Nuevo San Rafael, located in the Peruvian Amazon, is one of those remote rural areas that are hit badly by COVID-19. Not just the pandemic scare but also the education of the youth has come to an absolute halt. Since the schools are closed, children have not been able to come to the classroom and continue their learning. “We couldn’t talk to our teacher and I felt sad and worried. We couldn’t see each other, we can’t do group projects,” said 15-year-old Richard Guimaraes Camayo.
This region in the Peruvian Amazon became one of the most affected in the country hence forcing the authorities to absolutely put a ban to gatherings. The only way left was remote learning for children of Nuevo San Rafael. “In the rural areas of Peru, we have approximately 1.2 million students, half a million of which belong to indigenous peoples. Thus, through radio, we’ve decided to provide the service of intercultural bilingual education”, explains Nora Delgado Díaz, Director of the Department of Alternative Basic, Intercultural Bilingual, and Rural Education Services.
But remote learning was again next to impossible as the community is not enough well to do, not all children can afford gadgets, not even televisions and radios. Also, the lack of electricity is a big problem, it is not available 24 hours a day.
Even though Nuevo San Rafael was facing so many issues, recently the school bell rang once again when UNICEF delivered four loudspeakers to the region. These were sent in response to all the difficulties faced by the community. Local authorities were asked to expand access to the educational programmes broadcast over the radio via the loudspeakers. In September, the loudspeaker reached Nuevo San Rafael, changing the lives of children like Richard.
They've installed loudspeakers atop community's tallest trees, next to the school cafeteria. Students gather around in, especially in small groups keeping the social distancing norms valid and listen to the content in each subject area.
The broadcasting of the recorded lessons was another challenge for the community in the beginning. The recorded files containing the classes are copied to a flash drive, which a teacher transports from Pucallpa to Nuevo San Rafael. Once in the community, a small electric generator (purchased collectively by the parents) is started and the drive is connected which lets the children listen to the learning material.
Since listening is not enough to learn, Nuevo San Rafael’s students are lucky to have one of their teachers deeply committed to their learning and development, he is living in the community and is able to join students daily for additional support.
All of this effort by UNICEF has brought back hope in the children of this Peruvian community. They are dreaming once again and learning, Richard says, “When I’m done with school, I want to keep studying at university and complete three-degree programmes to help my family and community”.
The power of education!
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