Education – The challenge

Gissele González de Domínguez, president of the board of directors of Microserfin

After two years of the global COVID-19 pandemic, it has become even more evident that one of Latin America’s greatest shortcomings is its educational system.

"Where education flourishes, class boundaries fade away"

Prior to 2020 LatAm data were already looking gloomy. Informal work accounted for over 50% of the labor market and there were serious problems in drawing up any credible analysis due to a lack of historical data series, little quality control or reliable educational indicators, and practically no standardized information on private-sector education.

The pandemic led to prolonged shutdown of schools, at a time when over 170 million children stayed at home world-wide.  This generated a myriad of challenges for students, ranging from access to education to widespread deterioration in mental health.

In comparison to other regions of the world, during the pandemic Latin America and the Caribbean have had some of the longest school shutdowns. Unesco data suggest that schools in these regions were totally or partially closed for an average of 48 weeks. Children and adolescents had to home-school over remote learning platforms, using online schoolrooms, television and radio as best they could. This has led to what seem to be increasing inequalities in educational results. And as students return to presential education, the gaps in their learning will vary enormously. Fallout from the already poor quality of education will be augmented throughout the Latin-American region, which in turn exposes underlying problems such as poverty, corruption and inequality.

Latin America will need decisive action to make up for these shortcomings, with specific strategies and investments to avoid long-term regressive impacts, as educational level is closely correlated to possibilities of working inside the formal labor market. Policies will be required to train teachers how to bring left-behind students up to speed, to develop schools’ capacity to support the new socio-emotional needs of their students and to build up an infrastructure that can prevent future shutdowns. These policies must also show sensitivity towards the gaping differences in the way that such challenges manifest themselves and towards the increase in school dropouts in many countries.


Gissele González de Domínguez, presidenta de la Junta Directiva de Microserfin


For our microfinance segment, this new reality magnifies the challenges faced both by microfinance institutions (MFIs) and microentrepreneurs.  Some of the most obvious are the need to boost the institutional capacity of the MFIs, developing digital technology to scale up at lower cost, training our clients to become more market-resilient and give them greater access to financial services in a sector where resources are scarce.

We must see that where education flourishes, class boundaries fade away. That means making an all-out effort to develop inclusive education and technology, creating flexible environments that can generate a better quality of life in our countries.