Challenges of remote learning: the experiences of entrepreneurs as caregivers and teachers

Remote learning was the response after classes in public and private schools were suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis back in March. Entrepreneurs with children did not feel comfortable leaving them at home during this time but they were also worried about how or how much their children will learn from home.

As of August, classes remained suspended and it became evident that children will finish the school year taking classes at home. From March to August, there were a lot of changes. Each school had slightly different instruction but one thing remained common: all learning was done at a distance. Teachers assigned homework through WhatsApp text messages or called parents day-after-day to deliver work guides in person (as in La Javía), all in an effort to cover the required curriculum. However, little by little, it became clear that not all the students had access to the Internet or a device in which they could find and complete their homework.

“However, little by little, it became clear that not all the students had access to the internet or a device in which they could find information and complete their homework.”

An entrepreneur with her daughter before doing remote learning
Before, Carmen’s daughter wanted to spend time with her helping with the business. Now they have to use the same space to do school work.

The entrepreneurs that have not made any sales due to the economic shutdown have been in a difficult position. Without income, their priority was to cover their primary needs like food, housing, and utilities, not an Internet plan…Even if it was for remote learning.

Soon schools changed their plans and classes were provided via TV on a national channel. However, for some entrepreneurs, this was not a solution to creating greater access to education within their homes. There are families that do not have a television and have had to create alternatives to make any progress with their children’s education. 

“Without income, their priority was to cover their primary needs like food, housing, and utilities, not an Internet plan.”

People are looking for alternatives in order to deliver homework. Focusing on different textbooks was the solution for one entrepreneur, who has been helping her daughter throughout the pandemic. In other cases, entrepreneurs waited to be able to buy an Internet pack and others waited for specific instructions from the teacher. Most teachers have been doing periodic follow-ups over the phone with families to resolve questions about TV learning.

The right to education has been recognized by multiple organizations all over the world, specifically through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. However, access to this right has been hampered by the pandemic. Inequalities in accessing education have been exposed and made notorious by the digital divide.

“Inequalities in accessing education have been exposed and made notorious by the digital divide.”

The entrepreneurs have had to adapt to the various dimensions and roles the quarantine has required of them. The time they spend as caregivers and educators for their children and families has been vastly extended. As entrepreneurs, they have made a lot of changes to be able to keep their business running but the unpaid work they are now doing at home has taken up a good amount of their days, leaving them with less time for themselves and their businesses.

Knowing all of these Programa Velasco understands the importance of keep supporting women entrepreneurs and their business. They’re now trying to adapt to their new routine and this is why PV has started doing in-person empowerment workshops that are all about resilience. This was taught as a form of support for them to help them process what they’ve lived these past months and help them find a way to deal with it.

Also, it’s a safe space where they can rest from all their roles at home and just be themselves for 3 hours. Alongside the Women’s Empowerment Project staff, entrepreneurs can think about them, their mental health, and how this will benefit their business and family.

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