Gaps in learning, lack of infrastructure, desertion and absenteeism: the problems detected in the 2022 Annual Report in access to education
The document maintains -among several conclusions- that the effects of the pandemic on education are unknown. To date, says the INDH, there is a lack of impact evaluations on the educational contribution of educational materials and resources for distance learning.
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There was a lack of diligence on the part of the State to face something that had already been diagnosed in September 2021 and that pointed to thousands of boys and girls being left out of the school system as the impact of the pandemic took hold. This is indicated by “Human rights of children and adolescents in the post-pandemic school environment”, the chapter where the Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile 2022 delves into what life is like for students in a post-Covid world.
Lieta Vivaldi, INDH counselor, referred to the educational problems addressed in the report. “The INDH analyzed how after the establishment of distance education systems to deal with Covid-19, the school communities returned to face-to-face with physical and mental protection measures. Precisely these initiatives were analyzed in light of the right to education, investigating inequalities during and after the pandemic and knowing variables such as the return to face-to-face in cases where education professionals did not have tools to address the psychosocial impact. ”, maintained the lawyer.
The report from the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) devoted 70 pages to exploring this reality, with figures on how many students were away from their classrooms during the hardest days of the pandemic, between 2020 and 2021, and how it has been their return to the classroom. How much is it costing them to resume the learning dynamic that sought to be cushioned with virtual classes —a measure that, due to social gaps, did not impact everyone in the same way— and what are the restorative policies of education.
Regarding the pandemic, the report says that Unicef has warned that the return to face-to-face education should not focus only on academic learning and, in this sense, it is also very important to support the socio-emotional well-being of the educational community as a whole.
Now, during these two years in which classes tended to be virtual, what were the effects? To begin with, not everyone had access to a computer to view the classes. According to estimates from schools, in the second semester of 2021, 25% of the student body did not have sufficient connectivity. Public establishments were the ones that lacked connection to a greater extent (33%), according to the 2021 Pandemic School Monitoring Survey.
The effects are unknown. To date, says the INDH report, there is a lack of impact evaluations on the educational contribution of educational materials and resources for distance learning. Worse still, during the pandemic period the application of standardized tests was suspended, in particular the Education Quality Measurement System (SIMCE), which allow comparisons. There are only indirect measurements, such as the Comprehensive Learning Diagnosis (DIA), which do not make it possible to establish the national situation or guide a public policy decision.
Despite its limited scope, the indications provided by this instrument are not good. The executive director of Belén Educa, Pedro Larraín, says that “we took the DIA at the beginning of the year and we have a 70% lag, that is, only 30% of our students showed adequate learning for the level (…) Diversity within a classroom of classes, the dispersion between the most advanced and the most backward is very, very large. The loss of the school culture, of the school climate, of the well-understood normalization to be able to understand yourself in a classroom, has receded a lot and that has been difficult”.
Infrastructure and desertion
Now, the two hardest years of the pandemic left us with other traces. The report says that, according to statistics from the Study Center of the Ministry of Education, 126 establishments stopped working between 2020 and 2022 and there were others that were not able to receive students when the return occurred. In July 2022, 27% of establishments required infrastructure improvements to increase attendance. Most of them are from the Local Public Education Services (54%) or municipal (40%).
Along with infrastructure issues, there were aspects not diagnosed in time, such as the internal mobility of people to less densely populated sectors due to the pandemic; the transfer of students from private establishments to the public system due to the economic crisis; and the rise of the migrant population.
The admission system did not generate a response that would allow access to enrollment to the entire population according to their territory, generating a problem that affected children and adolescents and caused a greater lag in their learning and a complex scenario for their re-entry To the system.
It was known in September
By way of evaluation, the report states that “although the figures were better than those projected, the lack of diligence to attend to a situation diagnosed in September 2021 —through public actions that allowed expanding and improving the available school infrastructure, or implement the measures recommended by the Table for the Prevention of School Dropout—resulted in thousands of children and adolescents being totally or partially out of the school system in 2022, violating the fundamental right to education”. The report also regrets “the lack of official and public data to establish the magnitude and depth of the problem, and that other non-governmental actors can contribute to reducing these gaps in access and permanence in schools.”
At the time of preparation of the chapter, the numbers of school dropouts for 2022 were not available. But the data from the previous years does allow us to give an idea of a trend. In the last decade, the rates had been falling until the beginning of 2020. That year the global number of dropouts reached 27,768 students. Starting in 2021, it increased again and reached 39,498 children and adolescents of school age who were not enrolled in any establishment.
Added to this growing problem is absenteeism. During 2022, 37% of the students of basic education, 33% of the scientific humanist secondary education and 39% of the professional technician present an attendance of less than 85% in the first semester of 2022. Said margin is considered non-attendance or severe absenteeism. The figure has doubled in 11 regions since 2019 and reached more than 988,000 students in that condition, corresponding to 36% of the total enrollment. From the Ministry of Education, says the report, it is indicated that the situation is linked to the increase in respiratory diseases other than Covid, but the Study Center of the Ministry of Education has also analyzed other factors such as the employability of young people.
For civil society organizations and study centers linked to education, together with the aforementioned factors, serious absenteeism could be explained by the loss of school routine, the fulfillment of other roles of the student within the family, and the increase in mental health problems caused by confinement and its consequence in demotivation and loss of meaning or value of formal education.
Report on access to education: Gaps in learning, lack of infrastructure, dropout and absenteeism