In Colombia, as in other war-town countries, access to education is one of the most often requested means of support by former child soldiers.
Seventy percent of the former child soldiers have only a fifth grade education or less, and eight and a half percent have never been to school.
When in the classroom, they become easily frustrated and demotivated, and experience low self-esteem when they realize they cannot do much of what other young children have already learned in school. They also often experience rejection and stigmatization by their peers and, in some cases, by teachers and school administrators.
Education is a way to vocational or professional training and ultimately employment, and to establishing a new identity other than that of a “child soldier.”
But education is often put aside for economic reasons.
Moreover, schools that receive former child soldiers lack support to teach a group with which they are highly unfamiliar.
According to Care International, Colombia’s program for reintegration of former combatants still needs much work to facilitate the educational environment of those struggling to rebuild their lives. If these teens stand a chance to stay in the legal side of society, this must improve.