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Convención para Cantar. Luisa Pernalete. 2020

Articles 28 and 29 of the CRC establish that children and adolescents have the right to education for the maximum development of the mental and physical capacities required to live a responsible life in a free, peaceful and inclusive society.

Systematic news reports between May and September, 2020, underscored the limitations in basic services such as electricity, internet connection and the necessary technology to effectively implement the method of online education imposed due to COVID-19 confinement. The greatest impact falls on indigenous, rural and economically disabled communities, which were already excluded from the regular school system since before the pandemic.

Some private and social institutions carried out initiatives to face these challenges. Fe y Alegría developed the campaign “Teachers on the Phone.” “Autism Out Loud” offered alternatives for children and adolescents with special conditions during the confinement. AVEC organized vacation plans in August with the participation of educational communities.

The school year ended with significant problems in online education, although the Education Ministry claimed that the plan “Each Family a School” had been a success, reaching 73% of the goal for basic and technical education. A “national survey” was launched in August to establish the method to be used for the new school year, which NGO Fenasopadres criticized for its biases.

In September, teachers and representatives said that there are no sanitary measures in place to prevent COVID-19 in educational centers, while teachers protested in various regions in the country to demand salary improvements, quality education and optimal conditions for online teaching. Instead of providing resources and measures to prevent the collapse of the educational system, the official response has been repression against these demonstrations, involving the police and government-sanctioned armed groups. Authorities from the Education Ministry and the regional government have threatened to pull teachers off the payroll.

The executive vice-president said that 8 million children were enrolled in elementary education this year, but the National Assembly’s Social Development Committee says that the figure is 3.5 million.

Amidst the pandemic and the subsequent quarantine, the right to education is another debt the State has with children and adolescents. Venezuela must explain why it hasn’t taken measures to fulfill these obligations before the Committee on the Rights of the Child.