Risk of school exclusion, learning backwardness and negative impact on mental health: The main challenges according to teachers who participated in the Latin American survey “The Teachers’ Voice”

Oct 25, 2022 | kix, News


  • 200,000 teachers from 21 countries in the region analyzed the difficulties faced by teachers and their students during the pandemic.
  • Despite the efforts made by school communities and the Ministries of Education, teachers’ testimonies show signs of a strong violation of the right to education, especially among students from the most disadvantaged socioeconomic sectors, which corroborates the alert regarding the increase in learning gaps.

In order to analyze the educational reality and the teaching practices that were challenged by the pandemic, and to visualize critical issues of the educational system from the teachers’ perspective, SUMMA (Laboratory for Research and Innovation in Education for Latin America and the Caribbean) conducted the Regional Survey “The Teachers’ Voice, for the right to a fair and inclusive education for Latin America and the Caribbean”, with the support of 21 Ministries of Education and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), within the framework of the Knowledge Exchange and Innovation (KIX) initiative, promoted by the Global Partnership for Education.

In addition to providing a comprehensive and rigorous regional and country diagnosis, the report makes recommendations for the design of education policies, both in the medium and long term, with a view to the challenges that the pandemic has deepened. These include: the recovery of learning, the well-being of educational communities, greater pedagogical support for teachers and educational teams, and the urgent reduction of the educational gaps exacerbated during the pandemic between students from different contexts, among others.

“Undoubtedly, school exclusion, learning gaps and backwardness are the main difficulties facing education throughout the region today. The pandemic has meant that some countries have had to redistribute their public budgets from the education sector to other sectors, just when it was most needed. We see a negative outlook if governments do not take urgent measures to increase investment and generate effective pedagogical support systems for schools and their students,” said Javier Gonzalez, director of SUMMA.

Valtencir Maldonado Mendes, head of education at OREALC/UNESCO, said that it is essential that countries do not become accustomed to these figures. “We should work collaboratively to promote strategies for educational recovery and transformation. If we look at the data from this study and others, we can conclude that we are experiencing the worst educational crisis in the last 100 years.”

The experts agreed that efforts must be made to recover learning, especially among children and adolescents who were more vulnerable and excluded from the school system during the pandemic.

In view of the challenges generated by the pandemic, the importance of increasing spending on education was highlighted, as stated by Gregory Elacqua, chief economist of the IDB’s Education Division: “spending per student is very low, it must be increased to level it out; it is also essential to spend better, to know the low-cost policies that can generate savings for countries and greater efficiency.”

Daniel Esponda, Minister of Education of Honduras, said that “the crisis in education systems around the world are the result of 25 years of low budgets and this meant that we didn’t have the space to deal well with the lock-in pandemic.” 

Daniel Crespo, Vice-Minister of Education of Ecuador, considered that “in general, there is a lack of continuity in public policies in our continent and this is mainly because we are a polarized region that often responds to government policies and not state policies, which generates discontinuity in education and a significant energy drain. Education cannot be politicized, we can change the bad and improve the good, but generating trust. There must be civic republican friendship that allows to generate these policies, because when there is clear orientation, data and rule of law, it is possible to focus on what is important, the students.”

María Diana Rubio, teacher, investigator and winner of the National Teacher Prize Mexico, 2020, underlined that “in order to recover learning, it is essential to put students at the center, to know their needs, interests, talents and contexts. Likewise, it is key to move from teaching to learning, to know how my students learn, what learning barriers they have, to take up principles that neuroscience gives us to understand the learning process and as a teacher to appropriate that and facilitate the transition so that students learn in a better way, but above all so that they know the cognitive processes, reflect on them and know that they themselves are involved in this process and that they are not just receivers.”

Main results (regional averages, considering 21 LAC countries):

  • Student attendance decreased during the pandemic, being mostly reported by teachers of students with lower socioeconomic status (SES). On average, 64.8% of teachers perceive that their students’ attendance decreased during this period.
  • The great majority of teachers (93.4%) observe learning delays in some proportion of their students. A total of 26.5% perceive that more than half of the students are falling behind.
  • The survey identifies a strong concern among teachers (56.7%) about the risk of educational exclusion of students during the pandemic. This risk is perceived to be even higher among teachers working in lower socioeconomic status (SES) schools (59.6%) and those teaching at the secondary school level (74.3%). 
  • In relation to student wellbeing, the survey shows that health difficulties due to COVID-19 or other illnesses are identified by a significant proportion of teachers (37.5%) as the main problem that their students have faced during this period and that has hindered their learning process. Additionally, 27.8% mention demotivation or depression.
  • From the teachers’ perspective, the greatest difficulties faced by their students were Internet connectivity problems (85.1%), low access to electronic resources (77.1%), lack of family time to help them with homework (54.7%) and socioeconomic difficulties (54.2%).
  • One of the additional pedagogical complexities is that teachers had to adapt pedagogical formats and practices to meet the challenges of remote teaching. The most commonly used formats for conducting remote classes were online classes (70.6%), educational videos on YouTube or other platforms (63.6%) and guides in digital and printed format (59.8%).
  • With respect to support for teacher professional development, the vast majority of teachers (81.2%) reported having received distance education training from their country’s Ministry of Education. However, one in five teachers in the region reported not having received such training.
  • Of the total universe of teachers, 37.6% stated that the training was insufficient. Likewise, 13.6% stated that they need such training, since they have not received it. In other words, 51.2% of teachers express the need to generate more and better opportunities for teachers’ professional development.


With this study, SUMMA seeks to contribute to intensifying collaboration between countries, promoting learning exchanges between the Ministries of Education and the different actors of the regional ecosystem and institutions involved in educational improvement processes.

Main challenges:

  1. Recovery of learning, especially for children and adolescents who were most vulnerable and excluded from the school system during the pandemic, taking advantage of the learning provided by international evidence.
  2. Strengthening of pedagogical support and accompaniment mechanisms for schools and their teaching and management teams.
  3. Care and well-being of school communities, especially in their socioemotional dimension.
  4. Incorporation of technology as a complementary tool in the teaching-learning and teacher training processes.
  5. Strengthening a formative evaluation perspective at the policy level and at the classroom level.
  6. Safeguard the right to education by increasing and sustaining public spending on education and its efficient use.
  7. Generate an ecosystem of innovation and collaboration to strengthen a more just and inclusive education in Latin America and the Caribbean.


Download the Synthesis of Results 

Watch the video of the event

Read more about “The Teachers’ Voice”


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