EU neighbours: dealing with COVID-19 in education and training
As school closures continue, the ETF's second report, as part of our #learningconnects campaign, on how 27 countries neighbouring the EU are coping finds that more structured responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are emerging in education and training.
Focusing on vocational education and training
There are examples of good practice, and cooperation among actors and with donors in vocational education and training, including some practical training. In Turkey, for instance, the private sector is working closely with vocational schools to design and produce medical equipment for the health crisis. In the Eastern Partnership and Russia there are specific platforms and services focusing on vocational training, building on existing strategies and pilot projects.
In the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean, certain countries, such as Egypt, Morocco and Israel, are focusing increasingly on vocational training provision. Investment over the past few years in the online library Egyptian Knowledge Bank, is bearing fruit in large-scale availability of online resources that are now being extensively used, also for VET. In Tunisia, however, vocational training programmes are suspended until further notice, while general education provision is continuing online.
Outreach and inclusion
Steps are being taken to mitigate concerns about outreach and inclusion for both students and teachers. TV broadcasting serves as a primary tool for ensuring continuity and lack of equipment, or connectivity. In Lebanon, for example, it is reported that only 37% of vocational students have internet access. In Palestine and in Kyrgyzstan the main internet service providers are offering free internet access temporarily to students and teachers.
Governments are collecting data and feedback. Data is also being gathered by donors and the research community. In Albania, for example, the results of a survey of 500 teachers on the delivery and the sustainability of measures has been published. And in Kazakhstan, the government undertook a survey of all VET providers to check on both equipment and preparation of teachers and trainers revealing that only 1.5% of them do not have access to equipment for distance and online learning, including mobile phones.
Looking to the future
There is a renewed interest in the future of learning, the enhanced integration of digital technology into the learning process and improving the digital competences of teachers and trainers to shape the ‘post emergency school’. This will require strong cooperation among all actors involved in shaping education and training policies.