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In El Salvador 68 children abandon school each day due to violence

From La Prensa Grafica, and translated by our office. This story provides strong evidence that in El Salvador children are being singled out for persecution by non-state actors who are in midst of a war against El Salvador’s government.


August 26, 2015, Ricardo Flores,

Archived in Crime, Desertion, Desertion due to Crime, Education, Insecurity, MINED, Violence.

Ivan put his notebooks in a gray backpack and threw them in the back of a pickup rented by his father for the move. Hours earlier, a group of gang members had ordered the families where he lives to abandon the community forever. To Ivan (a false name), of 12 years, it was that day in 2014, in addition to fleeing the gangs, that he abandoned his studies in the 6th grade.

Maria (changed name), one of the teachers who taught classes to Ivan, that she was with him when the family fled one of the most populated zones in the metropolitan area of San Salvador. “I arrived with the intention to convince Ivan’s parents not to leave, so that the child would not have to stop studying; but on seeing all of the people packing up their things I understood that the fear of being murdered was greater than any argument. I chose to keep my mouth shut.

Ivan was one of the 20,372 students, from primary school to high school, that deserted school en 2014 alleging “crime” as a cause of the abandonment, according to what was gathered in a report by the Ministry of Education (MINED) created with data from a census of 6,062 schools, which included both public and private ones. If only the time of one school year is counted (from January 15 to November 10, an average of 68 students abandoned school every day due to crime in that year.

In spite of this high statistic, this can grow even much more because, according to teachers and directors of various schools interviewed, it is difficult to know with certainty the reason for the desertion.

The document of MINED lists the reasons for abandonment as follows: change of address, 65,432; other causes, 12, 482, crime, 20,372, went to other school, 17,668, abandonment of country; 16,344; parents no longer wanted to the child to attend school any longer, 12,266. All of the reasons together sum up to 153,564. That represents 80.6 percent of the students that left school in 2014 from primary school to high school: 190-,581. However, the report of Education states that many students returned to register in other schools; for that reason official number of desertions for the past year was 100,851 students at all of the levels.

The minister of the agency, Carlos Canjura, said that he is conscience of the insecurity problem that affects the country and ass such affects the education community as well. However, he prefers to wait more time to be able to speak with certainty regarding desertion due to crime.

“I am not avoiding the grand problem that we have as a nation regarding the theme of the violence and that it affects schools, said the minister yesterday on being consulted about abandonment of the students from the schools.

Furthermore, he reiterated that the ministry does not have “evidence to state that this child left due to violence. I am not saying that they do not leave for those reasons, but I am saying that it is one of the reasons and maybe the strongest in the country” he added.

How was abandonment registered?

Up until the past year, the directors of the schools completed an exercise in collecting the causes that pushes their students to stop attending classes. They noted them in a formula of a half page size with three blank spaces where they wrote the name of the student, year in which the student left school, and the supposed reason for the desertion.

This last space is filled with what the student or his parents said on the day they arrived to retrieve the school records from the institution. No one has investigated to see if this testimony is true.

Every year, the Ministry of Education conducts a school census in which those reasons are compiled together and it is attempted to find an explanation as to the high desertion.

Canjura said that this year they used a different registry to determine each month the quantity of children that abandoned schools.

The MINED, further, has plans to create a tool which will permit them to track each student starting with when they entered the education system. In that way, it is hoped to know with certainty if the student re-registered in a different school after leaving one school.

Directors of schools recognize that the insecurity of the education community has provoked the abandonment of classes for many young people; nevertheless, they indicate that the majority of the cases of assault occur in zones where the students live and not in the interiors of the school. A reality that Ivan had to live only at the age of 12.

Maria, one of the teachers of the teen, remembers him with the hope that he has continued studying because “only the education can win the battle against crime.”

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