One in three children in Costa Rica live in poverty – Unicef

In early September [2021], the weekly Costa Rican newspaper Semanario Universidad reported on a story by the international news agency AFP which was based on Unicef data. Translated extracts from the report are given below.

One in three minors below the age of 18 in Costa Rica live in poverty, according to Unicef, as the country was celebrating the Day of Childhood and Adolescence. Patricia Portela de Souza, a representative of Unicef Costa Rica, said: “Girls, boys, adolescents and Young people are making an urgent call for help. The effects of the pandemic, the digital divide and the economic crisis are affecting the present and future of this population.”

The organisation’s findings were based on data from the National Household Survey which showed that 448,000 minors (32 per cent of 1.4 million) grow up as members of poor households and that figure is expected to increase in the coming months.

This is likely to have an impact on education. Unicef stated that this may affect levels of educational exclusion as well as the social and economic development of the country. Further, these conditions could cause problems for this generation’s insertion into the labour market.

In 2020, data from the Ministry of Public Education showed that of the 1.2 million students in the primary and secondary education sectors 63 per cent experienced problems of digital access to their learning. Unicef characterised this phenomenon as an ‘educational blackout’.

Unemployment levels (for workers aged over 15 years) had also risen during the pandemic from 12 per cent before Covid to 18 per cent in August 2021, although the level had reached 24 per cent between the two dates. To counter some of the effects of the pandemic, the government decided to maintain face to face classes in schools during 2021 along with reactivating the economy and reinstating many jobs, despite the continuing increase in cases of Covid-19.