The current crisis in Venezuela has reduced children’s access to essential services and increased their vulnerability, rolling back decades of progress. 3.2 million children – or 1 in 3 – require humanitarian assistance. Since the beginning of the year, UNICEF has shipped 55 tons of health supplies such as midwifery kits, antibiotics and malaria treatment to the country, but children in Venezuela need further help accessing basic nutrition, health and education services.
Help UNICEF provide more vaccines, rehabilitate the water and sanitation system, provide malnutrition treatment and medical supplies, and make sure that children in Venezuela have the education and protection support that are essential to their future and well-being
UNICEF has strengthened its presence on the ground, with offices close to the borders with Colombia and Brazil, making it one of the agencies with the biggest operational footprint in the country. But we need your support to help more children.
“Millions of children need to be immunized, go to school, drink safe water and feel protected. We have plans in place to further scale up our response, but we need increased flexible funding that would allow us to reach the children in need with the services they need.” Paloma Escudero, UNICEF Director of Communication
UNICEF supporting education for thousands of Venezuelan children
In Cúcuta, Colombia, education knows no border. The daily school run – when parents escort their children to and from school – is somewhat unusual and involves traveling to another country. Each day, almost 3,000 Venezuelan children cross the border for the Colombian city of Cúcuta – just to get to school.
The Francisco de Paula Santander International Bridge is closed to vehicles, meaning parents and children have to cross on foot. During the rainy season, that means children trudging through torrential rain in their school uniforms, carrying their backpacks. The journey is the same for those with disabilities.
Children crossing the bridge between Ureña on the Venezuelan side and Cúcuta on the Colombian side often use plastic sheets and tarps to shield themselves from the periodic heavy rain.
Around 10,000 Venezuelan children and adolescents are enrolled in school in Cúcuta, and around a third of them live in Venezuela. For thousands of children that means crossing the border each day if they don’t want to miss classes.
Buses provided by Colombia’s Ministry of Education, and supported by UNICEF, wait for students on the Colombia side of the border to take them to schools around the city.
The growing number of students has placed a strain on Cúcuta’s education system. The Colombian Government, UNICEF and other partners are helping train teachers, as well as providing schools with educational materials.
Misael Pastrana school, in Cúcuta, is a good example of how Venezuelan children are being integrated into the city’s education system. About 70 per cent of students at the school are Venezuelan, but here that is not important: students are treated the same.
UNICEF is supporting Colombia’s Ministry of Education in implementing flexible educational programmes that allow Venezuelan students to follow a regular curriculum, despite their exceptional circumstances. Soccer and volleyball are the two most popular activities during break times. Students also take the opportunity to catch up with each other.
Classrooms in this school in Cúcuta are considered safe spaces for children, where, for a little while at least, they can set aside the worries – and dangers – of the outside world and focus on studying and spending time with their classmates.
So far in 2019, more than 130,000 Venezuelan children are enrolled in schools across the country, compared with 30,000 in November 2018.
UNICEF needs your generous donations to support basic needs in nutrition, health, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, and to provide protection services for families crossing from Venezuela to Colombia.
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Original version of the education story was posted on UNICEF.com