#LearningConnects – Vocational teachers embracing challenge in the Western Balkans
On 7 April we talked to teachers in Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia about working during school closures and social distancing due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In the Western Balkans, as in many other geographic regions, not all students, teachers and trainers have access to equipment, connectivity and effective platforms, or the skills to use them. The lack of standard text books for many vocational subjects creates further complications. Assessment for the practical component of curricula is another challenge. But creative solutions are emerging and digital and online learning is becoming a catalyst for modernisation across education systems.
For Adriana Prenga, a teacher of hospitality and tourism from Albania, flexibility in scheduling with students, working on their motivation and time management as well as technical issues are needed. Practical subjects are assessed via students’ self-videos which are then shared with teachers and workplace mentors. With guidance, students are rising to the challenge, says Adriana, showing responsibility and commitment to their learning. As always, communicating with parents enhances student motivation.
In Serbia, the Serbian government’s efforts to integrate ICT into teaching since 2013 has provided the foundation for many teachers to make the transition during this lockdown period. “I am highly motivated, because I have been engaged in online learning more than 10 years, and I’m thrilled to be able to share all that I do and all that I know.” says Snežana Marković, a computer science teacher, who recognises nonetheless that it can mean a greater workload and heightened pressure on teachers, especially those who hadn't yet 'gone digital'.
Likewise, Goce Nedelkoski from North Macedonia highlights the difficulties of some teachers in adapting to the new teaching delivery methods, whereas others “are exploiting new platforms to their maximum potential”. Teaching is not about simply putting lessons online; teachers have to use all resources available to connect to their students. “These times have changed the mindset of teachers” says Goce, adding “they develop their digital skills .. to do their jobs”.
Watch the whole interviews on the ETF's Facebook page below.