The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the closure of schools in many countries, keeping children at home and highlighting the inequality of education worldwide. The quality of education for children in Peru, a nation with one of the highest COVID-19 mortality rates, is based largely on the wealth of the family. This disparity in opportunity will only grow larger with remote schooling and more of the education burden will fall on the parents. Families that cannot afford personal tutors or often expensive education technology and the internet currently have no access to quality education for their children. Many organizations and companies in Latin America are assisting with this burden, creating new ways to provide education to impoverished students. People highly praise school broadcasts on television and affordable curriculum education, but some companies are trying to make the technology itself more attainable for students. The WAWA Laptop Project is one example of this, creating laptops out of recycled materials and forming an initiative to donate laptops to Peruvian students in need.
Unequal Education in Peru
According to a UNICEF study, roughly 463 million students across the world are without access to proper education and cannot access remote learning through television, internet or additional services. This leaves students with no access to any form of education. This issue greatly impacts children in Peru who can only be outside of the home for just one hour a day during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Throughout Latin America, an average of 67% of the population has access to the internet, with that percentage closer to 10% in the most impoverished nations. In Peru, around one in three homes have access to a computer, meaning that a majority of the population does not have easy access to the internet. The harsh reality of this is that, at least for impoverished children in Peru, remote learning is simply impossible as it currently stands.
The government of Peru is involving itself, ensuring that class lessons will be available on television broadcast until 2021, but this still leaves a portion of the population without access to education. This inability to accommodate all students seems to mean that, until schools can safely reopen, impoverished children will be left behind by their more wealthy classmates.
WAWA Laptops and Eco-friendly Tech Amid COVID-19
The creators of WAWA Laptops developed the idea a year ago in an attempt to provide technology to the most vulnerable children in Peru. However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, the initiative shifted to responding to the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak in impoverished regions. Solar-powered and running on Linux operating systems, the laptops are made out of recycled materials, making them far more affordable for impoverished families. The creators estimate that the laptops can last as long as 15 years. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, hundreds of Peruvian children received WAWA Laptops.
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, WAWA Laptops stand as an affordable solution to some of the issues many children in Peru face. As a response, the company has launched the “Donate a WAWA Laptop, Educate a child” campaign, in which people can donate a laptop to a child in need. This donation will allow children who would otherwise miss out on a year of school to keep up with their fellow students. While not a total solution to the education divide in the country, the WAWA Laptop Project provides impoverished Peruvian children with a means to continue their education.
While students in Peru as well as the rest of the developing world are sure to face continued struggles in this year of remote learning, initiatives like the WAWA Laptop Project are supporting the most vulnerable young people. Access to technology and opportunity will be one of the main determinators for schooling in the COVID-19 age. With support and ongoing donations, WAWA Laptops will allow children in Peru to stay focused on school amid the unprecedented international crisis.
– Matthew McKee