Honduras: Education


Honduras has the most backward educational system in Central America
(Date of Publication: 6/20/04)
The educational system in Honduras is the most backward in all of Central America; hardly 32 of every 100 students finish primary school without repeating grades, indicate statistics from the United Nations.
Data from the Program for the Development of the Organization of the United Nations (PNUD) reveal today, moreover, that 51% of the matriculates finish primary school, in an average of 9.4 years, and that the number of dropouts increases each year. The acutest problem is that the basic educational system only covers 86.5% of school-age children, while the remaining 13.5% cannot get access to an education.
Although the Honduran Constitution formally stipulates that minors have to have their educations taken care of, many arrive at adulthood without learning to read or write, while the state tries to justify this by the insufficiency of resources at its command. Illiteracy encompasses more than half a million people in this country, which is the equivalent of the entire population between 15 and 40 years old.
Sources add that the problem is becoming more acute due to the scarcity of public resources and an insufficient and slightly equitable offer in the educational order, both in quantity and in quality. Also, the necessity of increasing the family earnings forces many children to leave school for work, usually permanently. For similar reasons, this connects the low level of education reached by many parents with the precarious living conditions for more than 80% of Hondurans. In 10 of the 18 departments in which Honduras is divided, the second poorest of Central America, more than ninety percent of the students need to repeat grades.
The statistics collected by the ministry reflect that no department in Honduras reaches, on average, the six-year minimum of primary education. According to recent data indicating educational efficiency, for every thousand graduates of the first grade in 1990, only 292 (29%) complete primary school in six years and 468 (46%) never finish. The situation with universities is much more worrying, since only 20% avoid failing out in universities such as the National Autonomous University (UNAH).
President Ricardo Maduro is attempting the change the educational system, but at the current rate of reform it would take at least 23 years to reach the level of the educational system in other nations in the area like Costa Rica and Panama. Evaluations performed by international organizations denounce the backwardness of the state's investments in the sector with respect to the majority of countries in the region, and that the current educational model has reached its limits after more than a decade in Honduras.