Challenges in the Finnish Education System

Written by Enes Gisi

Finland has impressed many other nations with its exceptionally high in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores. It is a test designed to evaluate the reading, math, and science knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students in the participating countries. It evaluates not only memorization, but also the students’ ability to apply school knowledge to real life situations. This makes PISA scores a reliable metric for education. PISA is conducted every three years, and it started in 2000. That year, Finland scored at the top in all three (reading, math, science) categories. This was undoubtedly very impressive, and it led to representatives and education professionals around the world visiting Finland to learn what their magic trick was. This phenomenon was even given a name: PISA tourism. Some of the unique traits of the Finnish education system were praised, such as its pupil-led, less teacher-centric approach. According to some, however, Finland maintained its traditional education system, which came with more robust testing and more centralized education until the 1990s, which would’ve yielded the high scores of PISA 2000.

Throughout the subsequent four assessments (2003, 2006, 2009, and 2012), however, a sharp decline was observed in Finland’s PISA scores, leading many to wonder what went wrong. It now scores below average among the 38 OECD states. Interestingly, there wasn’t a consensus on how its scores were high in the first place, and the explanations for the decline are also diverse. Some commonly cited reasons have included “over-digitalization” of the classroom, decline in student mental health, increased role families’ social backgrounds play, inadequate accommodation for the gifted students, budget cuts, and too much bureaucracy. The achievement levels for Finnish boys are also significantly lower than their female peers. Finnish education system remains distinctive, and the teachers are highly respected for the role they played in the Finnish state-building project in the 1970s and 1980s. A master’s degree is required to become a teacher, and due to their rigorous training, even private companies seek to hire them. We will delve into some of the challenges in the Finnish education system.

Finnish students in a classroom. Image via Flickr, by @kmoliver.

Difficulty of the Classes, or the Lack Thereof

One of the features of the Finnish education system is its ability to tailor the difficulty of education to individual students’ cognitive abilities. Some argue that this is a strength, others favour standardization. Its ability to support high-achieving students, however, is poor. Pentti, a teacher, says that the Finnish system cannot yet “adequately take care of those students who are gifted in a certain subject.” This issue has partially been addressed by allowing students who do well in maths to focus more on maths. However, this hasn’t been implemented in all Finnish schools.

As with the improvement in Asian countries’ PISA scores while Finland’s were in decline, some have compared both systems. Some have argued that while Finland lowers the difficulty of instruction for students who appears to have hard time catching up; Asian countries who participate in PISA expect all students to catch up to the same standards, leading to improvement in their PISA scores.

Budget Cuts, Social Background, and the Gender Gap in Achievement

Budget cuts followed the illusion of “infallibility” of the Finnish education. Pasi Sahlberg, a Finnish education expert, argues that governments tended to cut education budgets following the 2008 global financial crisis, expecting oil-rich countries from the Middle East to keep paying for the “PISA tourism”. Years of budget cuts eventually led to shortage of teachers in some areas. This will increasingly affect especially children with autism and special needs. Bonuses, including sign-up bonuses, are now being offered to special education teachers.

Cuts to education budget following the 1990s recession have also manifested in delay, according to a research report by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture. The reports states that ”differences in learning outcomes related to the social background have become more pronounced than earlier.” Immigrant students are also struggling in several other ways. They don’t know how to exert their rights in school and generally, it’s not even encouraged. They face racist bullying and not enough is done for their healthy integration into the society. They’re encouraged to seek professions their teachers “see fit” for their ethnicity. The report by the Finnish ministry states that immigrant kids in Finland “had the lowest reading scores in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or OECD”.

There’s a significant gender gap in school achievement. On average, boys in PISA countries fare worse than their female peers. This issue is especially present in Finland. Finnish boys receive average marks for reading, whereas Finnish girls will receive nearly twice as high. Finland’s gender gap in reading skills is the 4th highest in the 74 PISA-participating countries.

Whereas boys typically fare better in maths and science across OECD countries, boys also lost this advantage in the recent years. Men are also less likely to pursue higher education than women in Finland.

Students in a Finnish Classroom. Photo by Arbeiderpartiet on Flickr.

Over-digitalization in the Classroom and Inadequate Sleep

Finnish educators appear to have assumed that more tablets and laptops with the students, the better. Critics argue that despite numerous studies done on the effects of mobile device use among youth, Finnish educators rarely ever talk about it. Some have argued that this “rush to digitalization” is to be avoided. Finnish first graders are given iPads to help them learn the Finnish language at home. Even though health authorities warn the public that screen time for kids need to be limited to two hours a day, many aspects of education have now been digitalized, exposing students to excessive screen time. William Doyle, an American-Finnish, believes that the Finnish education system is still among the best. He cites the highly trained teachers, free school meals and other supports. He acknowledges, however, that the quality of Finnish education is in decline, and mentions several effects of over-digitalization.

