“It feels new, well, very new, but we are adapting to the situation,” said the Peruvian child when the CGTN America reporter asked him about his experience with Peru’s I Learn at Home virtual education program. For a country in which only 24% of households have consistent internet access, virtual education is certainly a new experience. Peru launched the Aprendo en Casa (I Learn at Home) program shortly after the Peruvian government closed down schools in 2020 in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ever since the program has consolidated various low and high-tech solutions to broadcast an interactive learning environment on multiple media. Here is the story of Peru’s Ministry of Education’s promotion of virtual education in Peru.
The COVID-19 pandemic hits hard around the globe and Peru is one of the worst-impacted countries in the world. In response to the pandemic, the Peruvian government imposed the strictest shutdown in South America since March 2020. However, the shutdown, compounded with Peru’s low connectivity, imposed a particularly harsh challenge.
Among the many challenges is the challenge in education. Under the shutdown, switching to virtual learning was not as simple as moving classes online. In response to Peru’s particular challenges, Peru’s Ministry of Education launched the I Learn at Home virtual learning program shortly after the lockdown, according to OECD.
In response to the sudden COVID-19 shutdown, the Ministry of Education launched the program with equal rapidity only 12 days after the shutdown, OECD reported. To ensure the constant improvement of the program, Peru’s Ministry of Education collaborated with Innovation for Poverty Action which uses machine learning to survey the needs of hard-to-reach students. The Ministry then used this data to develop the program to ensure maximum outreach and maximum classroom engagement, in the shortest possible timeline.
About I Learn at Home
To ensure the maximum outreach of the program in low connectivity regions, Peru’s Ministry of Education strives to diversify the channel of access to learning materials. According to OECD, the Peruvian government teams up with major private telecommunications companies to produce and broadcast the learning materials on TV and radio, in addition to the internet.
To maximize internet travel to the I Learn at Home webpage, Microsoft and Amazon help design the web page with “web-light” and “mobile-responsive” technologies so that people can access the webpage through smartphones and from areas with slower internet. For parts of the country that lack household electricity access, loudspeakers at community centers broadcast learning materials so kids can hear their teacher giving lectures in their homes.
Through the multi-media platform, the virtual classroom brought children back to an interactive learning environment. Teachers and actors go back and forth on the learning materials with actors asking questions during classes and doing learning activities making it look like a classroom. According to OECD, WhatsApp helps organize teachers and parents into classroom groupings. Teachers distribute homework materials either online or through mailing in print materials. Teachers and families then communicate feedback through those channels.
The Impact of Virtual Education in Peru
The result of Peru’s Ministry of Education’s promotion of virtual education in Peru is significant. OECD has indicated that after a month of the debut of the I Learn at Home initiative, 95% of children reconnected to their education through one channel or another and that another month after that, 82% of the kids expressed happiness about the learning program. According to UNICEF, the innovative joint initiative reached 145,628 children living in hard-to-reach areas. As Peru reopened its schools in March 2022, its precious experience in virtual education showcases how innovation and technology can help education to reach those who are at a material disadvantage.
– Peiyi Yu