Last week, our communities of San Felipe Chenla and Ojo de Agua had the great opportunity to take part in Rachel’s training with Mundo Possible.
But, you may wonder, what is Rachel?
Rachel (Remote Area Community Hotspot for Education and Learning) is a portable, battery-powered, device that contains copies of educational websites in an offline format. This means RACHEL can go anywhere in the world and wirelessly deliver free digital educational content to nearby tablets, laptops, or smartphones with no internet or data plans required. RACHEL has been taken to over 53 countries since its creation, serving students in rural villages, townships, and even prisons”
The basis of this program is to support and assist our mentors so that they can maximize positive impacts in their community, but to achieve this, it is also necessary to invest in the communities as a whole.
That being said, we took the step forward to support teachers with Rachel’s training, as we are aware that without their commitment and support to the Guate Groundswell Program nothing would have been possible.
Antonio, Program Officer in Ojo de Agua said “RACHEL works through a device that contains copies of educational content from web pages in an off-grid format. RACHEL’s content is free and works for devices that are up to 40 meters away. Tablets, laptops, desktop computers, and cell phones can be connected. I feel that RACHEL’s technology will allow everyone in the community to gain new knowledge and develop new skills. Moreover, it contributes to improving the quality of life of the entire community, since it reduces transportation costs to places with internet access, while optimizing time ”.
This testimony struck me strongly, the first thing that came to mind is the importance of being grateful in life and to acknowledge how fortunate we are to live in Canada. Also, it allowed me to reflect a bit. With schools closed due to COVID, access to online learning became more important than ever.
For many of us, having a phone, a computer, and access to the internet, are tools at hand that make the transition to online learning feasible. But, for our communities in Guatemala, this transition hasn’t been easy, access to the internet in rural areas has been a challenge, and having a laptop, a phone or a tablet is a privilege that very few have.
Sheily Carrillo, Executive Director of SIDS said “Having had the opportunity to travel to the United States in 2007 as SEED’s scholarship holder, gave us the opportunity to witness how the United States had already incorporated technology into their schools. The classrooms of the university where we attended through the scholarship had projectors, computers, and internet access.
As part of a developing country, that was a major disadvantage compared to developed countries. In Guatemala, teachers from official schools and institutes were just acquiring their own computers with a financing plan facilitated by the central government.
Attending classes, having the possibility to access a computer lab on campus, and tutoring programs offered by the university, gave Guatemalan scholarship holders the opportunity to not only ease our learning process but also our participation in university careers. That being said, we graduated with honors alongside other American students.
For SIDS, incorporating technology in schools through the Guate Groundswell Program is aiming to improve the quality of learning processes. By adding Rachel as a tool for the teachers of primary and Telesecundaria school, it will guarantee that boys and girls will continue their educational training in their community as there is sufficient content, resources, and activities to provide during and after classes. Furthermore, it will allow students to develop skills needed in our current world, some of these, worth mentioning: i) use ICTs effectively, ii) research, search, select and analyze information; iii) be creative and effective users of technology tools.
In Guatemala, the incorporation of technology has been implemented in schools of urban areas, but it hasn’t been implemented in rural areas until the Guate Groundswell Initiative.
In conclusion, having access to Rachel Units facilitates the introduction of online educational materials in places with limited or perhaps not Internet access. Moreover, COVID has highlighted that technology is vital in the field of education”
To our SOS community (SOS HQ Team, Universities in Canada, Communities in Guatemala, Volunteers, Translators, etc) Thank you! Your support has made us stronger and more committed to our communities in Guatemala and we will forever be grateful.
Guate Groundswell is made possible in part through support from the Fund for Innovation and Transformation and it’s partners: The InterCouncil Network, the Manitoba Council for International Co-operation, and the Government of Canada.