No child left behind: Portugal education initiative takes on Covid

Malpartida, Portugal, Mar 2 (efe-epa).- Marta Santos and Miguel Rito make house-to-house visits every week in Portugal’s remote villages to distribute homework to students with no internet access, as part of an initiative to ensure that no child is left behind during the coronavirus pandemic.

The closure of the face-to-face classrooms on Jan. 21 hit students in rural areas especially hard because many homes lack internet access and computers.

Santos and Rito, officers from Portugal’s National Republican Guard (GNR), are part of the team in charge of collaborating with the families to overcome the situation.

They carried out the same process during the first wave of the pandemic in March last year, when the GNR helped more than 100 families in the central Portuguese village of Almeida, nearby the border with Spain.

Rito tells Efe that teachers send the homework via email, it gets printed at school, and then they hand it over to students every Wednesday and Thursday.

In Malpartida, a village of just 150 inhabitants, lives Marisa with her three children.

“Good morning, Marisa,” Santos says as she knocks on the door of the home of the young widow, who praises the GNR’s work in the middle of the pandemic.

Some municipalities have distributed computers and modems to help children without internet access, but much still needs to be done.

Valentin, a student who lives with his grandmother in Vale da Mula village, also needs the help of the GNR.

“There is no internet here and if it weren’t for the guards the child wouldn’t be able to do anything,” Maria, Valentin’s grandmother, tells Efe.

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