Globally, two three-school children lack a home internet according to the United Nations, and ensuring equal access to education has become an acute challenge in the epidemic.
Seven initiatives are underway worldwide to promote distance education, with governments, charities and firms seeking to get more people online or providing alternative learning sources:
Solar RADIOS – Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso began broadcasting lessons on radio, television and online after the schools closed in March. Schools reopened for the new year in October, but radio classes continue for children in conflict-affected areas.
The distance education program was supported by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), which distributed solar-powered radios, pens and notebooks throughout the country as well as Mali and Niger.
TV teacher – Georgia
Georgia national television has aired daily lessons since March.
Programming runs most of the day, with classes organized by local teachers covering all grades and subjects, from mathematics and geography to sports and chess.
DESERT TABLETS – Colombia
In Colombia, the youth charity L’Orégén Foundation has distributed tablets to hundreds of children of the Venue tribe in the province of La Guajira, a goat-shepherd bordering Venezuela.
A tablet app called O-Lab allows children to study topics ranging from science to music, as well as prevention information for COVID-19, and Spanish in their original way, with no internet connection required. .
Web Vote – United States
In November, voters in two major US cities supported proposals for municipal broadband projects that seek to guarantee Internet access for residents. In Chicago, nearly 90% of voters supported a referendum proposal for the city to ensure Internet access in all “community areas”, while Denver residents cleared the way for the city to build its own broadband network Voted for.
Internet in a box – Kyrgyzstan
In Kyrgyzstan, the local chapter of the Internet Society, an American NGO, has brought a learning device called Ilimbax to schools in rural villages that do not have Internet facilities.
The president of the Internet Society Kyrgyzstan, Talent Sultanov, said the device allows students to download text content and educational videos in Kyrgyz language on their smartphones, with no need to get online.
SMS Learning Guides – Kenya
In Kenya, the charity Métis distributed home learning guides to around 30,000 students in person, as well as via text messaging and WhatsApp.
Sending a certain number of ‘EDU’ letters triggered a series of questions to determine what material to send to the learner along with mathematics, gardening and theater lessons.
Educational Broadcasting – UK
The BBC said that this week it will provide the largest education proposal in its nearly-100-year history to help children learn in lockdown, even if they cannot find it online, for primary and secondary-school pupils. Programming is underway.
British mobile networks and broadband operators are also taking out a data cap to help underprivileged children in England watch online lessons.
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