The other side of the coronavirus in Peru: 300 thousand children leave school due to the pandemic

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It is one of the countries most affected by Covid-19. And one of the most serious consequences of this epidemic is student desertion.

Peru is one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus pandemic, with 772,000 infections and 31,000 deaths. And one of the most serious consequences of this epidemic is the Student desertion this year due to the need to go to work or difficulties in accessing the Internet. In the Andean country there are more than two million schoolchildren and 800,000 university students.

For the social psychologist and education expert Ricardo Cuenca Pareja, student desertion is a problem that has been dragging on since before the pandemic.

In an interview with Radio Francia Internacional, the director of the Institute of Peruvian Studies (IPR) and researcher in education, social justice and public policies, explained that the problem is not the number of desertions but rather where are they located the 300,000 students who dropped out of classrooms.

“If you look at the dropout rates from primary and secondary school for the years 2018 and 2019, the figures are not far from the 2020 rates. But, for example, six out of ten students did not finish secondary school before the pandemic. The question is where those 300 thousand students who dropped out are located: in the most depressed areas, those that historically have been in a situation of greater vulnerability ”.

With the country in quarantine, the Teachings to distance in public and private schools and universities. That same month the program was launched “I learn at home” to teach classes through television, radio and internet. In addition, the Ministry of Education distributed 719,000 tablets with internet access to rural students and 124,000 to urban students for virtual classes.

“The government had a quick and correct reaction at first when deciding to set up a platform and try to bring education not only through virtual media but on radio and television to access the largest number of students, “says Cuenca.

However, the researcher warns of the urgency that “greater adjustments be made in an emergency situation that is ceasing to be so to be more stable. Even though the face-to-face classes are scheduled for the remainder of the year, we must give a good adjustment of the nuts to the strategy of the Ministry of Education ”.

Cuenca acknowledges that the Ministry announced that it will begin to implement measures to recover youth and children who stayed out of classes.

“But that should be accompanied by a deep reflection on how we go about teaching what we should teach in an exceptional context and not just believing that the solution is the amount of connectivity that, of course, is necessary but that will not be ready in the short term”, Says the researcher.

Despite the Peruvian government’s attempts to shore up education, the harsh reality worked in favor of desertion: the high informality labor (70%) induced thousands of Peruvians, including youth and children, to challenge confinement to make a living.

In addition, the poverty in which a fifth of the population lives deprived thousands of students of access to computers and the Internet to access virtual education.

Do not forget that your own peruvian geography conspires against the possibility of thousands of provincial minors receiving distance education.

In the Peruvian Amazon, “the percentage of students who do not become contacts can reach up to 30%,” said Cecilia Ramírez, director of Basic Education at the Ministry.

In the area of ​​Lake Titicaca (Puno), on the border with Bolivia, where people live on hills that rose higher 4000 meters high, capturing classes by cell phones is practically impossible, there “more than 20,000 schoolchildren they have stopped participating in virtual classes “, indicated the regional director of Education, Mario Benavente.

The economic crisis that was generated by the management of the pandemic in Peru forced many parents to move to the countryside and go to work in the mines. Together with them their children went following the same destiny to survive.

The teachers union SUTEP predicts a school dropout for this year of more than one million students, well above the 300 thousand that the official figures show.

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