He believes that constant exposure to mobile devices has played a role in the declining reading scores, especially among boys. It has also contributed to the elimination of physical activity. Mobile devices that students use don’t have any filters or limits, leading to use for entertainment beyond healthy limits. Students will use their laptops for entertainment during class, as the teachers don’t see the screens. Widespread dependency on mobile devices, in turn, reinforces the same behaviour as students now fear missing out on things: they can’t quit their dependency alone. Over-digitalization of student life and excessive use of social media have also impacted their sleep schedules. Students sleep 7 and a half hours on average, less than that is appropriate for their age group. Their sleep quality has also been in decline, leading to poorer concentration when reading. Doyle argues that a “tidal wave” of global research associating excessive mobile device use with risk to psychological, physical, and academic wellbeing is largely ignored. PISA-age students would ideally get 8-10 hours of sleep, per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Lack of Structure

Onto some structural problems within the system. We’ve mentioned how respected the teaching profession is in Finland. While it comes with its advantages (e.g. highly sought, prestigious), it seems to have placed too much responsibility on teachers. The profession has transformed into a semi-bureaucratic job with less teaching element to it, consuming more of their valued time for non-instruction related duties. Though it’s been cited as Finland’s “magic trick” to high PISA scores in the early 2000s, critics also argue that “pupil-led” education actually has contributed to the decline that’s seen in the following PISA cycles. More structured, teacher-dominated methods of instruction, they argue, could help the Finnish education pick up, as also suggested by other evidence.


Finland’s education system surely remains among the best in the world. For all of its weaknesses, in my opinion, it possesses the ability to adapt and make changes as needed. As the evidence documenting effects of excessive use of mobile devices mount, the Finnish authorities must comply with the recommendations of health authorities. As also seen in other parts of the world, boys are experiencing decline in school achievement in Finland. As mentioned, this gender gap is among the greatest in the world, and it might require a thorough investigation to prevent other problems it may cause in the future.

The disadvantages that may be coming from immigrant or other social background are also more pronounced in Finland, compared to other countries. This type of inequality may contribute to further alienation of minorities in the Finnish society, disproportionate representation in the correctional system, increased risk for extremism, mental health problems, and other harder-to-solve problems in the long run. Teacher may benefit from cultural awareness and other training opportunities to better assist disadvantaged students.

Students with special needs are disproportionately affected by the budget cuts, as one of the first things these cuts have done is to reduce the available number of special education instructors. Increased budget for education may alleviate the shortage. It can also help schools allocate more resources for challenging over-achieving students more. Whether a more centralized and structured system would improve overall education outcomes remains to be a matter of debate.

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Education Challenges in Hong Kong

Written by Gianna Chen

The sociocultural context of Hong Kong 

Hong Kong’s education system has undergone various influences. The colonization period by the British Empire after the Opium War introduced the English language as the medium of instruction (EMI). The four years of Japanese occupation transformed Hong Kong into the centre of international trade and further emerged as the centre of industry, business, and finance during the period between 1945 and 1997. Consequently, the population increase rapidly with migrants moving from mainland China and other South Asian countries such as the Philippines and Indonesia. Shortage of teachers, unequal distribution of resources and differences in education opportunities were shortly followed as a result. Since the handover of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, the promotion of Chinese-medium instruction (CMI) in the school system has been introduced, alongside an increase in learning the Chinese language (Putonghua known as Mandarin) and culture. New problems occurred with a change in language policies and education reform after 1971, the appealing form of education that meets the needs and abilities of Cantonese-speaking students in the Chinese cultural context neglected ethnic minority students in the Education system.

Children learn about robotics. Photo by What The Fox Studio

The problem with the education system in Hong Kong 

The article further reveals the problem with Hong Kong’s education reform and the adoption of a new language policy since 1997. Given the background of Hong Kong’s diverse education system, different types of schools were introduced to support the cultural demand. There are three types of schools in Hong Kong recognized by the education bureau: Public local schools (aided schools) that are either operated by the government or by local charitable or religious organizations. Both adopted local curricula where Chinese lessons are mandatory for students, but they can be taught in either English or Chinese as a medium of instruction. However, education is provided free of charge only for Hong Kong permanent residents. Private schools that are not funded by the Hong Kong government or educational sector, provide students and parents with a language choice of English, Chinese/ English and Chinese; International schools on the other hand, have full autonomy in student admission, course content, tuition fees, and deliver curricula that are widely accepted in several countries, such as the International Baccalaureate program. It is a common choice for expatriate or English-speaking families living in Hong Kong. 

As of today, the issue of education inequality exists through different schooling systems, portraying social stratification through education opportunities, gender perception and mobility. Further calls for segregation and racial discrimination in society, limiting students’ future career prospects. Thus, by outlining the cause of unequal educational opportunities in Hong Kong, a wide range of recognition is needed to raise public awareness of Hong Kong’s education system. 

