International Day of the Girl Child: Teen Pregnancy and Education

The Miseducation of Latin American Girls: Poor Schooling Makes Pregnancy a Rational Choice from BIDtv on Vimeo.

The United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 2011 voted to designate 11 October as the ‘International Day of the Girl Child’. The day promotes girls’ human rights, highlights gender inequalities that remain between girls and boys and addresses the various forms of discrimination and abuse suffered by girls around the globe.

Numerous studies have shown that educating girls can make more dramatic, positive changes for both the individual and society than any other single intervention. Education expands social and economic opportunities and promotes participation for both boys and girls. Girls’ education, furthermore, has cascading effects on the family, community and nation.

In this context, we know that one of the most relevant problemas of the young girls in latin america is the poor education that they receive. It affects in many aspects of their lives, one of the most relevant is the way they understand their sexual life.

A recent study (World Population Day) revealed that Latin America and the Caribbean place second in the world, behind only Sub-Saharan Africa, in terms of adolescent pregnancies. The proportion of births that take place during adolescence is about 2% in China, 18% in Latin America and the Caribbean and more than 50% in sub-Saharan Africa.

Many girls who become pregnant have to leave school. This has long-term implications for them as individuals, their families and communities. Studies have shown that delaying adolescent births could significantly lower population growth rates, potentially generating broad economic and social benefits, in addition to improving the health of adolescents. According to data collected by the IDB in six countries (Bolivia, Haiti, Colombia, Nicaragua, Peru, and Dominican Republic) the relation between adolescent pregnancies and educational levels is stronger in Latin America than in other regions.

Policies have to seek to reduce the rate of adolescent pregnancies they need to do more than simply inform and give access to contraceptives. Schools play a vital role in the socialization of the next generation, and educational systems need to assume the task of both directing and evaluating programs that aim to reduce teenage pregnancies.

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A glimpse into the labour market in Latin America

The shortage of decent work in LATAM —one of the hallmarks of the region’s labour markets— erodes current and future well-being for society as a whole. Young people face specific hurdles as they look for productive employment, and labour indicators (such as income, unemployment and job security) are significantly worse for their group than for adults. Young people are also a heterogeneous group: within each age subcategory, their circumstances vary widely by sex, educational level and socioeconomic, ethnic and geographical background. To a certain extent, deprivation is transferred intergenerationally throughout the life cycle, limiting young people’s employment trajectory and, ultimately, forming a barrier to the sustained development of society. Youth employment is therefore a strategic item on the public policy agenda.

 

Tertiary Education in LATAM

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The development of the innovative university is necessary for the modern paradigm of knowledge to become a reality in universities and consequently in our societies. This modern paradigm would be characterized by the fact that the teachers shall equip students with learning instruments and methodologies. To be able to transform higher education and society internationally and in particular in developing countries, it is necessary to go from the traditional university based on classical teaching methods to a participative university based on teaching-learning, and reach an innovative university with a modern paradigm of knowledge.

 In Latin America higher education has undergone an astonishing transformation in recent years, highlighted by the private sector’s growth from 3 to 34 percent of the region’s total enrollment. Private equity is growing fast in Latin America, bringing capital, professionalization and consolidation to a number of markets. These sectors include traditional areas such as retail, banking and infrastructure development – but perhaps more surprisingly, private equity funding is getting actively involved in the education sector as well.

Several trends have contributed to making the education market attractive for investors. First, demand has been increasing not only for access to, but also quality of, education Second, Latin America has seen the growth of a middle class with the necessary resources to consume higher quality education and a better understanding of its importance in the struggle to move up the economic ladder. Finally, the education markets are realizing the need for better and more efficient management.

Latin American universities are characterised by the greater weight of the social sciences and humanities. In fact, the distribution of university students in the region is concentrated mainly in these disciplines, while there is a smaller proportion in science and technology. This pattern differs considerably from that of the OECD economies, where we see cases such as Korea and Finland with a greater concentration of graduates in the fields of engineering, science and technology. This is consistent with the strategy in these countries to increase human resources in disciplines with applications in sciences and technology, as they look to develop a productive system based on the development of manufacturing value added.