MEXICO CITY – Mexico’s slow pace in rebuilding schools damaged by the September 2017 earthquakes means that many students are still attending classes just a few days per week, a situation that fosters dropping out, according to a report published Wednesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
In its report on the humanitarian situation of Mexican children and teenagers a year after the Sept. 7 and Sept. 19 quakes, UNICEF emphasized the continued existence of the temporary classrooms created to provide classes for children until their schools were rebuilt.
The children whose schools were damaged attend fewer hours of class – just two to three hours per day – and often attend just two or three days per week, UNICEF said.
Among the factors creating shorter school days are that the tents set up for the classes get incredibly hot, a lack of sanitary facilities and the scarcity of potable water.
Work remains to be done on some 19,784 schools that were damaged in the quakes, according to figures presented in the report.
According to the figures presented by UNICEF, there are 1,567 schools in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, both hard-hit by the temblors and suffering from his poverty indexes, where reconstruction work has not even begun due to lack of funds.
Other sources consulted say that up until June work had not begun on 2,916 schools.
UNICEF representative in Mexico Christian Skoog told EFE that “the risk is that (children) may not return to school because they’ve lost a lot of time or have found a job.”
The school dropout rate particularly affects kids in the higher grades, many of whom have entered the labor force to earn money and contribute to their families’ welfare.
Over the long term, it is incumbent on the authorities and society to reflect on the actions taken after the quakes “to be able to strengthen the response ability” with an eye toward future emergencies, Skoog said.
He emphasized the importance of having a comprehensive information system that will help to focus on the needs in emergency situations.
After the pair of quakes, Skoog said, each local or regional district provided different figures for the number of damaged schools and homes and this system needs to be “harmonized” to “ensure a better response.”