Digital school provides equal opportunities to remote communities in Chile

By Javier Martín

Porvenir, Chile, Oct 17 (EFE).- Built in the heart of the Chilean province of Tierra del Fuego, the small Hernán de Magallanes school is revolutionizing education in one of the world’s most rural places.

With just 350 students, the modern building stands out from the colorful wooden houses that make up Porvenir, the capital of the province and one of the most southern towns in the country which has been a refuge for pirates, gold prospectors and cattle ranchers.

Despite being isolated from the rest of the country and the world, teenagers here have access to the same opportunities as others in more connected parts of the globe through digital education and the use of tablets and fiber optic internet.

The project is an initiative by the Profuturo Foundation and sponsored by the Spanish companies Telefónica and La Caixa.

“Until recently, communities here had very limited access to the internet,” Mauricio Martínez, one of the experts who train teachers in remote schools in the digital education system, tells Efe.

“They had a lot of difficulty connecting with peers to help them improve their educational methodologies, and the most significant support is that teachers no longer feel so far away,” he adds.

Agustín Caro, Javiera Recabal and Paula are just a few of the pupils benefiting from the education center that connects the remote school with teachers some 3,000 kilometers away through tablets and fast internet connection.

“It’s simpler and more fun,” says Paula.

Agustín, 15, hopes to become a commercial pilot.

“It’s actually changed quite a lot, because before the internet wasn’t so good but now with fiber optic internet you can fly,” he tells Efe.

Javiera, 15, wants to be the first haute couture designer born, raised and educated in Porvenir and is using the internet to keep up with the latest fashion trends.

“These are other kinds of activities that you don’t see every day, so you learn to interact more, work in a group and socialize better. It’s pretty cool that we are in such a remote school and still have these kinds of activities,” she says.

Boris Sambuesa, a math teacher at the school, believes that one of the programme’s greatest benefits is the facility it offers for individual educational pathways.

“You can see it in the children’s enthusiasm, in the way they approach the subject, they are more motivated. I can get instant information and check their progress, how many of them have logged on to the platform, and it gives me more control over the course,” she tells Efe.

Magdalena Brier, general director of Profuturo, says that digital education allows the children of Porvenir to train in an array of subjects like any child in the United States or Europe, with the same type of training and access to the same learning materials.

“It is impressive to see that digital education greatly favors equal opportunities in the most remote places on the planet,” she says. EFE


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