Schools around Peru face the pressure of not being able to accommodate the flood of Venezuelan refugee students. Officials say that over 34,000 of the children are expected to enter public school by March. Already, the entire country is unable to provide enough living space for 700,000 refugees.
Angie Zeballos was hired to oversee the migration program in the Ministry of Education. She would need to find a way to integrate the refugee children into schools. Her efforts would be challenged by an unsupported team and a limited budget.
Zeballos has come up with a plan that can accommodate and support the Venezuelan children, including holding night classes for more students to receive education. However, there is more to this challenge as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has noted Peru’s poor quality of education due to a lack of proper training for instructors and outdated study material for the students.
Challenges in Handling Immigration
Alonso Gurmendi from Lima’s Universidad del Pacífico law school notes that Peru is not ready to receive such an influx of refugees. Because of the taxing work of the government, UNICEF and other international organizations have stepped in to aid in the immigration effort. Fernando Balanos Galdos, education director in UNICEF Peru, stated that their help is especially necessary for documenting Venezuelan migrant children.
Documentation would help ensure that children are not placed in their appropriate grade level and might ensure that admissions tests are not heavily biased and to the disadvantage of the migrants.
Experiences of the refugees
Some refugee children face difficulties adjusting. Lisell Salas is one such case. She and her mother Andrea Rosales moved to Huaycán, which was outside Lima. At first, Lisell was able to enter a good school with no difficulty as the family had passports and birth certificates with them. Rosales mentioned how the first few months were difficult as the children in the school did not want to play with her. However, Lisell eventually got used to her circumstances and made a few friends along the way. They would often play at the Light and Leadership Initiative, a nonprofit organization meant to help the Peruvian government’s educational concerns.
Rosales also saw some differences between the education system in Peru and the one in Venezuela. She pointed out that unlike in Venezuela, where lessons are given in parts, math classes in Peru are direct to the point and use exercises to stimulate learning.
In spite of initial adjustment issues, many of the newcomers were welcomed as Peruvian citizens showed their concern over the well-being of their new Venezuelan neighbors.