PanamaTimes

Saturday, Apr 20, 2024

Venezuelan migrant children struggle to access education

Venezuelan migrant children struggle to access education

Families say their children are being turned away from schools in Peru and Colombia, often because of discrimination.

When Eliana Caman boarded a bus from Venezuela to Peru with her two children two years ago, she knew the journey ahead would be arduous. She did not count on the less obvious obstacles she would face en route to a better life.

“My children lost a year of their education because the school [in Peru] wouldn’t accept them,” she told Al Jazeera.

The administrators required proof of their education in Venezuela, which she did not have. A private school was prepared to help her out by issuing an identification code, but it would cost 600 Peruvian soles ($157) per child – an impossible sum for their family. Undeterred, she drew up a list of all the public schools in Lima, calling them one by one.

“We don’t accept Venezuelans. That’s what they would say to me. So I got tired,” Caman said. “The children stayed at home, bored, not doing anything, in the middle of the pandemic. Like I said, we were migrants; we didn’t have anything.”

Amid an enormous wave of migration across Latin America, aid agencies are sounding the alarm about the barriers that persist for migrant children to access something that should be universally guaranteed: an education.




In Peru, a recent study conducted for Save the Children found that one in four Venezuelan migrant children in Lima and La Libertad, the most populous parts of Peru, were not enrolled in school. In Colombia, research by a Bogota think-tank found that adolescents whose status was “irregular” were being turned away from school.

“We have a serious problem of access,” Nelly Claux, the director of the impact and quality programme at Save the Children Peru, told Al Jazeera.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made things much worse. Latin America and the Caribbean were hit hardest by school closures during the global shutdown, with 60 percent of children who lost an entire year of schooling during the pandemic living in this region, according to the UN children’s agency, UNICEF.

In Peru, schools were closed for two full years, and not everyone could join online learning because of the lack of internet access. Peru’s economy also took such a beating that some 300,000 more children moved from private schools to public schools, creating a dearth of student spaces, Claux said.

“Many families say there aren’t spots, and it’s because the director says that there isn’t any, and often that is because of discrimination,” she said. “They are Venezuelans, and we really should be helping Peruvians, [they say] – so they discriminate against them, and they exclude them.”


Additional barriers


The survey conducted for Save the Children found that some 27 percent of migrant children were not in school, with reasons ranging from a lack of required documentation to missing proof of their education level in Venezuela, to arriving after the registration date. Nearly 10 percent said they faced discrimination by a school director at the time of enrolment. The findings were based on more than 800 surveys of families in Lima and La Libertad.

The Peruvian government has made efforts to address the issue by creating more opportunities to enrol and relaxing the rules around the documentation required, such as the certificates proving children’s grade levels. “And yet, there are cases still being reported in which these certificates are required due to the lack of knowledge about this regulation by personnel involved in the enrolment process,” the report noted.

Al Jazeera reached out to Peru’s Ministry of Education for comment but did not receive a response.


In Colombia, the government has been widely praised for a sweeping decree that allows Venezuelan migrants to obtain legal status.

But as the largest regional receiver of Venezuelan migrants and refugees – nearly two million over the past several years, according to the government – the speed of their arrival has made it difficult for Colombian institutions to keep pace with their needs, according to a report from Dejusticia, a non-profit research centre based in Bogota.

The report highlighted a number of positive measures taken by the Colombian government to make it easier for migrants to enrol in school – but the effect has been limited because schools lack space and the necessary resources. According to Colombian authorities, nearly 500,000 Venezuelan students are registered in Colombian schools.

As in Peru, documentation is creating additional barriers: Adolescents from migrant families in grades 10 and 11 were not being admitted to school because of a lack of documentation needed to graduate, the report noted. Compounding the problem, young people out of school are often at the mercy of criminal gangs that exploit them.


‘So many obstacles’


But gaining access to schools is just one facet of the challenges facing Venezuelan migrant children who are seeking an education in Colombia.

“In 2022, the issue of access is not the main problem,” Maria Clara Robayo, a researcher with the Venezuelan Observatory at Colombia’s Rosario University, told Al Jazeera.

She reeled off a range of issues for migrant children in the country, from itinerant lives as their families move from one city to the next in search of work, to a lack of money for school uniforms, to a deficit in education stemming from Venezuela’s broken system.

As a consequence, you might see a 12-year-old in the third grade, where everyone else is eight, Robaya said. “It can lead to bullying. The child is not just older and bigger, but he or she speaks differently and has other customs,” she said. “It all makes it more difficult for them to be able to integrate.”




