Colombia faced an education crisis long before the COVID-19 pandemic, as demonstrated by the 2018 results of the Program for International Student Assessment, which showed that the quality of the country’s education system ranked 61st among 77 nations . COVID exacerbated this educational debacle, leading to prolonged school closures that started in March 2020 and ended in July 2021. Closures widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest. While young people from high-income families were able to switch to online learning, young people from marginalized communities, who lacked access to personal computers, smart phones and the Internet, or whose parents didn’t have the skills needed to provide them adequate academic support, experienced severe learning losses or simply dropped out of school.
The return to in-person schooling in mid-2021 showed that the pandemic not only led to significant learning losses, but that it also impacted students’ behaviors and socio-emotional development, as demonstrated by an increase in incidents of classroom disruption from student misconduct, as well as acts of disrespect towards teachers and staff, all of which contributed to a deteriorating learning environment. In Cali, where Scarpetta Gnecco operates, learning losses –as measured by the national education assessment Saber 11– occurred in all subjects, with the greatest declines in reading, math, civics, natural sciences, and English language. 47% of students face challenges when trying to communicate with others, and 43% have conflictive relationships with their peers, teachers, and school authorities. This situation directly compromises young people’s life prospects, as research shows that student learning is associated with higher earnings and lower unemployment in the future.
SG is a stable organisation that was founded in 2006 by the owners of Amalfi, a financial sector company that deals with pension, health, and welfare funds in Cali. The organisation’s original mission was very broad and focused on contributing to the overall development of Cali. SG funded different social initiatives that were implemented by other civil society organisations. In 2012, the organisation’s mission was updated to focus specifically on the development and direct implementation of initiatives aimed at strengthening Cali’s education system, helping marginalized young people improve their lives through access to quality education.
EMpower's first grant to Fundación Scarpetta Gnecco will support 105 marginalised young people between the ages of 16 and 19 (51% female and 49% male) to improve their academic performance and high school graduation rates through life skills training. Participants will also develop their life plans and increase their knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Parents will develop their parenting skills, as parental involvement enhances academic performance and has a positive influence on students’ attitudes toward school, attendance, classroom conduct, self-esteem, and motivation.
Primary Location: Cali, Colombia
Funded Since: 2023
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