THE Ministry of Education (MoE) has disclosed that a total of 740 Venezuelan children between the ages of five and 16 were enrolled in the public education system in April and May 2019.
This information was included in the ministry’s Education Sector Plan (ESP) 2021 to 2025.
According to the data, Regions One, Two, and Three were the regions that recorded the largest numbers of school enrolment among the refugee children, recording 187, 138, and 196 respectively.
The ministry has noted that with this phenomenon of refugees being relatively new to the local economy, there will be significant changes made in the new period plan to cater for the presence of refugee children in the local education system.
The ministry further indicated that this influx of students has already significantly increased the cost of the school-feeding programme in the hinterland communities where all schoolchildren receive a free meal at lunchtime. This is one of the major areas that the ministry intends to address to ensure that that programme is adequately budgeted to cater to the increasing number of school-aged children in the hinterland communities.
Since 2019, the Department of Education in Region One has sought and obtained assistance from UNICEF for materials to assist the Spanish speakers. Efforts have also been made to employ teachers who speak Spanish to ensure that those Spanish-speaking children have the chance to understand and learn while in school.
Region Four has recorded a total of 95 children being enrolled in the public school system; one child each was recorded in Regions Five and Six, Region Seven recorded 80 children, Region Nine recorded nine and Region 10 recorded five children.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), statistics in December 2020, there are currently over 22,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Guyana.
Venezuelan migrants have been seeking to build a life in many countries around the globe, including Guyana, since the initial humanitarian crisis in Venezuela in the mid-2000s.
Guyana has been seeing a consistent influx of citizens from the neighbouring country and has been working significantly to facilitate those persons.
In a recent interview, International Office for Migration (IOM) Chief of Mission, Robert Natiello, lauded the government’s commitment to the affected Venezuelans. He noted that the IOM recognises the significant support the Government of Guyana has given to Venezuelan migrants during this period of the humanitarian crisis.
He said that even with Guyana’s support, a multi-stakeholder approach is needed to ensure that enough resources are provided to cater to both the residents of Region One and the Venezuelan migrants.
“The IOM acknowledges that the growing number of migrants from Venezuela has really placed an increased burden and pressure on the resources this country has to address and provide basic services to the community, such as housing, water, and other services, and being able to address these needs really requires a multi-stakeholder approach,” said Natiello.