Venezuelan migrant children are being turned away from schools in their host countries, according to their families and major surveys.
An estimated 5.4 million refugees have left Venezuela in the last eight years, fleeing economic collapse and violent political upheaval. Since 2020, the monthly inflation rate has been more than 2000 percent. Meaning that any money you earn will be worth less than 10 percent of its original value by the time you get your bimonthly paycheck.
Most of these refugees come to rest in Peru and Colombia, close neighbors to Venezuela, but they aren’t welcomed there, especially not during the stress of the pandemic. Migrant parents looking to enroll their children in Peruvian schools, for instance, found a number of barriers.
School administrators often want proof of their education in Venezuela, documentation not available to many who left with nothing. Private schools want money for ‘identification codes,’ essentially a bribe to overlook missing records. A typical bribe is 150-200 USD, an astronomical sum to people whose liquid assets, if they have any, are depreciating by a factor of 1/20 every month.
And public schools are right out, it seems, with many simply issuing a blanket ‘No Venezuelans’ policy.
Almost all of Latin America missed a year of education to the pandemic. Venezuelan migrant children look likely to miss three. The UNICEF threshold for when a student is statistically never going back into the classroom is only 18 months.
Young children, especially adolescents out of school are vulnerable to many kinds of exploitation, from having to work to support their families to being pressured into criminal gangs or sex work.
In Colombia, an adolescent whose legal status is ‘irregular’ is being turned away from school enrollment, according to research from Bogota. All in all, an estimated 27 percent of Venezuelan migrant children are found to not be in school, for a variety of reasons. Nearly 10 percent of families reported open discrimination by a school director or authority while looking for enrollment.
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