[3]. This leads us to ask: why is the access to education in Paraguay considered very unfair by the majority of the population?

Digital education efforts in Paraguay – UNICEF

Social Inequality and Covid-19 Pandemic

The first big problem that impacts education is inequality. Data from 2020 reveals that the discussion about the problems in the country is related to poverty, financial problems, and educational challenges[4]. This is something that affects not only Paraguay, but all of Latin America and the Caribbean. For instance, during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is what they call an “educational blackout”[5].

Due to the closing of the schools, education took place online. The problem in this situation is that access to the Internet is limited by equipment, good network quality, and digital skills. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) data report that, among students under 18 years old, about 60% had no Internet access in Paraguay. This became a challenge to education during the two years of remote education. However, considering the connected reality in which we live, this can still be considered a palpable problem for the country and the region.

Unequal access to education affects education rates long before the pandemic. In 2019, for example, when checking the performance of elementary school students, the result is that Paraguayan students had lower levels of performance in mathematics. About the low progress, the Director of the Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALAC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Claudia Uribe mentions the need to take urgent governmental measures to achieve the 2030 Agenda[6].  This school exclusion affects some groups more sharply. Students from indigenous peoples, afro-descendants, and migrants encounter disadvantages.

Indigenous Girls & Women

The creation of the country was based on the exclusion of indigenous peoples. For this reason, it is possible to note the social impacts suffered by these groups to this day. It is a large ethnic diversity. The right to be involved, political participation, and access to education are essential to mitigate these inequalities. There are constitutional advances in this sense, such as the 1992 Constitution, which recognizes and guarantees the rights of indigenous peoples in Paraguay:


The State shall respect the cultural peculiarities of the indigenous peoples, especially with regard to formal education. Attention shall also be paid to their defense against demographic regression, depredation of their habitat, environmental pollution, economic exploitation, and cultural alienation.  (Artículos de la Constitución Nacional)[7]

However, the reality is indigenous people dealing with exclusion and poverty. This affects the educational indicators of the indigenous population, which worsen when we consider the reality of the indigenous female population. In Paraguay, free and mandatory schooling lasts nine years (basic education)[8]. Considering this, Indigenous men stay in education for a little less than five years, while Indigenous women about 3.5 years. A big difference in the amount of education guaranteed. Data from the Permanent Continuous Household Survey (EPHC)[9] shows three main reasons for these school leavings.

The first is for family reasons. About 20% of indigenous women dropped out of their studies because they had too many domestic activities to do. The second reason involves economic aspects. In this case, more than 25% of the indigenous men dropped out of school because they needed to get a job. And the third reason is the lack of sufficient educational institutions. Especially an education in which their culture and their views are considered, as mentioned in Constitutional Article[10]. The way of life of many indigenous communities is still based on hunting and gathering customs. A school that adapts to this reality is necessary and, for this, the government needs to invest in this type of proposal beyond a constitutional vision[11].

This is a reality of racial-ethnic inequalities, but also of gender inequalities. A reality that has been propagated since colonial times, in which indigenous women and girls were kidnapped by colonizers to occupy positions of domestic maintenance and procreation. The colonizing process impacted the economic system of these traditional peoples, which is not seen as productive enough. The role of indigenous women, then, shifts within this reality. This is why their socio-economic status has such an impact on the achievement of education. Almost 70% of indigenous women are in poverty. Many of them are considered “economically inactive” because they only perform domestic activities[12]. Some authors mention that “being an indigenous woman” in this society implies triple discrimination: ethnic, gender, and class.

The guarantee of the right to education for this part of the Paraguayan population is urgent. Although progress has been made, a better institutionalization of these rights is needed. This must be done while respecting and strengthening the specific culture of each indigenous group.


The lines of hope for improving the educational challenges faced by Paraguay need to be directed at mitigating socioeconomic inequality.  A more inclusive, equitable, and safe school structure is needed. Above all, universalization of access to secondary education. The use of digital transformation in favor of educational progress is also urgent since it is useful and essential learning for the contemporary reality we live in. Investing in education is one of the keys to sustainable development.

These impacts of inequality are also directly linked to the reality of indigenous women. However, more than policies to improve and actions to combat this inequality, it is necessary to give these women the power to make decisions. The issues of poverty and education are just some of the problems faced by this group. Violence is high, and several indigenous women are organizing themselves in the form of activism to combat violence[13]. In this sense, the activism and organization of these peoples are continuously advancing to fight for the guarantee of indigenous peoples’ rights. However, increasing opportunities for political positions and placing them as creators of specific public policies seems to be the most appropriate action.

Although the constitutional right to education exists for every citizen of Paraguay, it is important to point out the distinction that exists between the prerogative of a right and the reality of a quality education. For all.



[1] Soto, C., & Soto, L. (2020). POLÍTICAS ANTIGÉNERO EN AMÉRICA LATINA: PARAGUAY (S. Correa, Ed.; Género & Politica em América Latina, Trans.) [Review of POLÍTICAS ANTIGÉNERO EN AMÉRICA LATINA: PARAGUAY]. Observatorio de Sexualidad y Política (SPW).

[2] Latinobarómetro Database. (2020).

[3] Latinobarómetro Database. (2020).

[4] Latinobarómetro Database. (2020).

[5] Caribe, C. E. para a A. L. e o. (2022, November 29). Seminario web “La transformación de la educación como base para el desarrollo sostenible.”

[6] (2021, November 30). Resultados de logros de aprendizaje y factores asociados del Estudio Regional Comparativo y Explicativo (ERCE 2019). UNESCO.