Inequalities in Education 

Education inequality not only includes opportunities to receive education, teaching recourses, faculty expenses, and continuation in participation, but the process of sustaining education opportunities should be equally desirable and concluded in the term. The educational reform in 1971 promoting 6 years of free primary education and the nine-year of compulsory education since 1978 has remarkably increased citizens’ literacy rates and life expectancy. However, while an escalation in the diffusion of education can be seen, quality and education opportunities continue to grow a gap in different groups. For instance, the 6 years of free primary education only applies to Hong Kong permanent residents with a limited number of positions open due to insufficient teaching faculties. Hence, competition rises between government-funded primary and secondary schools. Those who did not get into public local schools choose private or international schools as an alternative. Nonetheless, the quality of education differs between different types of schools. Since private schools are profit-oriented, it is often found that the teaching qualities are lower compared to public schools and international schools. Results in students from public schools or international schools having a sense of superiority among other students, enhancing education differences via grouping and alienation based on different schools and curricula. Therefore, the current contradiction in Hong Kong’s educational reform helps some children move up but keeps others on lower tracks and socializes them to blame for their own lack of success to themselves. 

On the other hand, Hong Kong’s colonial culture enforces the idea of the English language as a medium of Instruction that is more beneficial for the reason that it was presented as ‘high culture’ used by members of the dominant class. As an example, the children of high-level government servants were often exposed to situations where they have to interact with colonials through English. Accordingly, students from the dominant class are more likely to do well on examinations and graduate from upper secondary schools and go on to universities. Another social factor that contributed to this fraction is family background. It is evident that the higher the socioeconomic status of the student’s family, the higher his or her academic achievements would be. On that account, the stratification of students in different school systems prolonged the capitalist society into levels of hierarchy, where workers’ children will have lower expectations in their world-view compared to upper-level workers’ children, who will position themselves in a higher innovative position and have richer expectations of themselves. More importantly, due to an influx of migrants from the mainland after the Civil War, newly arrived children (NAC) were a large proportion of the education system. However, most NAC are deprived of fair access to equal opportunity in schooling in EMI schools for the reason that their English level was too weak, hence, they have a hard time catching up with the Hong Kongers. Prevails an averaging issue when they do not have the ability to move on to the next educational level. 

Influence of education reform and policy change 

The immediate problem after the education reform in 1971 is the increase in the number of enrolments. Nine years of compulsory education prompt a rise in schools and faculty demand. The government of Hong Kong heavily rely on opening new public schools and private schools to meet the requirement. However, due to the fact that there was never a consistent pedagogical education in the history of Hong Kong, not only there is a shortage of teaching staff, but stability in the quality of teaching is also questionable. Most teachers do not have any qualifications in teaching but merely obtained a graduate degree in secondary or college degree Moreover, it pours a great amount of stress on the teaching staff, generating mental health problems in the early stages of the reform. Despite this fact, starting from 1982 onwards, faculty training slowly begins to catch up, raising qualifications to become a teacher. While the problem begins to compromise, the new language policy after the handover in 1997 induces new challenges.

The adoption of the Chinese-oriented language policy in 1997 aimed to promote the national language in the education system under a Chinese cultural context. The majority of students are required to attend Chinese-medium schools in which English is taught as a language subject. Regarding ethnic minorities, which consist nearly 9% of Hong Kong’s population, it became harder to gain proper education in mainstream schools. On top of that, the system of designated schools, which were designated for ethnic minorities in primary and secondary education, was abolished in 2013 for the reason to boost the multicultural educational environment in Hong Kong. Chinese language learning opportunities in former designated schools were limited, therefore the abolishment act strengthens racial discrimination encountered by ethnic minorities. Considering all students in local schools must pass every Chinese examination to advance to the next grade, the lack of opportunity to study Chinese has deprived ethnic minorities of the chance to develop an interest in learning the Chinese language. While private and international schools could be an alternative for admissions, the average tuition fee of over HKD100,000 is hardly a reasonable choice for most parents and immigrant families. This subsequently leads to ethnic minorities being marginalized in the Hong Kong education curriculum. As a result, more young people from ethnic minorities were getting denied in mainstream schools and were getting involved in gangs, creating social segregation from a lack of education attainability. 

Inclusive education. Photo by The Hong Kong Society for the Deaf.

Gender Inequality 

Nevertheless, while language is becoming a barrier to reaching equal education opportunities, gender segregation has endured since the very beginning. Even though the six years of free primary education and the nine years of compulsory education have reduced family burden and influenced gender to raise education opportunities for women, family’s socioeconomic background and ‘gender segregation’ still manifest limitations for women to achieve equal academic recognition. The traditional gender value in terms of “men outside of the home, women inside” has modelled students’ gender cognition since they were young. After secondary education, gender segregation was enhanced from the subjects they choose. It is widely agreed upon in society that girls should study liberal arts, and boys should study science. The restriction of choices later on influences their advanced studies, career path and societal status. The recognition of their role was further strengthened through literature such as examples from their textbook, sexual division of labour at school, reinforcement of female quality as obedience, passive and quiet, and separation of gender in physical education classes. The stereotyping of gender roles and the unequal sexual structure in education enlarges academic achievement between men, women and third genders. Ignoring gender education as part of the curriculum, especially towards helping students to form their own self-image and realize their potential. 

