Viasat Community Wi-Fi provides local teachers a valuable classroom tool
The use of internet in education is a daily activity in big cities across Mexico. Teachers and students use it constantly to access a wealth of online resources and to explore new ways of both teaching and learning.
Sadly, it’s another story in many rural communities of the country, where internet access is far less common. Here, teachers must think of alternative ways to share knowledge with students who are used to much more traditional ways of learning. Traditional, terrestrial internet providers simply won’t install the expensive, needed infrastructure to provide broadband internet to those communities.
Viasat is working to change that by making fast, satellite internet accessible in areas of Mexico that don’t have the same access most urban areas do.
It’s an exciting opportunity for Bersaín Sánchez, teacher of the only elementary school located in the community of Venustiano Carranza, 91 km away from Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, in the south of México. Bersaín said he’s excited about new possibilities of sharing knowledge with his students through innovative learning techniques offered online.
It’s made possible by online access now available through a new Viasat Community Wi-Fi hotspot.
“With internet access, students have a better-quality education and are up-to-date about what is happening worldwide,” Bersaín said.
The teacher knows that traditional sources like books will always be essential, but Wi-Fi offers the speed, dynamics and interactivity needed to get to know the world easily and immediately. It also provides ready access to reports and surveys, recent studies, real-time information and even educational entertainment content.
“We’re really happy to talk to teachers like Bersaín, who see how the students directly benefit with access to the internet,” said Kevin Cohen, Viasat’s managing director of global Community Wi-Fi at Viasat. “This is why we’re here in Mexico, and why we’re looking to expand Community Wi-Fi to other Latin American countries and, ultimately, around the world.”
According to Bersaín, one of the things he’s most passionate about is teaching children the importance of love and care for their community. With this goal in mind, he uses the internet to share with students and parents the natural wealth of Chiapas. At the same time, he wants to warn them of the consequences if people don’t act to protect their state’s resources.
“One of the most important uses for the internet is to create awareness about the environment,” he said. “In that way, people realize the magnitude of the pollution in places such as the Cañón del Sumidero (a deep natural canyon located just north of the city of Chiapa de Corzo), declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity site by UNESCO. The internet gives us the chance to show this to more people and go further in our struggle for the conservation of our natural resources.”
Within the classrooms of the elementary school, the dynamics have changed since the arrival of Viasat Wi-Fi. One of the activities Bersaín enjoys the most is showing videos and images to the students, which allows him to explain more complex topics — such as the solar system or how microorganisms behave.
Internet access has helped the community in a significant way to preserve their cultural identity: The children learn Spanish while they keep practicing Tzotzil, their main language — spoken mostly in Los Altos de Chiapas. Through this activity, Bersaín said the conservation of their roots and care of their traditions are made more possible.
“Internet is a very valuable tool in the educational process,” Bersaín said. He shared his happiness at being able to carry out new activities that weren’t possible before, such as logging into websites suggested by books to know more about certain topics, or proposing digital games so the kids can have a better feeling for what is being taught.
Viasat Community Wi-Fi began offering service in communities throughout rural Mexico starting in May, 2018, where connectivity was lacking or inefficient. Today, more than a million people are within distance of the service, which is offered in all 31 Mexican states and the federal district.