The use of technology for continuing young people’s learning process in the Covid-19 crisis, by the World Bank. LATAM

Continuing young people’s learning process in the Covid-19 crisis, by the World Bank. A brief overview of the situation in LATAM.

The use of technology for continuing young people’s learning process in the Covid-19 crisis, by the World Bank. LATAM

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the closure of schools around the world. The solution proposed by countries has been to foster online learning so that students can continue to pursue their learning challenges over the course of the school year. When it comes to learning from home, access to Internet is one of the main factors in the process, but it is only one such factor. There are many other challenges to be addressed. Accordingly, the education ministries of several countries, together with the World Bank, have joined forces with the aim of offering distance learning opportunities using ICT during the crisis. Throughout this period of confinement, several institutions continued working and making information and documentation about distance learning available to teachers, students and families. The work of organisations such as the EdTech Hub, UNESCO, mEducation Alliance, Learning Keeps Going (US Consortium), INEE (Interagency Network for Education in Emergencies), the Commonwealth of Learning, among others, has been notable.

Even before the pandemic began, the World Bank, through its web platform EduTech, had focused on various issues and implementation models of great relevance in the educational field. Among the topics discussed on EduTech, it is worth mentioning:

  • Education and technology in an era of pandemics. Concerning the use of ICT in education, based on recent experiences of outbreaks of diseases such as Ebola.
  • Zero-cost educational content on the Internet. In some countries, students can access websites, educational applications and educational resources free of charge.
  • Universal service funds, for connecting schools to the Internet worldwide. Many countries have drawn on these funds to extend connectivity and enable students to access the Internet from their homes.
  • The challenges of virtual schools. During the coronavirus crisis, many schools have adapted the concept of virtual education, and a number of challenges have emerged.
  • Complexities in the use of digital learning resources. A number of countries provided access to open educational resources.
  • The digital gap during the pandemic. The practical use of ICT during lockdown brought with it profound challenges related to equity.
  • Best practices in the mobile learning process. The appropriate use of educational resources on mobile devices is recommended.
  • Educational radio for students who do not have devices in their homes. Radio is an effective means of reaching children when schools are closed. It was initially designed for interactive instruction in support of teachers, and in coordination with parents.

The coronavirus pandemic has confirmed the existence of a digital gap in our society. Each country has had to take the necessary measures based on its educational system and the technological infrastructure in its schools.

Many education ministries have joined forces with technology and digital service providers to increase access to digital resources while schools remain closed. According to the World Bank, ten issues emerged during this crisis, all of which are related to connectivity.

  1. Zero rate. This is an initiative fostered by education ministries in relation to data at zero cost intended for educational websites and applications.
  2. Expanded bandwidth for all education-related data.
  3. Increasing data limits by allowing unlimited connection to educational content.
  4. Facilitating communication between teachers and students by lifting the ban on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).
  5. Countries with Universal Service Funds can promote access to connectivity for the benefit of education.
  6. Together with mobile phone operators, education ministries have been distributing devices to schools for those students and teachers who require them.
  7. Some education ministries have been working with Internet providers to establish free public Wi-Fi hotspots that students can walk to and where they can download the data and resources they need. This initiative has been developed in the United States.
  8. Awareness campaigns to support online teaching, by means of text messaging and help desk services through call centres that provide support to teachers, students and families. An initiative implemented in Ecuador.
  9. Making free SIM cards available to teachers and students, a project developed by the Kyrgyz Republic.
  10. And the last aspect refers to all those initiatives rolled out by several countries.


World Bank

In support of this work, the World Bank has proceeded to compile an internal database cataloguing the emerging approaches by country. An analysis of the educational measures adopted by each of the countries during the pandemic has been carried out in their EduTech blog. We begin with the Latin American region and the challenges posed during this period in each of the countries there:

  • Argentina

Taking into account the digital gap, the country’s initiative commenced with the launch of the programme “Seguimos Educando” (“We go on learning”) on 1 April 2020. This is a daily broadcast of 14 hours of educational television content and 7 hours of radio content. Television broadcasts are made on public, private, provincial and university channels. The radio programmes are broadcast on national radio and its 49 branches throughout the country.