Recommendations for solutions 

As an ending remark, the inequality in Hong Kong’s education system could be improved from three different aspects. To sustain the process of education opportunities provided to students, individual-level development is the keystone to the issue. Personal qualities, mutual understanding, humanitarianism and inclusivity should be addressed and respected in the system of teaching, learning and examination. On the curriculum level, more flexible language learning subjects should be adopted into the education structure. Provide ethnic minorities and newly arrived children with language support to give them equal chances in learning abilities. On top of that, neutralization in gender education is consequential to shorten the gap of gender segregation, and encourage equal opportunities for both girls and boys to find the subjects they desire and are passionate about. In addition to language and gender curriculum, recommendations on a structure level are essential, for instance, a more flexible public examination for the compulsory academic subjects, and diversity in teaching staff and faculty members are needed to approach social justice and equality. 


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Educational challenges in Ghana

Written by Isaac Kuugaayeng

Education has always proven to be a pivotal tool for any country’s development.  It is a connecting element to expedite the realization of most of the goals and targets of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the fundamental rights of every child is the right to education according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is instructive to note that not only is education a human right but an indispensable element that facilitates the realization of other human rights (UN,2001). As a result of the great significance of education, many institutions including governments and NGOs across the globe have been making efforts to promote education. For instance, the World Conference on Education for All held in March 1990 in Jomitien, Thailand, sought to universalize basic education and wipe out illiteracy (Haddad et al. 1990).  According to the 2012 Global Monitoring Report (UNESCO, 2012), the government of Ghana has made significant strides in efforts to ensure the realization of quality education accessible to all. Major miles made in the educational sector in Ghana include the cancellation of school fees and the introduction of capitation grants in 2005, the introduction of compulsory preschool education in 2007, and the achievement of gender parity in basic school enrollment in 2010. These initiatives have enabled Ghana to be one of the leading countries in Sub-Saharan Africa in terms of reaching the EFA Goals for 2015. Despite all the initiatives the government and other civil organizations including NGOs have put in place to combat the challenges of education in Ghana, rural education in Ghana is still fraught with many challenges that demand the government’s attention and swift action. A study conducted by Adams in 2016 revealed that while basic school enrollment in Ghana has improved significantly in recent years, one major challenge facing it has been the ascendancy in the levels of dropouts among school children triggered by a myriad of factors.

Kassena Nankana District – Ghana. Photo by Axel Fassio/CIFOR

The situation is even worst in the northern part of Ghana. The persistent inadequacy of safe and sound school buildings with basic facilities such as books, library facilities, and computer labs among others for children remains a major barrier to children’s access to basic education as a right. The few school buildings which happen to be found are very poor and deplorable with some virtually serving as death traps to these innocent school children whose future remains bleak.  Children as small as kids from kindergarten to primary school usually have to trek longer distances between homes and school and no means of transportation are available to convey the students to and from school. This blatantly disincentivizes and kills the enthusiasm in many of them leading to the ascendancy in school drop-out among many rural school-going-age children. A study conducted by Imoro in 2009 on the dimensions of basic school dropouts in rural Ghana confirms that dropout rates remained high at about 20% for boys and 30% for girls at primary school and 15% for boys and 30% for girls at Junior High School (JHS) level.  The situation becomes worse for rural districts and much uglier for the northern part of Ghana. The challenge is even compounded by the glaring inadequacy of the requisite human resources to fill the minimum criteria of the school which is causing an average of 30 dropouts daily(Africa Education Watch, 2021). This becomes a bane to educational success in many rural areas in the northern part of Ghana.

It is heartbreaking to learn that most of the existing schools are badly maintained thereby rendering most of the classrooms not safe enough for children and their teachers to conduct teaching and learning activities.

Consequently, this thwarts the pace of educational development resulting in a whooping gap between children from rural and urban areas in terms of quality education.

In all these, the female child becomes the more unfortunate one. Some parents will end up encouraging their female children to get married since school is nothing better and they will not make anything out of it leading to a high rate of female dropout after primary level. According to UNESCO (2022), there are over 192,500 school dropouts in Ghana, with over 102,000 being girls. Up to 30% of school dropouts occurring among girls is attributed to teenage pregnancy emanating from social-cultural and economic factors. The Ministry of Health reports 555,575 teenage pregnancies between 2016 and 2020, with 109,865 teenage pregnancies in 2020 alone.  A study by Linus Mwinkaar and Martin Ako in 2020 on Female Education in Senior High Schools in Gomoa West District of the Central Region of Ghana revealed that factors such as cultural practices and entrenched beliefs, poverty, low level of education of parents, unconducive school environment, early marriages, teacher absenteeism, parental negative attitude towards education, inadequate parental attention to girl’s education affect female education negatively. Not forgetting the immense blow covid-19 had on the educational terrain of the country, the closure of schools across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic on education can never be overemphasized, and teenage girls are the most affected in this case. A report by Africa Education Watch during their monitoring of the partial re-opening of schools for finalists indicates that, 20% of schools recorded between 1-3 girls not returning to school due to teenage pregnancy and migration. The COVID-19 pandemic, therefore, had a massive negative impact on education which is still a problem even now as many students have been lost to teenage pregnancies while others have dropped out completely.

