Education in crisis

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School dropout occurs when a student leaves school before obtaining a degree or a certificate of completion.

The high school dropout crisis is more than an educational problem and it involves a set of social and economic challenges that affect the entire society. This is an urgent crisis that Latin America should attend.

To overcome the challenges, they must be understood first, then talked about to be able to find solutions. The educational crisis will persist if we do not seek solutions. That’s where GRADUATE XXI comes, the movement to end the high school dropout crisis.

As part of the awareness initiative created by GRADUATE XXI, the program has produced “The Empty Classroom” – a feature film about the educational crisis in Latin America, as told by Latin-American filmmakers and young leading roles. The goal is to contribute to public debate in the Latin American society and to support a real change on the quality of education.

For more information on “The Empty Classroom” click here

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Youth with disabilities

Only between 20% to 30% of children and young people with disabilities in Latin America go to school. Most of them don’t graduate from high school

Youth with lower income

While 70% of students with higher income graduate in Latin America, only 30% of lower- income students reach the same educational level. A gap of seven years of schooling between the richest and poorest segments of the population remains.

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Youth living in rural areas

About half of the youth living in rural areas don’t complete nine years of school.

Indigenous students

More than 40% of indigenous youth between the ages of 12 and 17 don’t go to school.

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Did you ever think of dropping out of school?

The Empty Classroom is a film produced by the Inter-American Development Bank to explore from the perspective of 10 renowned Latin-American filmmakers the reasons why almost half of the Latin American youth drops out of school.

Meet the filmmakers

  • Mariana Chenillo
  • Flavia Castro
  • Carlos Gaviria
  • Lucrecia Martel
  • Eyrk Rocha
  • Daniel y Diego Vega
  • Pablo Fendrik
  • Tatiana Huezo
  • Nicolás Pereda
  • Pablo Stoll
Visit “The Empty Classroom”
Take a look at GRADUATE XXI´s 10
contests on school dropout

A place for everyone #1

Students with disabilities face physical, social and cultural barriers to attend school. It is estimated that only between 20% to 30% of children and youth with disabilities in Latin America attend school. What would you do to make education more accessible and inclusive for all?

Renowned Mexican filmmaker Mariana Chenillo joins GRADUATE XXI to portray the obstacles of education that young people with disabilities face. Chenillo’s protagonist, Hugo, is just like any other high school student; he goes to class and studies in order to graduate. The only difference is: he is a deaf student in a hearing world. Hugo is a typical teenager. He just faces not-so-typical challenges to finishing high school.

Click here and find out more about Mariana Chenillo

¿Study or work? #2

Investing time and money on transportation for school can be expensive and limit the chances of continuing school in rural areas. In Latin America, more than half of low-income youth in rural areas don’t complete nine years of education. What would you do for all the young people to have access to quality education no matter where they live?

On Pablo Fendrik’s short, Piñalito, the famous Argentinian filmmaker explores the need to work and the difficulties to reach school as obstacles to have an education in rural areas. The protagonist Pedro dreams of escaping the backbreaking work on his family’s tobacco farm. He would like to study but his family wants him to work. Will he end up going to school?

Click here and find out more about Pablo Fendrik

Violence and School Dropouts #3

In many Latin American countries violence is an everyday life experience. It manifests itself in different ways: domestic violence, gangs, drug trafficking. Violence is a key factor influencing the school dropout crisis which reaches every level, whether it is in families, locally or nationally. Young people in this situation don’t just carry books when they go to school; they also carry negative emotional weight behind them. Can education help heal the wounds of conflict?

Renowned Colombian filmmaker Carlos Gaviria investigates the links between the dropout crisis and violence. His short film Good Intentions tells the story of two young people on the road to recovery after becoming the victims of violence. What role should the education system play when integrating young people who have been through violent situations?

Click here and find out more about Carlos Gaviria

The power of a teacher #4

Although it’s true that economic and accessibility problems are obstacles to complete secondary education in Latin America, they do not illustrate the full story. In most countries, the decision to stay in school has become the biggest challenge for the education of future generations.

In fact, recent surveys show that the lack of interest in education is the main reason why Latin American youth drop out. These surprising results reveal a possible deficiency in the quality of education.

