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Restart must mark educational reinvention

The educational process of childhood and youth constitutes one of those strategic assets that, despite its vital importance for national competitiveness in the short and medium terms, is conditioned by inequities, lags and the constant haggling of economic resources, human and technological, especially in the public sector. As if that were not enough, the interference of obtuse, outdated and irresponsible magisterial leaderships has made the transformation difficult. By operating on the basis of clientelism, and not of aptitudes, achievements or merits, it becomes a national drag. In any case, the strongest audit of educational quality is in the labor requirement of skills that are only acquired and cultivated in the classroom from an early age.

Today begins the physical return of thousands of students to schools, at the start of the 2021 school year in blended mode: an exercise in which the challenge of forging intelligences with virtual or deferred modes remains, in combination with interaction with the teacher and with the class group. The methodologies experienced during 2020 due to the pandemic can have a comprehensive enrichment in this phase through encounter, dialogue and empathy.

Education cannot and must not adopt the same routine practices that were brought up until March 13, 2020, when the total suspension of activities was decreed. Although some educational reforms had already been introduced, in substance and form, it was the distance experience that made possible, or rather demanded, the development of greater student autonomy, greater participation of parents in the pedagogical process and a teacher update regarding digital resources to enrich and even transform explanations of concepts.

It is necessary to point out the adverse effects of the pandemic on the education of thousands of children in rural areas who practically abandoned their classes due to the economic difficulties of their families; in other cases, dropouts were due to the impossibility of following the sessions or explanations online, due to the lack of the necessary connectivity, the absence of which led to communication breakdowns, difficulty in delivering tasks, and learning discontinuity.

The conviction, the desire for service and the sense of humanity of hundreds of teachers made it possible to lessen, at least in part, the effects of such a long and unusual pause. There are many examples that should not only constitute positive anecdotes, but also paradigms that can guide the evolution of the educational system, innovation in the teaching profession and the requirements for those who aspire to work in public education.

The present moment must be a watershed in the educational history of the country. Although it cannot be a clean slate, a systematic compilation of good practices developed by local educators, but also in other latitudes, should have already been undertaken in order to configure the manual for the new Guatemalan school. Good teacher leadership is key to being able to rethink education and maintain the spirit of change in teaching. Likewise, the State itself must focus on providing better connectivity to schools and students, for exclusively educational purposes, in order to close the enormous and evident digital divide.