Rural schools found it more difficult to offer technology-mediated classes during the pandemic. If in cities, the lack of devices and internet connection is a problem, in the countryside, the challenge is greater. This situation became even more evident during the pandemic.

TIC Educação 2021, a survey about the subject, carried out by the Internet Managing Committee in Brazil (CGI.br), was released this week. For the first time, information was collected from teachers who teach in schools located in rural areas.

The lack of devices and internet access in students’ homes was identified as a challenge to maintain classes during the pandemic by 92 percent of teachers in rural schools. Among urban school teachers, the percentage was 84 percent. Another challenge in the field is the lack of ability to carry out educational activities with students through the use of technologies, pointed out by 76 percent of the teachers. In cities, this problem was pointed out by 66 percent of the teachers.

“Rural schools have also more difficulty in terms of connectivity. In some regions where schools are located, there is no good quality internet access, or even no internet access at all. The offer of broadband and connection plans in these regions is more limited. So, in fact, in rural schools, we have a more critical situation in relation to the use of technologies,” research coordinator Daniela Costa explains.

According to Anísio Teixeira National Institute of Educational Studies and Research – Inep, in 2021, Brazil had 178,000 schools and 46.6 million students. Among them, 53,500 were in rural areas, and the majority – 47,600 – were municipal public schools with 5.4 million enrolled students.

TIC Educação interviewed by telephone nationwide, between September 2021 and May 2022, 1,865 teachers from public and private, urban and rural schools in the country.

Emergency remote education

During the pandemic, schools across the country were closed, and teachers had to do what Costa calls emergency remote education, unlike planned distance education, with proper training and the availability of adequate resources.

In urban schools, one in three teachers used social media to communicate with students. In rural schools, 43 percent, and 91 percent of them even used the telephone. In cities, 81 percent.

According to the survey, most teachers (93 percent) used mobile phones to develop educational activities; 84 percent, portable computers; 44 percent, desktop computers; and 11 percent, tablets. One in four teachers did not have a device for exclusive use and needed to share it with others in the same household. Considering only the teachers who teach in rural areas, 12 percent stated that they used only their mobile phones.

“The teachers did what they could. What they had on hand they used to reach the students,” the research coordinator added.

Educational gap

Daniela Costa explained that the collection of research data took place at a time of transition when there were several teaching and learning strategies in progress. Most of the interviewed teachers (91 percent), both from urban and rural schools, had a combination of classroom and remote activities.

Almost all of them (93 percent), declared that one of the challenges faced during the pandemic is the delay in student learning. One of the most used strategies to reduce the gap is the combination of face-to-face and remote recovery classes with the use of digital technologies, as pointed out by 58 percent of the teachers.

Costa reiterates that educational platforms are more suitable, for example, than social media. When it comes to planned education, according to her, the best thing is to have educational resources specifically adapted for education, that are more pedagogical, focused on how the student learns, what their needs are, and that takes into account the student’s digital rights, such as data protection.

The survey also shows that 55 percent of rural school teachers who offer classes remotely, or in a hybrid way, use a virtual learning environment or platform, and 44 percent use school, government, municipality, or education secretary apps. Among schools located in urban areas, these percentages are 71 percent and 54 percent, respectively.

The coordinator emphasized that it is necessary to have investment planning and training, so that technology can actually contribute to Brazil achieving its educational goals.

Source: Agência Brasil