Refugee families struggle to continue learning during stay at home order

With schools moving to online learning, many families are facing challenges to access computers and the internet.

Refugee and immigrant families in Houston are facing additional barriers.
“They were already struggling with the homework and now with online, it's even more difficult,” said Aisha Siddiqui, founder of the non-profit Culture of Health - Advancing Together, or CHAT. She founded the organization in 2015 to help refugees and immigrants through access to education and healthcare.

Siddiqui says many of the families CHAT serves were unaware of the stay home order because the information was not in their language.

She adds many families do not have access to a computer, internet, and they do not understand the concept of distance learning.


”Even when they get the technology, then someone will have to install that and tell them how to use those resources that they are provided,” Siddiqui noted.

Right now, Siddiqui fears at least half of the dozens of refugee children who normally attend CHAT's after-school tutoring program have not been learning since schools closed because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

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The Houston Independent School District reports nearly 96,000 logged on to the district’s online resources March 27 through April 3, 2020. The district has more than 207,000 students.

Normally, the CHAT students and tutors fill an apartment Ashford Crescent Oaks in Southwest Houston.

”Our tutors really sit down and help them, so right now if students don't have that support. They probably are not doing it,” Siddiqui told FOX 26.

Trying to help the students from afar has been difficult. Siddiqui says most families don't use email and their phone numbers change frequently. One of the tutors said she took photos of book pages and texted them to a child, so they could read together.

Adding to the challenges is fewer tutors. Siddiqui says usually she has about 50 but, right now, there's only 12.

She hopes through the help of donations, she can bring back more tutors and help families gain access to computers and the internet.

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”A lot of students will be promoted to the next grade level, which they will not be ready for and that will be very, very difficult for them,” Siddiqui concluded.
She adds most students arriving from refugee camps did not have schooling while there and have a lot of learning to make up.