Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, education officials in Latin America have hurried to get virtual education or distance learning plans "up and running." 

However, the region is starting slow as it does not have too much internet infrastructure, faculty training, and fluency with classroom technologies required to guarantee that the students can still study even while on lockdown.

According to a study, millions of Latin American students don't have Internet access. More so, below 30 percent of low-income households in the region own a computer which they use for school work.

Meanwhile, roughly 60 percent of teachers in secondary school have the skills required to employ, Programme for International Student Assessment or PISA data indicated, "digital technologies in their lessons," let alone, teach purely online.

According to Americas Quarterly, Harvard University professor of education, Fernando Reimers, through a recent online panel on home study, approximated that web-based classes would succeed for, ideally, roughly 20 percent of the students.

UNESCO's Initiatives to Help the LatAm Students

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has its own initiatives to help the Latin American students to continue learning while under lockdown.

UNESCO has come up with a list of educational platforms, resources, and applications designed to help teachers, students, parents, school administrators, and schools facilitate student learning and offer social interaction and care while the schools are closed due to the pandemic.

Most of these solutions are offered for free and a lot of them cater to different languages. More so, while such solutions do not carry the explicit endorsement of UNESCO, they, the organization indicated in its website, "are likely to have a wide reach, a strong proof of effect and user-base.

The said solutions are classified according to the distance or virtual learning needs. However, most of them provide functionalities through multiple categories.

Initiatives from the Academics Communities

To recompense, school administrators, teachers, students, and parents are looking for creative ways to adapt. 

The school high school teacher, Emilia Alvarez works is currently in partnership with the so-called "mom-and-pop office supply" shops hear the homes of students to have course materials delivered to them. 

Meanwhile, other administrators, families of the students, and teachers have chipped in in support for those in financial need. 

Alvarez also said, despite all the challenges that households are experiencing, there has been an actual presentation of solidarity in the academics community to try to help.

Nevertheless, a lot of Latin American students are resorting to cyber-cafes or spend for short-term internet packages so they can access their course materials online and this means an additional cost for households whose earnings have been greatly affected by the pandemic.

Moreover, finding ways to access courses online may also mean risking the health of students who need to leave their respective houses to learn.

Consequently, Alvarez explained, she has seen a decline in performance for her students who lack access to the internet, or need to share just one computer, mobile phone or tablet, with their siblings.

There is hope though, that this COVID-19 pandemic can offer Latin America an opportunity to construct the educational infrastructure it's missing, mandating the school administrators and the governments to innovate. However, the challenges are enormous.

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