Several directors in GRADUATE XXI focus their short films about the lack of interest and the quality of education as factors for dropping out. Flavia Castro's film, a renowned filmmaker in Brazilian cinema, explores both topics along with the role of teachers. Research suggests that teachers are one of the most important factors in school performance.

What should be the role of teachers to improve the quality of education and dropout prevention? How can we help teachers improve the quality of education? Send us your proposal to turn teachers into agents of change in education.

Click here and find out more about Flavia Castro

Schools for 21st century students #5

Adolescence is a stage filled with important decisions, decisions that can change your entire life path. Daniel and Diego Vega, a formidable pair of brothers and filmmakers reflect on the decision to obtain a high school diploma in his short film for GRADUATE XXI. They wonder is high school is really worth it. Are high schools prepared to engage twenty-first century students?

Young people who graduate from high school get better jobs; higher salaries and greater opportunities. However, in Latin America the high school dropout rate persists. According to recent surveys, many young people leave school say they have no interest in school. Their lack of motivation suggests that they are not convinced that education will provide them a better future.

Tell us how you could update the education system in order to respond to the education needs of students in the twenty-first century answering the following question:

What should be taught in every high school to ensure a successful transition to work or tertiary education? And tell us why?

Click here and find out more about Daniel y Diego Vega

No fear in the classroom #6

“I dropped out of school because of the fear that surrounded me there”.

This is how an anonymous story, told by a teenager representing the voices of many young people who have lived through violent experiences in school, begins. In her short film, acclaimed filmmaker Tatiana Huezo explores the topic of fear - fear that makes many young people living in high-risk areas of the city of San Salvador abandon their studies.

Education can be a powerful tool to prevent violence. The tragic irony is that in some places, even the schools are not safe. If schools are not safe spaces, it is impossible that young people receive a quality education.

Now we delve into the issue of school violence. We seek ideas on how to make safer schools in communities where the widespread violence affects the school environment.

No young person should be afraid in their own classrooms. How can we make schools safer and transform it into a peaceful shelter for every student? How can we rehabilitate violent schools?

Click here and find out more about Tatiana Huezo

From students on risk to future graduates #7

Every complex choreographed dance requires that each dancer take their steps in sync. The harmonized movement of participants in front of and behind the scenes is a requirement; if a person is out of sync, the dance loses its magic.

The interaction between the students, the school system and the various factors that contribute to young people dropping out of school can be as complex and precarious as choreographing a dance. Are students abandoning their education? Or is it the education system abandoning them? Who is failing whom?

In the short film by renowned Brazilian filmmaker Eryk Rocha, the school is not in sync with the young protagonist.

If education cannot keep up with the energy and curiosity of students, the out of sync relationship can produce dropouts.

Many young people begin to show signs of being at risk of leaving school before reaching high school. For example, they begin to miss school often, or have difficulties in their studies, or begin to prioritize other activities. How to identify students at risk and prevent dropouts before it’s too late? Send us your proposal to prevent school dropouts.

Click here and find out more about Eryk Rocha

From high school dropout to graduate #8

It’s important to have dreams. Setting higher goals can motivate us to face challenges and reach the objectives we set. In the short film directed by Uruguayan Pablo Stoll, two young students are portrayed: both are high motivated to pursue their dreams, but not motivated to stay in school. Soon they find out that education is not an obstacle in the way, but the key to having success in their lives. But, will it be too late to go back to school?

No matter what you wish to pursue in life, whether physics or soccer, your education is fundamental and graduating from high school is necessary to make your dreams come true. Nevertheless, out of the 106 million young people in Latin America, almost half of them drop out of school before achieving a high school diploma.

How can we bring back the young people who once abandoned their studies? Send us a solution that could give them a second chance.

Click here and find out more about Pablo Stoll

No longer held back #9

Latin America has a high grade repetition rate, and the students who are held back in school have a higher chance of dropping out of school. Latin-American students should go through 12 years of school, but most of them only finish 9 schooling years.

Just like the school dropout crisis, many factors can influence a student being held back such as: low academic achievements, absenteeism from school, lack of resources and discrimination. If young people are held back a year in the same schools with the same teaching methods, it’s not logical to expect different results.

Instead of repeating the same thing, what innovative solution do you propose to prevent students from being held back?

Click here and find out more about Carlos Gaviria
This project has been made possible through the generous support of the Korean Republic. Korea has one of the highest educational performances worldwide.

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