In addition, the lack of spots for students pushes families to search further afield for a school that will accept their child. Often, it is the mother who has to dedicate chunks of her day to transportation, “and that ends up affecting the ability of the mother to work”, Robayo said.

Caman was eventually able to enrol her 14-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter in Lima, but in different schools – and they are now a year behind. “I didn’t think there would be so many obstacles for them to study,” she said.

“They say that we’re Venezuelans and we’re here to take away from Peruvians, but that’s not how it is,” she added. “Unfortunately, our country is in crisis, and we can’t give our children a better quality of life over there. That’s why we’re here.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

PanamaTimes
0:00
0:00
Close
Apple warns against drying iPhones with rice
In a recent High Court hearing, the U.S. argued that Julian Assange endangered lives by releasing classified information.
Global Law Enforcement Dismantles Lockbit Ransomware Operation
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
The President of Argentina Javier Mile does not fly private, he flies commercial, with the citizens he represents. And they LOVE him for it.
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Belo Horizonte: Brazil's Rising Carnival Hotspot for 2024
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
Tucker’s interview with Putin is over 50M views on X within the first 5 hours.
Finnish Airline, Finnair, is voluntarily weighing passengers to better estimate flight cargo weight
President Nayib Bukele has proudly announced El Salvador's remarkable achievement of becoming the safest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
Former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera Dies in Helicopter Crash
This farmer seems to understand science a bit more than the event organizer, Klaus Schwab.
Facebook turns 20: From Mark Zuckerberg's dormitory to a $1trn company
The Coolest Dictator in the World" on the Path to Victory in El Salvador
Macron, France and fake news
Indian-Origin Man 'King' Arrested For Smuggling $16 Million Drugs Into US
Can someone teach Americans that not every person with slanted eyes is Chinese?
Europe's Farmers Feeding the People, Protesting Against Politicians Who Do Nothing for Their Country and Serve Only Themselves at Taxpayers' Expense
Paris Restaurant That Inspired 'Ratatouille' Loses $1.6 Million Worth Of Wine
Brazilian Police Investigate Bolsonaro's Son for Alleged Illegal Spying
Police in Brazil Raid Residence of Bolsonaro Associate Over Allegations of Illegal Spying
Border Dispute Escalates as Texas Governor Vows Increased Razor Wire
OpenAI Enhances ChatGPT-4 Model, Potentially Addressing AI "Laziness" Issue
The NSA finally acknowledges spying on Americans by acquiring sensitive data
Report Reveals Toxic Telegram Group Generating X-Rated AI-Generated Fake Images of Taylor Swift
US Border Patrol States 'No Plans' to Remove Razor Wire Installed in Texas
Bitcoin Experiences Approximately 20% Decline in Value
Klaus Schwab recently appointed himself as the Earth's "trustee of the future."
DeSantis Drops Out, Endorses Trump.
Nikki Haley said former President Trump is "just not at the same level" of mental fitness as he was while president in 2016.
Residents of a southern Mexican town set the government palace on fire in response to the police killing of a young man
Samsung Launches AI-Driven Galaxy S24, Ushering in New Smartphone Era
Judge Questions SEC's Regulatory Overreach in Coinbase Lawsuit
The Ecuador prosecutor who was investigating the television studio attack, has been assassinated.
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Vivek Ramaswamy suspends his US election campaign and endorses Trump.
Viral Satire: A Staged Satirical Clip Mistaken as Real Footage from the 2024 World Economic Forum in Davos
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Ecuador Reports 178 Hostages in Prison Gang Standoff
The Startling Cuban Espionage Case That Has Rattled the US Government
Two Armed Men in Ecuador, Dressed as Batman and The Joker Storm the Streets.
Armed Gang Raids Ecuadorian TV Station Following State of Emergency Declaration
Anti-Democratic Canada: Journalist Arrested for Questioning Canadian Finance Minister on Support of Terrorist Group
Ecuador's 'Most-Wanted' Criminal Vanishes from Prison
Mexican Cartel Supplied Wi-Fi to Locals Under Threat of Fatal Consequences for Non-Compliance
Border Surge Leads to Over 11,000 Migrants Waiting in Northern Mexico
Outsider Candidates Triumph in Latin American Elections
As Argentina Goes to the Polls, Will the Proposal to Replace the Peso with the Dollar Secure Votes?
Fatal Shark Attack Claims Life of Boston Woman Paddleboarding Near Bahamas Resort, According to Police
×