Digital Reading | October 14, 2020

Working with Peru’s Ministry of Education to Advance Learning

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Worldreader’s new partnership with the Ministry of Education in Peru is positioning Worldreader to support readers at scale with digital reading programs across the country. As the primary body overseeing and setting the curriculum for Peru’s education system, partnership with Minedu has allowed Worldreader to build awareness of its reading applications and highlight the value of mobile phones to reach Peru’s students while they learn at home.

As a strong proponent of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17, which encourages effective public-private and civil society partnerships to achieve the SDGs (1), Worldreader believes partnership with government education bodies like Minedu is crucial to driving a successful education agenda. 

When we began working to launch Worldreader’s programs in Peru in 2019, the first phone call we made was to the Ministry of Education (Minedu) to seek approval for the book list we had put together for the CreceLee program. Worldreader’s team in Peru worked closely with the Ministry to make sure the Spanish collection of 150 titles, geared towards primary students ages 6-12, was aligned to the communication and language competencies and key principles established in the Peruvian National Curricula. Following a review in December of 2019, Minedu issued a formal approval of the BookSmart booklist to support the National Curriculum. 

Understanding the value of mobile phones for distance learning during Covid-19

With the onset of Covid-19 in early 2020, Minedu launched a first of its kind distance learning initiative called “Aprendo en Casa” (learn at home). Aprendo en Casa is a government-run online learning platform that provides daily lesson plans and accompanying resources to support continued learning of students in Peru from pre-primary through secondary school and alternative education programming. As an established partner of the Peruvian Ministry of Education, Worldreader’s team in Peru worked hard to provide a rapid-response to support out-of-school students with reading opportunities through the technologies they had in the home as part of its Keep Children Reading campaign. 

While Minedu pushed for access to learning through traditional technologies like computers, we became an early advocate within the Ministry to leverage mobile phones to reach learners in lower and middle income communities with digital learning resources. 

The government quickly realized through backend analytics that the majority of learners (roughly 70%) were in fact accessing the Aprendo en Casa content on mobile phones.

Prior to Covid-19, the Peruvian government had development of ICT skills as one of the aims of the national curriculum (2), but no clear policies around the use of technology in education. While devastating in many ways, this global health crisis has allowed the Ministry a prolonged learning experience around the efficacy of education technology at scale within the context of Peru. After a few months of implementation, the government quickly realized through backend analytics that the majority of learners (roughly 70%(3)) were in fact accessing the Aprendo en Casa content on mobile phones. Nationwide, more than 2.5 million households with school-aged children are without access to computers with internet, making phones the best viable option for distance learning (4)

In 2018 the Worldbank reported just 53% of individuals in Peru were using the internet (5). Mobile phone access was however a bit higher, with a 72% mobile subscriber penetration at the end of 2018 as reported by GSMA (6).  National statistics further show that over 90% of households with students have cell phones (7) but only 30% or so have access to a wifi/ internet connection. While the transition to distance learning will inevitably be a challenge for many rural communities, these numbers support the use of mobile phones for learning and encourage the use of BookSmart in the home for continued reading. 

Since the onset of Covid-19, the government has clearly shown it sees potential in the use of mobile phones to support distance learning. In early August, the government announced that it will allocate an investment of 93.4 million soles to provide data plans for teachers’ cell phones. This would benefit more than 373,000 teachers nationwide in the last four months of the year to better access learning materials and support distance learning in Peru.

Building partnership with the Ministry of Education

In early conversations, Minedu expressed interest in the diversity of content that Worldreader offered, and its alignment with the National Curriculum. BookSmart’s digital library for Peru currently holds over 150 primary-aged student titles in Spanish (supported by an embedded and age-appropriate Spanish Dictionary for students 6 – 12), arranged by grade level and subject. Worldreader’s collection is composed of authors from Peru (68%), Latin America (17%) and Spain (15%). Worldreader’s publisher relations team was able to align these titles with a number of the 29 focus competencies of Peru’s National Curriculum ranging from socio-emotional learning to working in teams, citizenship, environment and diversity and inclusion. 

The Ministry embraced the diversity of content Worldreader was able to offer that fell outside the standard Minedu booklist, while still aligning with key themes of the national curriculum and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. As a result, early on, Worldreader was able to sign an agreement with the Regional Education Direction of Lima Metro area (DRELM) – the capital’s education body that is in charge of over four million students.

Supporting learners in Peru during Covid-19

Since the beginning of Covid-19, Worldreader has provided 100 Spanish books through the Aprendo en Casa site available for free on the BookSmart application at bebooksmart.org. Through the CreceLee project in Peru, we are taking a blended-learning approach to support learners at home and at school through Covid-19 and continuing into the future. We have worked to meet the needs of Minedu by including some front matter of Worldreader books on the Aprendo en Casa website that links to the full books on the BookSmart Application. This allows learners across the country easy access to Worldreader’s books, without violating the agreements we hold with our valued regional and international publishers. 

Worldreader has also begun putting the blended-learning approach into action through support for a community center North of Lima that serves 50+ children in a low income community with access to the books on tablets at the community center, and shared mobile phones at home. Students receive remote homework support from volunteers at the community center and notifications through mobile phones and WhatsApp to support their continued learning. Throughout lockdown, the center has provided remote  mentoring and coaching sessions using the books available on BookSmart. 

Bringing Ministry partnership into the future

As we look to a future beyond Covid-19, our hope is that this new era of distance learning will continue to unveil the potential for mobile phones to access learning in the home. Worldreader is continuing to work with Minedu to push for a blended learning model as we phase out of distance learning. This vision for blended learning will provide students with on-site support in schools and support at the home level to provide curated reading experiences through household mobile phones. 

During the remainder of 2020, Worldreader will continue to support Aprendo en Casa with BookSmart Home and our open collection, and also with blended learning interventions in five schools and an accompanying behavior change campaign to drive readers to the BookSmart collection and encourage parents and caregivers to use their mobile phones to continue their children’s reading and learning from home. With schools likely to remain closed until July of 2021, the government in Peru will continue to need support for distance learning. Minedu has shown a great commitment to strengthening Aprendo en Casa by providing additional digital supports to students in remote, low-connectivity areas. In early August, they confirmed the provision of one million tablets for learners in these areas, that are due to be distributed in early October, 2020. Worldreader looks forward to continuing this partnership with the Ministry to support reading programs across the country and leverage technology to meet the needs of all of Peru’s learners. 

Donate today to support our programs in Latin America and help students in Peru access the books they need to continue their learning.

References

  1. Visit https://sdgs.un.org/topics/multi-stakeholder-partnerships-and-voluntary-commitments for more information.
  2. MINEDU, 2016, Ministerial Resolution N` 281-2016-MINEDU.
  3. According to reports from the Ministry of Education on Aprendo en Casa performance.
  4. INEI. (2018). Encuesta Nacional de Hogares sobre condiciones de vida y pobreza (National Household Survey on Living Conditions and Poverty). https://www.inei.gob.pe/
  5. The Worldbank Group, 2020. Individuals using the Internet (% of population) – Peru. Retrieved from https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/IT.NET.USER.ZS?locations=PE
  6. GSMA, 2019, The Mobile Economy Latin America 2019. Retrieved from https://www.gsma.com/mobileeconomy/#regional
  7.  INEI, 2018.