COVID-19 Reports on Latin America and the Caribbean: No. 41 (En Español)
On March 24, 2020, Mexico’s Ministry of Public Education declared that all teachers and administrative staff working in public school would be included in the “preventive and voluntary lockdown at home” in order to avoid further exposure to COVID-19. One of the actions included was remote learning from home. Since that date, online education through remote learning became one of the biggest challenges for students, teachers, fathers, mothers and familias as a whole. Following the same guidelines, it was also decided to use internet, television and radio as tools for remote learning.
One of the initiatives called, “learn at home” (“aprende en casa”, in Spanish) was put forward to support preschool, primary and secondary education as well as undergrads. The Ministry of Public Education in its bulletin no. 75 confirmed that this initiative should be pursued through television and radio in the following channels: channel 11 from the National Polytechnic Institute for preschool and primary education, and the “Ingenio” TV channel for undergrads together with Mexico’s Public Broadcasting System and Network of Educational and Cultural Radio and Television Broadcasters of Mexico and the Latin American Institute of Educational Communication for preschool, primary and secondary education.
Classes began to be broadcast on national television at different times and on Youtube. Furthermore, free textbooks were also distributed in braille system as well as large print format. It is important to note that some of these channels had previous experiences with broadcasting remote learning programming.
Beginning on December 2020, the initiative called “National Strategy for the Literacy of People with Disabilities” had as an end that all students could properly end their studies and obtain favorable degrees counting with materials and strategies in accordance with their needs and abilities.
Online Education: Challenges and Issues
Online education became a reality in a context where the Ministry of Public Education in charge of the country’s education system was simply not prepared. Since the very beginning, structural deficiencies were evident as well as the gaps in the teaching and learning process. Similarly, parents at home and teachers were not ready for online remote learning from home.
In most of the cases, parents were not ready to support their kids at home while at the same time continuing their regular work schedule outside or, even worse, also at home. These are some the issues experienced by parents, particularly mothers:
- Complete ignorance or little skills when it comes to using digital tools, email and social platforms
- Lack of digital skills
- Sharing the only computer at home with multiple family members
- Taking care of household tasks, preparing meals for those working and studying from home
- New roles as teachers for their kids without the proper pedagogical trainings to do it
- Not offering support to their kids while questioning the teachers on how to teach
- The need for a personalized attention to kids.
In the case of teachers, these have faced another set of challenges and issues:
- Lack of digital skills
- A constant updating of technological platforms, the Latin American Institute for Collaborative Communication has shared courses and webinars for teachers
- Considering technology as a threat
- The need for handing out adequate IT equipments
- Taking care of household tasks while teaching classes
- Not ideal working conditions at home with lots of distractions and multiple people living in the same space.
In one of its COVID-19 reports, the UN CEPAL and UNESCO noted the difficulties some countries in Latin America have when it comes to facing online education: internet access and connection, availability of IT equipment at home and the skills and competencies needed to use these technologies.