Mexico’s Impoverished Children Hardest Hit by Education Backlog
Children living in impoverished areas are the most vulnerable group in Mexico due to a lack of adequate education services during the covid-19 pandemic, according to Maria Teresa Reyes Ruiz, a social sciences researcher at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).
Most households suffered a drop in income or unemployment of at least one family member, impacting the decision to continue their children’s education, Reyes Ruiz told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Consequently she said that there must be specific government policy support to guarantee access to education for these vulnerable underprivileged children.
According to the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, the educational gap in Mexico reached 19.2 percent between 2018 and 2020.
“The states with the greatest educational gap, interestingly, are the ones that also register the highest levels of poverty, as is the case of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Michoacán,” Reyes Ruiz said, adding that some students had to work instead of continuing their education.
She warned that students who fail to complete their studies have a lower chance of earning a decent income and maintaining a high standard of living as adults.
“Lack of access to education will cause inequalities when looking for a stable and well-paid job,” Reyes Ruiz said.
“It is extremely important to have an economic resource that guarantees material conditions of life, of existence, for comprehensive development. Otherwise, the chances of having a decent life diminish considerably.”
In Mexico, as in most other countries, face-to-face classes were canceled for nearly two years to contain the spread of the covid-19 coronavirus.
The state-run television program “Learn at Home” was established, and classes were held online, demanding students to keep up with their subjects via an internet connection — something children in impoverished areas lacked.
“If children do not have access to education, later they will have to resort to informal work, to low-skilled jobs and, therefore, they will have various (educational) deficiencies.”
Reyes Ruiz recommended enacting policies at the national level to ensure that children in disadvantaged situations have easy access to education.
“We would have to implement effective strategies to bring students into the classroom, improve the infrastructure to deal with any disease and create the necessary conditions so that families feel safe sending their children to school,” she said.