Private schools are leading the effort to switch online
In Mexico and Colombia, more than half of parents whose children were enrolled in private schools reported that their children’s schools continued classes online during school closures, compared with only around 20% of parents of students enrolled in public schools. According to survey results, more than half of public and private schools migrated to online solutions in Peru. Additionally, few schools had to cancel classes; 22% of parents in Mexico declared that classes were canceled in their kids’ schools, compared with 19% of those in Colombia and 6% of those in Peru. The response of these schools included:
- Shift to remote learning or canceled classes: Across the three countries, the number of private school students taking some or all classes online greatly outpaces those from public schools.
- Adoption of free platforms for private schools: Most schools that switched to online education adopted free platforms. Google Classroom and Zoom searches peaked, as they became the primary alternatives to delivering instruction. Free platforms are currently the most-used platforms in all three countries.
- Alternative methods to reach K-12 students: Reaching households without access to the internet and computers is a challenge in these countries. Governments have offered alternative ways to continue learning, including TV and radio.
Parents in all three countries look for similar attributes in online education
While parents have not changed their perception of online education, they appreciate remote learning as a temporary solution. Through our parent surveys, we identified key trends in parents’ opinions of online education:
- Parents value that remote learning does not require commuting with 32% saying it’s the most attractive part of remote learning.
- 29% of parents also view it as an opportunity for their kids to develop technological skills and independence.
- Around 70% of parents in Colombia and Peru reported spending more time involved in their children’s education during confinement, while only 57% of Mexican parents shared the same sentiment. The level of autonomy highly depends on the grade, as first-to third graders have lower levels of autonomy than high school students. Parents with younger kids need to provide more attention and support.
- Parents do not like the lack of interaction with classmates and teachers and the amount of time spent in front of screens. Around 47% of parents believe that teamwork skills have deteriorated due to remote learning; similarly, almost half of parents believe that relationships with classmates have worsened due to confinement. Moreover, 46% of parents believe class time has become less productive since moving online.
Parents are unwilling to continue paying at the same tuition level
In a consumer sentiment survey conducted by EY-Parthenon during April 2020, 91% of Mexicans declared they have seen a negative impact on their salaries, and even more shocking is that 64% of them have seen their incomes decrease by at least 60%. As it relates to their children’s education, parents are coping with their new economic reality in two ways:
- Flexible terms and tuition discounts: Some parents are asking for tuition discounts or adjustments, and schools in Mexico and Peru have offered the most flexibility. In Mexico, of the respondents who stated that their school was offering a tuition discount, 49% are receiving a discount of more than 15%. In Peru, of the parents that stated that their school was offering a tuition discount, 73% are receiving a discount of more than 15%.
- Changing to more affordable schools: In Peru, 34% of parents have considered changing their child’s school, as have 21% of Mexican parents. The ministries of education in Colombia and Peru are facilitating the move from private to public schools for those students who can no longer afford private education.
What will likely happen next in K-12 education?
Until schools reopen and go back to normal, the education system will continue to struggle to stay afloat. Schools should consider making important adjustments to how they used to run their operations.
Going forward we expect some of the following dynamics as schools adapt to the “new normal”:
- Remediation classes and extended school calendar: Schools will likely have to deliver remediation classes at all levels to help keep students at the same learning level and will likely extend the academic year.
- Temporary tuition adjustments while remote learning continues: Parents will continue to ask for discounts and flexible payment terms for tuition fees, as their personal finances continue to be affected by the economic downturn.
- Education platforms as a strategic asset for schools: Education institutions will need to improve their online platforms and offerings, especially private schools. Parents will consider technology capabilities as part of their decision criteria when enrolling their children in school.
- Local regulations play a key role going forward: The schools’ reopening strategies going forward will highly depend on local health and safety regulations and how they recommend continuing with K-12 education.
- Schools potentially in a crunch: As more financially affected families ask for tuition adjustments or discounts; schools will continue to struggle with decreased earnings and higher costs. Virtual classes have increased operating costs from EdTech platform fees to extra hour payments for teachers and other IT/admin staff to deal with the new reality. Moreover, schools will need to invest in infrastructure and logistics, as well as meet potential requirements (extra hours, platform payments, etc.) to adjust to the “new normal.”
As education regulators dictate the way going forward, we will continue to understand how the health crisis is impacting the K-12 education sector of Latin-American countries. We will launch additional surveys, as required, to understand how parents and students are experiencing the impact of school closures in their academic preparation. Due to the uncertainty, we believe schools that are flexible and can quickly adapt will be able to capture opportunities for growth in the new world.