In Paraguay, children start school at the age of six. School attendance is compulsory for nine years. Elementary school lasts just as long. However, only 89 percent of the children actually go to school. 11 out of 100 children do not go to school. Often these are children from rural areas. The people there are particularly poor and cannot even pay for school books. Often the next school is too far away and therefore not accessible for the children. Often times, too, parents want their children to help them around the house and in the fields. Some children go to school but don’t come regularly. They help the parents with the harvest or they cannot go to school in the rainy season because the streets are flooded.
The proportion of children attending secondary school after primary school is also small (67 percent of boys and 66 percent of girls). But if you manage, you can do your Abitur after another three years, i.e. after a total of twelve school years. That is called Bachillerato (pronounced: Batschiljeráto).
Of course there are also grades. However, a 5 is the best grade (very good) in Paraguay. With a 1 you failed, with a 2 you just passed. The big holidays are in January, the hottest month of the year. Then the Paraguayans go on vacation. The school year then begins in mid-February.
Celebrate in Paraguay
People like to celebrate in Paraguay. Carnival, Midsummer Day and of course Christmas are just a few of the occasions when you can be left out. A special festival for 15-year-old girls is the quinceañera (pronounced: Kinze-Anjera).
Fifteen year old celebrations – Quinceañera
In all of Latin America, and also in Paraguay, girls celebrate their 15th birthday particularly big and lavishly. The festival is celebrated because the girl now becomes a woman. The 15-year-old girl is called Quinceañera in Spanish (from quince = 15 and añera = -year-old).
200 guests can come to this festival! There is a festive meal and there is dancing. The birthday child traditionally wears a white dress. It appears at his father’s side and opens the dance with him with a waltz. After that, she will dance with other male family members or friends.
There are also often fireworks and you dance well into the night. In between, a video or slide show is shown with pictures from the girl’s life. In addition, the 15 candle ceremony is often held. The girl distributes 15 candles to the people who are particularly important to her.
Carnival is celebrated big, loud and colorful all over South America. In Paraguay, the largest festival takes place in the city of Encarnación. There are four weekends in January / February and there are large parades with music groups and dancers from the samba schools (sambódromo). There is also a competition among them. The best music band, the best car and the best dancer will be chosen at the end.
Fiesta de San Juan
The feast of St. John, a Catholic feast, is celebrated on June 24th. Because the summer solstice occurs almost at the same time (June 21-23), it is often associated with a festival of the sun. That is why light and fire are important elements in celebrations. Maybe you know that from the Midsummerfest in Sweden.
In Paraguay, people meet for the Midsummer Festival in the evening and eat and drink together. Tradition has it that children play with a burning football. The ball was tied together from rags that were dipped in oil and then set on fire. It’s not entirely safe… Sometimes there are even several balls in play. Every ball burns down after a short time, then sometimes there is another and another. Another custom is walking over hot embers, barefoot of course. The festival ends with a life-size doll being burned, which is also peppered with fireworks.
The feast of the Virgin of Caacupé
The Catholic festival of the “Virgin of Caacupé” is particularly important for most Paraguayans. It will be celebrated on December 8th with a big mass. Thousands of pilgrims come to Caacupé, a city 50 kilometers east of Asunción, days in advance. The Virgin Mary is said to have appeared there to an Indian named José. In 1765 a large church was built. The festival is not only celebrated with church services, but also with dances and fireworks.
Some children have to work
In Paraguay, a country located in South America according to mysteryaround, one third of the population lives in poverty. Two out of 100 people are extremely poor. Children from poor families often have too little to eat and thus remain smaller than their peers. Their educational opportunities are also lower, as poor parents often cannot afford to send their children to school. Even if you no longer have to pay school fees, books, school uniforms and the way to school also cost money.
28 out of 100 children also work in Paraguay. There are more boys than girls who go to work. More children are affected in rural areas than in cities. They help in the fields, on plantations for sugar cane or cotton, or they tend cattle. In the cities, many children work in hotels or restaurants, while others clean shoes or sell goods on the street, such as candy, chewing gum or garbage bags.
Some children work in factories making bricks or charcoal. Girls work as domestic servants, which means they serve or clean the houses of rich people. Some are also forced into prostitution.