PARURO, Peru – Ensuring all the children of Peru, especially those who live in rural areas, have access to the same resources and are ready for the 21st century’s economy is one of the greatest challenges for the internet in a country where technology is seen as the best tool for integration.
Paruro, an Andean town more than 3,000 meters above sea level, has just celebrated the arrival of the Internet for All (Internet para Todos, IpT) project, which aims to bring 4G connections to remote areas of the Latin American country.
The initiative seeks to reduce the cultural and educational gap between children from different areas and backgrounds and move towards a future offering equal opportunities.
At Nuestra Señora del Carmen, a small state school in Paruro, the teaching staff and 80 elementary students hope the web will help to eliminate disadvantages brought about by distance, wealth and language – most of the community speaks indigenous Quechua – when it comes to taking on the digital era.
“With technological advances we’re making it so our children, our school, are able to offer the same as children from cities,” the institution’s director Ana Claudia Aviles told Efe.
“With technology, with the internet and tablets, learning is more dynamic and open, and like what it is for children in other regions and countries.”
Aviles and her students were in the position of receiving the heads of IpT, a company set up by Telefonica Peru, Facebook, the Inter-American Development Bank and CAF – Development Bank of Latin America, which has brought mobile networks to the population.
“The internet will allow us to keep up the pace, advance in all fields of knowledge and above all, connect with other places,” said the school’s director.
“They’ll be able to grow in all aspects.”
The school’s 11-year-old representative Olenka Farfan told Efe that using the internet better would allow her and her peers to “be like those from Lima and other places.”
“Here there are still people who don’t know the internet, and in Lima they do and they’re more advanced than the towns,” she said. “I asked them to bring us the internet so we could research things.”
Pedro Cortez, the general manager of Telefonica Peru, agreed with the school’s director and students that it was “essential” for remote places like Paruro to have access to the internet, where unlike places like Lima “all the resources do not exist.”
“This is integration work. There’s no access to infrastructure like there is in cities and we can’t have it so these technological gaps are added to the physical gaps,” said Cortez. “If this gap grows it could increase poverty and complicate assimilation, and give a lot more advantages to the cities over the jungle and mountainous regions of Peru.”
Teresa Gomez, the CEO of IpT, said the idea of the project was not only about bringing the internet to places that don’t have it yet but about using it in “an effective and efficient way.”
“Education without digital technology is no longer possible,” Gomez said. “We have to be at the point where teachers can be in a central location, that we can connect and have remote access to information as if we’re there.
“Connecting populations, that’s what we’re looking for.”