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Digital Barrier in Education

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the education system had to evolve faster than they were capable and the digital crisis began. When it comes to tangible differences between generational experiences to technology, the main one is

Digital Barrier in Education

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the education system had to evolve faster than they were capable and the digital crisis began.

When it comes to tangible differences between generational experiences to technology, the main one is being raised through a screen or not, and having to rely on binary systems or not.

As a millennial I was part of an in-between era, where Y2K happened, cell phones didn’t have internet, computer classes consisted of playing games and online profiles were invented. When I look back to the speed at which everything was changing, I didn’t feel trapped or worried about fitting in, because it followed a more natural progression than Gen Z had to deal with.

To put you in context, I am an only child of divorced parents from Heredia, who went to a public elementary school and to a semi private high school that was subsidized by the government. For college, I had the privilege to study abroad in a public and free of charge university in Argentina.

From an early age I understood the value of technology, from recording my favorite show in the VCR or looking for the meaning of a word in a encyclopedia. But as life responsibilities increased, my educational outlets could not keep up with the new era tools.

Pressure to keep up

When the internet became a basic necessity in all aspects of life, being literate was not enough because there were new languages that required a different kind of communication that the alphabet couldn’t satisfy.

The insufficient budget to install technology laboratories and hire the best professionals in the field, started to widen the inequality between the public and private system, that at the end affects the future generations who will not have the necessary skills to handle the workforce requirements.

The conversation begins with common knowledge, but to put it into perspective there are high schoolers who talk about the possibilities of artificial intelligence and others who don’t even own a laptop or have internet access in their home. This is a huge gap that is more complicated than we would have anticipated.

There is a lingering idea about the inception of the internet and the goal to achieve democratic access to information, but the reality is that data means power and in a capitalist world where money runs everything, the minimum number of people who have the tools to succeed, the better.

The educational programs are trying to avoid more missteps and take advantage of the fact that in most countries such as Costa Rica, the access to the Internet is seen as a fundamental human right, considering it an indispensable instrument to exercise freedom of expression.

Technology can become a positive tool if it is mediated by an educational intention such as training digital abilities, creating networks, enhancing infrastructure and the necessary equipment to keep seeking for a long run learning habit. Innovation requires not only the appropriate devices but its application, the correct way to take advantage of
its potential.

Digital Barrier in Education

Learning against the clock

The pandemic hit when most schools should have implemented or at least have had a plan for online classes, that’s why one of the most affected sectors was education. In the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, a disease made the educational system realize their technological deficiencies.

The focus of technology programs rely on internet access and many schools around the country can’t afford adequate technology devices to connect to virtual classes or enough staff to have hybrid ones, which meant an increase in inequalities between higher income families and paycheck to paycheck households.

Likewise, the challenges for students in the Central Valley can’t be compared to the ones from remote communities due to geographic and socioeconomic reasons, and the fact that they have less options available to adapt to a changing online system and the lack of digital skills of their educators. Accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic, connectivity began to occupy a place in the national debate that did not had before.

Nevertheless experts came to the agreement that the future of education entails remote attendance modalities and more flexible or self-managed learning environments, that’s why national policy plans should evolve over time. This start a predicament for the government because it requires the assurance of some conditions to pursue equity and justice for any person who attends the public system, like guaranteeing universal access for all people. It needs to become a priority in the political agenda.

After Costa Rica returned to face-to-face classes, there hasn’t been a big improvement in the government’s support or mandatory courses for teachers to develop better digital skills. The potential behind a really challenging time for the world was tangible, unfortunately the expectation to pursue a more up to date curriculum and follow a path of
improvement and continuity stopped as quickly as it began.

Final thoughts

I believe our representatives should upgrade budgets, approve bills and take a stand against excluding a person in the workforce because their skills are not enough, considering the main issues are a direct result of political decisions. We should demand more effort and better opportunities from our leaders, this is the time for future
generations to have a brighter outcome.

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mvillalobos@outlierlegal.com

Journalist and audiovisual producer with training in gender and human rights. She has work in Argentina and Costa Rica, and aims to make meaningful changes to the present and future of the world through her writing, documentaries and digital broadcasts.

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