The Miami Herald
December 9, 1998

Study casts doubt on quality of education in Latin America, Caribbean

             GENEVA -- (EFE) -- Although 92 percent of Latin Americans have access to
             primary education, there is a high rate of academic failure, indicating problems with
             the quality of education, according to a UNICEF report released Tuesday.

             A quarter of children who enroll in primary schools drop out by the fifth grade,
             according to the State of the World's Children Report 1999 published by the U.N.
             Children's Fund (UNICEF).

             Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic
             have the highest school drop-out rates, registering more than 40 percent.

             A study on Latin America in the 1980s, included in the report, indicates that 32
             million students must repeat the school year in primary and secondary schools,
             which costs $5.2 billion annually.

             These problems indicate a lack of quality in the education offered in most Latin
             American and Caribbean countries, and the problems are further exacerbated by
             the social and economic situations of many students.

             In almost half of the 21 countries mentioned in the report, at least 10 percent of
             children in primary schools have to repeat the school year.

             Brazil and Guatemala have the highest rate of students who fail the school year,
             both above 15 percent, and an 87 percent adult illiteracy rate.

             Ninety-two percent of people in Latin America and the Caribbean have access to
             primary education. Guatemala and Haiti have the lowest rate of accessibility, at 58
             percent and 69 percent, respectively.


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