First Advisor

Kathryn A. Farr

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Sociology






School attendance -- Ecuador, Academic achievement -- Ecuador, School attendance -- Ecuador Academic achievement -- Ecuador Street children -- Ecuador, Child labor -- Ecuador, Sex differences in education -- Ecuador



Physical Description

1 online resource (vi, 149 p.)


Underage street work is a social problem that is on the increase in Ecuador. Children, ages 5 to 17, wander through the streets in an attempt to make some money for their own survival or to help their families survive. The literature on underage street workers (USWs) reports that the working activities of these children impact their health and education. This study examined school attendance and achievement of USWs who are affiliated with an underage workers program in Ecuador. Using a quantitative methodology, the study looked at variations by location and age, with a special focus on gender issues, as there is some evidence that these variables affect the school behavior of the USWs. Among the population of USWs, there is a significant group of girls who work on the streets. According to the literature, female underage workers are in a disadvantaged position compared to boys because of the generally inferior position held by women in Latin America and, specifically, because these girls are overloaded with both productive and domestic activities. This overload interferes with their education and the possibility of their upward mobility. Education, according to several studies done in Latin America, opens up a wider range of opportunities and is an important instrument in women's upward mobility. However, there is controversy over the benefits of education for poor women. The data for this study were drawn from the Program's data base; three locations were chosen, and the sample subjects were followed up for 18 months, during which time they were evaluated every 6 months. The hypothesized male advantage in school attendance and achievement was not supported; at the elementary level, more USWs girls than boys were attending school, although at the secondary level there were actually no differences between genders. School achievement was found to be similar for both genders. However, significant differences in school attendance and achievement were found by age and location; younger USWs were more likely to attend school and perform satisfactorily than older ones. Regarding location, the largest city, Cuenca showed higher rates of school attendance and achievement than the other sample sites.


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