Basic EducationCHE scaleChildren and TeenagersCivil Society

22% of students miss classes to help their parents | via: La Verdad

La Verdad Newspaper | Maracaibo | April 10, 2023

Unofficial translation made by HumVenezuela…

The most recent survey conducted by Asociación Civil Con la Escuela it was found that 22% of students miss classes because they have to work to help their parents support the household.

This study was applied to a sample of 79 schools in: Capital District, Miranda, Bolivar, Bolivar, Anzoátegui, Apure, Lara and Zulia.

The coordinator of Con La Escuela, Professor Oscar Iván Rose, informed that the teachers, to whom the survey was applied, report that the ages of the students who work are between 6 and 17 years old, being the most frequent range between 15 and 17 years old and that there is a greater presence of girls who work: 41.5 %.

On the other hand, the percentage of working children varies according to the state where the survey was conducted.

In Zulia, teachers reported that 38.27% of children work and in the Capital District, 20.97%; however, this phenomenon is present in the 7 states where the survey was applied.

“Studying should be a full-time task for children and youth between the ages of 5 and 18; however, the reality for our children and youth is very different,” said Professor Rose.

Reason for non-attendance

He added that “work is not the only reason for non-attendance. The instrument also inquired about the possible causes of absences and found that 44.15% of the educators stated that their students do not attend school because of the failure of some public service such as water, electricity or gas”.

85.6% of the reports of non-attendance are associated with poor drinking water service. Transportation is also a reason for non-attendance, but it is of lesser incidence since 98% of students walk to school”.

Additionally, 42.44% of the teachers surveyed stated that the absence of the School Feeding Program (PAE) is a cause of student absenteeism.

Guarantees food welfare

For the coordinator of Con la Escuela, “the PAE seeks to guarantee the food welfare of public school students through the delivery of food on campus, and should operate daily; however, this is not the case.”

Of the sample, only 32.4 % of the schools report that the PAE works every day of the week.

The PAE seems to be the reason why many students attend school. In Apure, for example, educators report 88 % of non-attendance when the PAE does not work, in the state of Zulia 67 % and in Anzoátegui 49 %.

This is a sign of the insufficient food that may be available in students’ homes and that schools are unable to supply.

But school days are not only lost due to students’ non-attendance, but also to the days lost in the school calendar due to late starts, early closings or lack of teachers.

As of January 16, 2023, at least fifteen days of classes of the first period of the school year had been lost.

“If we take into account that the school calendar has 180 days of classes, 8.3% of it would have already been lost, and in view of this insufficient number of school days it is worth asking: what are the students learning?” commented Professor Rose.

Learning loss

We are coming from two years of pandemic in the world where many students did not have the opportunity to have distance or face-to-face training.

In response to this situation, international bodies have warned that the loss of learning in one third of low and middle income countries is expressed in the fact that “70% of 10-year-old children cannot understand a simple text” (World Bank, 2022). This means a great loss of learning, to which our country does not escape.

In February of this year, the Asociación Civil Con La Escuela, applied a pilot test on reading fluency in 362 third grade students in the states of Miranda and the Capital District.

It was found that 63% of the students have a reading fluency below the international standard, they read only 48 words per minute.

That is, most of the participating students have a reading fluency lower than expected, they read fewer words than the international standard, which is 60 words per minute. This is a warning sign.

“The situation is worrisome. In this study we observed that 3.9% of the students evaluated were not able to decode any of the words in the text appropriate to their age, which implies that they have reached third grade without being literate. Further research on these aspects is needed to make effective recommendations in the field of learning to read in the early grades of basic education. If children represent the future of our country, what future awaits us? This is a reality that should call us to immediate action,” concluded Professor Oscar Iván Rose.