How a mobile classroom is improving access to education in remote communities of the Amazon
January 11, 2018
By Mauro Accurso, Communications & Sustainability Manager, Latin America, GSMA
Dedicated to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and connecting everyone and everything to a better future, mobile operators are transforming millions of people’s lives. To tell these stories of human impact, the #CaseForChange is packed with the latest tech and travelling around the world. Launched at MWC Americas in September and culminating at Mobile World Congress 2018 in February, the journey will cross 19 countries and cover over 130,000km to capture the most powerful stories of human change, all backed by mobile.
We arrived in San Antonio del Estrecho after a 45-minute flight from the city of Iquitos, in a little plane belonging to the Peruvian army. The other option was a 10-day boat ride through the Amazon river. That´s how isolated “El Estrecho” is: a little border-town by the Putumayo river near the Peru-Colombia border.
Mobile connectivity has the power to transform lives and improve education, but to see this transformation first hand was an incredible experience. The “Padre Medardo Andre N⁰ 60092” school in “El Estrecho” is the only primary and secondary education institution for many kilometres around. As with many rural and isolated schools, teachers were struggling with the lack of access to educational resources and keeping children in the classes, with many students having to make long trips from all over the jungle to get to the school every day. In rural areas of Peru, only 10% of girls and boys understand what they read and their study environments have few audio-visual or technological resources.
But a year ago, all that started to change for this community when Fundación Telefónica launched the Aula Móvil (Mobile Classroom) project. Aula Móvil is defined as a comprehensive ICT learning proposal that seeks to reduce the digital divide in rural public and urban marginal schools, proposing solutions to the problem of access to educational resources through connectivity and developing ICT skills and competences in teachers and students. The initiative has three main objectives:
- Increase the use of ICT teaching resources available in schools, taking into account the portability of the equipment and the little or no internet availability.
- Incorporate a model of self-training and sustainable support and advise, based on the leadership of teachers.
- Influence teaching practices to achieve better learning with the use of ICT.
With this focus, the school in “El Estrecho” received the portable station from Aula Móvil that includes laptops for the students, a computer (network server), educational resources, multimedia projector, monitor, speakers and, of course, user manual. But the initiative not only includes the equipment but also the training and support in the use of technology and educational innovation from experts from Fundación Telefónica and EducaRed, a free website full of content for the educational community.
To capture this story for the #CaseForChange, we heard first hand several testimonials from students and teachers of how the Aula Móvil has changed their lives. Students who usually displayed passive behaviour in class are now showing leadership and helping peers using their new laptops. Teachers are now able to properly fight school absenteeism and update their class content with new material, whereas previously new books and content usually didn’t arrive on time to such a remote location. Several boys and girls expressed their excitement to be able to research their deepest interests – from becoming a vet or an environmental engineer, to starting to learn guitar. During our visit, a mathematical contest on students’ laptops improved their learning on exercises that had previously been unengaging.
But of course, we also heard about their catastrophic problems: now students argue and complain to teachers that they want more time in the Aula Móvil!
We hope this #CaseForChange story of “El Estrecho” showcases the human aspect of how the Aula Móvil initiative has changed the path of this isolated community towards a more connected reality, giving them new resources to improve their lives and to dream bigger into the future.