Because of no access to a computer, only 5% of poor students return to school.

International agencies warn that students from poor socio-economic backgrounds will suffer more and have a higher risk of living with long-term consequences in their education.

MEXICO (El Universal) – Covid-19 will widen the inequality gaps in learning between students who come from more vulnerable contexts. Those who do not warn international organizations such as the OECD, the UN Development Programme, and the World Economic Forum.

“Students from poor socio-economic backgrounds will suffer more and be at greater risk of living with long-term consequences on their learning achievements and ultimately opportunities,” said the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Today, 30,466,000 compulsory education students will return to school, that is: 4,780,787 in preschool; 13,972,269 in primary school; 6,473,608 in secondary school; and 5,239,675 in high school. They will do it from home, through distance classes in a television scheme and online by the program Learn at Home II.

This means that they will follow the classes designed for them that will be transmitted on television. Besides, they will have to maintain communication and contact with their teachers by phone or social networks, download educational materials through the SEP platforms, and deliver assignments and evaluations via email or WhatsApp.

In Mexico, on average, 80% of affluent students and 45% of middle-class students in primary education have a computer and Internet at home; compared to less than 5% of poor students and less than 15% in vulnerable situations, warned the OECD.

According to the UN Development Program, in Mexico, only 44.3% of households have a computer, and 56.4% have an Internet connection; the situation is worse in rural communities where the proportion drops to 20.6% and 23.4%. Nine out of every ten households in the high socio-economic level have Internet, compared to two out of every ten households in the lower socio-economic strata.

“The reality in Mexico is that many households, mainly rural and indigenous, do not have the conditions for their students to follow classes or turn in the tasks required of them, which affects young people disproportionately.” In Covid’s time and with the schools closed, these differences will be critical; for example, parents can use technology to help their children or that many children will have to share telephones with their siblings and parents to learn.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) analyzed that the coronavirus has exposed the fragility of education systems and has widened the inequality gap. “The transition to online classes has impacted the most vulnerable communities disproportionately. With the confinement measures, many students cannot get better internet connections, and digital access became from a luxury to an essential asset for life.

“Inequality gaps were already wide before this pandemic, but after it will be more evident than ever. Those without access to a television, computer, or the Internet will lose the possibility of accessing a more robust form of education,” said Karen Lizette Matias López of the Women’s United Network for Education.

Pedro Hernandez, primary school principal and leader of the CNTE in Mexico City, explained that many private schools had less difficulty moving from face-to-face to virtual education system, which did not happen in public schools.

“We’ve had to improvise many things, the teachers. Just as an agreement was made with the television stations, it could also be made with the internet companies that if you access an educational page, you don’t waste your data; technologically, it can be done,” he reflected.

David Calderon, of Mexicans First, says that one of the most severe consequences of this deepening inequality will be the dropout that the SEP itself recognized.

The Yucatan Times
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