Pong Tamale Experimental Primary School. Photo by: GPE/Stephan Bachenheimer

This hit me as a reality when I visited a farming community called Sietori in the Jirapa municipality. The community has not got even a Kindergarten. Children have to usually trek longer distances to attend school. This puts these younger children and disabled children at such a great disadvantage because it becomes impossible for some to even go to school if no one helps them due to the distance they have to travel to go to school. This phenomenon is troubling. These children are deprived of their right to education.

Although the 1992 constitution of Ghana provides that the State shall provide educational facilities at all levels and in all the Regions of Ghana, and shall, to the greatest extent feasible, make those facilities available to all citizens, this I will say is still mere rhetoric rather than reality, especially where children in rural areas are concerned. Despite the constitutional provision, there still exist great disparity and unequal access to quality education in the rural areas against the urban setting. This has marginalized and deprived the multitude of children in their quest to achieve their dreams and potential because the system is unkind and unfavorable to them.

It should not be misconstrued that urban education has no educational challenges. Students in the city are exposed to many social and environmental happenings in their surroundings and daily interactions making them far better in terms of depth of knowledge and academic performance than rural students.

The challenges of rural education far exceed the reality of urban education.

Rural education is characterized by gross unequal distribution of educational infrastructure, inadequate human resources(teachers), constant paucity of funds to finance educational activities, poor planning, and defective policy implementation. On November 3, 2021, Africa Education Watch in a TV interview raised concerns about unfair distribution of trained teachers to parts of the country.  According to the group, the situation is contributing greatly to the poor teaching and learning outcomes, particularly at the basic level especially in many rural settings when there a lot of teachers in urban areas to the detriment of students in rural education. The resultant effects are no different from consistent abysmal performances, loss of enthusiasm, and finally high school drop-out because the readiness and efforts of these school children are inhibited by factors beyond their control. In this unfortunate situation, rural education continues to suffer deprivation partly because of politics in educational planning which makes it difficult for policy implementers to deliver their tasks due to political manipulations.

Education provides people with the knowledge and skills to help improve economic growth and reduce poverty. Children must therefore not be denied a quality and equal education system.

Hence, there is a need for policymakers, government officials and NGOs, advocacy groups at all levels including the national, regional, district, and community or grassroots levels should join hands in ameliorating the conditions by igniting qualitative and sustainable change in rural education to lessen the deprivation of children of their right to basic education. 


Casely-Hayford, L., Seidu, A., Campbell, S., Quansah, T., Gyabaah, K., & Rukayatu, A. (2013). The quality and inclusivity of basic education across Ghana’s three northern regions: A look at change, learning effectiveness and efficiency: Research under the tackling education needs inclusively (TENI) project. VSO. Retrieved from: Final Policy Brief – TENI Quality of Education.pdf

Abdallah, H., Fuseini, M. N., Abudu, A. M., & Nuhu, Y. (2014). Dilemma of basic school pupils in Northern Ghana with respect to their learning context. Education Research International2014. Retrieved from:

Adam, S., Adom, D., & Bediako, A. B. (2016). The Major Factors That Influence Basic School Dropout in Rural Ghana: The Case of Asunafo South District in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. Journal of Education and Practice7(28), 1-8. Retrieved from:

Imoro, B. (2009). Dimensions of basic school dropouts in rural Ghana: The case of Asutifi District. Journal of Science and Technology (Ghana)29(3). Retrieved from

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Enjuba: Empowering Ugandan  Children through Education and Literacy

Written by Frida Brekk

Enjuba is a dedicated children’s education organization in Uganda with a mission to improve literacy and executive function skills among young learners. By offering innovative programs and leveraging technology, Enjuba aims to empower children and provide them with the tools they need to succeed in their education and beyond. This article explores the initiatives and impact of Enjuba in transforming the educational landscape for Ugandan children.

Spelling and writing competitions contribute to improve learning outcomes of children in Uganda. Photo by enjuba.

A core focus of Enjuba is enhancing literacy skills among Ugandan children. They employ evidence-based teaching methods and innovative approaches to foster reading comprehension, writing proficiency, and critical thinking skills. Through engaging and interactive activities, Enjuba aims to instill a love for reading and enhance overall literacy levels, which are crucial for academic success and personal development.

Enjuba recognizes the importance of executive function skills, such as attention, memory, organization, and self-regulation, in a child’s learning journey. Their programs are designed to develop these skills, enabling children to manage time effectively, set goals, solve problems, and make informed decisions. By strengthening executive function abilities, Enjuba equips children with the cognitive tools necessary for lifelong learning and success.

