Fundación Súmate del Hogar de Cristo, it’s birthday. 29 years ago, the foundations of an institution began to be built that fight every day so that hundreds of boys and girls in situations of social vulnerability do not abandon their studies.

It has not been an easy task. Certainly, they are a pride and happiness the hundreds of children and young people who have graduated from our re-entry schools and socio-educational programs. Many of them have managed to fulfill their dreams thanks to the support of their families and the professional teams that accompany them. But, as in any road, we have had stones and fences to overcome.

Today it is not known how many children and young people dropped out of school due to the pandemic. Before the health crisis, the figure was 186,000 and in 2020 there were 40,000 who had dropped out due to the pandemic. However, this is a long-standing problem and it has become clear that there is no political awareness of the need to protect the educational trajectory of hundreds of adolescents in vulnerable situations. Historically, public funding has been scant and meager for re-entry schools that serve this population. And currently, the panorama looks less auspicious than ever.

What if these re-entry schools didn’t exist? Perhaps young people like Yaritza, who was expelled from school three times, would not have finished their studies. Or Nicolás, who repeated three times due to his attention deficit and who did not feel welcome anywhere, except in Súmate, where the teachers accompanied him and understood, would have been halfway through his educational path.

Today we celebrate a path full of learning, happiness and pride in the work and commitment of each of the people who have been and made our history. We want them to be many more years, but we cannot do this task to recover educational trajectories alone. We need to stop the key to school dropout with a robust and protective offer for these children and young people. If we do not generate public policies in this area, strong structural measures, there will be many more who will continue to accumulate years of school lag and pedagogical gaps, increasing the number of five million adults in Chile today who do not have completed their compulsory education.

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J. A. Allen

Author, blogger, freelance writer. Hater of spiders. Drinker of wine. Mother of hellions.