The United Nations Children Fund (UNCF) has partnered with the Living Water Community (LWC) to provide tablets (electronic devices) funded by the European Union (EU) to some 600 Venezuelan migrant children so they can pursue their education while in Trinidad and Tobago.
They would be used as part of a blended online/face-to-face instruction programme, certified by the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC), called “Equal Place”.
Speaking at the distribution Dr Aloys Kamuragiye, UNICEF representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area said: “This event is just a milestone on a longer journey.”
When the Venezuelan migrants began coming into the country following the political turmoil in their home country, the Ministry of Education stated that the children could not be accommodated in the public school system; hindering their ability to receive a formal education.
“Since then we have been thinking about a better solution - a kind of education that is certified. That’s how we came up with this initiative,” he said.
Dr Kamuragiye explained that they would use the Caribbean Examination Council’s (CXC) programme to certify the children.
“I think this is a great achievement. We have been discussing with the high-level authorities in CXC...so there is an agreement they would be certifying their learning.”
Dr Kamuragiye assured UNICEF would continue to advocate for migrant children to receive mainstream education in the public school system.
UNHCR protection officer Ruben Barbado expressed a similar need for migrant children to receive a formal education.
“Those who come to Trinidad and Tobago come for multiple reasons. Some because of prosecution and so on and Trinidad and Tobago is not an isolated country in the world. Some people reach here because it’s the easiest and the closest place to go and it’s our responsibility to help them to enjoy their rights.”
Living Water Community Director Rhonda Maingot also said: “it is so important that our children get into the school.”
There just over 16,000 Venezuelans who registered to live and work legally in this country for a year, following government’s registration amnesty exercise.
Many of the migrants came with their children, including babies, in search of a better life.
However, some children have been receiving an education at facilities like the La Romaine Migrant Support, which has been hosting free classes for migrant children.