The town of Merida, Venezuela is growing quiet. You can feel the absence of too many students. Many children can’t go to school because of inflation and scarcity. The tremendous teacher shortage contributes to a lack of education also and resulting delinquency of some of the population.
Long lines of people waiting for a bus to take them home fill the bus stops. I am just walking, but with intention. Unlike the people around me, I am excited about my destination.
Motivation is a scarcity among Venezuelans, but the group I teach (Grupo de Creación, Recreación y Producción DTML) maintains a great attitude because of our intention for learning and sharing during our time together every Thursday. We are inspired by our progress. It is exciting to us. Our group and the purpose for it creates a bond between us, keeping us upbeat.
This optimism our group is experiencing in the moment is symbolic for the hope we can begin to foster for the future. If our small group can see a window of possibility, then perhaps society can come along for the ride in the days to come.
When education occurs amongst a tightly knit group of students, a supportive environment is born. A situation presents itself where kids start to recognize how amazing it is to have knowledge, to achieve and make strides they may not have realized were possible.
The group will as a whole, without even realizing it, uphold and motivate one another because they have something in common that others around them don’t have. They will know they are different and will see that it’s because they are learning in a way that is not typical for their people.
They will feel and think differently, and maybe for the first time, experience a world of possibilities in their minds. It is distance learning that creates this reality.
Why is today more encouraging?
Today is special. During the meeting on this cold, white afternoon, 13 kids will come to receive the certificates they’ve earned by completing modules on the platform. It is a free e-learning platform that offers learning games in classrooms where there aren’t enough teachers.
These types of achievements may seem ordinary and to be expected in some countries. Here though they have tremendous meaning. Here, where many people are not able to learn and become educated, it is ground-breaking and heart-stirring. Our own personal world can possibly change for the better.
Our group learned English in almost 80 hours of work during the last three months. This means so much to us and opens a window of light into our lives. This will make a positive change for our future.
What can distance learning do for our generation?
Education has meaning in a country such as Venezuela. It will open doors that were not previously available. Kids will be able to have occupations in the future they wouldn’t previously have had the skills for and set goals their parents couldn’t have aspired to in the past.
The people need to know that education is changing for the better. Hope can do a lot for a people who are downtrodden and can’t provide for their own. Even if change occurs on a small level in the classroom, it can inspire and reduce ignorance.
Learning English can increase a child’s opportunity not only for learning, but for earning in the digital space in the future. Foreign currency will be able to be brought into the equation, with more workers able to offer services to people on global job platforms.
It increases students’ opportunities and desire to pursue higher education. In turn, they will be able to help their society solve its problems.
Learning English is very important to these children. It is becoming more and more important to achieving success in our increasingly globalized world. It is a widely spoken language and many more learning resources are available to English speakers and readers.
It is the dominant language of the internet and is the global language of communication. More achievement and understanding is available to English speakers. In addition, speaking more than one language makes you more valuable on the job and more accessible to people who may have opportunities for you.
Many travel and tourism industries around the world are English speaking. Our employment opportunities are greater in fields such as international business, translation, science and law enforcement, to name a few.
When a family’s circumstances are dire, as is the case for many Venezuelan families, English can be used as a tool for travel, employment or even teaching their own family. When one or two kids in a family begin to use DTML e-learning platform for a variety of types of learning, they can pass that learning on to their families.
The games have a wide range of uses from computer learning, to geography to mathematics. All of these subjects can be used to increase the well-being of student’s families regardless of their occupations.
The very children who are now using the e-learning platform to increase their learning could potentially find a way to attend a university and come back to become the teachers these school so desperately need.
Learning typically creates curiosity and a desire for further education. When doors are opened that were previously closed, students will want more. They will want to understand more and take that understanding to a deeper level. Society can only benefit from curiosity, increasing intelligence, reduced ignorance, and the computer skills acquired through just this simple, yet effective e-learning platform.
By Nestor Jerez, Distance Teaching and Mobile Learning, Venezuela