Honduran teachers unite to save education system

One class is reciting their multiplication tables. Another is repeating words in English. But beneath the appearance of normalcy is an education system under threat.

“Just this week a boy from the secondary school disappeared,” one of the teachers whispers. They say he dropped off his younger sister at school three days ago and has not been seen since. His parents are too scared to report that he is missing. The teachers are too. There is a simple reason: street gang violence.

“The 18th Street gang controls this neighborhood but MS-13 controls the neighborhood directly above and below us so it’s pretty conflictive here,” says Dolores,* the deputy headmistress at the school, which teaches elementary classes in the mornings and secondary in the afternoons.

Criminal incidents around schools remain unreported as family, friends or witnesses fear that gang members will come after them.

This school in an informal community above Tegucigalpa – one of dozens of irregular, marginalized neighborhoods that sprang up after a hurricane displaced thousands of people two decades ago – is a microcosm for the deterioration of Honduras’ education system.

Enrollment at the school has fallen from more than 300 to around 180 in just a couple of years as gangs prohibit many children and youngsters from entering the neighborhood where the school is located. Gang recruitment and drug addiction hit local teenagers hard. The school is understaffed and short on supplies. A once useful technology room is now filled with broken computers.


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