Honduran Education by Marco Caceres
Please read this incredibly well-written article below. This article speak primarily to the interior of Honduras. Our area, La Moskitia, is much worse due to its inaccessibility. Please join us to create a quality middle and high school here in Puerto Lempira. Click here for more information.
“Without properly educating its children, Honduras is destined to keep struggling simply to attain mere mediocrity. Forget moving forward. With its current system, the best the country can do is slow its rate of decline.”
By Marco Cáceres
Honduras has one of the worst public education systems in all of Latin America and the Caribbean, which is ironic, given that it spends a much higher proportion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on education than the other countries of Central America — approximately 7.3 percent of its GDP compared to an average of 3.1 percent for the rest of the region (see Fernando Yitzack Pavón’s paper “Improving Educational Quality in Honduras: Building a Demand-Driven Education Market“). More than 90 percent of the money allocated for education in Honduras goes to pay teacher salaries. Consequently, there’s very little leftover for anything else, and it shows in the quality of the students the system manages to push through.
Honduran teachers are constantly on strike and Honduran students rarely receive the minimum 200 days of classroom instruction each year. This has become standard fare. There have been years during the past decade that the number of classroom days was as low as 150. Note also that the Honduran public school day is only a half day long.
When the kids are fortunate enough to be in school, there’s a good chance that some of their teachers may not be fully engaged in teaching because they’re either depressed because they’ve not been fully paid or they’ve become so politicized that they’re contantly busy planning the next strike.
According to the Ministry of Education, some 10,000 of the country’s public schools are in need of repair or wholesale reconstruction. Thousands of schools lack basic teaching materials, and, often, teachers end up buying supplies and equipment with their own money… hoping that they’ll eventually be compensated by the school administrator or by the parents of their students.
Worst of all, the curriculum is subpar, so even when everything seems to be working okay, public students in Honduras are not being well-taught. Adding to this, often the children have not had much of a breakfast (if any), and so they start out with a huge learning disadvantage because they’re hungry.
A 2004 study by the international human rights organization Global Exchange noted that Honduras had the “most backward education in all of Central America; hardly 32 of every 100 students finish primary school without repeating grades…” In its studies of education in Latin America, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) consistently rates Honduras at or near the bottom in every category.
In the end, it all shows in Honduras’ dreadful illiteracy rate of 25 percent (UNESCO estimate). But it also shows in the country’s lack of economic competitiveness and almost complete absence in most of the world’s key industries and markets. Honduras remains largely an agriculture-based economy that relies on coffee, banana, and shrimp exports. It has a maquila industry, which essentially relies on low-skill labor — sewing. If it were not for the US$2.7 billion in remittances Honduras receives from its nationals abroad (mainly in the United States), the country would be in a much bigger heap of trouble.
There are many reasons why Honduras is so poor and economically uncompetitive. Many people would offer corruption as the primary culprit. Not so. It’s the lack of a viable public education system. Without properly educating its children, Honduras is destined to keep struggling simply to attain mere mediocrity. Forget moving forward. With its current system, the best the country can do is slow its rate of decline.
It is a crisis situation. Thus, you would think then that most logical way to celebrate the Día del Estudiante (Day of the Student) today would be to… well… be in school learning. Nope. In honor of this special day, all public schools in Honduras are closed. The kids are home hanging out, playing. Falling even further behind.
The Día del Estudiante was established as a holiday by the government on May 28, 1922 in honor of Father José Trinidad Reyes, who was born on June 11, 1797 in Tegucigalpa. Sorry Fr. Joe, it’s time for a sanity check. (6/11/12) (photo courtesy Internet)
Note: The author is the editor and cofounder of Honduras Weekly. He is an aerospace market analyst by profession. He was born in Tegucigalpa.
Reprinted in its entirety from www. hondurasweekly.com
This article speak primarily to the interior of Honduras. Our area, La Moskitia, is much worse due to its inaccessibility and indigenous people with different languages. Please join us to create a quality middle and high school here in Puerto Lempira. Click here for more information.