Girls Education in Colombia
Extensive progress typically does not happen overnight, especially when the subject at hand is an entire country with numerous socioeconomic factors in play. However, Colombia has impressed the world and set a remarkable example in cultivating girls’ education.

Facts About Girls’ Education in Colombia

  1. The average number of school years girls complete grew about 23 percent, from 3 to 3.7 years, between 1900 and 2000.
  2. In rural areas, more than three-quarters of children in primary education go on to the next grade compared to almost 90 percent in urban areas.
  3. Between 1989 and 2011, girls’ completion of lower secondary school increased from 37 percent to 94 percent.
  4. Girls’ education has led to increased participation in the workforce, growing from 30 percent to 43 percent between 1990 and 2012.

These staggering present-day successes were achieved while Colombia also worked to help its internally displaced population. Internal displacement refers to people who are forced to leave their homes but remain in the same country. Colombia has had approximately seven million people internally displaced due to conflict within the country, one of the highest numbers in the world.

Despite the relatively difficult circumstances, girls’ education in Colombia continues to develop, which has helped Colombia create a prosperous and peaceful present and future.

An Inspiring Project

The Medellin Regional Corporation, supported by UNICEF, established the School in Search of the Child project that aims to reintegrate conflict-affected children back into the education system. The project provides funds to cover any expenses related to keeping children in school.

According to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative, in 2004, its first year of operation, 310 out of 375 children enrolled in the program were effectively reintegrated into schools, a more than 80 percent success rate. The project has proven to be a fruitful endeavor that with further assistance could be much more far-reaching.

De Cero a Siempre – “From Zero to Forever”

Colombia’s national government established the From Zero to Forever strategy in 2010, which introduced a now-common structure to organize the children’s well-being and development sector. The strategy is unifying key participants in the sector, both from private and public sectors as well as domestic and internal organizations and agencies. From Zero to Forever has linked several relevant policies and programs in the sector to provide poor children with much-needed comprehensive early childhood care and education.

Fundación Escuela Nueva – “New School”

The New School model innovates traditional teaching practices in Colombia and has been doing so since the late 1970s, growing to cover more than two-thirds of Colombia’s rural education system. The model has effectively delivered the following results:

  • Brought education to rural and misrepresented areas
  • Made school affordable
  • Fostered a team-building environment in students’ work
  • Trained teachers to initiate and manage settings conducive to learning
  • Tailored education to focus on children of varying levels separately, rather than addressing all levels simultaneously
  • Stimulated entrepreneurial teachings, modernized education skills and fostered leadership aptitudes among children

40 by 40 Program

Oscar Sánchez, the former Secretary of Education of Bogotá, presented the 40 by 40 program in 2012, with the goal to increase class time in schools across the country so that students attend full school days totaling 40 hours per week, 40 weeks per year. The program extended children’s access to extracurricular activities such as sports and arts that can ultimately fulfill children and promote fair and higher quality education.

Girls’ education in Colombia is one of several areas that the country has sought to improve. The effects are entirely positive and thereby reveal the capacity for a country to meet its goals, even during great adversities that would appear crippling. Fortunately, Colombia has flourished, and with its investment in the necessity that is girls’ education, its continued success looks very promising.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

Noting her country’s unrelenting stance on its budget, musician Shakira will be opening her seventh school to provide better education in Colombia for impoverished children.

Since the 1960s, education in Colombia has changed drastically, with government funding growing ten-fold. In fact, because government funding has increased 5.75 percent in 2015, Colombia’s primary school enrollment has doubled, secondary school enrollment has increased six-fold and university enrollment has increased fifteen times over.

In 2009, the country’s Education Minister, Cecilia Velez, noted that high school enrollment rose from 400,000 to 700,000 in the past five years. However, it wasn’t always like this. In fact, much of Colombia is still catching up to modern times and is still striving to lower poverty that keeps children out of school.

Approximately 30.6 percent of Colombia’s population lives below the poverty line, and Colombia ranks as the tenth most unequal country in the world. Among those most affected by poverty and inequality are children. In addition, of that 30.6 percent, 42.8 percent are impoverished rural people, while 26.9 percent live in urban areas.

Although Colombia has made great strides over the past few years in reforming education, little has been done to accommodate children in poverty trying to go to school. Students have even resorted to protesting on the streets, demanding a better investment in schools and making education in Colombia a priority.

However, Velez noted that achieving higher quality and more accessible education would take a greater investment by the government, and with a strict budget going toward security and defense rather than education, little can be done.

To combat this budgetary issue, Shakira and her foundation, the Pies Descalzos Foundation, have been building schools around Colombia for nearly 20 years. The singer specifically chooses rural, impoverished areas where the government has little to no involvement to give children the opportunity to attend school. She has already built six schools, and this time she’s focusing on her home, Barranquilla, where 25.7 percent of the town’s population lives below the poverty line.

Teaming up with FC Barcelona and La Caixa Banking Foundation, 1.2 million euros will be donated to build the new school, which will be named “Institución Nuevo Bosque.” The Colombian Ministry of Education and the City of Barranquilla have also volunteered to donate the remaining balance of the project.

Shakira noted that by providing education to children shackled down by their economic status, they are being liberated and having their minds opened to things they could never have imagined. In addition, the singer hopes that the opening of a new school will help provide jobs, security and peace to the conflict-ridden town.

With the construction of her seventh school, set to be finished in 2019, Shakira will be providing education in one of the darkest corners of Colombia.

Amira Wynn

Photo: Flickr