20th June is the commemoration of World Refugee Day. This year, the theme focused on the power of inclusion and the importance of working together to recover from the pandemic: “Together We Heal, Learn and Shine.” In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, children and young refugees are facing recurrent adversities. Education is a key tool to provide them with a sense of normalcy, a safe space, and an opportunity to thrive.
Today we share the story of Beyciveck, a Venezuelan adolescent who participated in a distance learning program called “Learning Together,” implemented by RET in 2020, with the generous support of Education Cannot Wait. Beyciveck, 15 years old, arrived in Peru in 2019. She couldn’t resume her education and enroll in school during that year as her family was facing economic hardships. Beginning of 2020, she was eagerly waiting for the new school year to start and even began playing rugby with a group of refugees and host community adolescents. “I like all kinds of sports… I like to play and have fun”, she says.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The government of Peru declared a state of national emergency and restricted the mobility of the population, postponing the academic year to 2021. The Ministry of Education implemented a national alternative strategy to facilitate access to education during COVID-19 through a complementary distance learning program, “I Learn at Home.” The program included e-learning materials and educational sessions on TV and radio, with consultation sessions through chat groups to guide and mentor the students.
Still, many migrants and refugee families experienced difficulties accessing the proposed platforms online due to economic difficulties, lack of internet and equipment. Many of the families had only one mobile phone and or TV for the entire family to use
The COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with multiple adversities, increased the risk of students drop-out. Therefore, RET responded by adapting its project strategy and activities to fill the needs gaps of students and their families during the pandemic and facilitated their access to virtual education opportunities.
Beyciveck was one of the students who enrolled in the “Learning together” virtual program implemented by RET in partnership with UNICEF, UNESCO, and Plan International. She received fourteen (14) e-learning sessions in mathematics while strengthening her socio-emotional skills with the support and orientation of a specialized tutor. Beyciveck actively and efficiently used the virtual platform and accessed all the resources through her mother’s smartphone and/or her cousin’s computer.
“The virtual program “Learning Together” has been a great tool for me. I learned new things in Peru that I did not know. It is crucial for any child, adolescent, and even any adult to learn to achieve their goals in life. I want to be an industrial engineer in the future, like my brother”, commented Beyciveck.
The Story of Beyciveck is one of 1,300 children and adolescents who participated in the “Keeping education accessible to Venezuelan migrants, refugees and host communities during the COVID-19 times in Peru” project, implemented by RET in partnership with the global fund Education Cannot Wait. Since 2000, RET has been standing with refugees and vulnerable communities in more than 30 countries worldwide. Beyciveck’s testimony stands witness to young refugees’ resilience and the positive role RET plays in their lives.
RET would like to thank Education Cannot Wait for its continuous support and response to the needs of Venezuelan refugees and asylum seekers in Latin America and the Caribbean.