Three In Four 15-Year-Olds In LAC Unable To Demonstrate Foundational Math Skills

CMC – Policymakers, stakeholders, and communities across Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) are being urged to take immediate action to overcome one of the region’s greatest education crises in the last 100 years, to ensure sustainable growth and the youth’s future.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank in a new joint report, “Learning Can’t Wait: Lessons for Latin America and the Caribbean from PISA 2022,” discuss how to address this crisis.

They advocate for increased and more efficient investments to accelerate learning results, the socioeconomic and technological gaps in education systems to be closed, and for youth to be adequately prepared for the jobs now and in the future.

The two financial institutions say the results of PISA 2022, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, demonstrated the depth of the learning crisis for adolescents in the region.

They said the assessment, which had record participation from LAC countries, showed that three out of four 15-year-olds in the region are unable to demonstrate foundational math skills, and one in two are not able to do so for reading. Learning trends are not moving in the right direction for most countries.

To reverse this scenario, the report outlines three urgent policy priorities for the region.

It recommends that the authorities help the youth recover from COVID-19 learning losses and accelerate their learning trajectory in foundational reading and math skills. This includes interventions like teaching at the right level, tutoring, and using educational digital and technology solutions.

The report is also recommending support  for disadvantaged students with targeted interventions. This includes tackling dropout rates by using early warning systems to identify at-risk students and supporting them with tailored initiatives to ensure they stay enrolled in school.

In addition, the report wants to close the gaps in access to devices and digital resources, and train teachers to integrate technology effectively in learning activities, enabling all students to benefit from digitalisation.

“The world is moving at a great speed and there is no time to waste. We must help every student build the skills they need to thrive,” said Jaime Saavedra, the World Bank’s human development director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

“The best teachers, effective teaching methods, and an integration of technology into the teaching process are key to ensure that the children and youth of the region are on successful learning trajectories.”

The IDB’s chief of education, Mercedes Mateo, said while increased investments in education are crucial, “we also have margin for improving what we achieve with the resources we already have.

“Student performance in math is below what current investment levels predict across the region. We need to invest more but also achieve more with each dollar spent, and target interventions to reach the most disadvantaged students. If these persistent learning gaps are not rapidly addressed, youth will lack the skills needed to succeed in a rapidly changing labour market,” she added.

The new joint report is part of the ongoing collaboration between the IDB and the World Bank to close the digital gap in education in Latin America and the Caribbean, ensuring young people have the skills needed for tomorrow’s economy.

The two institutions are coordinating actions to maximise the impact of already-approved programmes, which represent investments of US$512 million, which will benefit 3.5 million students in 16 countries. In addition, they are exploring other initiatives to significantly expand the scale and mobilise more capital in the coming years to support this digital education agenda.