For the past month, the teachers, students and parents of families at Escuela Integrada have been adjusting to the reality of at home learning- as school has been cancelled since March 16th.
To start off, here are a few challenges that our families and teachers face when it comes to at home learning:
- Limited access to computers
- Limited access to internet
- Families not having more than an elementary education
- Parents who are illiterate
- Limited or no electricity in the home
- No desks or chairs in the home
- Insufficient cell service in the home
- Limited or no recourses (books, notebooks, crayons, markers etc)
Not only this- but they are dealing with the same challenges as I am sure many of you who are having to home school are as well!
However, there are ways that they are dealing with these challenges that you might now expect. For example, in Guatemala there are many computer labs that are widely available, even in more rural villages. Typically, one can have access to a computer or internet for about 50 cents to a dollar an hour. I remember when I started coming to Guatemala 15 years ago, using these computer labs was the only source of internet use available. Although due to the restrictions surround Covid-19, access is limited but still available.
One of the main tools that families and teachers use for learning and communication are smartphones. This might sound strange to you- how can impoverished families have access to smartphones? Although none of our families are walking around with an iPhone 11, buying android smartphones are relatively not that expensive- they can be bought for about $30. Also, many families will buy them used, which then cost less. Contracts for small phones are very uncommon- mostly what is used are pay-as-you-go plans. Families can purchase internet packages for at low as 75 cents.
Amongst our families- the “it takes a village” concept is very real. Parents will ask for help from siblings, aunts, uncles or neighbors. On mother is thankful for her sister that helps her son with math. Others have older siblings that help out as well!
Although this is a difficult season, teachers have expressed some ways in which at home learning has been beneficial. Belsy the JR high English teachers says that it is easier to have more one on one communication with the students. Lidia the kindergarten teacher explains how some of her students were extremely shy and hardly ever spoken up in class, but through videos they are learning how to express themselves more. Almost all of the teachers said that the communication and cooperation from the parents has also greatly increased during this time. The parents of Escuela Intergrade might not all have a higher level of education, but they are smart and resourceful. They help with projects, communicate with teachers and they are grateful that children are receiving homework and continuing to learn.
As we are unsure how long it will be until we are able to resume school as normal, we want to make sure that the students are still able to learn and do their schoolwork at home. We will do this through the At Home Learning Campaign which will provide:
- data packages for the families at Escuela Intergrada
- data packages for the teachers at Escuela Integrada
- materials for families (notebooks, pencils, crayons, etc)
- other recourses for the teachers (workshops on distance and online learning)
We are also continuing our Meal Support Campaign and providing food for our families. These are two campaigns that are extremely helpful ways in which you can partner with us at this time.
Education is what will break the cycle of poverty and we are in it for the long haul. We are so grateful for your generosity which allows children living in poverty to be educated.