Education is every child's right. If children in Colombia are to break free from poverty, education is crucial. It gives them options and opportunities to build independent and fulfilling lives. Education is also a joy in itself.
The current situation in Colombia
Even though the Colombian constitution requires children aged five to fifteen to go to school, approximately 1.2 million Colombian children (11% of all school age children) currently do not receive any formal education. Although enrolment rates are often high, it can be difficult for the most at risk children to remain in school. Indeed only about 85% of those who enrol in primary school stay there until the final grade.
There are many reasons why children drop out of school. These include barriers to access such as the stigma surrounding disability and special educational needs or the invisible borders faced by children living in neighbourhoods controlled by gangs. They also include factors such as the pressure to work or care for younger siblings, the costs of books and uniforms, early pregnancy, or violence in schools and/or communities. A recent study of 28,967 Colombian students found that 78% were affected by violence in schools. Children reported feeling scared to attend school, and a reduction in their academic performance.
Risks for children
The longer children are out of school the less likely it is that they will ever successfully return, due to the gap between their age and academic level. Children who do not attend school are at high risk of experiencing violence or commercial sexual exploitation, being recruited into gangs or illegal armed groups and becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty and social exclusion.
What is Children Change Colombia doing?
Children Change Colombia is helping our local partners to work towards educational inclusion for all children in Colombia. We are working in partnership with programmes that address the specific educational needs of these at risk children. Our aim is to support accessible, high-quality education that enables all children to access and remain in school and to fulfil their potential.
Our partners working on education are: