Technology gap leads Mexico to challenging scenario regarding distance learning

Online education has proven to be challenging in Mexico because of technological, social, and economic factors

Technology gap leads Mexico to challenging scenario regarding distance learning
Distance learning in Mexico faces many obstacles - Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP
English 21/08/2020 15:37 Carla Martínez Mexico City Actualizada 15:37
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Mexico is the country with the worst grade on online education, mainly due to the high cost of Internet access and the lack of computers, according to an analysis that compares the 30 countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and with information from several international organizations.

The evaluation made by the online education consultant Preply shows that Mexicans pay €30.36 on average for Internet access, a rate that is similar to that of nations like Norway or Austria, according to data of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Canada pays approximately €22 for the Internet; Denmark pays €26, and Turkey pays €15, that is, half than what Mexico pays.

“If the price for Internet access is lower, more population will consider participating in online courses. Hence, the cost of broadband is decisive for e-learning,” it says.

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Moreover, Mexico is the country that pays less to teachers, with an average wage of €3.26, under Chile with €6.09, while the U.S. is four times bigger with €15.78, according to data from the Economic Research Institute.

In order to know the access to online education of students, the evaluation considered the availability of computers at home, in which Mexico had the smallest percentage of all countries with 44.3% according to the OECD.

In this area, Chile has a 60% access to this kind of devices; Spain has 78.4% while the Netherlands is the leader with 97.6%

“People with personal computers have more facilities to access online education,” as explained by the consultant.

Slow response
Jorge Bravo, president of the Mexican Association for Access to Information (AMEDI), said that these results show a paradox for, compared to other areas, Mexico is one of the OECD countries that invests the most while having the worst results on the PISA survey about education capacities and infrastructure.

“The government has taken too long in bringing connectivity to the classrooms and with the pandemic, they have taken long to develop digital platforms, so they had to make an Alliance with TV broadcasters,” stressed Bravo.

The government had five months to develop a wider strategy to consider homes with connectivity in other to provide a better e-learning experience.

In the country, the proportion of gross domestic product per capita invested in education is 29.7%, which positions Mexico in the middle of the chart of the 30 analyzed countries.

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Remote learning
Fernando Gutiérrez, director of the Humanities and Education Department of the Tec de Monterrey campus State of Mexico, said that students prefer in-person classes.

The World Internet Project Mexico, directed by Gutiérrez, performed a study in May that analyzed the perception of online classes and stressed that 63% of junior high school, high school, and college students preferred conventional classes.

“75% said they had the required equipment and technology but they did not have a positive perception; they felt distanced from the learning community.”

Students throughout the world have the opportunity to take classes through online platforms through which teachers share material and information, videos, give live classes, and perform online evaluations having access to the so-called remote learning.

One of the international platforms called Distance Learning Portal was used by the consultant to compared the number of available courses for each country and found that U.S. students have access to 9,303 online courses while Mexico has only 82.

Other well-positioned countries in this area are the United Kingdom, with 4,281 courses, and Australia with 3,094.

“A wide variety of remote education opportunities suggest there are facilities to access and wide interest in digital education. These data show the countries leading the way to e-learning,” it stressed.

Right lane
Regarding access to the Internet, broadband speed was also measured and Mexico obtained 38.2 megabytes per second, below countries like Chile, where they have 103.6 megabytes per second, positioning the country only over countries like Turkey and Greece.

“If Internet speed is faster, there will be more opportunities to participate in exclusively online classes that have better quality,” as explains Preply on its study.

Meanwhile, if the mobile internet speed is fast, there is a bigger chance of being part of e-learning regardless of the location.

Mexico got 30.8 megabytes per second in that area.

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