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 Thursday, January 24, 2013
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is launching a new initiative that seeks to raise public awareness of the high school dropout crisis in Latin America and generate solutions to keep more young people in school. By presenting the latest dropout research and data in engaging platforms such as social media, film, and interactive online forums, GRADUATE XXI aims to involve Latin Americans from all walks of life in efforts to improve education systems and increase the number of high school graduates across the region.

In recent years, access to education has improved significantly in Latin America. Primary education is virtually universal throughout the region. However, nearly half of the students in Latin America do not finish secondary school. Gaps in access to education persist among socioeconomic and ethnic groups, as well as between urban and rural communities. Indigenous youth, the poor, students with disabilities and youth who live in rural areas are disproportionately represented in dropout rates throughout Latin America.

The IDB is working in partnership with Latin American governments to close these gaps in access, as well as to improve the quality of secondary education. According to household surveys from Latin America, most students between the ages of 13 and 15 who are not in school list “lack of interest”—above economic, access or family problems—as their primary reason for dropping out. GRADUATE XXI seeks to further research, analysis, and public discussion on the underlying causes of high school dropout.

In addition to videos, blogs, educational materials, and the most recent dropout data, GRADUATE XXI will host a series of ten online contests. Each contest will culminate in the announcement of a winning idea and the screening of a short film on the contest topic. The first online contest, launched on December 10, centers on barriers faced by students with disabilities and solicits ideas to make education more inclusive and accessible.

Argentine director Pablo Fendrik and Colombian director Carlos Gaviria will lend their story-telling talents to GRADUATE XXI in the upcoming contests. Fendrik’s short film will discuss barriers to accessing education in rural areas of Latin America. The impact of conflict on graduation rates will be the subject of Gaviria’s short film. The other participating Latin American directors will gradually be revealed over the course of the contest series.

Chenillo, who filmed a short documentary about deaf students in Mexico City for GRADUATE XXI, said, “I am proud to be associated with this project because educating the next generation is the single most important investment that Mexico, or any country, can make in its future. There is no future for a region in which half the population does not have a high school education. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that all of our youth have equal access to quality education. The need for action is urgent and I think GRADUATE XXI will inspire more Latin Americans to get involved”.

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