Low-income students learn skills needed by the job market
A program to improve secondary education and prepare youths for the job market has provided training to 3,622 teachers and 12,565 employment-age youths, while helping to transform the Ministry of Labor from an agency focused on labor conciliation into a job creation agency.
The Secondary Education and Job Training Program was financed by a $30.6 million loan extended in 2004 from the IDB’s Fund for Special Operations.
Need to target school spending
Education is a determining factor in a person’s later ability to earn income. In Honduras, people earning less than minimum wage of $3.85 equivalent have an average of 4.2 years of schooling; those earning between one and two times minimum wage have an average of 6.6 years of schooling; those earning between two and five times minimum wage have 9.3 years of schooling; and those earning the equivalent of more than five times minimum wage have 12.7 years of schooling. Rates of return on education are estimated at 8 percent for primary education and 14 percent for a complete secondary education.
As a result, the educational status of Honduras’ school-age population (6 to 17 years) of age becomes critical. Most of these youths, who account for nearly 30 percent of the country’s population, will go on to join the country’s workforce of nearly four million, most of them employed in agriculture, trade, and industry. While open unemployment in this group is only 4 percent, nearly two out of every three employed workers cannot earn enough to break the poverty cycle.
At present, the Honduran educational system is unable to prepare a large number of youths for the workforce. Gaps in coverage are particularly critical in rural areas, where practically no opportunities for secondary education are available. The sharpest drop in school enrollments takes place between the ages of 12 and 13, which corresponds to a student’s transition to secondary school.
The challenge is not to increase spending; Honduras currently spends more than percent of its GDP on education, which is more than any other country in the region. Instead, the government’s aim is to improve the efficiency of spending, mainly by improving how teachers are allocated. At present, there are high concentrations of teachers in low-demand areas and shortages of teachers in high-demand areas.
Correcting allocation problems will result in a need for more school infrastructure. Only 10 percent of the country’s 44,000 existing classrooms are used for secondary education programs and of these, only 14 percent are in rural areas. Although the IDB has provided extensive support in building and maintaining school infrastructure in previous projects, a large percentage of school buildings in the country need repair and upgrading.
The program in brief
The goal of the Secondary Education and Job Training Program is to expand education coverage in the third and fourth cycles of secondary education as a way to improve the employability of youths and adults and achieve the goals of the country’s poverty reduction strategy. The program consists of two parts: one is to increase opportunities in secondary education, which is executed by the Ministry of Education; and the other is to foster job training through public-private service intermediation, which is being executed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
Activities to improve the secondary education include the use of distance learning programs, such as the Tutorial-based Learning System (SAT), EDUCATODOS, Telebásica programs, and the Secondary Distance Education System (SEMED). These programs are expected to reach 37,850 youths between the ages of 12 and 14 during the four-year program implementation period.
School performance is being improved through agreements between the Education Ministry and NGOs, and educational institutions are providing help to schools with high dropout and repeater rates. Tuition grants are also being provided to 400 students who could not otherwise afford to continue their secondary education.
Financing for the Ministry of Education and departmental and district education offices is helping to establish an enrollment management system for allocating slots for students and teachers and for conducting public awareness-raising activities on secondary education and enlist public support for achieving poverty reduction goals.
Activities to improve employment opportunities include job training combined with placement services geared to the meet the demands of prospective employers, including incentives for companies to train unemployed and underemployed youths. Additional capacity building is helping to transform the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MLSS) from an agency geared to labor conciliation into a job creating agency.
The IDB’s Partners
The IDB is coordinating the program with initiatives being financed by the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Union and other donors. Specifically, the Bank is cooperating with USAID in expanding coverage of the EDUCATODOS and SAT programs and with the European Union’s support for secondary and vocational education. Coordination with the World Bank has focused on primary education and job training activities for youths in alternative education programs.
Toward the future
The program will continue to expand the National Employment Service and work with the private sector, continually evaluating its progress and including the participation of academic organizations, local governments, NGOs, and private associations. The Labor Market Observatory will develop analysis and report on trends to enable the MLSS to develop policies, programs, and projects to meet needs.
1,913 pieces of equipment and teaching material provided to schools
792 incentives and publications provided 863 teachers, advisors, facilitators financed for the Tutorial-based Learning System (SAT) and EDUCATODOS
5 technical assistances provided to coordinating units
372 schools equipped
1,243 third cycle teachers trained
75 school directors trained
52 classrooms rehabilitated
4 technical assistances provided for design of campaign to publicize program results
2 alternative education models strengthened
3 transfers of resources made to an association for indigenous development
6 laboratories for the SEMED and SAD workshops equipped
6 classrooms rehabilitated
589 fourth cycle teachers trained
160 fourth cycle school directors trained
175 companies developed training plans
15 offices for public-private coordination in job placement equipped and strengthened
9,607 unemployed and underemployed youths hired between 2006-2011 and still working
Creation of the National Employment Service (SENAEH)
Education strategy designed
Results of the Impact Evaluation developed in 2010-2011 for the program showed positive impacts on time required to find jobs: two months less than the group that didn’t enter the program, and double the chance to find a job
New organizational structure for Ministry of Labor designed and implemented, including the preparation of strategic plans, completion of pilot projects, carrying out 11 training workshops, office remodeling, a plan for evaluating workplace health and safety, an information system, and the launching of an information campaign
12,565 young people trained to fill job slots
3 training management units established
5 information systems created
81,630 jobs identified for placement
Expanding opportunities for secondary education in the Instituto Jesus Milla Selva in Tegucigalpa will improve job prospects for youths and help reduce poverty.