On the waves of education

Publish date 31-05-2021

by Simone Bernardi


"In these parts it has always been normal to live without electricity, without water or sewerage and not even the collection of garbage." For Luiz Alberto, a high school student who lives in one of the immense peripheral districts of San Paolo, studying in a time of pandemic meant not so much dealing with streaming lessons or remote exams, but rather the fact that with the doors of his school closed, access to school meals would have been lost for him and his brothers. This immediately went through the minds of millions of pupils - and their families - who went to school thinking first of all about this.

At the Arsenale della Speranza, during a "Live on Tuesday" we interviewed Luana Resier, pedagogical coordinator of a state school in the Vila Industrial district, east of San Paolo.

How did you react to the new situation?

We knew that many of our pupils don't even have a TV, let alone a cell phone or a computer. The low participation in digital platforms - slowly set up by the Government - left no doubt that a very large part of our students would be excluded. We didn't know how! We started thinking about how to reach them, with what communication channels. With two colleagues, also coordinators, it occurred to us that there is a community radio near our schools. We went to speak to the manager who immediately accepted our needs and granted us a time. We got to work, we thought, produced, recorded and edited material. Every day, for a month, we went out with a program that we called "On the Waves of Education".

Why the radio?

Because of all the media available, radio is the most accessible. A small, simple radio can be bought for a short time and it was not so unlikely that several families had even more than one at home. Besides, it's much easier to ask for a donation for radios than for computers. We collected a good number of them which we then distributed to many families who did not have other channels of communication and interaction with the school.

What was the biggest difficulty in teaching on the radio?

We never intended to teach on the radio. The idea was to speak directly to the students. Our biggest concern, at the beginning, was not whether the pupils were learning adverbs well, but how those students were doing worse, than the one who cut themselves off at the beginning of the year and the only one the place where he could talk to someone about it was the school ... First we wanted to get the message out that they weren't alone. Then we started inviting a psychologist to speak directly to them and, from time to time, we would insert a topic from the history or geography program, possibly something that everyone could easily understand, to reinforce self-esteem. The distance abruptly broke a relationship of trust between the students and the school that had been building for some time.

Over time, what format did the program take?

Now the format is built based on the answers we had in the first month on the air. There are columns that deal with the world of work, socio-emotional aspects, I create a column in which professors and students talk about emotional memories related to the school and the different contents. And there is also a space where we talk to people from the world of work and culture: last week, for example, we hosted a famous cartoonist from the newspaper "Folha de S. Paulo" who was born and raised in these areas. It was a very rich testimony that, probably, we would never even have included in our traditional programs. And so we are increasing the scope of the project up to the direct participation of our students who are also asking us to record some testimonies on how they are doing. In addition to having space to talk about what they think, they also tell what they are doing, which can inspire and motivate many others. The response of students, parents and teachers is surprising.

How do you feel after nine months of this experience?

I believe that we are not doing charity and not even anything extraordinary. I always repeat it to myself: it is the right of every student to have a quality education and the difficult situation in which we are immersed today tells us one more thing: it is not enough to offer a quality education, we must always look for the way to offer students the conditions, albeit minimal, to use them. Thank you!

NP Febbraio 2021

Simone Bernardi

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