“Children can be trained in non-discrimination in schools”

There are several challenges that schools, in coordination with the Government and local authorities, must face after the return of attendance in their classrooms. The education specialist UnicefDaniel Contreras, explained that one of these demands to be alert to any type of violence and promote a healthy coexistence in schools, especially in safeguarding students in vulnerable situations.

-What is your first analysis until the moment of the return of schoolchildren to the classrooms?

It is confirmed that the fears that existed for the reopening of schools in face-to-face mode were not and are not consistent with the evidence. In practice, the epidemiological curve has not changed. So, going back to school has been a correct measure, which does not imply additional risks.

—What kinds of challenges has the education system encountered?

First, to recover learning that may have been lost during the critical stage of the pandemic. A second challenge has to do with the conditions of the schools, in terms of infrastructure, furniture, among others. In the last two years this problem has worsened. Likewise, the pandemic has had an impact on educational trajectories. In 2021, nearly 700,000 schoolchildren dropped out of school or were at risk of doing so.

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—How much has the educational community been affected in your mental health?

The pandemic put on the table the need to address the socio-emotional dimension in the field of education, since everyone, including children, has been affected in their mental health. Teachers should be trained so that they have more information in this regard and guarantee specialized support with psychologists, directly at the school or in coordination with the health network.

—What is the reason for this perception of increased violence in schools?

The return to attendance has been expressed with an intense emotion in the students, both of happiness to meet again, but also in some cases with violent actions. It must be taken into account that anxiety, stress, worry and depression eventually trigger important disruptions in coexistence.

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—What actions to take for a school insertion of migrant children free of violence?

In Peru, about 40% of Venezuelan children of school age are not enrolled in school. There is a task to improve. In addition, work must be done to take advantage of cultural diversity in schools and that this is not a source of conflict. The risk of xenophobia in schools exists, so we must always be alert to avoid it. Although there is this risk, in schools you can also train in coexistence and non-discrimination.

—What do you think about the fact that parents will now participate in the preparation of school textbooks?

Coordination between families and schools is always a gain for education. However, the purpose of education is to accompany each child to reach their maximum capacity and this is related to not restricting key opportunities in their development. Issues such as comprehensive sex education, for example, help this.

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“Children can be trained in non-discrimination in schools”