“At school, I laugh a lot and learn more than at home”

Since face-to-face classes restarted, Abraham tries to go to class every day. Such as him, hundreds of children attend classes willing to learn and play with their classmates.

Sendai Zea, UNICEF Venezuela Communications Officer
Abraham and his 6-grade teacher review his language homework
UNICEF Venezuela/2022/Poveda
09 March 2022

It is half-past seven in the morning. The children begin to line up to enter the school. A school located in a rural area about one hour from Caracas – Capital City of Venezuela. There is Cold Weather.  The students line up in the schoolyard. It is time to sing the national anthem to start their day at school.

Preschool and elementary school children line up to sing the national anthem before entering classrooms.
UNICEF Venezuela/2022/Poveda
Preschool and elementary school children line up to sing the national anthem before entering classrooms.

Among the students is Abraham. He is in 6th grade and to get to school he must walk about 25 min. “I wake up at 5 am. I wake my sister up who studies at the same school as me, I brush, bathe, have breakfast, and start to walk. Sometimes I'm late and the teacher scolds me, but I tell her not to scold me, that it's not my fault if I fall asleep. It is cold here, one does not want to get off from the bed, I don't feel like waking up” tells Abraham.

Abraham receives antibacterial gel before entering school. He also carries with him some of the materials from the school kit that UNICEF provided to support the return to school.
UNICEF Venezuela/2022/Poveda
Abraham receives antibacterial gel before entering school. He also carries with him some of the materials from the school kit that UNICEF provided to support the return to school.

Abraham has 4 siblings. His younger sister studies at the same school. They both come to class together. Their mom can't accompany them as she also gets up very early to go to work. "My mom gets paid $1 a month ... I collaborate at home, I help to carry the water, to wake my sister up to come to school," he says.

For Abraham, there is nothing like going to classes. "I don't like to stay in the house doing nothing. Here (at school) I do homework, I play with my friends too much. In my house, I laugh, but not like here. I have a lot of fun," he adds.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Abraham did not continue following classes and has to level up.  He is learning to write better and perfect his reading. His favorite subject is mathematics, and he comments that he is already going at number 4 in the multiplication tables.

Abraham reviewing math exercises during class.
UNICEF Venezuela/2022/Poveda
Abraham reviewing math exercises during class.

“I don't know how to read very well and I write but my handwriting is messy. But the teacher gives me calligraphy exercises and makes me practice my reading. I love my teacher very much because she is helping me with everything. I'm struggling because I know I'm behind my classmates, but I come to school every day because I want to learn,” he says.

In Abraham's classroom, the teacher dictates homework.
UNICEF Venezuela/2022/Poveda
In Abraham's classroom, the teacher dictates homework.

After language and math classes it is time to go to recess and have lunch.  In Abraham`s school, UNICEF supports school feeding as part of the incentives so children keep on attending school and have nutritious food. "I like the food they give me at school, and when they give us the bags of food it's much better. Sometimes you go home hungry, and you can't get food. When that happens, I know I have in my bag my cup of food that I was given at school.”

Abraham in his schoolyard talks about what he likes most about going to class.
UNICEF Venezuela/2022/Poveda
Abraham in his schoolyard talks about what he likes most about going to class.

Despite the pandemic, Abraham says he is not afraid of the COVID-19 virus, because he always has his mask and washes his hands. His will to learn is not broken, despite not having a uniform or all the complete school supplies "I tell the children to come to school. You have more fun here than at home. The idea is to learn. For example, if you go out and get lost, there's always a sign that tells you where to go... but what if you can't read, how do you know where to go?” he concluded.

More than 300 children go to the same school as Abraham. UNICEF supports the national and local efforts to maintain the schools open and safe for the children and teenagers.   To do this, it supports schools like Abraham's through the delivery of school kits and the school feeding program. It also accompanies teachers by supporting them with training on educational quality, including preparing for a safe return to school; in addition to providing them with incentives in the form of food, financial support, or technological equipment to facilitate the exercise of their profession in schools.

In 2021, UNICEF helped more than 110,000 students receive balanced schools to meet their nutritional needs, and more than 219,000 children received materials to accompany the distance education process. In addition, 88 schools in the country benefited from infrastructure rehabilitation, distribution of hygiene supplies, and cleaning.

Among the students is Abraham. He is in 6th grade and to get to school he must walk about 25 min. “I wake up at 5 am. I wake my sister up who studies at the same school as me, I brush, bathe, have breakfast, and start to walk. Sometimes I'm late and the teacher scolds me, but I tell her not to scold me, that it's not my fault if I fall asleep. It is cold here, one does not want to get off from the bed, I don't feel like waking up” tells Abraham.