Enjuba harnesses the power of technology and technological integration as critical in order to enhance educational experiences. Enjuba provides children with access to educational content and activities that supplement classroom learning through their digital platforms, such as interactive learning apps and online resources. This technology integration expands learning opportunities, particularly in areas with limited resources, and fosters digital literacy skills that are increasingly essential in the modern world.

Recognizing educational support and the pivotal role of teachers, Enjuba offers professional development programs and ongoing support to educators. Enjuba helps teachers enhance their instructional techniques, incorporate student-centred approaches, and effectively implement literacy and executive function strategies in the classroom through workshops, mentoring, and resources. By empowering teachers, Enjuba extends its impact and ensures sustainable improvements in education.

Enjuba actively engages and collaborates with local communities, parents, and stakeholders to foster a collaborative approach to education. They involve parents in their children’s learning journey through workshops and home-based activities, creating a supportive environment that reinforces educational goals. Collaborations with schools, government agencies, and other organizations enable Enjuba to reach a wider audience and advocate for educational reforms and policies.

Enjuba is making a significant impact on children’s education in Uganda through its dedication to improving literacy and executive function skills. By utilizing innovative approaches, integrating technology, and providing teacher training, Enjuba equips Ugandan children with the necessary tools for success in their academic and personal lives. Through its commitment to community engagement and collaboration, Enjuba is fostering a holistic approach to education, empowering children, and creating a brighter future for Uganda.


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Educational Challenges in Kazakhstan

Written by Joseph Kamanga


Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia, is facing significant educational challenges that hinder its progress toward a thriving and inclusive educational system. These challenges have far-reaching consequences, impacting student outcomes, workforce readiness, and overall socioeconomic development. In this article, we will explore and analyze the key challenges faced by the Kazakhstani educational system and shed light on the obstacles that need to be addressed to ensure a brighter future for the country’s students (Akhmedjanova 2018).

Unequal Access to Quality Education

The unequal access to quality education across different regions of Kazakhstan remains a major challenge. Disparities in infrastructure, resources, and qualified teachers persist, particularly in rural and remote areas. This inequality perpetuates social and economic disparities, hindering overall development and opportunities for students in these regions.

Outdated Curricula and Teaching Methods

The presence of outdated curricula and traditional teaching methods poses a significant obstacle to the Kazakhstani education system. Rote memorization and a lack of emphasis on critical thinking, problem-solving, and practical application of knowledge hinder the development of essential skills required for the modern workforce. The curriculum also needs to be updated to align with the demands of the 21st century. (Mukhametzhanova 2019)

Digital Divide and Technological Challenges:

The digital divide and technological challenges in Kazakhstan’s educational system pose significant obstacles to equitable access to quality education. The availability and accessibility of digital infrastructure, internet connectivity, and digital devices vary across different regions, with rural and remote areas facing greater disparities. This digital divide hampers students’ ability to benefit from online learning resources, digital tools, and educational technologies. Additionally, limited digital literacy skills among teachers and students further exacerbate the challenge. Addressing the digital divide and providing adequate technological support and training to educators and students is crucial to ensure inclusive and effective education in Kazakhstan (Hauge 2019).

UN Women in Kazakhstan launched a new project to strengthen STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Photo by UN Women.

Shortage of Qualified Teachers

The shortage of qualified teachers in Kazakhstan is a pressing challenge that affects the quality of education. High turnover rates, low salaries, and limited professional development opportunities contribute to difficulties in attracting and retaining highly skilled educators. This shortage leads to larger class sizes, limited individualized attention, and a decline in the overall instructional quality. (OECD 2018)

Insufficient Focus on Vocational Education

The lack of emphasis on vocational education opportunities is another challenge faced by the Kazakhstani educational system. The current system primarily prioritizes academic degrees, neglecting the importance of practical skills training. As a result, there is a shortage of skilled workers in various industries, hindering economic growth and diversification. (Tanirbergenova 2017)

Inclusion of Marginalized and Disadvantaged Groups:

The educational system in Kazakhstan faces the challenge of ensuring the inclusion of marginalized and disadvantaged groups. This challenge encompasses various groups, including children from low-income families, ethnic minority groups, children in remote areas, girls, and children with special educational needs. These groups often encounter barriers that hinder their access to quality education and limit their educational opportunities.

One aspect of this challenge is the limited resources available to support the education of marginalized and disadvantaged groups. Low-income families may struggle to afford educational materials, uniforms, and transportation costs, which can impede their children’s ability to attend school regularly and participate fully in the educational process. Additionally, schools in remote areas may lack sufficient infrastructure, resources, and qualified teachers, further exacerbating educational disparities for children in these regions.

