WASHINGTON – Students in rural schools in Latin America will be able to learn about the laws of physics via a program about the Olympic Games or study lions in Africa through a documentary film thanks to a new television channel to be launched by the international educational program Escuela+.
The program brings together media and telecommunications companies, leveraging technology to bring educational content to remote classrooms, said its founder, Sandro Mesquita.
The founders celebrated the 8th Escuela+ Forum this week in Washington, a gathering that brings together partners based in different parts of the hemisphere.
The educational plan began nine years ago in the U.S. capital, and on June 6 a new step in the process will occur when a new television channel will be launched to complement the existing Web platform.
Schools in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela are already benefiting from the project, and it will next be extended to Brazil and Mexico, organizers say.
In each new territory, the goal has been to bridge the digital divide, meaning combat the inequalities that impede access to new technologies by people from the poorest social sectors or in the most remote rural areas.
“Satellite technology is not prejudiced,” allowing for 80 percent of centers affiliated with Escuela+ to be located in extremely rural areas such as southern Chile’s Antarctic region, the Brazilian Amazon or the Argentine Andes, Mesquita said.
The program has been installed at 6,000 elementary and secondary schools thus far and is benefiting 14,000 teachers and 822,000 students.
It also has the goal of training teachers through a weekly news program about new developments pertaining to the Escuela+ program and education in general.
The project has received assistance from the World Bank, which helped tweak the original idea so that weight was given to the human factor as opposed to merely the technological aspect, Mesquita said, adding that that shift of emphasis has been critical to its success.
The content of the new television channel will be produced by the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and the Buenos Aires-based non-profit organization Fundacion Torneos, while DirecTV will provide the satellite technology.