The backpack that's helping children learn in Peru

8 September 2021

A bag being filled with books and papers

A "travelling backpack" being filled with books and drawing materials ready to be given to a family in Peru.

Most children in England and Wales head back to school this week. But for many children in Peru - which has the highest death rate due to Covid-19 in the world as a proportion of population - that is not the case.

In Peru, most schools remain closed

When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March 2020, schools in Peru were closed as part of an incredibly severe lockdown in the country. Children were not allowed to go further than 500 metres from their homes for months. Even now, gatherings are still prohibited. 

Most schools in Peru have yet to re-open for face-to-face teaching. In some areas, this may not happen until March 2022. As the summer holidays in Peru run from December to the end of February, this means that many children will not have set foot inside a classroom for over two years.

“Before, I liked going to school, because afterwards I did my homework and played, but now it is different as I am at home all day."

Antonio, 11

Children in Peru have had to learn at home via the television, mobile phones or the radio. The government created a virtual educational platform called Aprendo en casa (I learn at home) to help students but the tablets they promised to give to children were not distributed for months.

Not only have children struggled to keep up with classes during lockdown, but school dropout rates have increased significantly. More than a third of children were not attending school despite the government’s remote learning programme.

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How the "travelling backpack" is helping

In families where financial resources are limited, the educational divide has worsened. Education in Peru often involves printed materials and paper-based tasks. Without the right devices or materials at home, children have found it impossible to do their homework.

Local experts you have supported in Peru have played an important part in helping children to get hold of the equipment and materials they need, and to access online school lessons.

One such local organisation is Warmi Huasi. One of their ideas for supporting children and teenagers in Peru is the “travelling backpack”. These are bags containing books and drawing materials that are loaned out to families. Once the books have been read, they are collected, cleaned and taken to the next family. There is a constant demand for the backpacks and over 180 children have benefitted from them so far. 

"Participating in Warmi Huasi's project has helped me develop my abilities more, because sometimes I don't understand the virtual classes and Warmi's teacher guides me and gives me exercises that are fun and strengthen my knowledge.”

Antonio, 11

On International Literacy Day, we are thankful for all volunteers and teachers who help children to learn and flourish. We pray that all children around the world will be able to access the education they need.  

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