Language barriers also pose a significant challenge for certain marginalized groups, particularly ethnic minority children. Kazakhstan is a diverse country with various ethnic groups, each with its own language and cultural heritage. However, the educational system predominantly operates in Kazakh or Russian, which can create barriers for non-native speakers. Limited access to education in their mother tongue can affect these children’s ability to fully understand and engage with the curriculum, potentially leading to lower educational outcomes.

Cultural biases and discriminatory practices can further hinder the inclusion of marginalized groups in the educational system. Girls, for example, may face traditional gender roles and expectations that prioritize their domestic duties over their education. This can result in lower school enrollment rates and limited educational opportunities for girls, impacting their long-term prospects and perpetuating gender inequalities. Similarly, children with special educational needs may encounter stigmatization, inadequate support, and a lack of inclusive educational settings that cater to their specific needs.

Inadequate Funding and Research

Insufficient funding for education, coupled with limited research opportunities, creates obstacles to progress. Inadequate financial resources hamper infrastructure development, access to learning materials, and the implementation of necessary reforms. Moreover, the lack of research funding limits innovation, knowledge creation, and evidence-based decision-making within the education system. (Rakhmatullayeva 2020)


Recognizing and addressing the educational challenges in Kazakhstan is crucial for the country’s sustainable development and the well-being of its citizens. Unequal access to quality education, outdated curricula, shortage of qualified teachers, insufficient focus on vocational education, and inadequate funding and research are significant hurdles that need to be overcome. By implementing comprehensive reforms, increasing investments in education, prioritizing teacher training and retention, modernizing curricula, expanding vocational education opportunities, and allocating adequate funding for research, Kazakhstan can pave the way for a brighter future. These efforts will empower Kazakhstan’s students to thrive in an ever-evolving world and contribute to the country’s sustainable development.


Akhmedjanova, G. (2018). Challenges facing the education system in Kazakhstan. Journal of Education and Vocational Research, 9(2), 57-62.

Mukhametzhanova, Z. (2019). Outdated Curricula and Teaching Methods in Kazakhstan: Challenges and Solutions. International Journal of Educational Development, 75, 102178.

Rakhmatullayeva, G. (2020). Teacher shortage in Kazakhstan: Causes and solutions. International Journal of Educational Development, 64, 115-120.

Tanirbergenova, A., & Kupeshova, G. (2017). The challenge of vocational education in Kazakhstan. European Journal of Social Sciences Education and Research, 9(2), 37-43.

OECD. (2018). Education in Kazakhstan: Moving towards 2030.

Hauge, T. E., & Prieto, L. P. (2019). Digital inequalities in Kazakhstan: Exploring socio-economic disparities in internet use. Information, Communication & Society, 22(7), 988-1005.

Challenges within the education system in Burkina Faso

Written by Ruth Lakica


Burkina Faso is a landlocked country in west Africa. The country occupies an extensive plateau, and its geography is characterized by a savanna that is grassy in the north and gradually gives way to sparse forests in the south. A former French colony, it gained independence as Upper Volta in 1960. The name Burkina Faso, which means “Land of Incorruptible People,” was adopted in 1984.

Schoolchildren in Burkina Faso – Photo by Anadolu Agency.

Characteristics of Education in Burkina Faso

School enrollment is one of the lowest in Africa, even though the government devotes a large portion of the national budget to education. French is the language of instruction in primary and secondary education.

Education in Burkina Faso has a very similar structure to the rest of the world, primary schools, secondary schools, and higher education. The academic year in Burkina Faso runs from October to July. The Education Act enacted that schooling is compulsory between the ages of 6 and 15 but unfortunately this is not always enforced. The education system is based on the French model and teaching language in all Burkina Faso schools is French. According to the World Bank, it is notable that approximately 56% of youth have no formal education, and 16% of youth have attained at most incomplete primary education, meaning that in total 72% meaning that in total 15-24 years old have not completed primary education in Burkina Faso.

The effect of Covid-19 on Education

Like every country worldwide, the education system in Burkina Faso was also affected by Covid-19. All schools in Burkina Faso were closed for nine weeks from march 2020. After this time schools in some areas reopened, with all schooling resuming after 14 weeks (UNESCO, 2020). School closure affected more than 20,000 educational establishments, and disrupted the education of over 4.7 million learners.

The impact of Covid-19 forced the closure of schools across the country, putting the most marginalized children at risk of losing out on learning and not returning to the classroom.

Broken chalk congratulates Burkina Faso for adopting remote studying undertaken during school closures with learning materials provided via television, radio and internet for primary and secondary school (UNESCO Institute for Statistics, UNICEF & World Bank, 2020). However, 84% of students lack internet access, 81% lack digital devices, and 81% had difficulty distributing hard copies of learning materials. These disadvantaged students that are unable to access remote studies fell behind with others dropping out.

Another barrier to remote education is access to technology. The MILO (Monitoring Impacts on Learning Outcomes) project indicates that the support many schools most need relates to accessing technology, rather than human capital.

Armed groups attack on teachers, students, and schools in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso’s education system is facing recurrent and growing attacks by armed groups. Schools have been attacked, teachers assaulted and killed, and educational resources destroyed. At one point, all schools were closed, disrupting the school calendar. Students and staff were sent home.

