The vast majority of Brazilian students at public schools lack broadband access or personal computers at home. This is one of the findings of a new study published by the research arm of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee, Cetic.br, on the use of technology in education in 2021.
Conducted since 2010, the TIC Educação survey investigates school communities — students, teachers, directors of studies and principals — to map access to, as well as use and appropriation of, information and communication technologies in public and private schools. The research covered 3678 schools nationwide and also analyzed aspects of technology used in education during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the research, 84% of students in urban areas in Brazil don’t have connectivity at home or access to equipment such as desktops, laptops or tablets. The percentage in rural areas is even higher, at 92%. In addition, 94% of the schools reported difficulties parents faced in supporting students to carry out activities remotely during the pandemic.
Separate research published by Cetic.br in June found that the proportion of Internet users in rural areas grew in Brazil compared to the period before the pandemic, but fast connections and computers are still lacking.
Another study by the Internet Steering Committee published in August 2021 found that Brazil’s connected population relies mostly on smartphones to access the Internet as PC penetration remains low among financially vulnerable citizens.
The research also noted a stark difference in PC ownership according to socioeconomic status: while computers are present in almost 100% of elite households, PCs can be found in only 13% of the poorest Brazilian homes.
The latest study by the research arm of the Brazilian Internet Steering Committee also heard teachers for the first time, with a sample size of 1.865 participants. Difficulties mentioned include the lack of skills to carry out activities with students using technology, something mentioned by 66% of the teachers polled. In rural areas, 76% mentioned such hurdles.
The use of print materials sent to students when schools were shut due to the pandemic, as well as the use of instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, was among the main strategies mentioned by professionals.
Most teachers polled (93%) also used their own smartphones and mobile data plans to work on online or hybrid activities, and the majority did not receive any subsidies from schools. Teachers mostly used smartphones to carry out remote or hybrid activities (93%), while notebooks were used by 84% of professionals, followed by desktops (44%) and tablets (11%).
The increase in the workload in a hybrid or remote setting was also cited by most teachers (85%), as well as the loss of contact by students or difficulty in getting in touch with the school or with teachers (83%) and difficulties in serving students with disabilities (76%).