Bringing Education to Children Left Behind by Online Learning
The Covid-19 pandemic dramatically changed the nature of learning around the world. With schools quickly shifting to online learning, children without access to the internet and computing devices were left behind. This is the case for many children in rural communities around Cusco, who have been unable to access the government’s online learning platform since March 2020.
Peru's education system has consistently performed poorly the world stage. In the WEF's 2017 World Competitive Index, education quality in Peru ranked 129th for primary and 124th for secondary, of 137 countries surveyed. The switch to online learning has compounded this problem. Education quality has declined even further, whilst the disparity of access to and quality of education between rural and urban areas has increased. Two years have passed and schools still have not reopened, leaving our children’s education in an increasingly critical state.
Why a Mobile Library?
After discussions with parents and community leaders, we decided that bringing education to the children could be part of the solution. The Picaflor House Mobile Library consists of a minivan, two teachers and a selection of books and learning materials. The library visits five rural villages each week, offering a few hours of education to all the children who attend.
Data from the 2014 Ebola outbreak, showed that 25% of children did not return to school when they reopened. This pattern may be repeated in Peru: a survey by Save the Children reported that 1 in 4 parents do not believe their children will return to school after the Covid-19 closures. This is why the work of the Mobile Library is crucial. Even one session a week helps to stimulate the children academically, keep them engaged in learning and stop them from being left even further behind. This re-connection with education helps to ensure children will re-enter the formal school when it reopens.
What We Do
The Picaflor House Mobile Library currently visits five, rural villages outside Cusco on a weekly basis: Kallarayan, Quillahuata, Picol, Yuncaypata and Matinga. On each visit, our qualified teachers help children with their school homework (if they have it) and run academic reinforcement sessions. These sessions are tailored to the needs of the children in attendance and they might involve: helping the five-year-olds with their fine motor skills, providing basic maths refreshers for primary-aged children, or going over more complex language concepts with older kids.
Education isn't only about schoolwork though! The teachers make sure there is time for free-reading, so children of all ages can develop their curiosity and a love for books. Arts and crafts sessions are always a favourite too, so the teachers and volunteers make sure to stock up on art supplies before each visit.
The Picaflor House Mobile Library receives a warm welcome from the children and the parents wherever it goes.