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Children in Juárez’s poorest neighborhoods go months without any formal schooling

Shairi Lopez
Juarez 8-year-old Shairi Lopez writes on a piece of paper.

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (KVIA) -- Shairi Lopez loves animals. It's her dream to be a veterinarian some day.

She's one of many Juárez children who have gone more than a year without being in a classroom. Her family doesn't own a laptop and they have very spotty internet access. Virtual classes are virtually impossible.

"We're not going to grow up to do anything if we don't study," she said, in Spanish. "We're not studying now. We don't do anything."

At eight years old, she recognizes the importance of her education. But there's not much that can be done. She lives in the Felipe Angeles Ampliación colonia with her mother and 14-year-old brother.

"We have a lot of needs. Our colonia has no sewage or drinking water," Shairi's mother, Kathya Lopez Lujan said.

Their neighborhood is located just a few miles west of UTEP on the Mexican side of the border. Many of the homes there are held up by sheet metal and wood.

"Things are very difficult here," Kathya said.

At the beginning of the school year last August, Mexico announced that all students would have to learn at home.

Mexican government statistics show just 56 percent of households own computers and have consistent internet access. As a result, the government's public education department started broadcasting lessons on television.

"We don't have a TV. It's broken," Kathya said.

Her two children would have to share the one smart phone they own and take turns learning virtually. However, since money is tight, Kathya said she has to make some tough decisions.

"I have to either pay for more cell data, or buy food for my kids," she said. "It's tough, but of course I'm going to make sure they have food."

This means that Shairi and her brother spend most of her days just hanging out at home.

"I miss my friends," Shairi said.

The family still doesn't know when they'll be allowed to return to in-person classes. It's a reality many children face in the colonia face, according to Kathya.

"Things won't be the same. They won't go back to normal," she said.

Still though, Kathya is thankful for what she does have. Her family is healthy, and that's what keeps them going forward.

Education / News / Top Stories / Video

Mauricio Casillas

El Paso native Mauricio Casillas co-anchors ABC-7’s Good Morning El Paso.


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