13.10.2023 | Author: Fiorella Ferrari
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In Latin America, approaches to education are increasingly polarised. Despite the existence of minimum transversal consensuses, such as those promoted by UNESCO, the term as such (education) is used both in demagogic discourses and in electoral spaces, whether by governmental entities, political parties, private institutions or organised civil society. This means that the sub-themes that cut across education remain debatable. What is the other pole to UNESCO’s cross-cutting education?
Digital education in Peru
In Peru, initiatives related to education and technology date back to the late 1990s, with programmes such as Infoescuela and platforms such as the Pedagogical Portal. These programmes were supported by the government and implemented as part of the National Agreement. This paved the way for the formulation of State Policy No. 35 on the “Information and Knowledge Society”, which for the first time recognised the importance of digital literacy as a strategy for bridging the digital divide and as a direct responsibility of the State.
However, in the last 20 years, many of these initiatives were discontinued due to a lack of institutional sustainability. Their continuity depended largely on the government in office promoting them, and they were not always implemented efficiently or widely disseminated throughout the country.
Currently, the Ministry of Education is implementing the Government and Digital Transformation Plan, based on the implementation of the National Digital Transformation Policy, which includes projects such as PeruEduca. This plan aims to meet the demands for digital educational services not only of students, but also of teachers, school principals, families and other stakeholders involved in education. This represents a significant step forward by involving all stakeholders in the development of digital education and the use of technology.
The role of civil society, identifying gaps and collaborating on solutions
Considering these scenarios, to promote critical digital education, the first step recommended by Hiperderecho is the identification and recognition of digital divides. In 2021, with the support of UNICEF, an exploratory research focused on gender digital divides among adolescents in Peru was carried out. The results of this research are available in the published Executive Summary.
These findings highlight not only gender disparities, but also the issue of accessibility. More than 22% of adolescents surveyed were unable to access a laptop to participate in virtual classes during the pandemic. Moreover, when they did have access to a mobile device, mostly provided by their parents, they faced the challenge of poor or no internet connectivity in the eastern areas of Peru. This contrasts with 2018 data provided by MINEDU, which indicated that only 44% of schools in rural areas had internet connectivity, compared to 88% of schools in urban areas.
Therefore, the identification and understanding of gaps, which represent existing shortcomings and inequalities, play a crucial role in the formulation of general and specific messages. When developing the core content of a critical digital education campaign, it is essential to have the flexibility to adapt it according to territory, context and target audience. This implies that the strategy design must be responsive enough to listen and adjust without losing sight of the fundamental objective.
One strategy that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has been implementing focuses on highlighting the benefits of digital education. While the purpose of organisations such as the IDB in promoting digital education is to facilitate the incorporation of professionals into the labour market through the use and development of technology, it is important to highlight and recognise that digital literacy also creates job opportunities. Fostering the notion of “digital talent” and how this can secure students' professional futures is a unifying theme for all actors involved in this narrative.
In addition, and as one of the most important points, is to make students an active part of the whole process and actions mentioned. Their role should not be as spectators or as “study subjects”, but rather they should have a real agenda at all levels from a horizontal and non-paternalistic point of view.
Let us always have a call to action
At Hiperderecho, we advocate for the promotion of digital talent from an intersectional perspective. This approach recognises that the field of work is not equal for a variety of reasons, as mentioned above, and that there are disparities in access to and adoption of digital tools. It is crucial that we understand these realities and adapt our educational methods towards critical digital education. In this way, more children and adolescents will be able to increase their chances of entering the labour market, while recognising and exercising their labour rights, becoming agents of change in their own lives and the lives of others.
In mapping the actors involved in this process, it is essential that each of them has a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities. What do we expect from organised civil society? What are our expectations of private institutions? What is the role of the media? What do we need from parents? And what can we expect from teachers?
From both national and international experiences, the importance of focusing on shared agendas and addressing specific aspects at later stages is highlighted. In addition, initiatives such as NaimLab and Crack the Code have shown that long-term collaboration with civil society, teachers and families is essential. We can do without the state in non-formal education, and we can seek international funding or self-managed funding without relying on private institutions. However, we cannot do without those who impart knowledge and care for our young people.
Find out more about Hiperdercho and about the exploratory study on Digital Gender Gaps among adolescents in Peru HERE.
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