Between the municipality of Ilobasco and the municipality of Sensuntepeque, both in the department of Cabañas, in El Salvador, there are approximately 30 kilometers away, which in normal times would take about 35 minutes to travel from one to the other.
However, in moments of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those 30 kilometers have become the social distancing faced by María Verónica, a student in the Business Administration career.
The home quarantine implemented since March 21, 2020 implied that educational institutions suspended face-to-face activities and continued their work using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), which has meant a double effort for young people like Veronica to meet academic requirements.
The 25-year-old girl is one of the residents of a rural place of Ilobasco, where she does not have access to the Internet, a tool that is essential to continue her specialization studies in Strategic Development of Human Talent since classes and assessments are conducted entirely online.
The latest Multi-Purpose Household Survey (EHPM) published in 2018 indicates that 1.8 million Salvadorans had access to the Internet. That same year, 303,815 households had an Internet connection, which would be equivalent to 16 out of every 100 households in the country having access.
And according to the Internet World Stats page, by June 2019 El Salvador had 3.7 million Internet users, meaning 57 out of 100 people use the Internet through different electronic devices.
Although Verónica is already a user of the network, her disadvantage is that she does not have network coverage or technological equipment. "For reasons of this pandemic, I have to change my location, because in my community it is difficult to access the Internet and to be able to take my classes online, which are carried out by the University to finish the specialization course," said Veronica.
Home protection measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and a commitment to continue her education, keep her away from home. “I hope this ends soon, so I can move back to my house to help my family. We are about to finish the specialization course, which we are doing through online evaluations, online assignments and we are always receiving classes through video conferences,” she explained.
Veronica's case is also a reflection of the difficulties of access to an Internet connection throughout the educational system, which has become more evident in the context of the emergency.
The Ministry of Education of El Salvador implements an Educational Continuity Plan, which consists of providing supplementary guides to students, who must download them from the ministry's website. Printed guides were also delivered to more than 1,000 educational centers whose students do not have a connection to the virtual network.
The situation is well known to Veronica and which she has solved with the help of friends. "Thank God, the lady where I am residing has a computer, which she lends me so that I can take my classes and finish my specialization," she added.
Although the past few weeks have been quite difficult, she keeps her spirits up and keeps an eye on her goal. For five years, Verónica has been part of Plan International El Salvador´s programs to complete her higher education. "I thank you very much because I have been able to finish my career and be able to fulfill my dreams, to have a better standard of living, and to be able to get ahead and move my family forward," she highlighted.
During the emergency, Plan remains committed to supporting the educational continuity of girls, adolescents, and youth to achieve their goals and implements supports, such as financing Internet packages so that girls can stay connected.