September 3 2012

In Peru interactive learning is not just about computers

Thanks the rapid development and affordability of satellite technology, the world’s most remote and impoverished regions have access to TV. But access to technology alone does not always equate to greater levels of learning, especially in homes where the TV is bigger than the bookcase. For children in a deprived district of Lima, state of the art technology has inspired love of reading and writing.

03/09/2012 - When Kiana Basilio recently came first in a Ministry of Education reading contest for under-12s, those around her knew that it came about from her inquisitive nature and addiction to reading that has been nurtured over time. Access to quality education was one of several obstacles faced by Kiana’s family who live in Carabayllo in northern Lima.

Literacy helps strengthen families in Peru @ S. Preisch
Literacy helps strengthen families in Peru © S. Preisch

Addressing issues of survival

Basic literacy rates are relatively high in Peru where UNESCO has estimated that one-in-seven people live below the poverty line. Those who cannot read or write are more often among migrants from rural areas who seek a better life in the city. Many end up as single parents, rearing large families living in one or two rooms with little or no sanitation. At the mercy of exploitative employers in the informal economy, women occasionally find employment as domestic help while men vie for construction work. Many of such families become dysfunctional. The unemployed are particularly vulnerable to extreme poverty. Single parents who find a job are often forced to leave their children unattended over long periods. Addressing issues of day-to-day survival means that children’s literacy is often overlooked by parents who rarely get to discover how it can open doors to a better life. 


Behind the doors at the SOS Social Centre in the Carabayllo suburb of Lima, teacher Cynthia Camacho and her colleagues provide a range of supports to strengthen such families. “Children go crazy here every week,” she says. “One reason behind this is the innovative approach to learning that has been developed over several years at our 17 child-minding programmes in deprived districts. Alone, in Los Diamantes, 75 children are more interested in reading and have become more creative and imaginative” she proudly boasts. The reason was not just an investment in computers and state of the art interactive software. Nor was not the time and money spent on providing certified computer training to community teachers. The success of the interactive learning programme is primarily based on the team’s fundamental understanding of the various educational needs of young children, in an age where writing, reading and computer literacy form the basis to quality education.



Interactive learning achieving results at s SOS Child-minding Centre in Peru© SOS Archives
Interactive learning achieving results @SOS Archives


Bringing literacy to a modern dimension

With a computer mouse in hand Rocia (8), is entranced as she navigates her way through a colourful jungle in search of the answer to a mathematics question. “Yes!” she cheers as on achieving a result. “With the computer, I can do my homework faster, and it is fun,” says the smiling member of the Big Siblings Programme. Meanwhile, her friend at the adjacent computer terminal perfects her Spanish as she interacts with a cartoon character. As part of a highly successful story writing competition organised by the SOS Social Centre Carabayllo in December 2011, hundreds of children interacted with their computers to write their own unique fairy-tales. The theme was “the treasures of Peru”. 

Reading workshops have been at the core of the child-minding service that has always nurtured a love of reading among children aged between three and 12-years-old. Each centre provides a comfortable atmosphere, conducive to reading where books are neatly arranged within arm’s reach of every child. This alone has significantly improved the school performance of 400 children who progress annually to the public education system. Those with learning difficulties have especially benefited from the approach.


Dummy picture
Reading workshops nurturing a love of reading in Lima @ SOS Archives
In the Integral Interactive Education Project supported by HSBC, “we are able to offer quality education to our children. Furthermore, we use technology to help children develop their learning skills by means of virtual and play-based teaching software and reading modules. Their learning capacity and academic performance has improved”, says Victoria Hugo of SOS Social Centre Carabayllo. What the computers, software and certified training did was to bring literacy to a modern dimension. The chance of school dropout is decreased as children become literate at an early age, which enables them to progress through the public system. The little girl who won the reading contest has learned that technology is more than satellite TV. She now knows that interactive learning is not just about computers. She knows that it is the ideas and the ethos of her teachers that has given her and others the chance to read, write and explore in ways her deprived parents could only dream of.