All these broadcasts are accompanied by teaching materials, some delivered to the homes of students who do not have electronic devices. A total of nine notebooks have been developed: two for pre-school, four for primary, two for secondary and one for families. All of them are also available through the website.

In addition, the Argentine Ministry of Education, through its educational platform, offers self-learning resources, educational proposals, videoconferencing tools, as well as many other suggestions and resources for teachers, students and families. In the Class of the Day section, students have access to a broad daily learning proposal. There is also a virtual reality area with videos in 360º format with the aim of providing a complete educational experience. The website also lists all those telephone companies that have guaranteed free browsing of the site.

  • Belize

All schools in Belize were closed on 20 March. This resulted in the interruption of the academic year and the suspension of examinations throughout the region. The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC)provided teachers and students with access to high quality resources in support of teaching, learning and assessment. Resources include interactive study programmes, digital toolkits, etc. The CXC learning centre enables teachers to create virtual classrooms with the aim of interacting with students in real time.

The Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture has also incorporated language and mathematics materials for students in pre-school through year 6. These are videos made by teachers, in which they assign questions, challenges and activities for parents to work on with their children.

  • Brazil

The country’s strategy is based on the use of educational television (available since 1970 in the Brazilian Amazon region). In September 2018, this Observatory wrote about one such media centre: Centro de Mídias de Educação do Amazonas. Currently notable is Futura channel, whose content is also available on YouTube. Its website has multiple educational resources and activities that encourage learning from home.

  • Chile

In Chile, there have been notable projects to teach literacy to children between the ages of 4 and 13. The Aptus platform provides materials such as downloadable PDF work guides, guides for orienting families, as well as videos based on the Matte method. Specifically, the programme comprises the following elements and sequence:

  • Lesson-by-lesson videos: each lesson includes short videos that correspond to all the stages of the Matte Method. Thus, every three days, a new phoneme is added using the same routine.
  • Downloadable PDF workbooks: a workbook containing the first 18 lessons with the method that parents can download so that children can work on the task associated with the video, on paper.
  • General guidance for parents: all the material in this reading and writing programme will be progressively released here in the basic first language section of the tab.
  • Colombia

In Colombia, during the first two weeks of lockdown, a pedagogical plan was developed in order to continue the school year remotely. And as a result, two scenarios emerged. On the one hand are the students with an internet connection and electronic devices, who have been able to access the Ministry of Education’s online platform and YouTube channel with more than 80,000 resources to continue their learning remotely. The materials are arranged by year and modality of the activity, accessible to teachers, students and families. On the other hand, are the families without technological resources or an Internet connection, for whom the Government designed a home learning kit divided by school years and including various resources (material for self-learning, activities to do with the family, games, etc.).

On 28 April, the Ministry of ICT approved the delivery of 83,345 computers to public schools across the country. 79,345 devices will be given to students, and 4,000 to teachers.

  • Costa Rica

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, Costa Rica has supported digital learning from home by making all resources available through a website. It has also recognised the fundamental role that television plays in the field of education, as it provides coverage to all those families that do not have an internet connection or electronic devices. Accordingly, the country opted to broadcast educational programmes on television.

  • Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is another country that has encouraged home-based learning through several initiatives. These include providing a wide range of resources per school year through an online platform. Educational content is also disseminated through the media. And free Wi-Fi hotspots were set up for students, as well as WhatsApp groups to provide support.

  • Ecuador

Ecuador has taken a dual approach during the lockdown. On the one hand focusing on learning for those with an Internet connection, and, on the other hand, for families without a connection. More than 800 educational resources are already shared through digital platforms and the various traditional media. Video tutorials have been created as guides for using the shared resources. In order to field doubts and queries, a telephone help desk and e-mail address were set up to help solve any issues.

