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Implementation challenges

The main challenges that Ceibal en casa (Ceibal at home) faced were related to the equitable supply and adaptation of infrastructure and teaching resources, and attending to the socio-emotional impact caused by social isolation.

Most of the difficulties were resolved through contingency plans, which included cooperation between various areas of government and, in some cases, with the private sector. For example, Ceibal en casa reached an agreement with ANTEL, the state internet provider company and market leader, and with the private telecommunications company Claro, so that the mobile data consumed in accessing educational resources and platforms was free of charge or offered at a reduced rate. This was fundamental in guaranteeing equal opportunities.

In addition, a special contingency procedure was designed and implemented to deliver computers to students, maintaining physical distancing at all times. This was vital in reaching students in rural areas and disadvantaged communities. Processes and protocols were also quickly created to sustain and broaden services with the majority of staff—95 percent—working remotely, and just a small proportion—5 percent—working in-person, to cover essential tasks, such as computer repair. This was possible thanks to the virtual systems adopted previously by Plan Ceibal and its working teams’ capacity for management and adaptation.

It was essential to increase the capacity of the technological infrastructure fourfold and redesign the architecture to increase concurrent use functions. Maintenance work was carried out at night to avoid interrupting the service during the times when there was the most traffic. In addition, to deal with the growing customer service demand, Ceibal en casa implemented an automated tool for end users that included account configuration functions and password resets.

In terms of teaching, the implementation of Ceibal en casa also required training teachers and broadening the content on offer, through various communication channels. Specific training was offered to improve interaction with students over digital platforms, as well as communication campaigns and strategies for distributing educational resources presented in a way that was visible, accessible and easy to use.

Work was also done on the socio-emotional impact caused by social isolation. Ceibal en casa focused on providing support and relevant information for wellbeing during the pandemic. The target audience of these activities was made up of teachers, students and their families, who were reached mainly through digital communication channels—including Plan Ceibal websites and social media—with specific messages according to their needs. Work was also done with strategic partners, such as ANEP—National Public Education Administration (Administración Nacional de Educación Pública)—and UNICEF, to draw up the guidelines “Psycho-emotional support for families during coronavirus lockdown,” which offered orientation for getting through the quarantine period with a focus on social wellbeing.