Criminal gangs control large areas of the countries’ main cities, where poverty is rampant. Forced displacement, threats, kidnapping, sexual violence and homicides are commonplace. The situation is particularly hard on children.
Over the past four years, the Norwegian Refugee Council has interviewed more than 5,000 households in communities affected by violence in Honduras and El Salvador, to identify children out of school and promote educational opportunities in order to help them to return to education.
Through these interviews, we have found that more than half of all children interviewed are out of school in Honduras, as are 40% of children in El Salvador.
Figures also show a worrying dropout rate. Almost one in three children in Honduras and El Salvador drops out of school before completing secondary school. There is a particularly high dropout rate of eleven year olds, coinciding with the age range in at which human rights violations increase. As children reach puberty, gangs are more likely to want to recruit or abuse them.
According to the two reports, the key factors that account for these dropout numbers are a mixture of violence, a lack of educational opportunities and economic resources.
On average, six out of ten surveyed in El Salvador and Honduras would like to live elsewhere to escape violence and poverty; 15 percent of which are considering displacement to another country.
To guarantee access to education, considerable investments should be made to strengthen access to quality education in the areas most affected by violence.
NRC, with the support from the European Union, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and NORAD, is ensuring that thousands of displaced children and those at risk of displacement in Honduras and El Salvador can access school.