Updated 06:54 AM EDT, Wed, Apr 21, 2021

Puerto Rico Education System Declining Due to Country's Debt?: Student Rate Sees Dramatic Drop

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Puerto Rico's ninth year of recession has significantly impacted the number of children enrolling in the Caribbean island's schools.

Lenders demanding payments of Puerto Rico's debts have caused citizens to leave the island in search of a better future for their families, specifically their children, CNN reported. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, school enrollment from kindergarten to college has plummeted dramatically to 921,000 last year from 1.14 million in 2005. Students make up two-thirds of Puerto Rico's population.

In August, the island has already defaulted on one debt payment, with a huge one of about $1 billion on the horizon on Jan. 1. Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla has announced that it will be almost impossible to pay it, Earlier this year, Padilla also said that the island's economy was in a "death spiral," CNN added.

"We're out of cash," Padilla told CNN last week. "It will very, very hard, very difficult to find a way to do that payment on January 1st."

Padilla said earlier in December that the island "will default in January or in May," Fortune reported. Melba Acosta, president of Puerto Rico's Government Development Bank, or GDB, was quoted in local media last Friday saying that the government is expecting a default on a Jan. 1 payment on its Infrastructure Finance Authority, or PRIFA, bonds.

At an event in San Juan, Padilla remarked that total payment on Jan. 1 will be "very unlikely," Furtune added. He continued, "If a partial payment is to be done, which bonds should be paid? It is an evaluation that we are doing."

Last year, around 64,000 residents left Puerto Rico, which is more than double the rate back in 2010, the Pew Research Center found. Some of the sharpest declines are at the grade school level, particularly between grades 1 and 4. About 70,000 fewer children are enrolled in those grades now than in 2005, the news outlet noted.

The Pew Research Center found that between 2006 and 2013, Puerto Ricans fled the island to seek for better living opportunities abroad.

There's also the issue of Puerto Rico's spending in schools. According to a report sponsored by hedge funds and written by three former International Monetary Fund, or IMF, economists, despite the declining student population of the island, the Puerto Rican government has raised education spending by 39 percent. The report also advised closing a number of schools.

Juan Camacho, a lifetime resident and social activist in Puerto Rico, predicted that the island's situation "is going to get worse," CNN reported. He said that poverty is rampant and that drug crime is still pervading Puerto Rico.

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