Venezuelan Migrants in Brazil: Children and Family Experiences with Education and Social Services


Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 12:00pm to 1:20pm


CGIS South, S216

This event will by hybrid. To register for in-person, click here; to register for virtual, click here.

Speaker: Gabrielle Oliveira, Jorge Paulo Lemann Associate Professor of Education and of Brazil Studies, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Moderated by: Sarah Dryden-Peterson, Associate Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

An unprecedented number of Venezuelans have left behind the worsening economic and social crisis at home to look for better future prospects. Brazil is hosting about 261,000 Venezuelans as migrants, asylum seekers, or refugees, which, at 18 percent, constitutes the largest share of Brazil’s 1.3 million refugees and migrants population (World Bank, 2020). Many shelters in Brazilian cities are overcrowded, meaning children and families often end up living on the streets and unable to access government services including education. This presentation has two goals: the first is to present background data on both the legal conditions that impact Venezuelan immigrants in Brazil and the education barriers that exist for immigrant and refugee children in Brazilian public schools. The second goal is to present preliminary qualitative data on how public schools (teachers, administrators) are responding to the influx of Venezuelan children in elementary schools.

Gabrielle Oliveira’s research focuses on immigration and mobility — on how people move, adapt, and parent across borders. Her expertise includes gender, anthropology, transnationalism across the Americas. Merging the fields of anthropology and education through ethnographic work in multiple countries, Oliveira also studies the educational trajectories of immigrant children. She is the author of Motherhood Across Borders: Immigrants and their Children in Mexico and in New York City (NYU Press). The book has won the inaugural Erickson and Hornberger Book Award by the University of Pennsylvania's Ethnography Forum and the award for book of the year by the Council of Anthropology and Education. Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Oliveira received her MA and PhD from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. She was the recipient of the National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship, and she has been also awarded a postdoc fellowship from the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation to study the consequences of the 2018 zero-tolerance policy on family separation under the Trump Administration. Oliveira is also part of a group called "Colectiva Infancias" that has won a grant from the National Geographic Foundation to assemble a public-facing website on the stories of immigrant children who migrate within the Americas. Oliveira has been engaged in studying Brazilian migration to Massachusetts and has extensively focused on how immigrant children and families navigate newfound educational systems amid a global pandemic. She has worked closely with teachers in dual language programs whose students are Brazilian working to understand what the constraints are in educational practices in and out of classrooms. Her publications can be found in journals like Anthropology and Education Quarterly; Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education; Bilingual Research Journal; TESOL Quarterly; Global Studies of Childhood; among others.

Sarah Dryden-Peterson leads a research program that focuses on the connections between education and community development, specifically the role that education plays in building peaceful and participatory societies. In her field-based research globally, in her teaching, and in her role as founder and director of Refugee REACH, she examines what it would take for all children to access quality education, be part of welcoming communities, and contribute to building peaceful futures. Her research connects practice, policy, and scholarship and is strengthened through sustained collaborations with communities, NGOs, governments, and UN agencies, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries particularly those that are conflict-affected. Dryden-Peterson’s research has played critical roles in shaping global policy and local programs that have the potential to create quality, conflict-informed, and future-creating education for millions of children globally in settings of migration and displacement. Raised in Toronto, Canada, Dryden-Peterson taught primary and middle school in Madagascar, South Africa, and the United States.­ Learn more about her academic research publications and her Mowana Research Lab.