Burkina Faso is facing an education crisis, with severe deterioration in access to education due to armed violence over the past few years. Education indicators have been declining since 2018, with the gross enrolment rate at the primary level falling from 90.7% to 86.1% and the post-primary level from 52% to 47.3%, a loss of 5 points in three years. For example, in the Sahel region, which has been partially affected by insecurity, the gross enrolment rate at the primary level has fallen from 53.4% in 2018 to 20.3% in 2021. Thus, only one in four children were attending school in the Sahel region in 2021.

The attacks by armed groups have led to the closures of many schools in Burkina Faso. As of 31 May 2022, more than 4,000 schools were closed due to insecurity, representing 17% of schools nationwide, interrupting the education of more than 700,000 children. An estimated 2.6 million children and adolescents aged 6 to 17 are out of school, representing more than half of all school-aged children (51.4%).

School closures increase with safety threats from armed groups – Photo by UNICEF

Access to water, sanitation, and hygiene

54% of the population of Burkina Faso has access to improved drinking water sources while only 23% has access to improved sanitation facilities. Regarding water and sanitation facilities in schools, Burkina Faso faces challenges. 14 years old Pauline W. Somlare grade 6 at Mouni primary school located 13 km from Niou in the plateau central region. Open since October 1979, it was only in 2001 that the school got its first water pump. Despite the water installation, not everything is going as it should. A few weeks ago, the school was again facing a crucial water problem leading to thirst, lack of hygiene, late lessons, and the often-served late lunch. The latest failure in 2019 could be repaired. In December 2019, thanks to UNICEF intervention following a request from the ministry in charge of education, the water pump was rehabilitated in Jan 2020.

Quality of Education

Despite the quality management of Burkinabe education system and its numerous educational strategy: The Orientation Law, the Basic Education Sector Development Plan, the Education Sector Plan, the Integrated Strategy for the Strengthening of Pedagogical Management, the Integrated Strategy for the Continuous Training of Teachers and Pedagogical Managers, or its Quality Reference Framework for Basic Education. Burkina Faso is still not quite “top of the class”.  Defining strategies isn’t enough to guarantee success.

The scarcity of financial resources is a fact, accentuated by the transfer of competencies from the State to local authorities. And, if financial resources are lacking, the diagnosis also highlights that human resources are also limited. In a system that tends to move towards greater decentralization and which entrusts a great deal of responsibility to the actors closest to the ground, their support for these new responsibilities (particularly administrative and financial) is not always equal to the challenges.

Resources that do not always match the needs. With little training and support, teachers at the concentrated areas seem to have difficulty entirely playing their role. Often burdened by a heavy administrative workload, they have difficulty keeping up with the pace and thus slow down actions to improve quality teaching.

Negative Consequences for Students, Teachers, Society.

Attacks on schools and class disruptions have reduced the quality of education students receive and put many students behind in their studies. According to Human Rights Watch, one student said that she had failed her final exam after an attack forced her school to close for weeks, leaving her unable to prepare. Another said, “It makes me unhappy, to not be able to finish, to have to retake classes, to not even have any documents to show you took the class.

Lack of psychosocial and material support to victims of attacks from the armed group of men

Human Rights Watch identified the lack of consistent and timely support for victims of education-related attacks as another major issue. Numerous teachers who were attacked or threatened said they had never received any psychosocial support from the government. Others said the support they had received was perfunctory and woefully inadequate, without any longer-term follow-up. Many still struggled with emotional or psychological issues. Teachers said they felt abandoned and undervalued, and expected to restart work following redeployments despite the lack of the required psychosocial, financial, or material support.


Despite the challenges facing the education system in Burkina Faso, the government of Burkina Faso and other non-governmental organizations are trying to improve education in Burkina Faso. Nearly one million students do no longer have access to education. As a response, UNICEF, the Ministry of National Education, Literacy and Promotion of National Languages (MENA), and its partners, such as King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) have developed the Radio Education Programme in 2018. This programme is ensuring continuity of learning for affected children, who fled their homes because of the attacks on their schools.



Hadrien, B. (2022, October 20). Back-to-school campaign: More than 56,000 Kits distributed to children-UNICEF.

Claude, T. (2021, February 10). Tackling schools’ access to safe water challenges-UNICEF.

Quality of education in Burkina Faso: Limited policy impact due to poor Understanding of the problems on the ground. UNESCO. (2022, September 9).

Lauren, S. (2022, June). Education under attack 2022.

Jean, F. (2021, July 14). Covid-19 accelerating education Inequality in Burkina Faso.

Nick, R and Boubacar, B. ( 2022, November 21). Burkina Faso schoolchildren pay double price in ongoing conflict.

Myron, E. (2022, December 16). Burkina Faso.

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH (2020, MAY). Armed forces and groups, Children affected by armed conflict, Education.

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:

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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.

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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