Almost two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, the closure of most of the schools still disrupts the lives of the majority of the Guatemalan students. The conventional educational system struggles to deliver the knowledge, values and skills during online classes that our students need to evolve and exceed in life. Although the Guatemalan government stated that the new school year 2022 would start with a hybrid model, the majority of the public and private schools didn’t implement face-to-face classes yet due the limited space in schools, the weak infrastructure and lack of resources available.
Although CasaSito’s scholars got used to the new implementation of classes, they emphasize that it needs much more self-motivation and discipline, feedback from the teachers is often limited, and many feel socially isolated. In addition, the majority has to share a device with siblings and the internet signal is often so bad that they can hardly follow classes, especially in the rural areas of the country.
In order to overcome digital fatigue and demotivation, CasaSito will keep on offering psychological support and various enrichment classes that focus on the development of personal and professional life skills. Data packages will be provided to all scholars on a monthly basis throughout the year. In the CasaSito offices in Sacatepéquez and Alta Verapaz, the libraries will be equipped with computers and laptops that will be available for scholars for research and homework.
2021 was another year full of challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although the Guatemalan government stated in January that the new school year would start with a hybrid model, the majority of the public and private schools didn’t implement face-to-face classes due to the high number of infections and the weak infrastructure and lack of resources available. With schools being shut down throughout the year, teachers and directors had to reinvent teaching, exploring suitable alternatives to ensure successful learning. Many students, especially from the rural areas fell severely behind in their learnings.
Many CasaSito scholars mentioned having experienced extreme physical and mental fatigue. The majority of our scholars have a smart phone of basic quality that they often share with their siblings. Due to the poor quality of the phones and bad internet signal, combined with a low resolution and poor sound quality, it’s often difficult for them to follow online classes and applications often do not load properly. As a consequence, our scholars experienced feelings of demotivation, anxiety, stress, and depression. In order to improve the outcomes of their learning process and overcome feelings of digital fatigue, CasaSito offered psychological support, organized an online workshop that focused on digital resources and the correct use of digital tools and technology, and enrichment classes that focused on the development of personal and professional life skills and capacities.
Data packages have been provided to all scholars on a monthly basis throughout the year, in order to make sure they have internet access during their online classes. In addition, headphones have been purchased for our scholars that will help them to reduce problems of noise and distractions while studying at home and help them to better concentrate during online classes. In both CasaSito offices in Sacatepequez and Alta Verapaz area, a library has been set up where laptops will be available for research and homework of our scholars as soon as the offices can open again.
Digital inequality widens educational gap in low-income households
By Silke Wahl | Development Consultant
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Guatemala, students from low-income households have been struggling a lot with education. With private and public schools closed since March 2020 and students studying online from home, the digital divide between disadvantaged kids and those from middle-class families has become even more evident. In a country like Guatemala where the inequality in educational distribution has been always high, the disparities in learning and achievements grow and so the poverty cycle continues.
The majority of CasaSito’s students don’t have an internet connection, tablet or laptop in their homes and rely on expensive data cellphone data packages while expenses for food and electricity are already extremely challenging. Sometimes parents and three or four children have to share a mobile phone and the space to study from home. Those without online connections miss out on learning and the sense of being part of a group not being able to stay in touch with their peers and teachers.
CasaSito's parents, teachers and students describe facing difficult choices around working and learning from home because of scarce resources, increased living expenses and inadequate space for families of five or more studying from home. This permanent conflict since more than a year, caused anxiety, stress and depression among our families.
Therefore, CasaSito is offering psychological support to those needed and invited its scholars to an online workshop that focused on digital resources and the correct use of digital tools and technology. Data packages are provided to all scholars on a monthly basis, in order to make sure they have internet access during their online classes at school and the enrichment classes offered by CasaSito.
In addition, headphones will be purchased for our students that will help them to reduce problems of noise and distractions while studying at home and help them to better concentrate during online classes, and a library will be set up in CasaSito's office with laptops that can be used or borrowed by our scholars for studying and research.
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