100% Online School in the DR . . . and the Challenges This Presents
NOTE: This blog is part of a series of reports from the Winter 2021 DR Mission Team that served in La Romana, DR, from January 9-14, 2021.
All students and parents in the United States know the challenges of online learning during this time of COVID-19. There are frequent technology issues, adapting to a modified learning-style without in-person classes, reduced socialization opportunities, and more.
In the bateyes and barrios of the Dominican Republic, these challenges are magnified as the DR has instituted online learning for the entire 2020-2021 school year (beginning school in early November). The Dominican government has worked to help in some ways, distributing laptops to a select number of students and also setting up national television stations for instruction. For example, every Tuesday at 10am, a TV channel that covers the entire country will air a lesson for all second grade students. Other days and times are scheduled to cover additional primary grades.
For many students and teachers, they are relying on their cell phones to share lessons, complete homework, and grade work. This becomes an even bigger issue when many students and teachers only have access to a flip phone and often have to share with others in their family. For some in the bateyes without electricity, there is also the issue of charging devices. Two high school students in Batey 50 reported that they would travel to the nearest city, El Seibo (about 30 minutes away by car), several times each week just to charge their cell phones for school.
There also is the issue of a lack of electricity in many of the homes in the bateyes and barrios. This means that reading, studying, and homework can only be accomplished during the daylight hours, which are certainly limited during the winter months.