In Peru, school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic have affected 9.9 million students. Over the course of the nation’s lockdown, huge educational gaps were revealed, even in urban areas, where only 36% of the population has internet connectivity. The situation was even more severe in rural areas, where only 2% of households have online access.
In the Cusco Region of the Province of Urubamba, just over 48% of the population is rural, with the majority of school-age children concentrated in isolated towns and villages. A lack of advanced communication infrastructure in the area means that only 3.5% of the population with access to the Internet.
As a response to these conditions, the project “Radio-education with children and adolescents in the province of Urubamba-Cusco in the context of the pandemic” was developed. The project team has developed educational programs that are broadcast by a local radio station, paying special attention to cultural and linguistic issues specific to the region to take into account the needs of native Quechua speakers.
This radio-based education programmes deliver lessons over the airways, thereby aiming to facilitate the return to school of children whose households are without internet connectivity by minimising the risk of dropping out during lockdown.
The La Salle Rimarinakusunchis radio station and its radio program “De La Salle and Knowledge” has also expanded and enhanced its regular programming focus on culture, news and information updates and analysis of regional issues, by incorporating a segment aimed at promoting the rights to education, health and protection. This content explains how parents can help children in their learning at home and to manage their emotions and develop their social skills.
It also seeks to raise awareness about abuse and violence in the home, explaining the importance of establishing non-violent emotional bonds that provide positive experiences in childhood and adolescence, which are also important for the academic and formative aspects of children’s lives. As well, specific segments for children reflect on the importance of managing their emotional well-being during the stress of the pandemic.
The radio has coverage in different districts of the province, as well as in other regions, reaching approximately 60,000 listeners aged 11 and older. The project has confirmed that radio, as a flexible, low-cost and far-reaching means of communication, serves as a real alternative to classroom learning, filling a gap in education, complementing and enhancing what families and children receive from the State, and reducing inequality due to lack of access to education.