ProFuturo helps five million children throughout the world continue the school year during the pandemic


ProFuturo helps five million children throughout the world continue the school year during the pandemic

Since March, ProFuturo has focused its efforts on alleviating the impact of the pandemic on education, which is why we decided to open up our digital resources for free to teachers and institutions throughout the world so that children would not be left without access to education.

During this time, we have trained over 500,000 teachers from 50 countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia. At the peak of the pandemic, the closure of schools left 1.2 billion students without class in 143 countries of the world, and during this period our content was adapted to alternative forms of distribution for reaching students: mobile phone applications such as WhatsApp or through podcasts or television and radio programmes.

Our aim of contributing to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on education and of facilitating learning outside of the classroom has allowed over 5 million children from throughout the world to be able to complete the school year despite the pandemic. This health, economic and social crisis has highlighted the importance of education in the future of millions of children. On #WorldChildren’sDay, which will be celebrated on 20 November, ProFuturo advocates the importance of guaranteeing the right to education for all children in the world.

According to UNESCO data, 12.8% of the global school age population in 23 countries is affected by the closure of schools, and 23.8 million children and young people could leave the education system next year. At the peak of the pandemic, the closure of schools left 1.2 billion students without class in 143 countries of the world. This reality once again affects the most vulnerable population, which does not have the necessary resources to continue studying from home.

In order to contribute to the continuity of education, we provided students and teachers everywhere in the world with 1,800 hours of content on language, mathematics, science, technology and life skills through our learning platform, which we opened up to the global education community.

WhatsApp, an effective tool in times of pandemic

In the most remote areas, where access to electronic devices and connectivity to Internet is limited, we tried to reach children through their teachers using WhatsApp, thereby sending links to activities. Two-way communication could thus be established so that children and young persons could also communicate with their teachers and send them any doubts and questions.

For Rawaa Madi, project coordinator in Lebanon, this application was key, given that “it allowed establishing real dialogue between teachers and students: teachers sent explanations and assigned homework, and children answered with voice or text messages to send their questions or comments”.

However, the social and emotional value and the physical place of learning at school couldn’t be completely replaced by online education, as it is recalled by Nicole, a girl from a Philippine school in Malabón, where they have not yet returned to the classroom. “It made me sad to learn that I couldn’t go to school because of the pandemic. It meant that I wouldn’t be able to see my friends, classmates and teachers”, she tells us.

“My school has been helping me a lot all this time. They give us modules to be able to continue the lessons, and we have online meetings so that we can connect with our teachers if we have any doubts or questions”, explains this Philippine, who loves to read. Her favourite class is English, and despite her young age, she already dreams of becoming a flight hostess, as we could read in the story that she protagonizes in the book, Commitment to education.

Podcasts, workbooks and text messages

As it was recently affirmed by our Managing Director, Magdalena Brier, the pandemic “has forced us to reinvent ourselves in order to reach those who are disconnected”. We therefore developed creative and innovative solutions to reach the most vulnerable. In recent months we have transformed our digital content into workbooks, podcasts, television programmes, text messages and an offline app with teacher training.

Panama is an example of this change: it adapted its resources so that classes could be broadcast nationally on television, thereby allowing 200,000 boys and girls to study daily; and in Brazil, 5 weekly classes of 22 minutes each have been broadcast, accompanied by learning workbooks.

During this time, we have also reinforced teacher training. In this mode, our learning platform offers a total of 160 teacher training courses in four languages. To achieve a broader scope, we have also placed the platform’s content at the disposal of governments and international institutions, and we have joined the global coalition implemented by UNESCO for combating the impact that the Covid-19 health crisis is having on the education sector in vulnerable environments.

The case of Spain

In our country, in order for families with fewer resources to remain connected, we have donated 10,000 tablets to Spain’s 17 Autonomous Communities, Ceuta and Melilla and to over 30 social organisations.

“Digital education has managed to provide a certain continuity to education away from the classroom, and it has allowed over five million children from throughout the world to complete the school year despite the pandemic. At ProFuturo, we believe that education is the most powerful tool for transforming the world. And without a doubt, what is happening with Covid-19 is an unprecedented opportunity to narrow the education and digital gap”, Magdalena Brier points out. “The importance that education has now taken on represents an open window to hope, and it is acting as a stimulus to continue doing what we know how to do best”, she states.

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