[7] Artículos de la Constitución Nacional. Secretaría Nacional de Cultura. (2011, August 17). Retrieved April 7, 2023, from,econ%C3%B3mica%20y%20la%20alienaci%C3%B3n%20cultural.

[8] SOUZA, K. R., & BUENO, M. L. M. C. (2018). O direito à educação básica no Paraguai. Revista Ibero-Americana de Estudos Em Educação, 13(4), 1536–1551.

[9] Principales Resultados Anuales de la Encuesta Permanente de Hogares Continua (EPHC) 2017 y 2018. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

[10] INE::Instituto Nacional de Estadística. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

[11] Situación educativa de las niñas y mujeres indígenas en Paraguay. (n.d.).

[12]  Situación educativa de las niñas y mujeres indígenas en Paraguay. (n.d.).

[13] Por nuestros derechos y contra toda violencia, una reflexión contra la violencia de género con las mujeres indígenas en Paraguay – FIIAPP. (n.d.). Retrieved April 7, 2023, from

EDUCATIONAL CHALLENGES IN PORTUGAL: challenges of mitigating socio-economic inequalities

Written by Agnes Amaral


At the end of the 1990s, the educational discussion in Portugal was about the need of a school for all people which involved moving towards a more intercultural education. This made bilingual schools a famous model that has grown in the country for the past years. For the 21st century, the discussions involved the direction of children’s education within a social policy and developing beyond the school space. For example, guarantee assistance offered from 11 months of age, put education as a priority in everyone’s life, and adopt a paradigm of lifelong education. In addition, there were actions to prevent early school leaving. The conference held in 2007 by Portugal’s Department of Education[1] was relevant in highlighting these and other challenges of the period. The government priority has become a more smart, sustainable, and inclusive growth in education. To achieve social security, such as guaranteeing jobs. Creating a redirection toward student-centered learning, to make them able to meet the challenges of competitiveness and the use of new technologies. Although there has been an increase in the ranking of elementary school attendance and literacy from 2021 to 2022 Global Gender Gap Report, inequality in access to education is still a reality. Since in Portugal, the socio-economic background of students has a significant impact on their academic opportunities.

woman in black long sleeve shirt holding white face mask

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Covid aftermath:

Due to COVID there has been an increase in anxious and vulnerable students due to non-face-to-face teaching causing less social interaction among students. The National Council of Education (CNE) reports that 23% of students may not have participated regularly in school activities during distance learning. This mainly affected students who already had less financial or social resources. One of the problems faced was the lack of access to digital platforms and the mediums to access these.

Asylum seekers:

There are some educational requirements imposed by the Government of Portugal that complicate the participation of asylum seekers into education. It is necessary to develop pedagogical activities for the specific needs of these students. It is possible to observe the difference in results for those students with a less privileged background, such as immigrants.[1] The language barrier is also considered a challenge in these situations. There is data showing that foreign students repeat courses in primary and secondary school more often than their peers[2].

According to the DGEEC (2020) report, School Profile of Roma Communities 2018/2019, retention and dropout rates are higher among Roma students than for the general population (15.6% in primary education and 12.6% in secondary vs 3.7% and 12.9% for the whole student population).[3]

Higher education:

According to OECD, Portugal has one of the lowest percentages of 25–64-year-olds with at least a higher education completed. This number becomes even smaller when there is a comparison between genders. While in the natural sciences the number of female undergraduates has increased, in the fields of business, management, and law where the number remains low.[4]

Unemployment and educational attainment:

Compared to other countries, Portugal has a high unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s degree[5]. The proportion of adults who have been unemployed for at least a year among all unemployed adults with below upper secondary education is relatively high.[6] They face less opportunities due to the lack of labor market to contract qualified people. However, the government tries to improve this reality with programs like Qualifica,[7] which has the main objective of improving the qualification levels of adults, contributing to the progression of the population’s qualifications and improving the employability of individuals. But this is not yet the reality in the country, which seeks to reach the European Union’s employability target (60%) by 2030.


We can conclude that Portugal has many results in its favor. For instance, it has shown an increase of students in university education which is supported by the Adult Impulse Program and the Young Impulse STEAM program, which demonstrates effectiveness in actions.[8] Nevertheless, the economic and social background of the students is still an issue that directly impacts their opportunities of accessing to higher education. However, as mentioned before, the government has taken efforts to mitigate these inequalities specifically in higher education such as the initiative to sign a tripartite agreement to support students in technological areas in 2021[9] and in early childhood education. Another initiative was to create a care plan which plans to expand access to education for all children from the age of 3, with mandatory schooling. The increase in the number of teachers in this area can be considered an efficient factor for the evolution of the project. Nevertheless, there are still some regions that receive more support than others[10] which Portugal needs to address in order to mitigate a clearer fracture in the educational dynamic of the country.

Cover photo –


[1] Carreirinho, I. (2021). Country Report: Portugal (ECRE, Ed.) [Review of Country Report: Portugal]. European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

[2] Education and Training Monitor 2022. (n.d.).

[3] Direção-Geral de Estatísticas da Educação e Ciência. (n.d.). Direção-Geral de Estatísticas Da Educação E Ciência. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from

[4] Education GPS – Portugal – Overview of the education system (EAG 2019). (n.d.).

[5] Education GPS – Portugal – Overview of the education system (EAG 2019). (n.d.).

[6] Education GPS – Portugal – Overview of the education system (EAG 2019). (n.d.).

[7] +eficaz. (n.d.). Portal Qualifica. Retrieved March 23, 2023, from

[8] Education and Training Monitor 2022. (n.d.).

[9] ESTEL – Escola Profissional de Tecnologia e Eletrónica – Vídeos – E-volui. (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2023, from

[10] Education and Training Monitor 2022. (n.d.).