Paul Lachine

Las generaciones perdidas

NUEVA YORK – El éxito económico de un país depende de la educación, las aptitudes y la salud de su población. Cuando sus jóvenes están sanos y bien educados, pueden encontrar empleos bien remunerados, lograr la dignidad y conseguir ajustarse a las fluctuaciones del mercado laboral mundial. Las empresas invierten más cuando saben que sus trabajadores serán productivos. Sin embargo, muchas sociedades de todo el mundo no cumplen con el imperativo de garantizar una salud básica y una educación decorosa para todas las generaciones de niños.

¿Por qué no se cumple con el imperativo de la educación en tantos países? Algunos son, sencillamente, demasiado pobres para disponer de escuelas decorosas. Los propios padres pueden adolecer de una ecuación insuficiente, lo que les impide ayudar a sus hijos más allá del primer o segundo año de escuela, con lo que el analfabetismo y la falta de conocimientos básicos de aritmética se transmiten de una generación a la siguiente. La situación más difícil es la de las familias numerosas (de seis o siete hijos, pongamos por caso), porque los padres invierten poco en la salud, la nutrición y la educación de cada uno de los hijos.

Sin embargo, también los países ricos fallan. Los Estados Unidos, por ejemplo, permiten cruelmente el sufrimiento de sus niños más pobres. Los pobres viven en barrios pobres con escuelas pobres. Con frecuencia los padres están desempleados, enfermos, divorciados o incluso encarcelados. Los niños quedan atrapados en un persistente ciclo generacional de pobreza, pese a la riqueza general de la sociedad. Con demasiada frecuencia, los niños que se crían en la pobreza acaban siendo adultos pobres.

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