For years the US Migrant Office for Imperial Valley (IV) of California, has been educating adult migrants who missed formal education because they were constantly traveling as children. Recently the CoVid crisis heighted the current migrant children's plight, as over 7000 migrant-worker children, aged 5-18 in the IV area, face quarantine and school closure. Basic education, approved by the US Dept. of Education for reading, mathematics, and digital instruction, remains missing for these children. They need a flexible and mobile way to study.
The Rotary Club of Rancho Bernardo Club, along with the Calexico School District, other school districts, and Rotario Puruandiro (our International Partner in Mexico), researched several mobile education systems that use cell phones and tablets to manage remote education needs. The group chose Learning Upgrade, winner of the 2019 X-prize for Literacy (a $20 million grant), to complete the annual program being sought, because of its low cost and history of success with over 3 million students, worldwide.
Approximately 600 children, at cost of $50 per child for each license, will participate in this grant for one year, but laying the ground for the coming years. Most are based in the Imperial Valley area, but a few live across the border in Mexico. Their study program leads to an eventual high school GED degree. Or, if their families become stationary, put them back in a traditional school at a grade level higher than without the program. Wireless devises, for cell service, will be supplied by the Migrant Office mentioned above, as their share of the project.
Since wireless and WIFI access can be spotty in rural farm areas, local retail food outlets and libraries will supplement coverage. Both T-Mobile and Verizon have announced plans to add 5G service to many of the local migrant farmer anticipated work locations. The Learning Upgrade system can be used through-out the wireless world including the US and Mexico; so, the program is portable.
The Rotary Club of Rancho Bernardo Club has already obtained a District Matching Grant for $3000 to test the process on 60 student children and work out any kinks. If our proposed follow-up Global Grant $30,000 project program proves successful, its model can be copied for further expansions.
Various community meetings have documented the need, and actual progress will be monitored online weekly via the Learning Upgrade website dashboard, by teachers, principals and by local Imperial Valley School District staff, many of whom are local Rotarians. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) has been developed and signed by all parties, to describe the duties and follow-up needed between the Host Rancho Bernardo Club, Intl. Club Rotario Puruandiro, and the Calexico School District/with the Rotary club of Calexico. The Learning Upgrade system provides student data collection, including analysis of test scores, grade advancement, number of attendees or drop-outs, and needs for educational improvement. Separately, the grant procedures will be studied and improved as needed quarterly. Other IV Rotary Clubs and School Districts will be included as/if the project expands outwards.