Bolivian parents return to class to help their children study online

EL ALTO, Bolivia, July 14 (Reuters) – When the COVID-19 outbreak closed their sons’ school, Bolivian street vendors Angela Poma and Lorenzo Gutierrez made big changes to help their boys Willy, 9 years old, and Carlos, 11 years old, to adapt to online learning.

Going online forced the family to buy cell phones and relocate from a rural area that only had a landline to the town of Viacha, 22 km (14 miles) southwest of La Paz. , where they could find better internet service.

However, parents, who spend up to $ 2 a day on the internet, weren’t sure how to use the new devices.

“I couldn’t even turn it on,” Poma said. “I had a phone just for calls and that’s it.”

Filling this knowledge gap, the Internet Foundation Bolivia helps families like the Gutierrez-Pomas by running classes for parents on how to use their smartphones and find the best internet packages so they can save money. money while their kids are studying online.

“Not all moms, dads or guardians are aware of the digital tools and platforms that exist for online learning,” said Esther Mamani, volunteer for the foundation.

Only about 4 in 10 people in the Andean country have internet access, falling to just 3% in the poorest rural areas, according to data from Bolivia’s Telecommunications Authority.

As Poma walks up to the front of the class to receive her certificate for completing the internet course, her classmates clap loudly and later there are smiles as everyone poses for a photo.

Now, the couple simply have to face the same problems of sharing and technological delays as other parents.

“The youngest uses the cell phone all morning and the oldest uses it from three to three and a half hours. Sometimes I see my children arguing over the cell phone when the battery starts to run out,” Poma said.

And, like other parents struggling with virtual-only lessons with their children around the world, she questions its effectiveness.

“I wish the face-to-face classes would start soon,” she said. “My kids don’t learn much with this virtual education system.”

Report by Reuters TV, written by Karishma Singh; Edited by Christian Schmollinger

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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