With Mexico’s children set to return to school through distance learning on August 24, some families are facing some of the same problems they did this past spring when millions of children were abruptly thrust into online schooling: lack of an internet signal.
According to the Ministry of Communication and Transportation, although there are 74.3 million internet users in Mexico, only 65% of the country’s population over 6 years old has internet access.
And that has triggered a grassroots movement to try to plug the gap.
A Durango woman and her daughter are encouraging their fellow Mexicans to do what they’re doing: opening their carport to any student in need of Wi-Fi to attend classes or do their homework.
The handmade signs that hang outside Claudia Adame’s home announce that young students are welcome to use her carport, which she now leaves open during the day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., to access her home’s Wi-Fi and attend online classes or do their classwork. She has set up tables and chairs for the students’ use. Children who would like to use her carport need only ring the doorbell.
“I am going to support my daughter’s initiative. I’m going to help alleviate the pain that it causes me to see children with enthusiasm to learn being affected [by Covid-19]. Perhaps you all would like to join me and can promote #AbreTuCochera for our children,” she wrote on her Twitter account.
The hashtag #AbreTuCochera translates as #OpenYourCarport.
In addition, Adame has supplemented her already fast Wi-Fi with cell phones to create additional internet hotspots to make sure that all the children using her carport have an adequate signal. And tables for the children have been placed at a safe distance apart, she said.
Her original Twitter post has sparked a nationwide citizens’ initiative to support students without internet. Using the hashtag, posts about the issue with people volunteering their homes for children’s use can be seen in social media accounts throughout Mexico.
Acknowledging the challenge of conducting distance classes this school year when so many homes in Mexico do not have internet access, Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma announced August 3 that the government will collaborate with Mexico’s major television networks to improve delivery of a distance learning curriculum to students via television and radio.
He promised the department will transmit more than 4,550 television programs with educational content as well as 640 radio programs in 20 indigenous languages this school year.