Distance learning in Mexico: 14 million families don’t have a TV

The Mexican government announced it will broadcast classes on national television and radio

Distance learning in Mexico: 14 million families don’t have a TV
Mexico will broadcast classes on TV and children will stay at home amid the pandemic - Photo: File photo
English 06/08/2020 12:02 Carla Martínez Mexico City Actualizada 12:11
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According to a 2018 survey, around 11% of the population, 14 million, in rural communities throughout the country do not have a television

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government announced it will broadcast classes on national television and radio starting on August 24.

This population, especially children and teenagers will face a huge challenge when they resume their education and start the 2020-2021 school year. 

Of the 89% of homes that do have a television, 54% have access to public television; 41% have access to cable television, and only 5% have access to both.

Moreover, 38% of those who have access to cable television hired the service because they do not have access to the public broadcast signal. On the other hand, 68% of homes do not have access to cable television because of its price.

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Several issues surround distance learning in Mexico

Telecommunication expert Fabiola Peña said that regarding radio broadcasting, the problem is similar to that of internet access and connectivity. The expert suggested the implementation of public policies that include distance learning

She added that we “have to understand that there are different realities to solve the issue on online learning.”

Fabiola Peña considered that it is commendable that the government implemented additional strategies and to diversify how children access education, which is a right in Mexico; nevertheless, there is not only one solution for this problem.

Peña explained that people have to “acknowledge and push a modification to include the people who do not have access to broadcasting media to integrate them.”

Recommended: Mexico to reopen schools with COVID-19 preventive measures

Distance learning implies acknowledging that there are different sides of Mexico and the fact that 11% of homes do not have a television must push the government to find a way to reach them.

The experts said, “there is a natural tendency to create a solution and it must be acknowledged that the diversification starts with the economy because there is extreme poverty."

According to Jorge Bravo, the head of the Mexican Association for the Right to Information (Amedi), the federal government had four months to develop an internet platform and create content, making distance learning similar to in-person classes. 

He explained that “we are discovering that television doesn’t reach all homes and that many (students), especially in rural areas, likely won’t access the new educational content,” he added that not only internet is not universal, neither is television. 

According to information released by the Federal Telecommunications Institute, the national percentage of homes that have a TV at home is 93%.

TV stock on the rise

On Tuesday, two of the biggest TV stations in the country registered a surge in profits at the Mexican Stock Exchange after the Public Education Ministry (SEP) announced TV stations would broadcast classes. 

Televisa registered an 11.10% increase, while TV Azteca registered a 7.06% increase. 

Mexico will broadcast classes on TV, children will stay at home

On August 3, Mexico’s Education Minister announced distance learning will begin for more than 30 million Mexican school children on August 24, but a return to classrooms will remain an uncertain goal.

Minister Esteban Moctezuma Barragán and executives from the country’s largest television networks presented a plan to put educational instruction on television.

Moctezuma said that risks to in-person education are too high. Officials fear children could become COVID-19 carriers, infecting relatives at home.

“We wanted to return to in-person classes, but it is not possible, nor prudent,” Moctezuma said.

Students will not return to classrooms until the government’s version of a stoplight to evaluate the pandemic’s risk is safely at green.

In Mexico, remote indigenous communities will be able to access instruction through government radio stations. Moctezuma said television was a good option because government data shows 94% of homes have one. Also, around 140 million free textbooks will be distributed among students.

In cases of multiple children at different grade levels in a home, Moctezuma said programming would try to take this into account and that classes would be repeated at multiple time slots.

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