ARTEparaTECHO’s theme this month is Education. We have chosen this theme because the right to education is the basic premise for the social development of the communities and is the most valid tool to fight poverty, marginalization, and exploitation. January 24 we will be celebrating education day and we strongly believe it is essential to reflect on how education has been affected by the pandemic, considering the effects on the short and long term.
The inequities in remote education access and the impact of the pandemic on youth and adult learning and socialization, need to be address.
Since the outbreak of the pandemia,188 countries have imposed countrywide closures, affecting more than 1.5 billion children and youth. The potential losses that may occur in learning for today’s young generation, and for the development of their human capital, are hard to fathom. To minimize these losses, many schools are offering distance learning to their pupils. However, this option is only available to some. The people most affected were the students and professors from lower socio-economic backgrounds. In many cases these people do not have the tools to connect remotely, or have one for the whole family, suffer from low connection and find it more difficult to study at home. “There will be for all children significant learning losses, but for those who are vulnerable - for those already at risk - they may never return to school,” said Margarete Sachs-Israel, regional education advisor at the U.N. children’s agency.
Across Latin America and the Caribbean, closures to stem the coronavirus outbreak have left more than 154 million children - about 95% of the enrolled - out of education, many who have no way of going online to learn, according to UNICEF. Quarantine measures around Latin America have exposed a stark digital divide between rural and urban areas but also within the region’s big cities - between the people in affluent neighborhoods and those living in sprawling slums, where there are no adequate infrastructures.
The digital breach is not a consequence of the pandemic but with the pandemic not having digital access meant no longer being able to study, no longer being able to work, no longer being able to communicate. For many of us, it's hard to imagine a life without school, without classmates, without homework, without the fun of recreation. But during the pandemic, many people who had made great efforts to go to school had to drop out, because they cannot attend classes.
The impact of dropping out of school is not limited to learning. We need to consider that schools are both social hubs that support the development of students’ socioemotional skills and well-being and centers of their local communities.
We need to think about how can we guarantee the right to education when to study we need a computer and an internet connection? How do we get to work if the kids are home? How do we protect the mental health of teachers and students?
It is necessary to go to the root of the problem, to fight structural inequalities.This is what we do every day. Moreover, we collaborate with schools to promote the development of academic and socioemotional skills in children and young people.
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From TECHO and myself,
thank you so much for reading.
Lots of light,