The challenges facing the education of refugee and migrant children and adolescents (NNA, for its acronym in Spanish) have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March 2020, when COVID-19 spread throughout the region, the Ministries of Education have progressively closed schools at the preschool, primary, and secondary levels. However, despite all efforts, there is still a large number of children in the region without access to face-to-face classes. According to the R4V national platforms, in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru around 28 million students (half of whom are women) have been affected by school closures.
Although the Ministries of Education are ensuring educational continuity through different learning modalities, including distance education, it is essential that the new modalities are inclusive and reach the most vulnerable children, especially refugee and migrant children, who often face additional barriers, such as limited internet connectivity, lack of access to computers, phones, and educational materials, and difficult living conditions.
The challenges that children and adolescents face in human mobility are varied. Girls and adolescents are at risk of sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and early marriage/pregnancy. In the case of boys and adolescents, there is a risk of being forcibly recruited by criminal gangs and other armed groups. Despite the fact that several countries in the region now allow children and young people to enroll in the formal education system regardless of their status, a large number of them are still unable to go to school. This is due to obstacles that continue to exist, such as insufficient absorptive capacity of schools, severe financial constraints, lack of teaching and learning materials, and barriers related to discrimination and xenophobia.
This special report contains the latest figures on children and adolescents in situations of human mobility, migrants and refugees, initiatives at the regional level in response to the educational needs of migrant children and initiatives in countries with high migratory movements. For the purposes of this document, the following terms will be defined :
Migrant: Generic term not defined in international law that, by common use, designates any person who moves outside their usual place of residence, either within a country or across an international border, temporarily or permanently.
Internally displaced people: People who have been forced or compelled to run away or flee from their home or habitual place of residence, mainly as a result of the effects of an armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, human rights violations, natural or caused-by-man disasters, or to avoid such effects, and that have not crossed an internationally recognized state border.