ACOBAMBA, Peru – In one of Peru’s most rural, isolated and impoverished areas computers with Internet access and organic gardens are revolutionizing education in a number of state-run schools to improve the country’s academic performance, which is at one of the lowest levels in South America.
In Acobamba province in the central Huancavelica region, technology is in short supply, Internet access is almost non-existent and malnutrition and infantile anemia still beset the population, project administrator Berly Sotelo said.
The project, being undertaken by the Fe y Alegria (Faith and Joy) movement with the support of the Telefonica Foundation and the Santillana publishing house, covers 18 schools in Acobamba, including five high schools, attended by 1,052 students and employing 112 teachers.
The initiative is also part of the first Public-Private Alliance for Development, which is being implemented in Acobamba with the participation of Spain’s Aecid international cooperation and development agency, among other entities.
Sotelo said that the computers, servers and other information and communications technology were donated by the Telefonica Foundation and by the Huancavelica regional government.
Deysi Sanchez, a student in the fourth year of high school in the municipality of Caja, told EFE that the computers and Internet connections installed at her school have helped her improve her grades.
The gardens, planted in the schoolyards, are equipped with sunshades to protect the vegetables from freezes, hail and the changing weather in the Andean province located some 3,000 meters (about 9,800 feet) above sea level.
There, the students learn to plant, irrigate, transplant and harvest onions, spinach, lettuce, pumpkins and many other vegetables which are then consumed at home, Yubely Quiñonez, a sixth grader, told EFE.
The project has also reduced school absenteeism, said Sotelo, since “the parents were making the kids ... work in the fields ... and they had to be made to understand that the children have to be in school.”