Virtual Education in Rural Schools in Times of Pandemic

Published on:

June 18, 2020

Community of Practice:


The Case of the School of Huayacallán (Huánuco) in the Central Andean Highlands of Peru  (Seeds and School Project, CIZA, Peru)

Huayacallán is a small town in Peru’s central highlands. Its local school, like many others, had been forced to suspend in-person classes when social isolation was decreed at the national level to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Seeds and Schools project had, as part of the previous CIZA/UNALM project, worked with the School of Huayacallán (Huánuco) from 2016–2019. Concerned how the pandemic might be affecting the school, project team members contacted its principal, Luz Valverde, to ask how the Ministry of Education’s “I learn at home” program was going. Valverde reported that several students didn’t have internet or cell phone access to classes. Although the school also transmitted classes via radio, the vast majority of students didn’t have a radio at home either.

The project decided to raise funds for the thirty-nine students without radios by calling on alumni who had done their theses at that location as well as university professors who had worked with the McKnight-supported project. The initiative was an act of reciprocity: project team members not only felt affection for the school and community but remembered the enthusiasm with which Valverde and her teaching staff had incorporated traditional knowledge about agrobiodiversity conservation into the school’s curriculum.

with the support (transfers) of the NGO working in the area (IDMA), which was also part of the project, Valverde delivered the 39 radios to parents despite being in full quarantine. For a small contribution, the project group was able to support this beautiful community, which is truly like “a little town hanging from a ravine,” the meaning of its name in Quechua. As teachers themselves, project members viewed it as a lesson for the youngest who pass through and are never forgotten. As the old adage says, “He who leaves, forgets, and he who stays always remembers.” Only this time, they all came back.