7 out of 10 grade repeters have parents with low education - IDESA

Informe Nº: 03/02/2014

7 out of 10 grade repeters have parents with low education

Politicians are beginning to recognize last decade’s education decline. But simultaneously, they are minimizing its negative impacts. The clearest evidence is that the government intends to give a positive outlook to the large number of people who neither study nor work, arguing that most of them are young women dedicated to the caring of their children. This position, of an overwhelming conservatism, ignores that early motherhood with low education is a powerful factor in the intergenerational reproduction of poverty that adversely affects their children’s educational level.    

Given the increasingly strong evidence of the educational system decline, the ruling party has begun to recognize the failure. Overwhelming data is provided by PISA, which indicates that in 2000, 44% of 15 year olds had minimal literacy skills, i.e. demonstrating difficulties in understanding what they read. In 2009, this proportion rose to 52%. In the same period, PISA shows that Chile’s educational system decreased its number of 15 year olds without minimal literacy skills from 48% to 31%.

The fact that more than half of fifteen year olds do not understand what they read is an extremely serious problem since they are likely to become school dropouts and to suffer severe employability problems throughout their lives. It is a powerful source of frustration and poverty that has a tendency to spread across generations. One way to illustrate how the parent’s education level impact on their children’s educational performance is analyzing the education level reached by parent’s repeters.

According to PISA data for 2009 it can be seen that:

· 31% of 15 year olds failed to pass a grade at least one time.

· Of those young people who did not pass grades, 72% have either father or mother who did not finish high school.

· Considering the 69% who did not repeat grades, only 54% have mother or father that did not finish high school.

This evidence suggests that low parental education increases the risk of children reproducing their parents’ bad educational experiences. One of the key determinants of children’s poor educational performance is low parental education. In this context, it is  necessary to reconsider the opinion that dismisses the fact that many young people do not study or work on the grounds that, in most cases, there are women dedicated to the care of their children. A woman who belongs to a poor household, who has not finished high school and is subject to early motherhood, not only does not generate the employment skills needed to generate a decent income, but also has a high probability of limiting the educational and labor future of her children.

Posing as positive the fact that young women dropout of school and do not take part in the labor market in order to provide care for their children is of an overwhelming conservatism. It will be very difficult to build a sustained social development process with a ruling class who possesses such an extremely traditionalist and atavistic ideas that associate femininity to homecare. Furthermore, it contradicts the current trend of women showing the best educational performance. PISA test also shows that while 59% of men manifested severe reading problems, among women this proportion drops to 45%.

This archaic idea about the role of women who do not work or study is consistent with the conception that has been given to the Universal Child Allowance. The deviation in the design of the program along with the its poor management have degraded  it to a traditional assistance mechanism, that, far from dignifying, induces the perpetuation of poverty by stimulating educational and labor inactivity in women and early motherhood. 

Having assumed the educational decline, it is central not to minimize the consequences or to circumvent the corrective measures. The experience of recent years has shown that even harder than increasing the educational resources is to ensure that these resources are properly allocated. This requires, for example, changing the rules that regulate teacher’s employment and educational policy. Considering the Universal Child Allowance, it is essential to improve its design and modernize its management stimulating maternal schooling, women labor activity and a more professional management.

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