COVID-19: Mexican children go back to school through television

High school student Vanessa Villegas, takes a class in front of her television at her house, in Mexico City on August 24, 2020 /AFP

Mexico City | AFRICATEMBELEA | Tens of millions of Mexican schoolchildren began a new school year with lessons via television Monday in a nationwide experiment in distance learning prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has teamed up with four private television stations to broadcast classes across the Latin American country, which has suffered more than 60,000 deaths from the virus.

Under the ambitious plan, around 30 million public school students between the ages of four and 18 will learn through their TV sets until the situation has improved enough for them to return to the classroom.

Face-to-face lessons have been suspended since March in Mexico, which has the world’s third-highest fatality toll from the coronavirus after the United States and Brazil.

“Despite the pandemic, the pain, the suffering it has caused, which unfortunately it continues to cause, we are… standing,” President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said as he declared the new school year open.

The government said it chose television for distance learning because it reaches 94 percent of the country, compared with between 70 and 80 percent for the internet.

But some parents fear standards are bound to slip.

“I’m worried about how good the (lessons) can be through television,” said Alfredo Urdiain, whose 11-year-old son Emiliano is among those studying under the new format.

Earlier versions of distance-learning videos provided by the authorities “were bad” and looked like they were “taken from YouTube,” added the 45-year-old manager of an architectural firm.

The content will also be available in 22 indigenous languages, and in remote areas it will be broadcast on the radio, too, said Education Minister Esteban Moctezuma.


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