Published in El Pais, 19 de Enero 2022.
Education has clearly been affected by COVID-19. Many countries in the world have closed the doors to education in the first year and others have found in online education a salvation not to stop it.
In the Netherlands, classes have not stopped for more than short periods. Many would say that they are the example to follow, but it is more important to investigate the factors for this fact.
- Regular internet is 100 Mbps for 25 euro/month
- Temperature: in the summer it’s the holidays and in the winter with two to three children in a house plus the parents working (from home), it’s crazy.
- Education is perceived as high quality and they prefer that children spend as much time as possible in schools. Thus, parents can carry out their work. If the parents leave home, they must leave the children in the care of an adult, which soon becomes expensive or impossible.
- More than 85% of the population have received the second dose and 50% have already received the third dose. Therefore, even though they are among people with COVID, they do not need to take a COVID test because they are protected to continue their regular activities.
In Bolivia, education has other possible factors.
- Regular internet costs 25 euro per month for 16 Mbps and a 70 Mbps costs 53 euro/month,
- Temperature: makes it possible for people to be away from home, children can play in the yard.
- Cost of a child without education: The population thinks that in general, public education is of a low level. Going to school means getting COVID-19 and although children have no consequences, adults do. Additionally, many children attend school far from home, involving public transportation that exposes parents to COVID-19.
- The cost of a COVID-19 patient is very high because having medical leave implies a queue from 3 AM to see the doctor who will give a medical leave for only four days. In the event that the disease becomes chronic, the patient must pay large sums of money in dollars because the government has not been able to control the prices of the places that treat COVID-19. And even paying for everything, the mortality rate in Bolivia from COVID is still very high.
Therefore, in Bolivia, education remains in the background for families. Unfortunately, education for the government is also in the background so that no one complains about the lack of internet, the low number of vaccinated people, or the low effectiveness of the vaccines that still continue to generate serious cases and deaths. Unsustainable solutions such as forcing not to collect the tuition fees in February or not registering all cases of mortality from COVID-19 are part of these “solutions”.