  • El Salvador

In El Salvador, teachers got together to organise the content by year. As in other countries, the Ministry of Education has made all the teaching resources and self-learning guides available on its website.

A call centre staffed by five people and backed by six specialists in the field has been made available to field queries from students and their families. There is also an email account and a WhatsApp line to resolve queries.

  • Guyana

Apart from having a digital platform with all the educational resources for students, the Ministry of Education, through its website, provided practical exams for consultation by all students with an Internet connection. Worksheets are distributed for those without an Internet connection. They are also given access to educational programmes broadcast on television. And finally, by radio for children from school years one to six.

  • Jamaica 

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, work has been ongoing in Jamaica to improve learning through feedback from the regions. Support has been provided to train teachers, from pre-school to secondary education, to master the development and management of online learning environments.

Among the initiatives carried out by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the following are worth highlighting: the supply of printed learning kits to students without an Internet connection, the broadcasting of educational content on television, through 25 cable channels, resources on the MoEYI Ministry website, educational materials for children from aged 0 to 5 years, communication between schools and students and their families using tools such as Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Schoology, Google Suite, etc. In addition, Digicel has offered subsidised data plans for teachers.

With regard to families, the National Parenting Support Commission (NPSC) has sent out procedures to schools to support parents in the process of learning from home. Help lines were set up to provide these families with psychosocial support, in an initiative promoted by public and private associations such as the VMBS Foundation, Fight for Peace and UNICEF.

  • Paraguay

When the pandemic hit, an agreement was signed with Microsoft to address the needs of 60,000 teachers and 1.2 million students during the process of distance learning, with digital resources available on the Ministry of Education platform.

  • Peru 

During this crisis, the Peruvian Ministry of Education has worked to raise awareness among the population. The creation of new content consistent with the curriculum has been encouraged as a support resource for learning from home.

With the aim of continuing to work on the educational content for children of pre-school, primary and secondary school ages, on 6 April the Ministry began disseminating the programmes and resources of the Aprendo en casa project online and in conventional media: radio and television. A WhatsApp chat was also set up to field all related enquiries.

  • Uruguay

In Uruguay, to address the suspension of classes and the school year, the National Administration of Public Education (ANEP), together with the Ceibal Plan, disseminated programmes and materials to promote distance learning. A virtual classroom was set up for students to carry out their daily activities, allowing direct communication with the teacher, and thus establishing feedback during the learning process.

All this is achieved through the CREA platform for classroom management, where the teacher can upload the materials and resources to be worked on, guide the forums, chat, assess assignments, etc. The Ceibal platform has a digital library with access to more than 7,000 resources for various subjects. These are Open Educational Resources (OER) that include stories, books, videos, songs, images, etc. CREA includes the tools, applications and contents that teachers want to work on in class. They have more than 50 educational applications included in tablets for students.

In Latin America, as in the rest of the world, classes have been suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis. In order to mitigate disruption to the school year during the lockdown period, each country has adopted a series of measures in the field of education. But these initiatives have not only been driven by governments and the respective ministries of education. A number of organisations, foundations and companies have also intensified the dissemination of learning content.

If anything has characterised these countries, it has been their ability to disseminate resources through different channels. Also covering those students and families who do not have Internet connectivity or digital devices to access the learning platforms provided.

The broadcasting of educational programmes consistent with teaching curricula, through traditional media such as radio and television, has been one of the main initiatives to encourage learning from home in practically all Latin American countries. Others, meanwhile, have chosen to distribute printed learning kits for children without Internet access. And they have set up contact telephone numbers to field queries and questions arising during this period.

We have no choice but to acknowledge that the world was not as connected as we had thought in the last few years, and in addition, the training required for pedagogical development in digital environments has led to the use of traditional media. By this we mean media characterised mainly, in didactic terms, by the transmission of knowledge. This is very valid support but lacking in learning opportunities in which students take on a more central role in knowledge building and in developing their competences.

For more information, see the website:


World Bank

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